Various factors affect the cost of constructing new buildings, including the design, the location and the specified materials.
The relationship of cost to quality can be a complex one, and in a climate of below-cost tendering, there is the risk that building projects will come in significantly over-budget and late.
In fact, should these things occur, the material quality of the building may then take second place when it comes to considering whether building projects have been successful.
However, as Nichola Robinson, business development specialist for commercial builds, points out, the quality of materials can be crucial when it comes to a building’s marketability.
Good Design, Maintenance and Cost Control
“Good design itself need not be expensive. You can maintain rigorous cost control of building projects, providing you are clear from the outset about the materials you’re specifying.”
At the same time, it is likely to prove a false economy to automatically opt for cheaper materials instead of more sustainable alternatives.
“There is the long-term maintenance of the building to consider, but also the experience of the end-user.
“For a commercial building to attract investors, tenants and, ultimately market itself, it needs to compete effectively”
Clients and the architects and designers they commission must balance the initial cost against the whole life cost of a structure. This can influence the specification of materials.
The use of quality materials is not simply about nice interior design, however, or attention to detail. It can be fundamental to a building’s functionality.
Healthier, Safer Buildings
“A healthy building will incorporate healthy design elements. There is a serious issue around the toxicity of building materials. Plus elements such as air purification systems are vital when looking at materials.”
Controlling moisture and ventilation are critical for preventing long-term building decay and ensuring the long-term viability of the structure itself.
“Air quality has a big impact on people’s health and there are issues to do with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in buildings, including paints and varnishes.”
Another set of essential material elements are security components.
“It’s important for building owners to know that they are protecting the building itself, but also any staff, visitors or residents within it”
“It makes sense for architects and designers to consider specifications for reliable security components at an early stage in the project’s lifecycle.”
These components can range from access control and CCTV to intruder alarms, fire detection and integrated systems.
Quality in Action: Student Accommodation
There are certain markets which are thriving when it comes to commercial builds, and one of these is purpose built student accommodation.
“This is a competitive, challenging market, but a rewarding one, if you can compete successfully in it. According to Knight Frank, in 2017 cumulative investment in purpose built student accommodation was over £4bn.”
“The reputation of the UK’s academic institutions continues to drive the sector but also, crucially, is the selectivity of its target market”
“Students have more options with accommodation, and they, and their parents, are looking for buildings that offer security and comfort. Quality counts when it comes to marketability.”
For an additional read, please visit:
- Could Landscape Architecture Improve Building Concepts?
- Are Architects’ Specs a Boost for Commercial Build?
Nichola Robinson hosted The Commercial Build Show in Manchester, in association with Modu Exhibitions and Property Aspects Magazine.