Construction and Materials: How to Avoid Unexpected Costs?



Category:   -  Published by: Tony Bégin


As we all know, the current state of the market is creating many waves. The price of construction materials is rising, the accessibility of those materials is decreasing, and these challenges are difficult to manage! Even though construction materials have always been important, they are now a primary concern. A delay in availability of materials can have serious repercussions on the budget and timeline of your projects. 

Did you know that by implicating the sub-contractors who will be supplying and installing the steel components of the building at the beginning of your project, you will have more control over your construction costs? A method that has proven successful on many projects, this solution is certainly worth considering. 


Amortize the market fluctuations for raw materials 

For steel buildings, the structure represents 15-20% of the total construction budget and 80% of the work schedule. Almost everything starts from the building’s structure: the roofing and the building envelope, as well as the operations. We all know that prices can increase significantly between the design stage of a project and the manufacturing of materials.

For example, so far in 2021, the value of steel has increased by 40-60%, which clearly had major repercussions on the total construction costs of any project. This unexpected additional cost was significant enough for some projects to be put on hold or cancelled altogether.  

When the sub-contractor who is responsible for the manufacturing and installation of the steel components is involved during the budget and schedule planning phase, their experience in the industry can be very helpful. They may be able to foresee price fluctuations, find raw material providers who offer the best prices, and sometimes even reserve materials at fixed rates. They may also be able to advise you on the best ways to optimize the design of your building so as to minimize construction costs and sourcing time. 


steel deck on the ground


Optimizing material supply 

In addition to the scarcity of materials, another supply issue comes into play: the practical aspect. Design engineers often take a more theoretical approach when it comes to building sizing.  

The constructability is also crucial. One of the dangers to avoid is to build your plans, and base your budget and timeline on steel components that are impossible to manufacture or transport!


For example, on paper, you may need a 30.5 m. (100 ft.) beam, but in reality, the trucks that can transport it to your site are only 18.3 m. (60 ft.) long. 

When involved in the early stages of the project, a subcontractor with practical knowledge may be able to advise you with the design phase, the choice of materials, the sizing that will be adequate, and the overall project management. Their role? To optimize your budget spending and to help you with strategic procurement of materials. 


Explaining the connectivity of steel components 

For the assembly of steel structures, engineers may need help selecting the appropriate type of connection. The challenge is to find the right combination at the beginning of the project, keeping in mind the building grounds, the structure and the forces against which the building will have to resist. 

A partner with a team of internal engineers can use data provided by the design engineer working on the project to make certain recommendations. Based on a mix of theoretical and practical knowledge, this advice may help with the overall optimization of the design or the work site assembly according to the equipment available and the assembler requirements. The result? A better synergy between all collaborators and a reduction in construction costs. 


Reducing delays in delivery  

To respect the timeline of your project by using the “Lean” method, the steel components must be delivered to the construction site at the right time. If they arrive too early, they may encumber the space, which is often already limited on a construction site. If they arrive too late, they may delay operations and the work of other trades on-site. It is necessary to have a precise plan in order to maintain the rhythm of the work and to minimize the manipulation of the steel components for increased safety and efficiency on the job site. 


camion canam livraison acier

Based on the requirements of the project, an efficient delivery plan should be put into place as soon as possible – this is achievable with the help of a good subcontractor. From the availability of construction materials and resources to the order of the truck delivery of steel components: no detail should be left to chance. You can have a plan for everything from A-to-Z months in advance, which will even take into account the expected speed of assembly and the accessibility to the crane. No more nasty surprises! 


These solutions are worthwhile for all types of buildings:

  • Factories
  • Warehouses
  • Distribution centres
  • Hotels
  • Multi-residential dwellings

Working with partners who take a collaboration-based approach offers a major competitive advantage in terms of budget and delivery schedule certainty. To face these challenges and ensure your project will finish on time and within your budget, it is best to opt for strategic sub-contractors who will accompany you from the very beginning of the project. 

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