Designing and building economical structures requires knowing the difference between design decisions that really improve efficiency and those that only appear to. Here are some suggestions for improving constructability, lowering costs, and improving the quality of the structure:

  • Footings and foundations: Where possible, keep the maximum depth of cut to 4 feet or less. If wall footings must be stepped, make the steps in 2-foot increments.
  • Walls: Avoid pilasters, tapered wall forms, monolithic lugs, corbels, and shelves. Use as few expansion joints as possible.
  • Columns: Don't reduce column cross section for upper stories of high-rise buildings. Avoid column capitals and round columns.
  • Structural slabs: For flat slabs, maintain a constant elevation for the bottom of the slab. For pan slabs, maintain the same pan size throughout the building.
  • Beams: Keep all beams the same size if possible. Run beam bolsters parallel to the main reinforcing bars.
  • Reinforcing steel: For bars to be placed by hand, 200 pounds per bar is the maximum weight that can be placed economically.