How can I estimate the cost of steel framing for my house?
Steel framing differs from wood in that most of your cuts are made ahead of time following directions from a cut list. To make a cut list, you need to count the number of members needed and list their respective lengths. Keep it simple and always order 10 percent extra so that you don’t run short of materials. Once you have a detailed cut list, ask your roll-former for a price sheet so you can calculate the cost (cost is typically given in pounds per foot). Also, ask the supplier or roll-former how much of a discount you can get for your order. This will give you an approximate cost of your material.
You can also use a basic rule that is based on weight rather than linear feet—for slab-on-grade homes, you can estimate the cost of the steel you need by multiplying the square footage of the house by seven pounds per square foot. Then, multiply this number by $1 per pound to get the approximate cost of steel. For crawl space or basement homes, use the same formula, but substitute 10 pounds per square foot instead of seven. This will give you a very conservative figure. When you do your itemized estimate, plug in the actual costs from your distributor to get the most accurate cost estimate. If your figure is dramatically different from your itemized estimate, that's a warning. Double-check your calculations to be sure.
For example, if a 1,800-square-foot house is built on a basement, and the 420-square-foot garage on a slab, the conservative cost estimate for steel would be:
- 1,800 SF for the house at 10 lbs/SF = 18,000 lbs
- 420 SF for the garage at 7 lbs/SF = 2,940 lbs
- Total weight for the house is 20,940 lbs (18,000 + 2,940) or 10.5 tons
- 20,940 lbs at $1.00/lb = $20,940 for the steel framing material