Tag Archives: Construction costs

When Everything Doesn’t Go Perfect Part I

When Everything Doesn’t Go Perfect (and the sky falls)

not perfectThe key to any successful construction project is not necessarily how everything went perfect, but instead it is how the things which did not go perfect were resolved. When one considers the average post frame building kit package materials have been touched by in excess of FOUR THOUSAND pairs of hands, it is truly amazing anything ever gets built!

Here is a true recent true story:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:  I read many posts in your blog prior to purchasing a kit. I have contemplated hiring the erection of my building to a local contractor. When I requested information on suggested contractors, I found there is only one in my state. He is approximately 400 miles from my location. Here is my question: Where in the heck do you get your range of costs for constructing a building? You blog suggests up to $5 / square foot. I have multiple quotes and they are in excess of $16 per square foot. I have had nothing but problems with this purchase. Materials were not delivered per the plan. Every delivery I was told that I had to accept the materials in less than 24 hours from notification. I never knew ahead of time if I needed to have a forklift to offload the materials, so I had to make arrangements each time to be sure that the offloading could occur. The lumber substitutions from 4×6 to 6×6 complicates the build because the dimensions don’t agree with the plans. I will have to purchase additional 2 x 8 material because the full dimension 6×6 posts need to be straddled by two 2x12s and have a web between them. The plans call for a 2×6, but I don’t dare have a ½” to ¾” gap in the setup. There is no one I can talk to within Hansen. The material scheduler merely sends out the same form letter each time. The salesman has forgotten who I am. These issues are not mentioned in your blog.

DEAR CLIENT: Thank you for your investment in a new Hansen Pole Building. I will endeavor to answer your questions as thoroughly and completely as possible. To begin with, our business is the success it is because we both value input from our clients and we take it to heart. We endeavor to have only satisfied clients, and for the most part have been very successful with it.

I appreciate your having read many of my blog articles. I strive to be both entertaining and informative.

Where in the heck do I get my range of costs for constructing a building? In a not too distant past life, I was a post frame building contractor, with as many as 35 crews constructing buildings in six states. The general rule of thumb is the cost of labor should run no more than 50-60% of the price paid for the materials package. This was developed from my years as a general contractor, where we took our materials cost and doubled it, with us getting 25% for being great and wonderful contractors and the construction crew getting the other 25%. The cost of materials for your building was roughly $18,444 – from experience a knowledgeable crew of installers should spend no more than 154 person hours to complete this building. 50% of your purchase price of $18,444 would be $9,222 divided by 154 person hours pays each installer roughly $60 per hour – not bad wages. (for more reading on this subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/03/contractor-costs/)

At $16 per square foot, my guess is your quotes are coming from general contractors (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/11/builders/)  who are going to have subcontract labor do the assembly. 1600 square feet at $16 would be over $25,000 and I sincerely doubt any installer would be worth over $160 per hour. At those wages, I would consider strapping on my nail apron, getting out my screw gun and going back to physically doing construction.

So how do you go about finding an actual technician who can construct your building? If you do need a contractor, I recommend placing an ad on Craigslist under “labor gigs” such as:

Contractor needed to assemble pole building kit package on my clear level site in X County. 40’x40’x9′ fully enclosed “monitor style” barn with prefabricated 4/12 roof slope roof trusses in the 16′ width raised center. (1) 12’x14′ and (2) 8’x7′ sectional steel overhead doors and (1) prehung steel entry door. I will provide all materials except for nail gun nails. Willing to pay around $9000-9500 depending upon experience and references.

I’ve used this approach personally to find the actual “nail pounders” in all parts of the country, with great success.

Come back tomorrow folks, to hear…”the rest of the story”.

Carpenters Love Wood: Saving Lumber & Reducing Construction Costs

The smell of fresh sawdust on a crisp fall morning, the slap and ring of hammers on boards, the sturdy feel of new framing – what’s not to love?

