Looking at Staggering Construction Numbers

It’s not something everyone would think about, but how many materials actually go into making a building? How much concrete do construction workers have to pour? What does it take to make a home or even a skyscraper? 

We decided to take a look at the numbers, starting with a basic home.

Building a Home

Have you ever built a house or had one built for you? If you have, then you probably know all too well about how many decisions there are to make. 

What color brick do you want? What about the door knobs? Have you ever thought about the hinges? Building a new house can be pretty involved!

And while you’re busy trying to make those kinds of decisions, there are people working for you that also have to know how many bricks you need, how many of those pretty nickel plated hinges you need, or how many cubic yards of concrete will be needed for that patio.

Of course, the number of items you’ll need – like in our example using bricks – will depend heavily on the brick size, types of bricks you may want to use, and how you plan to place them. 

Will they be standing on end? Or will they be flat? Can they handle the temperatures where you live? Will they crack and break after only a few years? 

After the right type of bricks are chosen, it's time to crunch some numbers!

What is the Number of Bricks Required to Build a House?

Well, of course, the answer is it depends on the square footage of the house you are interested in building. It also depends on where you’re building and what size of bricks you’ve chosen. There is no true standard size brick to work the math off of, so we have to work it out ourselves based on whatever brick you choose.

This article tells us just how to do all of the math, but to paraphrase a little: We would need to measure a brick into its total square inches, then divide the number of bricks into 144, so we can figure out how many bricks will fit into one square foot.

Once we’ve figured out the number of bricks per square foot, we can find out just how many bricks we’ll most likely need for the whole square footage of the home. We’ll also need to add about 5-10% of that number for breakage and mistakes (it happens to us all, might as well be safe than sorry!).

The average three bedroom house can use as many as 30,000 bricks or as little as a few hundred! The answer truly and absolutely depends on the size of the bricks plus any other materials you plan to use on the house. Let’s take a look.

Other Materials Can Change the Cost of Building

Are you planning to use only bricks for the walls of your house? Will you use any sort of timber for exposed beams or columns? How thick will you be making the walls? Will your timber be changing the size of those walls?

All of the architectural decisions that are made, and design of the home also come into play when you’re trying to figure out how much material you need. Is the house or building being wood framed? Will there be metal beams, instead? 

Depending on the number of wood products you are incorporating into the building, you may actually be able to save a little money since wood is a little less pricier than bricks that are built to last much, much longer. 

How Much Timber Goes into a House?

On average, you can count on 6.3 Board Feet for every square foot of house. 

Just like we figured out how many bricks we’ll need to build a house, after we’ve decided where the wood is going to go, we can get a good idea of what’s needed. 

According to the United States’ Federal Census Bureau, the average home built in 2020 was 2,333 square feet, and would have required 14,697.9 board feet to build! In 2013, that average would have been a little more than 16,000 board feet of lumber! Depending on your pieces of wood, that could be roughly about 16,000 boards!

Building Bigger Means Bigger Numbers

To build skyscrapers, a lot of work is required before they can “touch the sky”. Did you know that it takes excavation in order to build the foundation? These buildings need a lot of stability!

If the installation of the foundation isn’t properly overseen, it could mean awful things for the building in the future, such as falling unexpectedly! To avoid disaster, engineers and planners go through a lot of preparation and work, including foundational concrete pillars.

This tall, thin and spiraling skyscraper is located in China.

Shanghai Tower, photo from Wikipedia.

How much concrete is required? Depending on the size of the building, the amount of concrete can be staggering on its own. For the Shanghai Tower, opened in 2014, they poured 2.15 million cubic feet of reinforced concrete just for the foundation!

In 2015, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco got a concrete slab foundation poured over the course of 18 hours that took nearly 49 million pounds of concrete

Salesforce Tower is a tall skyscraper filled with glass windows and towers 1,070 feet into the sky.

Salesforce Tower, San Francisco. Photo from Wikipedia.

Construction takes a lot of people that are knowledgeable in the math, science, and engineering of how to make a building work. When we really look at what these people accomplish, it really can be surprising.

If you’re about to have some construction started, or your next project is getting underway soon, give us a call! We’re there to take care of you while you take care of the building. We’re At Your Service.

Photo by Scott Blake on Unsplash

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