Structural Metal Framing Cost Estimating Tips

Steel items can be obtained from two sources: a fabrication shop or a metals service center. Fabrication shops can fabricate items under more controlled conditions than can crews in the field. They are also more efficient and can produce items more economically. Metal service centers serve as a source of long mill shapes to both fabrication shops and contractors. Most RSMeans line items for structural steel items as indicated as shop fabricated. RSMeans line items for most structual steel divisions are assumed to be shop fabricated, with the exception of subdivision 05 12 23.40 (Lightweight Framing) which are indicated as being field fabricated.

Plates and Connections - When estimating the total tonnage of structural steel, add 10% to the total weight to allow for plates, connections, and waste as a rule of thumb.

Shop-Applied Finish Paint - When the specifications call for the finish coat of paint to be applied prior to installation, allow considerable time for touching up the paint. Every time you lift, move, weld, bolt, or alter the position of a piece of steel, you will need to touch up the finish.

Joist Spacings - It is possible to lower overall costs for steel joist-type construction by having greater spacing between joists. The economies of needing fewer joists can well offset the costs of the larger or heavier joists that may be required to replace them.

Joist Bridging - It generally costs less to install joist systems that can utilize horizontal bridging (as opposed to cross or other types of bridging).

Other items that should be added to the estimate:

Read more metals estimating tips.

Cost Estimating Resources from RSMeans

2011 Light Commercial Cost Data Book
Covers every aspect of light commercial construction pricing for a variety of building types
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2011 Building Construction Cost Data Book
Thousands of unit costs for building components, arranged in the new CSI MasterFormat® 2010 classification system
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