February 26, 2017

How can I Cost Engineer my Architectural Glazing Project?

Written by Rebecca Clayton

architectural glazing to new build house
"Glass in the UK can be specified at panel sizes of 6m long by 3.2m wide"

Full, frameless glass finishes look fantastic but when it comes down to the final installation sometimes the architectural glass designs need to be cost engineered.

Glass can be manufactured and installed at massive heights these days. With the advancements and increased demands for less framing and more glass exposure glass is being manufactured and engineered in much larger panels.

Glass in the UK can be specified at panel sizes of up to 6m long by 3.2m wide. This is due to the way that glass is made and cut at 6m intervals in its float state from the baths. All glass used in the UK needs to be toughened as well which also controls the size of individual glass panels.

"There are large costs associated with specialist ‘Supersized Glazing’"

If there is a design requirement for larger glazing panels IQ can source specialist 12m long glass units from the continent. There is, of course, large costs associated to this specialist ‘Supersized Glazing’ incorporating transport, risk factors and the high specification of glass needed in these large glass panels to ensure they do not deflect.

In terms of cost, any glass panel that is classed as ‘Oversized’ will have inherent costing uplifts.

Oversized Glass Panels are generally described as any glass unit over 2.4m in both directions or if one of the dimensions exceeds 4m in length. These costing variations are due to the required toughening process all construction glass in the UK needs. There are only very few toughening plants in the UK that can toughen glass over these dimensions and therefore is defined as a specialist item. There are also transportation and installation considerations with these large glass units; heavier panels = more installation manpower required to lift and fit and more specialist equipment. On smaller projects, there may be the additional uplift of crane costs if the installation opening is not accessible on foot or by car.

"The first step in cost engineering the glazing on a project would be to ensure that any glass units are under 2.4m in one direction"

The first step in cost engineering the glazing on a project would be to ensure that any glass units are under these measurement parameters. Ensuring that glass units on a project can be installed and lifted 'manually', without the need for a crane, is another way that you could look to cost engineer a glass package.

Does this apply to Framed Solutions? 

These glass size parameters also apply to glass that will be installed within a frame. Although, these proportions of glass are normally only a factor to consider when you are looking at using large format sliding door systems such as the minimal windows sliding door. These systems can take a piece of glass up to 12m sq but if you want to cost engineer the glass cost keep at least one dimension of a sliding door pane under 2.4m. If your floor to ceiling height of the sliding glass door is over 2.4m have a look at keeping each pane under 2.4m wide to make the glass rate as cost-effective as possible.

Alternative Glazing Options for Cost Engineering 

When looking at an architectural glazing package there may be alternative systems or solutions that can be explored in order to cost engineer the glazing package.

For example, an invisio structural glass wall is an extremely elegant and minimal way to create a wall of glazing on a project but is a premium glass design requiring the use of structural glass units to a very high specification in order to withstand wind and line loading requirements. An alternative solution may be a slim framed facade system from an aluminium fabrication company like Sieger Systems. They can fabricate an aluminium facade system with a 20mm framing sightline, around the same as a structural glass junction. Although you will have a box section within the internal space of 65-85mm deep you can create a similar external design from the single-storey facade at a lower cost.

35mm aluminium facade system from Hedgehog Aluminium and available from IQ

Similarly, our minimal windows sliding door system is a premium architectural glazing product and is used on some of the most exciting and luxurious architectural design projects in the UK. If a slim framed design is required at a slightly lower cost point there are various slim framed sliding glass door systems that we can recommend for use from a trusted company like Sieger Systems from a 20mm frame to 45mm to 85mm, all at a slightly lower cost point but with no reduction in quality, performance and security.

In Conclusion

It is possible to design a glass package to ensure it reaches a specific realistic budget and achieve the design aesthetics required as long as you are honest with your glazier about the budget allocated for the glazing. They will then be able to recommend the most suitable systems as well as recommend slight changes to the design or specification that might help reduce costs, such as the glass sizes or framing options.

All projects have a budget, whether that be large or small, so there is no shame in setting out what that budget is for the glazing in your initial conversations so your architectural glazing consultation doesn't start recommending solutions that are out of the realm of possibility for that project.

Need some further advice? 

Contact the team at IQ Glass for more information on (0)1494 722 880  www.iqglassuk.com or hello@iqglassuk.com

You can also make an appointment to visit our architectural glazing showroom in Amersham where all of the glazing solutions mentioned above are available to view.

The Courtyard Showroom, Sky House Design Centre, Raans Road, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP6 6FT.