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Cost Study Favors Concrete Masonry

Initial Construction Costs and Updated Insurance Costs for Multi-Residential Structures Are a Win for Concrete Masonry
Revised May 2021

Initial Cost

A previous cost study released in August 2020 for the Los Angeles region has been updated to include the impacts of 2021 insurance costs. The results concluded a concrete masonry and precast plank system is now 2.5% lower in initial cost compared to wood framing. That is a 25% increase in the differential between concrete masonry and precast plank constructions vs. wood. This study occurred prior to the severe climb in wood costs over the last year.

A concrete masonry and precast plank system is 2.5% LOWER in initial cost than wood frame.

The study considered a multi-residential building and calculated costs of various structural systems that could be used in its construction. Concrete masonry and precast floor systems have always compared favorably to wood, but the masonry system provides superior resilience and fire compartmentation. Wood systems are inherently at risk. Thus, the long-term costs of wood in maintenance and insurance are considerably higher.

Insurance Cost

The May 2021 update considered current insurance costs and the savings for the lower risk of concrete masonry and plank, both during construction and occupancy.

Builder risk and general liability insurances combined are approximately 40% LESS for concrete masonry and plank vs. wood.
Property insurance is 2.5 to 3 times LESS for concrete masonry and plank vs. wood.

Concrete masonry's attributes are generally recognized: durability, seismic performance, fire resistance, water-damage resistance, thermal mass, sound attenuation, and simultaneously structure and design finish. Designers of essential services and education structures have long taken advantage of these benefits, and in a holistic view, understand the cost advantages of concrete masonry as a multi-function material.

Often overlooked, however, is just how competitive concrete masonry can be in multi-residential, multi-use, hospitality, and student housing structures. Wood structures may compete well with other structural systems in initial cost, but as the study below demonstrates, concrete masonry is very competitive in initial cost, and exceptional in long term costs.

Factor in the full range of concrete masonry's life safety, fire compartmentation, energy, and structural attributes, the system value really stands out.

Download the report for the Los Angeles region:

Initial Cost of Construction Study, Multi-Residential Structures, August 2020: Los Angeles - with May 2021 Insurance Update, Published by Pennsylvania Concrete Masonry Association, www.buildingstudies.org.

Construction Cost Study