How to Reduce Costs Building a Concrete House


Choosing to build a concrete house can save you money in the long term when you compare maintenance, insulation and soundproofing costs of concrete construction versus wood. But the initial cost for building a concrete house can be steep. Smart builders will want to reduce the cost of building a concrete house so they can save even more money with this type of construction. There are things to you can do in every step of concrete construction that can help reduce costs now.

Things You'll Need

  • Building plans
  • Form materials supply list
  • Finish labor schedule
  • Concrete availability
  • Figure out the concrete yardage needed for every concrete pour area listed on your building plans. You will need to know the width, height and depth/thickness of the concrete to be poured in an area. Multiply these together (using feet and inch units of measurement) and then divide this by 27 to arrive at the cubic concrete yardage required. Write down how much concrete you will need to create each pour on your building plans.

  • Calculate the amount of form material needed to create each concrete pour area listed on your building area. Form material is provided in panels that are measured by surface length and width. The depth of a concrete form is created by the use of different sizes of snap ties. For example, if you have a wall pour that is 16 feet long by 8 feet high by 8 feet thick and you are using 4-foot by 8-foot form panels and 8-inch snapties; you will need 8 form panels (4 panels per wall side) and 16 snapties to make this wall (figure 4 snapties per one side of wall). Write down how much material you will need to create each pour on your building plans.

  • Figure which concrete pours you can do on the same day given the amount of actual form material that you will have on hand. The more concrete you can pour at once, the less money you will spend on bringing finishers and concrete pumps out to the job site, and the better price you can get on concrete. Make sure that you look at the schedule for your finishers and talk to your concrete supply company before creating your pour schedule so you know that the amount of concrete that can be delivered can be finished before it sets.

  • Go back through the drawings and identify any pour areas where the depth of the pour may be lessened. For example, look for any structures like ramps, staircases, stair landings and ground slabs. Ask the engineer of record and your local building inspector to approve changes to these plans to use dirt to backfill deep pits to a shallower level to decrease the amount of concrete poured. You can also use additional concrete re-inforcement bars or mesh to decrease the amount concrete in the pour.

  • Watch your weather. Better to cancel concrete if the weather promises to be foul then to try and race the weather and pour it. The cost to protect wet concrete during foul weather or to repair concrete damaged by weather is not worth the risk.

Tips & Warnings

  • Get with your crews and design an organized system for placing your concrete forms. Make a blueprint for how the forms need to be laid out that anyone can follow and you will save significantly in labor costs as your crews learn to construct concrete forms more efficiently.
  • Do not make any changes to the design of a concrete structure (using backfill or additional reinforcement) without the permission of the engineer of record and the building inspector. If you do, you will incur the costs of tearing out the concrete and reconstructing it to the plans specifications.

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  • Cassandra Tribe. Retired Union Ironworker and Construction General Foreman. Rhode Island
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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