Building materials and cost information
Product information, materials specifications and materials costs are available using a number of printed and electronic resources.
RIBA Trade Literature Collection
This collection, provided by the Royal Institute of British Architects, consists of a selection of the most important literature required by the practising architect. It combines technical literature with manufacturers’ catalogues to provide comprehensive coverage of trade (or product) information for the construction industry.
The collection is arranged using the CI/SfB system of classification. This system groups trade literature by parts of the structure, from the foundation to finishes, and by material type. British Standards and further reading on each part or the structure or each material type are provided as appropriate.
To find trade literature by part of the structure, look for the yellow labels.This section is classified using bracketed numbers. The broad arrangement of this section is:
- (0-) System Buildings
- (1-) Sub-structure
- (2-) Structure
- (3-) Components
- (4-) Finishes
- (5-) Piped Services
- (6-) Electrical Services
- (7-) Fittings
- (9-) External Fittings
Manufacturers producing materials with many structural uses are most likely to have a catalogue in the materials type section of the collection. To find these, go to the green labels and identify the material type using the combination of capital and small letters as indicated on the displayed index.
Available via Info4education, Specify-it is a comprehensive electronic collection of UK product catalogues for the construction industry. Contact details for 10,000 manufacturers, datasheets and CAD drawings are provided in addition to the full-text catalogues. The focus is on catalogues for civil engineering professionals. Nevertheless, Specify-it offers an alternative to the RIBA Trade Literature Collection for those unable to visit the Architecture Library in person.
This electronic collection of catalogues is arranged by CI/SfB and may be searched by product type, product name or company name.
RIBA Product Selector
A publication listing contact details and product information from 8,700 UK manufacturers and product and services suppliers, plus advisory organisations and trade names. Also available in print in the Architecture Library RIBA Trade Literature Collection.
Barbour Product Search
A directory of products from 7,500 manufacturers. Photographs of product ranges are displayed allowing easy comparison. Sustainable products are showcased. Includes images of product ranges, case studies, technical data and project data. Available in print as the Barbour Compendium at Architecture: Reference 691 BAR. The online version also includes product case studies, searchable by building name.
A source of building product information for the construction industry.
A directory of products and services for the built environment. May be browsed by CI/SfB and includes product technical standards and case studies. Available in print as ESI Building Products at Architecture: Reference 691 ESI.
Green Book Live
A directory of environmentally accredited products and services. Produced by BREGlobal who are responsible for the BREEAM assessment schemes.
A charged subscription service, with a 15 day free trial, listing over 2,200 environmentally preferable products, with insights on the green attributes of each product.
Materia is a knowledge centre for developments and innovations in materials, and their applications for architecture and design. Search their database by material, project or keyword. Requires free registration.
The Building Centre
An excellent source of product information for the construction industry, the Building Centre in London offers a product brochure request service online or via the premium rate number 09065 161 136. Ever-changing product exhibitions are a further source of information on new building materials.
Books and journals at Cardiff University
The Architecture Library houses some key books on the subject of materials, located mostly at 691. Classified advertisements in architectural journals are a further source of information on available materials. Look in particular at Architects’ Journal (username and password), bd, Architectural Review, Architecture Today and Materials Monthly.
Exhibitions at the Building Centre give some insight into available and new buildings materials. Annual exhibitions, such as 100% Materials, part of 100% Design, and ecobuild are an additional way for the professional architect to discover what is available. Free student tickets are usually available for this September event. Visit the RIBA What's On? page for suggestions of forthcoming exhibitions.
The journal AJ Specification (formerly AJ Focus) has a regular series of articles, 'Focus On…' , looking at materials. Each issue features a different material.
AJ Buildings Library
Showcases hundreds of exemplar projects, mostly from the last 20 years. Projects can be searched by age, cost, architect, building type, footprint and location. Each project has full project data, including some materials information, and architectural photographs and drawings. Cardiff University does not currently subscribe to this resource, but a number of projects are freely available to non-subscribers.
Find out what products were used with which building, and designed by whom. This website is useful for identifying building precedents.
Building Costs Information
Spon’s Architects’ and Builders’ Price Book
This indispensable reference book includes prices for materials, labour, machinery and overheads, allowing the architect to calculate building costs. For those in a hurry, there is a section listing indicative costs by building type. Located at Architecture: Reference 692.5 S.
Griffiths Complete Building Price Book
A guide to pricing mid-scale new work projects (up to £1 million) and mid- to small-scale alterations and repairs projects (up to £50K) with a reasonable balance of work in most trades. Located at Architecture: Reference 692.5 G.
Provides the most recent information covering cost analysis of materials, labour, etc., and detailed cost analysis for the purpose of estimating building costs.
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Envest2 simplifies the process of designing buildings with low environmental impact and whole life costs. Please contact Sarah Nicholas (NicholasS2@cardiff.ac.uk) for more information.