Identifying the Economic Barriers to CLT Cost Estimation Among Building Construction Professionals
Stutesman, Jonathan Harley
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Cross-laminated timbers (CLTs) are strong and lightweight structural building materials. CLTs are made from renewable wood resources and have significant economic potential as a new value-added product for the United States. However, market penetration has been obstructed by product affordability and lack of availability for use. Previous studies and projects have surveyed opinions of designers and contractors about the adoption of CLTs. No previous study was found that surveyed cost estimators, who serve the essential function of creating economic comparisons of alternative materials in commercial construction. CLTs are not included in these current cost estimation tools and software packages which may be limiting the potential use of CLT in construction. The purpose of this study was to discover if cost estimation is being used to make structural decisions potentially affecting the marketability of CLT use in construction and building design because of the ability to estimate CLTs adequately. Through the use of a survey, the re-designing of a building, and discussions with subject matter experts, this study examined the knowledge level of cross-laminated timbers of under-surveyed building construction professions and the relationship between cost estimation and structural material choices. Their responses are demonstrating the need for better cost estimation tools for cross-laminated timbers such as inclusion in the Construction Specifications Institute's classification systems in order for CLTs to become a more competitive product. The study concluded that cost estimation is important for CLT market development, because it is being used extensively in the construction industry.
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