How construction companies select building materials
Depending on the type of structure involved, there are a wide variety of building materials from which the construction company in charge of overseeing operations can choose. Bricks, cement, clay and concrete are perhaps the most commonly used materials, but metals, wood and aggregates (such as gravel, sand or any other particulate substance) are also popular choices.
Selecting building materials
How does those in charge ensure they pick the right materials for the job? While the construction company will make the ultimate decision, it’s one that’s invariably made based on the specifications provided by the design team. If there is any leeway with regards to those specifications, the final choice will likely be influenced by budget, availability and experience.
Details in the Design
Although the construction company are responsible for choosing the right building materials, the decision is not all of their own making. Instead, the design team (comprising an architect, structural engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, civil engineer, interior designer and any other number of trained professionals) will submit the specifications for the project, complete with recommendations for the materials they deem best for the job.
These recommendations are based upon a number of different factors, such as the type of structure or edifice in question, the durability of the materials and their appropriateness for the purpose specified. Depending upon the client, there may also be other concerns, such as the sustainability credentials of the building and other extenuating circumstances.
Get the best that your budget can afford
In many cases, the design team may allow for some flexibility in their specifications. For example, they may add “or equal” in their documentation, giving the construction company the flexibility to source and suggest a viable alternative. On rare occasions, the design team may deem it unnecessary to specify a particular material at all and leave the decision up to the construction firm. In all cases, any alternatives proposed by the construction team must be cleared with the design team and owner prior to commencement of the project.
In situations like this where this room to manoeuvre, a good construction company will seek to acquire the highest quality materials within the allocated budget. Other factors which may influence their decision include the availability of the materials in question. For example, remote locations may mean that acquiring and transporting a particular substance is more time-consuming and expensive than a feasible alternative.
Win-win for everyone
Of course, this mode of operation benefits the clients, since they will be sure to achieve the best possible results for the agreed price. However, the construction company itself will also profit from taking an assiduous approach to selecting the right materials for the job. For starters, high-quality building materials are easier to manage, install and work with in general. They also result in fewer defective pieces, generating less waste from the project, while superior supplies also allow for faster speeds on site.
To achieve the optimal value for cost rate, building companies constantly strive to select the best suppliers on the market for each construction material. Often, they will create long-lasting partnerships with suppliers, so that they always have access to the best materials at the best prices from a source that they know they can trust.
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Gen is managing director and chief of digital strategy at houseUP. She has a background in information security and product management in tech startups.
houseUP is a construction company in London, specialised in high end residential and commercial projects.