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Design Economics for the Built Environment: Impact of Sustainability on Project Evaluation by Herbert Robinson, Barry Symonds, Barry Gilbertson, Ben Ilozor

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Chapter 4The Relationship between Building Height and Construction Costs

David Picken and Benedict Ilozor

4.1 Introduction

Conventional wisdom in the construction industry suggests that for the same areas of accommodation, tall buildings are more expensive to construct than low rise buildings. In the literature which includes books on construction economics, design economics and building cost planning, statements and definitions can be found which demonstrate this widely held view on the relationship between height and cost. The following shows a sample of the various views with references relating to the effect of height on cost:

  • Two-storey building performs cheapest (Nisbet, 1961). (Although this statement was included in an early study of height and cost, and only referred to buildings in the low-rise range.)
  • Prices per square foot tended to rise as the number of storeys increased in Britain. Housing in tall multi-storey blocks is around 50% more expensive than those in two-storey dwellings (Stone, 1967).
  • Multi-storey buildings/high-rise buildings would be a design choice only if they could make savings from the tremendous land cost by building upwards (Cartlidge, 1973).
  • Generally the cost of building per square of floor area can be expected to increase with the addition of extra storeys (Bathurst and Butler, 1980).
  • Constructional costs of buildings rise with increases in height (Seeley, 1995).
  • Here it is possible, and desirable to be dogmatic. Tall buildings are invariably ...

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