For any project, keeping costs to a minimum is a key objective, allowing profits to be maximised.
This was recognised by the government in 2013, when it put its ‘Construction 2025’ targets in place, with the aim of boosting the UK construction industry over a 12-year period.
Alongside goals such as reducing the carbon output for projects and cutting project times, the strategy called for a ‘33% reduction in the initial cost of construction and the whole life cost of built assets’.
There are a couple of clear reasons for this goal being put in place. Firstly, reducing the costs of construction makes the industry more appealing for overseas investors, as a result of the increased profits on offer. Secondly, by setting this standard across the industry, public sector project costs will also have to be cut, reducing government expenditure.
However, as standards must remain high, and increasingly prescriptive Building Regulations are put in place, there’s a need to find ways of achieving these cost savings without sacrificing the quality of the work done, or safety either on-site or in the completed building.
Technological Advances in Construction
Technological advances and changes to manufacturing processes have certainly helped further the cause of cost reductions. BIM has been widely adopted as a means of finding the most efficient, and cost effective, materials to use on a project-by-project basis, while offsite construction and modular building allows numerous identical structures to be built, with the bulk-buying of materials and reduced time required on site bringing significant savings.
It’s not just new construction methods that can help to drive down costs, with the appointment of specialist workers and consultants enabling greater savings to be made. This may seem counterintuitive at first, as a greater headcount is generally associated with higher expenditure, but bringing the right people on to a job at the right time can have the opposite effect.
Can Fire Design Experts keep costs low?
One area where these significant, but perhaps unexpected, cost savings can be found is in the appointment of fire design experts in a project’s early stages.
While our main focus at FDS Consult and Fire Design Solutions (FDS) is occupant safety, taking an intelligent approach to fire engineering and the specification of systems can also provide wider project benefits.
For instance, by taking an engineered approach, our experts can suggest significant alterations to a building’s design in order to maximise saleable space.
In a recent example, our fire design consultants were appointed to a predominantly residential project in Stratford, made of seven blocks ranging from seven to 43 storeys in height. While a traditional, code-compliant design would have required the inclusion of two staircases, the use of fire engineering allowed the justification of a single staircase. The removal of this 161sq ft staircase from six of these blocks enabled the developer to gain an additional 14,371sq ft, saving over £5.74million in project costs.
Similarly, the installation of the most appropriate fire safety system within a building can provide savings, a fact which is demonstrated by the number of systems that are offered by FDS.
Opting for mechanical smoke ventilation systems can open additional space within a building, as their improved efficiency compared to natural systems can allow the use of smoke shafts which are up to three times smaller, however the initial purchase and ongoing running costs of mechanical systems are higher.
These systems can also offer benefits during day-to-day use, as ‘corridor environmental systems’ can also be integrated, helping to remove excess heat from common corridors and lobbies can remove the need for additional air-conditioning units, and where even greater cooling is required, our new chiller system is available.
Regardless of your preferred method of saving costs, it’s important to make sure that you put plans in place as early as possible. Whether on large-scale residential or commercial developments, the impact of last-minute alterations is almost always the same, incurring high costs and severe knock-on effects to the project’s construction schedule.