Compare the Costs of Steel Framing vs Wood Framing for a Custom Home

Every home construction project requires a detailed budget and cost management. Comparing the cost of materials is a part of this process. A common decision in many modern construction projects is whether to use wood or steel framing. The prices of materials fluctuate, as do labor rates, but not necessarily at the same rate. The advantages of steel over wood are well known, but let’s take a look at the costs to determine which is right for your custom home.

Wood vs Steel Costs

Lumber is undoubtedly the cheaper option, ranging between $1 and $5 per square foot. Steel framing ranges between $9 and $11 per square foot. To make a proper comparison, you have to factor in the size of the home, the prices of other materials, labor costs and the contractor you are working with. Steel is clearly the more expensive option, but this does not mean that you should choose wood right away just to lower your costs.

One major difference home construction using wood or steel is the amount of waste that is produced. Waste from wood framing accounts for roughly 15 to 20 percent of construction costs. When you consider that material costs for the average home can range between 6 and 12 thousand dollars this is an important figure. With wood framing, sheathing will also add to the budget. Another point worth remembering is that framing with steel typically requires less labor. This must be weighed when comparing the cost of using wood or steel.

Long Term vs Short Term

People are often forced to make decisions that benefit them in the short term due to funding concerns. If you are trying to decide between wood and steel framing long and short term benefits should be considered. After you have spent on the project, there will be other issues that you must budget for in the coming years. Aside from the higher cost of steel, contractors often charge more to work with this material. Contractors who work with steel are usually considered specialists, as this is different from wood framing.

The advantages of using steel can make the higher cost less significant. It usually leads to lower insurance rates, and unlike wood, steel is not prone to rot or insect infestation. Not only does steel mean less maintenance, you will not have to spend money on repairs for warping or mold growth.

 

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