Outsourcing cuts cladding fabrication costs by 50%


“Off the pallet, straight onto the wall” ethos saves time, cost and improves quality, says Vivalda survey

Research undertaken by Vivalda Group, the UK’s largest supplier of non-combustible cladding, suggests that sub-contractors could reduce their fabrication costs by up to 50% by outsourcing the process.

Vivalda contacted 15 specialist cladding contractors across the UK and asked them to provide their hourly rates for three specific processes; standard board drilling, specialist drilling, and fixing of brackets to boards. The differences between quoted sub-contractor rates and those charged by Vivalda were surprising. Here are the key findings:

  • Standard drill holes for rivet and screw fix. Assuming 12 holes per m2, average sub-contractor labour rates quoted were up to 50% higher than those charged by Vivalda.
  • Specialist ‘secret fix’ drill holes. The price difference between specialist off-site fabrication and on-site labour rates quoted was equally remarkable. Overall, prices quoted for this more complex procedure were approximately 20% higher compared to the cost of standard drilling. Sub-contractor labour rates for this work came out at approximately 40% more expensive when compared to prices quoted by off-site, high precision material engineers such as Vivalda.
  • Fixing brackets / secret fixings to board. This too came out at around 35-40% higher compared to rates typically charged by third party suppliers. 

Commenting on the findings, Chris Meyerhoff, branch manager at Vivalda’s Hull branch said: “We are seeing a major trend towards off-site fabrication, with contractors increasingly turning to us to cut boards to size, drill holes and even fix brackets so that facades can be installed as soon as they arrive on site. Despite the proven cost savings and quality guarantees offered by outsourcing, we wanted to understand why a hardcore of contractors continue to do this job in-house. After all, it’s a notoriously time-consuming job that a lot of subbies don’t like doing on-site. That’s why we undertook this research into the relative costs quoted for this activity.

“Given the very clear savings contractors could make by outsourcing elements of their cladding fabrication process, we have to ask why aren’t all sub-contractors using third party specialists to prepare boards ready for on-site installation? Is it about control and quality? With damaged and poorly cut boards as the likely outcome, I cannot imagine this is good reason. Also, our use of CNC technology ensures boards are cut to within the tightest tolerances, with brackets fixed using the right tools in well lit, warm surroundings as opposed to rainswept, building sites with restricted space and strict on-site working regulations.

“Perhaps some sub-contractors don’t consider the cost of fixings as being that significant? Well, for a project comprising 5,000m2 of cladding, our investigation suggests that this could cost anywhere from £300,000 to £600,000 in fixing labour costs – depending on the location and complexity of the project. That’s not chicken feed in anyone’s book. I’d urge any contractors out there to reconsider this part of their supply chain as it could improve quality, reduce accidents and boost profits in one fell swoop.”

Based on its recent survey, Vivalda Group’s UK-wide fabrication facilities could save sub-contractors between 35 and 50% on labour costs, while significantly improving the accuracy and quality of the cladding systems prior to installation.


Latest Issue

BDC 309 : Oct 2023