Will there be more six-storey wood-framed buildings?

March 30, 2011

An analysis of six-storey wood-framed buildings showed that saving of more than 10% in construction costs can be achieved when compared to steel frames buildings.

The report commissioned by the Urban Development Institute was prepared by BTY Group after a 2009 amendment to the BC Building Code permitted construction of wood-framed buildings up to six storeys tall.

The first such project is the six-storey Remy condominium at 4099 and 4133 Stolberg St in Richmond.

The Oris Development Corporation saw hard costs for the project drop 12 per cent to around $35 million when light steel and concrete frame was switched to wood.

Neill McGowan, a quantity surveyor and partner with BTY Group’s Vancouver office said that “Wood-framed buildings are showing an 11 per cent cost reduction over concrete or steel frame, although that will vary according to location and other building characteristics. The cost level is consistent with results we’re seeing on taller wood buildings in the Vancouver area.”

McGowan notes that the Remy represented a simple material cost savings. In addition wood frame striuture being lighter than steel, savings are also realized on the concrete foundation. A lighter building lessened the need for pre-loading and deep piles. The concrete raft slab can be  reduced from 36 inches thick to 18.

Pre-fabrication of wood elements helped to speed construction and save money. Sub-trades, such as electrical and plumbing contractors required less time and efforts to work with a wood-frame building.

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