What are the best ways to cut down the cost of construction?

By April 30, 2019 No Comments
Construction site

As the construction boom continues to swell, so does the cost of land, materials, and labor. While no one wants cheaply built industrial facilities or residential houses, keeping costs down is a concern. However, steps can be taken throughout the process to provide quality construction with an eye on the bottom line.

There’s a lot to consider when taking on a project of any size, in both the private and public sectors. A little extra work during the planning phase can reveal cost savings before the first shovelful of dirt is even turned.


As the old saying goes, value of land never depreciates. While that isn’t always true, make sure you know what you want from your building before purchasing any property. There may be a beautiful 360-degree view where you want to build your dream home, but if the land isn’t zoned residential, you’ll have to move on.

The same for commercial or industrial facilities. In addition to following city, county, and state building codes and zoning, think about location. Is it close to transportation such as rail, ports, or interstate highways? Or will transport of your product or service cost an arm and leg from that location? Finding cheap land to build on is great unless it doubles your shipping or transportation costs.

Finally, think about how much it might cost to deliver the materials and labor to the construction site. Calculate all of these costs before settling on a location. If money is no object, maybe these considerations won’t mean much. But when has that ever been the case?


One of the largest expenditures of any construction project, keeping a handle on material expense can make or break a budget. Using an experienced architect will give you a good idea of how many square feet of carpet or junction boxes you’ll need. This will cut down on waste or lost time waiting for reorders.

Additionally, when designing a construction project, think about using standard sizes for all of your materials. Odd sizes or special orders tend to cost more than readily available dimensions. Walk into any home improvement store and try to find a nine-foot 2×4 or 5×11 sheets of plywood. You’ll either spend more ordering unusual sizes or waste time at the site manipulating standard dimensions to fit your plan.

That’s one advantage of using precast concrete. With adjustable forms or casts, no order is a special order. Because of this flexibility, any size can be easily created, no matter if it’s a basin, vault, or panel wall.

The durability of precast concrete will save money in the long term as well. Other materials, such as wood or metal, will degrade over time and will need to be replaced or rebuilt. Many precast infrastructure pieces are designed to last for close to a century.

There are other ways to cut costs after the job is complete. Double-paned windows, LED lights, energy-efficient appliances such as heat pumps, and LEED certified construction will continue to save money in the long run. Every dollar counts as a property owner, and these steps will save money month after month.


Think of everyone involved at the job site during the time of construction: contractors, sub-contractors, framers, plumbers, HVAC, and more. Some expenses, such as inspectors, can’t be cut, but there are places where labor costs can be decreased.

For example, make sure contractors and sub-contractors are reliable and know their work. Time is money in any industry, but even more so when it comes to construction. Workers who don’t show up on time, are sloppy, or work unsafely will not only cause missed deadlines but could cause work stoppages due to injury.

Good help may be hard to find, but finding places to manage the budget isn’t. While an interesting architectural design may look appealing, specially made pieces will cost more to make and take longer to install. Even with a standard design, labor costs can still be decreased.

When it comes to installing catch basins or utility vaults, think about using precast concrete instead of poured in place. With precast pieces, there is very little set-up time after excavation. The pieces can be installed and backfilled in a matter of hours depending on the size of the project.

Labor cost savings can be dramatic on particularly large underground infrastructure jobs. Paying a crew union wages to assemble forms, pour the concrete, secure the open excavation site until the concrete is set, and to remove the forms can take weeks. Precast concrete removes waiting time from the equation so your crew can move on to the next phase of construction.

There are savings to be had over the long haul, as well. Precast concrete is durable, impervious to weather, and highly resistant to insect or animal infestation. Columbia Precast Products creates underground infrastructure pieces that are built to last a century, so there’s no need for restoration, remodeling, or rebuilding 20, 30, or 50 years down the road.

Other Considerations

Build during the off-season
Although it seems there hasn’t been an off-season for construction for a few years now, there are times when building in less-than-ideal conditions may save you time and money. If construction does hit a lull, you may be able to choose which contractors or sub-contractors to work with instead of the other way around, which could save a couple of bucks.

That’s what makes precast concrete so appealing. With pour in place concrete or other materials, putting together structurally sound infrastructure can be a slow and messy process in wetter weather.

For example, pouring concrete in the rain could affect the mixture with extra water and debris could also be blown into the pour, harming the strength of the pour. Not to mention the time it takes to set up the forms, for the concrete to reach appropriate strength, and to remove the form.

By using precast concrete, all of that wait time has already occurred and the pieces are strength-tested before leaving the facility. No matter how wet or sloppy the excavation site is, these pieces are ready to go.

With the price of land, labor, and materials constantly going up, construction continues to be a spendy proposition. But with enough planning and smart decisions with materials and labor, you can manage the cost while still maintaining quality.

That includes using precast concrete products for your infrastructure. Contact Columbia Precast with your plans and let’s see how we can help. Our crew has more than 140 years of experience in the precast industry and have worked all throughout the Pacific Northwest. We look forward to hearing from you.