Concrete is the most widely used building material in the world due to its many advantageous properties. Being the cornerstone of modern society, concrete is used to build a wide variety of structures including houses, buildings, roads, tunnels, and bridges. In order to build any structure using concrete, frames and moulds are needed to hold the concrete in place until it hardens and these frames and moulds are called formwork.
While some concrete structures are relatively cheap and straightforward, others are more complex and require specialist formwork which can be very expensive. As a result, formwork is a specialist skill that is generally carried out by concreters, carpenters, and formwork specialists for more complex requirements. Considering that formwork is needed to build almost everyconcrete structure, today we’re going to explore formwork in greater detail along with outlining the associated costs.
What is formwork?
Formwork is an integral aspect of the construction industry and is used for a range of horizontal and vertical applications. Formwork can made from timber beams and plywood, or it could be made from frames with special materials to hold the form in place. For artistic purposes, formwork can be used to create concrete structures which are curved, straight, or angled. One of the most common uses of formwork is constructing concrete slabs which are used in both residential and commercial construction.
For example, if you wanted to build a driveway or patio which is a common DIY project for many homeowners, strips of timber or plywood are used as formwork which are cut to the necessary height with evenly spaced pegs positioned in between. The concrete is then poured until it reaches the height of the formwork and then finished and left to harden before removing the formwork. While formwork used to build a driveway or patio is relatively simple, formwork can also be extremely complicated such as when building bridges or tunnels.
Most formwork is temporary and can be re-used for the next project, however sometimes permanent formwork is required to offer additional support. It’s paramount that formwork is done correctly and takes into account the thickness of the concrete and the load bearing capacity of the formwork.
How much does formwork cost?
The costs of formwork are highly dependent on the complexity of the job. Formwork required for horizontal surfaces is fairly cheap because only plywood and supporting stakes are required. On the contrary, formwork needed for stairs, columns, walls, and second storey floors are much more expensive given that the formwork needs to have precise specifications and the work is time-consuming when taking into account load bearing capacities.
The costs of formwork generally consist of labour, materials, and supplies. Jobs that are simple (such as a driveway or patio) can be performed by a labourer and might take half a day, but more complex jobs require experienced and qualified specialists and can sometimes take one week or more. Special equipment is typically required on more complex jobs such as cranes, special vehicles, and concrete pumps and formwork specialists will obviously charge much more for their labour.
A common scenario is a DIY homeowner who wants to construct a 200 square foot concrete slab at home but they don’t have the necessary formwork skills. If the slab was being constructed on a flat surface and the formwork was being organised by a labourer, the approximate costs would be as follows:
|Labour Costs ($40 per hour) – 6 hours||$240|
|Formwork Job Supplies||$40|
|Formwork Equipment Allowance||$50|
Each formwork job is different and if you want to get an accurate quote, you would need to provide details about the job and its size and specifications. Keep in mind that an initial quote can change substantially after formwork contractors have inspected the job site, so its best to choose a reputable company with relevant experience.
Uni-Span are your local formwork specialists who have been helping Australians with a range of formwork projects for more than 40 years. If you’re interested in a quote or just need some friendly advice, don’t hesitate to speak with our staff directly by phoning 1300 882 825.