Brick has long been a favourite building material. It’s not only beautiful to look at, it has excellent sustainability credentials and it’s hard to beat on price. This combination is especially valuable right now, given the pressure to meet CSH targets and the soaring costs and longer lead times from many rival cladding materials. An investigation by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that, against a line-up of popular finishes for the external skin, installed brickwork beats just about all of them on price.
The findings are especially valuable at the present time, given that contractors are experiencing soaring costs for many competing cladding materials. There is a popular misconception, fuelled by the off-site lobby that brickwork is an expensive external finish, but the RICS study clearly concludes that brick is a competitive option.
What the RICS investigation showed is that you can have such qualities, without paying over-the-top prices. It analysed a wide range of data, from major price books to bills of quantities for live projects submitted to them in 2007. The projects, which covered a selection from across the UK, ranged in value from £356,000 to £10.5 million.
The study compared the installed cost per square metre for brickwork against a string of rival external finishes. These included simple fibre cement sheets, different types of rendered blockwork, timber weatherboard, PVC cladding, plain tile cladding, ashlar stonework, and, at the top end of the price range, curtain walling and patent glazing.
Some of the highlights were:
- Facing brick came in at £59 m2 (less than some sheeting, pebbledash and proprietary render systems)
- Two thirds the price of timber weatherboarding.
- Barely one third the price of ashlar stonework.
- Curtain walling is nearly eight times more expensive, patent glazing nearly nine times
In its conclusion, the RICS notes: ‘Brick is a competitive option for the external skin. Most of the options that are less expensive in the study fall within the range of available facing bricks.’
With increasing pressure to reduce waste on site, it’s now possible to save even more money when using brick, by carefully calculating the correct quantities required.
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