Construction Cost Study
Initial Cost of Construction Study, Multi-Residential Structures, October 2017.
Updated August 2020
An updated cost study for the Los Angeles region now concludes concrete masonry is 2% lower in initial cost than wood. The study compared the wood-framed version of a structure to a concrete masonry and precast floor system. The masonry and precast system provides superior resiliency and fire compartmentation. The long-term costs of wood will be much higher.
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 – or may not – be less than other structural systems in initial cost, but as the studies below demonstrate, concrete masonry is very competitive.
Factor in the full range of concrete masonry’s life safety, fire compartmentation, energy, and structural attributes, then the system really stands out. Reduced insurance, repair, and maintenance costs typically mitigate or negate any initial cost advantage of wood construction.
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