Australia Study: Timber buildings more cost efficient

A new study has revealed that buildings are more cost efficient when made of wood as compared to traditional means, yielding savings of 13.9% in double-storey aged care facilities and 12.4% in multi-storey office buildings.

The research, Commercial Building Costing Cases Studies – Traditional Design versus Timber Project, was funded by Forest & Wood Products Australia, and developed by Andrew Dunn from the Timber Development Association and researchers from the University of Technology Sydney.

Cost comparisons were made amongst four commercial building types. The study found that wooden single storey industrial sheds and 8-storey apartment buildings were 9.4% and 2.2% cheaper compared to steel and concrete alternatives respectively.

The report noted that while the greatest opportunities for the timber industry lie in the industrial shed (girts and purlins), aged care and office building markets, designers lack awareness in this area. Potential benefits are also seen in the office and institutional building markets as both building forms are similar. Significant cost savings can also be achieved if a decorative ceiling is omitted from the building’s design.


Costed Building Type Cost of structural solution Cost savings of timber compared to traditional structure
Timber Traditional
7-storey office building LVL Concrete  -$901,595 (-12.4%)
$6,387,913 $7,289,508
8-storey apartment building CLT Concrete  -$110,478 (-2.2%)
$5,015,705 $5,126,183
2-storey aged care facility Timber frame Steel frame  -$112,600 (-13.9%)
$679,020 $809,620
Single storey industrial shed Timber portal frame Steel portal frame  -$22,519 (-9.4%)
$216,342 $238,861

Source: Timber Development Association (NSW ) Ltd


Source: Forest & Wood Products Australia/ Edited by Panels & Furniture Asia