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How to Successfully Cost Manage a Mass Timber Project

Cost-Estimating Considerations for General Contractors

A determining factor in the success of a mass timber project—and whether it goes forward at all—is the general contractor’s ability to provide informed cost estimates from the earliest stage of design. However, unlike other materials, there isn’t a hundred years of tradition and shared experience to guide budgeting, cost management, and competitive procurement, or readily available cost benchmarking. This paper is intended to bridge that gap with guidance for minimizing whole project costs and maximizing the value of mass timber projects.

U.S. Mass Timber Construction Manual

The U.S. Mass Timber Construction Manual gives contractors and installers a framework for the planning, procurement, and management of mass timber projects, and provides a bridge from their experience with other systems. Mass timber is unique in that it draws installation techniques from other construction types, so people with concrete, precast, tilt-up, and structural steel experience can readily adapt to these materials. However, understanding how mass timber differs from other building systems is key to cost effectiveness.

The manual was produced with primary funding from the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Rural Communities, in collaboration with WoodWorks’ mass timber manufacturing partners in the U.S. and Canada. While intended primarily for GCs and installers, it is a useful reference for all members of a mass timber project team and anyone interested in the construction of mass timber buildings.

US Mass Timber Construction Manual Cover on a wood table

Mass Timber Installation Training Curriculum

Do you have access to enough qualified workers to successfully construct a mass timber building? Do you want to train workers—or be trained yourself?  

WoodWorks has released 10 open-source mass timber installer training modules for free download. The modules cover the gamut of mass timber installation and are intended for use by contractors, subcontractor erectors, training centers, community colleges, and workforce development programs. 

Photo: Alex Schreyer

Support for Contractors and Installers

WoodWorks’ Mass Timber Construction Management Program includes two distinct elements:

Project Management Curriculum

Project Management Curriculum is offered by WoodWorks for individuals who estimate, procure, and manage new commercial and multi-family construction projects in the U.S. Speakers include principals and key staff from GC and installer firms with mass timber experience. Check out our event calendar for upcoming construction management education. 

To engage across the spectrum of the project management career track, WoodWorks is also partnering with universities to provide hands-on mass timber experience and educational resources to the next generation of GC project managers. Partnerships to date include:

Mass Timber Installer Training

Mass timber installer training is offered in partnership with various entities and targets the crew leaders and installers who physically build structures on site. For information on installer training programs, contact the following organizations:

Training Centers as of Q1 2024

Developing Future Programs

WoodWorks is seeking other entities interested in developing university construction management and installer training programs. High priority areas for installer training include Atlanta, New York City, the Carolinas, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, Denver, and Northern California, and we are working to develop programs in these and other areas. For more information, contact Brandon Brooks, Construction Management Program Manager.

Mass Timber Business Case Studies

Get real information on real deals. Developed collaboratively with Conrad Investment Management and project developers, this WoodWorks case study series examines the financial performance of U.S. projects constructed with mass timber structural systems. Business case studies fill a gap in available information by discussing qualitative influences and providing quantitative data to examine investment success, challenges, and lessons learned on mass timber projects across various building product sub-types.

The Canyons / Kaiser + Path / photo Jeremy Bittermann
The Canyons / Kaiser + Path / photo Jeremy Bittermann

WoodWorks Resources for General Contractors

Mass Timber Building Insurance

Because insurers often have similar areas of concern, WoodWorks maintains a growing list of resources that demonstrate mass timber’s safety and durability, including the results of testing, research and ongoing monitoring.

Learn More

Tall Mass Timber

Visit our tall timber page for answers to commonly asked questions, design guidance, and other resources related to projects with seven or more stories of mass timber.

Learn More

Protect Your Projects from Moisture: Resources for GCs 

Construction Phase Moisture Protection

Seattle Mass Timber Tower

Led by DLR Group, a team of internationally recognized industry leaders developed a design, engineering and cost feasibility study to serve as an example for the design and installation of a 12-story mixed-use mass timber tower in Seattle.

Seattle Mass Timber Tower / DLR Group
Seattle Mass Timber Tower / DLR Group

Want to know more about WoodWorks? 

Staffed by engineers, architects and construction experts, we help project teams identify and successfully realize the most appropriate wood solutions for their projects. Watch this short video to learn more and contact us for free project support.