Material Costs, Your Structural Steel Expert, and Exponential Problems

On the one hand, calculating how much it will cost to build a steel structure in Alabama or anywhere else is a matter of math, and thus should be predictable within some very narrow boundaries. And it generally is, if you hire an experienced structural steel expert to help you calculate the actual cost of materials based on your building’s design, size, load requirements, and finishes.

However, the fact that a ‘rough’ estimate is easily arrived at by plugging a few basic numbers into an equation leads some to imagine that they do not need the services of such an expert and can quickly and easily calculate the costs of their project in terms of structural steel and quickly move on to the next phase of the project. The ease with which you can arrive at a rough estimate masks the fact that minor miscalculations that do not show up in the abstract can lead to disastrous cost overruns if they are relied on.

The Need for an Expert

While calculating estimated costs can seem like a simple enough matter, the expert knows that materials cost estimations rely on a number of complex factors, including

  • The cost of steel. Steel fluctuates in price significantly over time, and if the cost of this raw material isn’t locked in, your estimates may be wildly inaccurate by the time you purchase materials.
  • On the other hand, steel structures can handle spans of a much wider variation than other materials, and thus a larger structure does not necessarily cost exponentially more than a smaller one.

Small errors in estimates that amount to just a few dollars on paper can spiral into significant extra costs when put into practice. Always hire an expert.