Engineered timber for apartment buildings in Melbourne, Australia: A construction cost comparison with traditional concrete systems

  • YEAR
    Ritchie, Laurence
    Stephan, Andre
    2018 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science, Construction and Technology
    Conference Papers


Engineered timber is rapidly growing in popularity in both the Australian construction industry and abroad. While projects utilising the material as their main structural element are often lauded as being faster, safer, and ultimately cheaper than more traditional systems, there is limited scientific literature to support this. This research attempts to bridge this gap by reviewing and comparing construction costs associated with a five-storey case study building in Melbourne, Australia. The paper considers the construction of this building in three distinct scenarios: an engineered timber superstructure, a reinforced concrete superstructure, and a hybrid of both. While featuring different structural materials, each scenario is designed to be comparable in the areas of fire and acoustic rating, structural sizing (e.g. wall thickness), and compliance with the building code. A complete bill of quantities is prepared for each scenario, with the rates of the concrete project benchmarked against rates available in published references to confirm accuracy. Findings show the scenario featuring an engineered timber superstructure to be the fastest and cheapest to build, with potential time-savings of almost 50%, and cost savings of up to 10% compared to a complete reinforced concrete structure. This demonstrates that the use of engineered timber in this context is cost and time competitive against traditional concrete systems. Further research is needed to establish if this holds true in other contexts.


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