architectural stone balustrade

Value Engineering

Value Engineering. (How to save money when using natural stone)

In the vernacular of the construction process, there are very few terms more important for the design team and the homeowner to understand than “value engineering”. Too often this process, and that is truly what it is, a “process”, is unfairly categorized as a cheapening of the end product in a simple effort to save money. There are certainly instances where the contracting entity and/or the design team and homeowner may be doing exactly that. However, there are also many scenarios that represent true building and contracting expertise being used to maintain real value at a reduced price. In the architectural stone industry, “value engineering” is the answer to the question, “how can homeowners save money when using natural stone”. Let’s take a little deeper dive into this process. Firstly, let’s identify what elements will constitute “architectural” stone. For the purpose of this exercise, we will include fireplaces (mantles and surrounds), column covers, window and door surrounds, and kitchen hoods and hearths. At Materials Marketing, we have a team of professionals in our Design and Engineering department. Say you contacted Mr. Roger Ramirez, (a 25 year plus veteran), and asked him about the value engineering of your project involving architectural elements in natural stone. He would start with discussing “mass and detail”.

In order to best understand that idea, please take a look at the drawing below:

As you can see in the original design on the left versus the value engineered design on the right, the element is much thicker and therefore carries more “mass” and weight in stone. That equates directly to increased labor and shipping charges. You can also note slightly less “detail” and that yields a decrease in production costs. In this instance, the result was a saving of almost $100.00 per linear foot. Assuming the esthetic result meets with the client’s approval, this would be an excellent example of how the process helped the homeowner save money in the cost of their architectural stone without a great sacrifice in design standards.

Another example of an easy idea to save money when using architectural stone is provided by Mr. Joe Martinez, also from the Materials Marketing D & E group. Joe suggests that you can always search for the “hidden” areas where stone mass exists but is not visible and where that mass provides no engineering advantage. As you can see in the very rough drawing below, the area cross hatched in red is no longer stone, since in Joes’ parlance this area is “hidden”. The stone is now segmented and used as a veneer or cladding.

In conclusion, plans as drawn by the design team can oft times be slightly adjusted in the value engineering process and still maintain high value and integrity. Take advantage of the expertise in the Materials Marketing Design and Engineering group by visiting one of our showrooms.

Subscribe to our Newsletter and stay up to date on Materials Marketing news, special products, and designer tips!