Exploring the Benefits and Costs of Mass Timber Solutions

10 November 2021

As a Chartered Quantity Surveyor, Linda Lodetti has spent most her life providing construction cost advice in South Africa, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. She is also the author of New Zealand’s first Costing Timber Guide, which looks at the benefits of mass engineered timber and the factors impacting on cost in mass engineered timber projects.

Innovations around the world have resulted in new manufacturing and processing techniques delivering a range of engineered timber products, including Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL), glulam, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and cassette flooring systems, to name a few.

The strength and performance of these products can depend on tree species, thickness, manufacturing process and application, and means construction costs may not be certain. This can potentially lead Quantity Surveyors to provide overly cautious budgets for new mass timber solutions – something that has been recently criticised in the industry.

“For Quantity Surveyors, assessing project risk in the absence of historical cost data or benchmark projects can lead to contingency factors being included in the project budget,” says Linda. “These allowances can often bump the price up substantially, and may even have the potential to kill the viability of a project. The Costing Timber Guide attempts to avoid this happening by exploring the factors impacting on cost and building greater understanding of the value of engineered timber.”

During the preparation of the guide, Linda says it became evident that timber manufacturers also needed to understand Quantity Surveyors’ estimating and pricing processes.

“I developed a two-fold agenda explaining how Quantity Surveyors approach costs per m2 of GFA (requiring historical data), elemental analysis of the proposed construction project, and trade costs based on developed detailed drawings. With a more transparent view of how QSs come up with their costs, timber manufacturers can better understand the areas where further information is required to assist with compiling appropriate budgets.”

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