High inflation and dramatic increases in materials and labor costs in the early 1980s popularized the process of fast-tracking commercial construction projects. Decades later, inflation now is at an all-time low and fewer commercial projects officially use the fast-track process established in the punk rock era but, the speed-equals-savings approach remains.
Short construction timelines are accompanied by tight budgets with the goal of speeding toward “open for business” portability. Fortunately, some modern design and material innovations can achieve efficiencies in construction time and cost without sacrificing design or value. They can also compensate for the current shortage of highly-experienced skilled labor which, ironically, was forecast in the 1980s.
Architects Can Bring Projects In On Time And On Budget With Beautiful Options
By specifying materials that can be installed more quickly and easily than traditional options, architects can help alleviate strain on the construction timeline and demand for highly skilled labor. These materials give high-demand craftsmen time to move quickly on the job, or to train their apprentices in installation techniques while they tackle parts of the project that require a higher skill level and experience.
One such product category is masonry veneers. The category has been in existence for decades but has only recently evolved to the extent that veneers represent the same design advantages as full stone but with a much faster, easier installation process.
The range of colors, sizes and textures of masonry veneers now on the market creates a nearly endless array of design possibilities to either make a stand-out statement or blend well with regional benchmarks. Accessory pieces such as keystones, trim stones and sills also make it easier to maintain the popular stone aesthetic.
Materials such as these can also help architects and developers keep construction costs down. The installation of a manufactured stone wall has the potential to save costs, time and labor over a natural stone wall. And, lightweight veneers can offer savings over a full depth veneer.
How Masonry Veneers Cut Costs
Cost savings are derived from a variety of factors, among them reduced shipping costs. Lightweight veneers weigh less than 15 pounds per square foot and are widely available throughout the country, even in areas that lack local sources of quarried stone.
Additionally, veneers have the potential to save money with higher productivity provided by easy installation and the fact that increased supports, such as wall ties or footings, are eliminated.
In fact, some veneers can be installed on wood core walls at heights up to 30 feet tall without additional footing. Waste is also reduced because modern masonry veneers are crafted to fit efficiently.
Further savings can be measured by taking the wall system approach, which does not require steel supports and can be installed by unskilled labor. The wall system is comprised of three components — a framework of pocketed and profile-molded EPS insulation panels that attach directly to the structure, masonry stones or bricks, and pumped mortar. All combine to speed installation and provide a R13.6 continuous insulation thermal barrier, improved water management and acoustical comfort.
In terms of overall lifecycle costs, masonry veneers provide added R-Value, moisture and mold resistance to a building and have long-term low-maintenance.
The use of materials such as these, which can be installed more quickly and by less experienced workers, can be a critical part of an overall solution to reduce both construction-related costs and the timetable. In the case of commercial buildings, this means a shorter span from groundbreaking to profitability — and a satisfied client.