The Structural Timber Estimating Guide

The Structural Timber Estimating Guide has been developed by leading cost management organisation Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) to provide financial and technical information for construction industry professionals.

The guide provides information for early estimates and budget preparation, equipping cost managers and estimators with a range of prices and data that can be used to demonstrate value for money

The structural timber industry is responding well following the announcement in 2017 that five central government departments will adopt a presumption in favour of offsite construction for all publicly-funded projects. The demand for structural timber systems has increased year-on-year and the industry is innovating and gearing up to meet demand. 

The new adaptation of the Timber Estimating Guide is an authoritative source that raises awareness of the benefits of using timber frame systems as a core structural component. RLB adopted a cohesive approach when creating the guide by collaborating with a range of construction professionals, including clients, contractors, architects, engineers, house builders and quantity surveyors.

The guide provides information to aid budget estimation and preparation, which should be established as early as possible in the construction lifecycle so that improved value and efficiencies can be incorporated from the design stages. The guide provides cost estimates to aid the specification of thermal, acoustic and airtightness properties, which can vary hugely depending on the buyers, specifiers and purchasing managers’ objectives. 

The costs detailed in the guide are based on three timber frame projects, with a summary and detailed cost breakdown for each. The model projects include a three-storey apartment block with 12 units, a two-storey housing development with 100 units, and a two-storey hotel with 40 ensuite bathrooms and a reception area. 

The guide provides:

· A detailed overview of how structural timber companies tender for projects, providing all-inclusive services that encompass the design, manufacture, delivery and installation of the structural frame to create a single point of responsibility

· A sufficient amount of data to allow for a comparison between forms of construction. Each of these methods can be benchmarked against industry standards to ensure consistent quality across all applications

· An explanation of the benefits that structural timber systems provide and how it can enrich construction projects.

RLB have provided a summary specification of all services, materials, plant and labour that is included within the costs for the three model projects. Also included within the costing tables are the commonly selected extras and options required by clients and specifiers. 

Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA), said: “We welcome this guide and the in-depth findings. The STA commends Ian Dacre and Rider Levett Bucknall UK for compiling the Timber Estimating Guide and would also like to thank the STA members who contributed to this research.

Further RLB guides on cross laminated timber (CLT) and structural insulated panel systems (SIPS) will be released in autumn 2019. CLT and SIPS systems are often used in hybrid solutions with timber frame to deliver against architectural vision and engineering requirements.

RLB has also created a Timber vs Masonry Report to support quantity surveyors by drawing cost comparisons between drawings and outline specifications for a collection of house designs. Published in May 2018, the report is based on research conducted by RLB across operators in both sectors. The guide demonstrates the savings that can be achieved using timber frame. You can download a copy from the Publications section on the RLB website at 

Rider Levett Bucknall

RLB is an award-winning independent firm with core skills in cost management, project management and building surveying. With 600 UK staff and 4,500 global staff, RLB operates a worldwide presence, sharing their expertise across numerous publications on current industry trends. Working across all sectors, RLB is dedicated to the value, quality and sustainability of the built environment.

RLB offers four main services, which span from advisory services to building surveying from a large team of chartered building surveyors, to cost management and quantity surveying, to project and programme management.

To download a PDF of the Timber Estimating Guide from the STA’s online library visit:

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