James Haefner Photography, Courtesy of SmithGroupJJR

A new study comparing the construction costs of brick buildings to five common exteriors shows that brick with CMU costs less than precast concrete, metal panel curtain wall and glass panel curtain wall systems.

Conducted by RSMeans for the Brick Industry Association (BIA), the independent study compares total construction costs in five categories: three-story office building, three-story apartment building, five-to 10-story office building, four to eight-story hospital and a six-story dorm.

Comparisons include exterior installation and finish systems (EIFS) with metal studs (lowest cost), brick with steel studs, manufactured stone with steel studs, brick with CMU, precast concrete, metal panel curtain wall and glass panel curtain wall.

“National averages show brick costs less than perceived,” said Ray Leonhard, BIA’s president and CEO. “Since it’s a non-flammable and non-combustible material, clay brick also offers superior fire resistance with a minimum one-hour fire rating.”

A three-story office building using manufactured stone with steel studs costs 2.7% more than brick with steel studs. Precast concrete costs 2.7% more than brick with CMU, and metal panel curtain wall costs 13.1% more than brick with CMU.

A five- to 10-story office building with a metal panel curtain wall costs 10.8 percent more than brick with CMU, and 5.7% more in precast concrete than brick with CMU. Manufactured stone with steel studs costs 4.2% more than brick with steel studs.

A three-story apartment building using manufactured stone with steel studs costs 3.6% more than brick with steel studs. Precast concrete costs 4.3% more and metal panel curtain wall 14.1% more than brick with CMU.

A four- to eight-story hospital project using metal panel curtain wall and/or glass panel curtain wall costs $2-plus million over brick systems.

Six-story dorms with precast concrete cost 4.7% more and metal panel curtain wall costs 8.8% more than brick with CMU. Manufactured stone with steel studs costs 2.9% more than brick with steel studs.

BIA can provide cost data for these building types in virtually any U.S. zip code.