ARC / Connect

Understanding the True FIRST Cost of VCT/BBT Before Accepting it as a VE Item

06.28.12 / Meghann Van Dorn

This photo is from one of our recent interiors projects where marmoleum tile was used successfully to achieve the sustainable, cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing qualities that the client and ARC hoped for.

I think almost every architect and designer has been through it: you specify linoleum/marmoleum (a resilient green flooring product made of natural materials) on a project only to see it on the VE (value engineering) list shortly thereafter. Looking at the savings listed by the contractor, it’s hard to argue…At first glance, it looks like making the switch from something like MCT (marmoleum composition tile) to VCT (vinyl composition tile) or BBT (bio-based tile) would mean a substantial savings.  But upon further inspection, the actual savings to the client might end up being fairly insignificant.

So before accepting that line item, make sure that you understand the final costs…and know who’s responsible for what.

The 2 step installation process: In prepping a resilient floor for foot traffic, VCT manufacturers often list TWO steps instead of one and they are often noted in separate areas of their installation guidelines.

STEP 1: Initial Maintenance Immediately After Installation:  2 Coats of finish at installation

STEP 2: Preparation for Commercial Traffic: apply 3-5 coats of Finish

But who owns which step? That really depends on the project’s GC and the selected subs (doesn’t everything?) but often times, the flooring contractor doesn’t own ANY of the finish steps needed. If the specifications aren’t clear and the GC hasn’t included the necessary coats in their scope of work, the client doesn’t get an installation per the manufacturer’s recommendations (and this could void warranties).

What does this actually mean? The spreadsheet below provides a cost-by-cost breakdown of the product cost + the total manufacturer-noted installation cost of VCT, BBT and MCT (marmoleum tile arrives with a top-coat making the 2 coat “Initial Maintenance” step unnecessary).

**Please note that these prices do NOT include any mark-up from the flooring contractors**

So….what’s the bottom line? While it’s true that the product cost for VCT and BBT make it look like a much less expensive alternative to linoleum, the true install cost can actually end up being more expensive. So the next time you see linoleum on the VE list, it’s worth asking a few questions…you may find that you don’t need to give up green design to save some green.


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