How Small is Too Small for Tilt-Up Construction?


This 1,500-square-foot Starbucks facility was built using tilt-up construction.

At a recent forum with contractors, architects, and developers, someone asked the question: “How small can a building be and still be economically viable with tilt-up?”

This is a common question, since tilt-up construction has historically been known as a solution for only big box warehouses. But, as design and construction techniques evolve, contractors are proving that tilt-up can be viable at just about any footprint size—even as small as 1,500 square feet.

A recent article in Tilt-Up Today magazine highlighted how size standards for tilt-up have changed. “It’s not the size of the project that is necessarily the determining factor for efficiency and profitability.” The article says that a 20,000-square-foot project was once considered the minimum, but the threshold has gradually moved down to where contractors are satisfying client needs by delivering 5,000-square-foot projects economically.

It’s important to note that the economies of scale may not be at the same magnitude with smaller projects as they are for projects over 100,000 square feet. But, they are still achievable. And, even if mobilization costs aren’t as low, the speed of shell completion, quality of exterior finish, minimized exterior maintenance, and energy efficiency of a tilt-up building still make it the most economical choice.

The bottom line is: don’t let just the size of a project make the decision about whether to select tilt-up as your construction method. Instead, consider all the benefits tilt-up offers.

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