What to consider when costing a walling system

Adrian Wild looks at what you can expect to pay for this part of your project.

Costing a walling systemCosting a walling system

As with all external features, the choice of wall construction of a property has much to do with aesthetics.

I’ve chosen a house design with a nett wall area of 117m2 to provide a cost comparison between different common walling systems and finishes. I’ve priced two inner leaf systems – masonry and timber frame – combined with different material finishes. Still somewhat niche in the UK, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) and Insulating Concrete Formwork (ICF) are omitted from this analysis as their costs are highly dependent both upon the specific design and the supplier chosen. Our experience suggests that both are still likely to be more expensive than traditional construction.

costing a walling system

In all but two cases you’ll see a range of prices to account for varying finish quality. The finish at the higher end of the scale for timber frame for example, would be a good quality timber cladding, whilst at the lower end, fibre cement cladding.

Costing a walling system

The variables are many

The cost of swapping facing bricks for a stone finish, say, is highly dependent on the stone type, coursing (random, regular, rubble etc.) and thickness. Stone will be more expensive than brick and heavily influenced by what is available and/or traditionally used locally.

Interestingly, the table demonstrates that there’s very little price difference between the chosen wall types. This would explain why there is no particular system dominating the market today. I can see no obvious cost advantage for instance, to render over brick, nor timber frame over traditional cavity wall construction.

As a side note, where the material cost is less, the build process appears to be more time-consuming, and vice versa. For example, a timber frame building can be erected much more quickly than say Brick & Block construction BUT depending on what you face it with, could be more expensive overall.  On top of that, the frame will save you money in finance terms because you don’t need to borrow for so long…so it’s swings and roundabouts.

To conclude…

I would say your decision on which walling system to choose will most likely be based on the build program you have to play with, your project’s siting and the overall design aesthetic you are going for.

Complete wall system costs excluding windows and doors. The prices all include labour, materials, finish, insulation, structure and plastering system. Nett wall area 117m2
Prices ex. VAT inc. OHP Prices inc. VAT
Wall type Material Labour Total £/m2 Total £/m2
Brick & block cavity £12,350 – £15,300 £9,050 £21,400 – £24,350 £185 – £210 £25,680 – £29,220 £220 – £250
Rendered block cavity £11,700 – £12,050 £8,950 – £10,900 £20,650 – £22,950 £175 – £195 £24,780 – £27,540 £210 – £235
Rendered externally insulated block £11,700 £11,500 £23,200 £200 £27,840 £240
Brick faced timber frame £13,700 – £16,700 £10,900 £24,600 – £27,600 £210 – £235 £29,520 – £33,120 £250 – £285
Rendered timber frame £13,200 £8,550 £21,750 £185 £26,100 £225
Clad timber frame £13,900 – £22,300 £8,500 £22,400 – £30,800 £190 – £265 £26,880 – £36,960 £230 – £315

Adrian Wild is Managing Director of HBXL Building Software and the HBXL Estimating Service. To find out how we can help ensure you provide professional, accurate quotations, give Ian a call on 0117 9167894, or drop us an email.