Timber frame construction is only marginally cheaper than masonry for affordable housing but is significantly quicker, according to a new study by cost consultant Rider Levett Bucknall UK

Rider Levett Bucknall says that it is the sectors first construction cost comparison report between timber frame and masonry in affordable housing.

Prices were taken from four contractors for independently supplied designs and RLB bills of quantities. The construction cost per square metre was found to be £1,055.90 for timber and £1,067.24 for masonry.

Overall cost per square metre was £1,148.38 for timber and £1,180.34 for masonry, with a build time of 41 weeks for timber and 49 weeks for masonry.

This makes an overall cost saving in timber’s favour of 2.8% and programme saving of 19.5%.

The study compared the buildings only, with the external works and utility services excluded. It assumed a continuous build on site from start to finish and no difference in foundations required. The location of the theoretical project for the study was Birmingham with good access to main trunk roads.

Prices were supplied by contractors Gilbert & Goode, Robert Woodhead Ltd, Speller Metcalfe and WRW Construction.

Oakworth Homes, Pinewood Structures and Stewart Milne Timber Systems provided their pricing information for the timber frame element.

The house type designs were prepared by HTA Design LLP with structural engineering input by Milner Associates.


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