So it’s no surprise when builders set out to frame a pole building, sometimes they use a little more lumber than really needed. Sometimes a lot more. Saving lumber is not at the top of their minds. But wood isn’t free, or even cheap. It has a cost in dollars, in forested acres logged, and in natural ecosystems disrupted. And there’s a labor cost: more sticks to handle, more cuts to make, and more nails to pound.

All things being equal, economizing on framing lumber makes a lot of sense. For builders willing to learn, there are proven ways to cut back on unnecessary framing lumber use, without compromising structural strength—and while saving energy.

At Hansen Pole Buildings, we’ve fine-tuned our building shells for saving lumber and energy.
By utilizing value engineering, buildings are optimized to utilize the most efficient spacings and sizes of materials. Standardizing framing practices is a continuing challenge, as introducing new, unfamiliar methods adds yet another twist. As we’ve improved our overall pole building structural design, builders have had to retrain labor forces in the modified methods.

Most beginning pole builders learn the same simple routine on the job: wall girts and roof purlins 24 inches on center, often with doubled or tripled 2x12s for truss carriers. The bigger the header, the more supports beneath and when in doubt, “one more won’t hurt”. Or at least that seems to be the way it’s been done.

Advanced framing takes a little more thought and some relearning—and good drawings are important, too.

Continuous load paths make the best use of load-bearing materials. Advanced pole building framing is more than a set of details—it’s a system. In its fullest form, the system applies engineering to every element of the frame. The key is a continuous load path from roof trusses aligned to wall columns for direct transfer of roof loads to the ground.

A further refinement is to locate windows or doors to avoid evenly spaced wall columns. With steel siding, openings on a wall spaced at a multiple of 3’ from the same corner saves both materials and labor.

Less wood in the building means more money in the bank for building owners. Fewer pieces to install, means lower labor costs as well. Less wood also means fewer chances to make mistakes.  Coming from a frugal Norwegian background, I was raised to always be thinking of how to “do more with less”.  And when it comes to designing buildings, it just makes sense all around.

Construction Costs: It is Not Getting Any Cheaper

We’ve seen prices of materials creeping up fairly steadily for the past year, and according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the era of cheap construction materials may be slipping away.

The price index for construction costs input — a weighted average of all materials used in construction, plus items consumed by contractors, such as diesel fuel and tires on equipment — rose 0.4 percent from December to January and 4.5 percent during the last year, according to Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC.

The 4.5 percent increase was relatively small, Simonson said, but the cost of construction materials could accelerate in the months to come.

“Unfortunately, this slowdown has already ended for some key materials,” Simonson said in a statement. “Crude oil and diesel prices have moved up significantly since the January price index data were collected.”

Throughout the country, any business which supplies, or manufacturers building products is feeling the grip from the negative market conditions which is inflating the construction costs of everything from roofing shingles to building supplies.

These conditions include oil prices over $100 per barrel, a weak U.S. dollar American companies must use to purchase commodities which, in many cases, are traded worldwide; a stagnant building construction industry; and, severe weather around our country that has left over one million American homes with storm damage, causing the diversion of more building and roofing materials to the repair and remodeling of homes.

A recent report, which measures inflation, had a jump of 6.1 percent year-to-year for asphalt roofing and 10.2 percent for steel. Those numbers might be just the beginning of a wave of construction cost increases which contractors are already expecting.

Price increases though, haven’t affected every commodity….yet. Prices for lumber have remained fairly steady. The widening price spread between steel and lumber products is leading more General contractors to build using lumber framework.

Builders and suppliers are not in the greatest of bargaining positions right now, and passing along price increases to buyers isn’t tenable. With oil prices sky rocketing, oil is going to be diverted to the manufacturing of whatever product yields the highest profits, and building materials generally don’t fall into this category.

What does all this mean?  If you are contemplating new construction, whether it’s a garage, shop, new business or home and have the financial resources or backing, the price is not going down.  Not any time in the near future, and possibly not ever again.  As the saying goes, “there is no time like…the present