|FCR: Fibre Concrete Roofing (SKAT, 1987, 185 p.)|
|6. Costs and economics|
The questionnaires which were returned by 17 projects had different paragraphs to evaluate the costs and economics of FCR products.
The answers should give a picture about the following aspects:
- Costs of production (fixed and variable costs)
- Costs of fixings and roof-structure
- Costs of transport
- Importance of costs and economics
- Comparison with other roofing materials
Even though most persons answering the questionnaire gave a high importance to the economic aspects, there seems to be a lack of information and awareness about costs and economics.
Almost everybody could give exact figures of the costs for raw-materials. Once the composite is known and practical experience is made, it is easy to calculate the costs of raw materials. The other cost factors which will incur from the investment such as interest on loans, depreciation (of capital, equipment and training costs) e.g. the fixed costs seem not to be taken into account by most of the project responsibles. This might origin mostly from the way FCR projects are supported.
Labour-costs, the other main cost factor, are also given very rarely. The reason may be the- fact, that FCR Is still In a phase of development and often the work Is done by free labour or self-help-groups. There seem to be very few cases, where FCR production is done on a commercial basis by entrepreneurs and contract labour.
As a general figure, 80 % of the people answering the questionnaire stated costs of production per one square meter of roofing elements at 2 US $ to 4 US $. No indication was given on transport costs.
The costs of fixings and roof-structure could be given by most of the participants. It varies between 2 US $ to 4 US $ per square meter of roof surface. There Is no apparent difference in costs of roof-structure whether FC-tiles or- sheets are used. The timber consumption Is almost the same for both a truss and purlin or a rafter and purlin structure.
The figures given by the field-workers have verified the statement made by the promoters of FCR technology:
In comparison with similar roofing materials such as GCI-sheets or asbestos-cement sheets, the costs of production for a FC-element can be 50 % to 60 % less.
Economics of FCR as a product ex-works
FCR products are, generally speaking, not a commercial product yet. In very few cases, FCR has entered the building material market as a profitable trade.
Advantages (+) or disadvantages (-) of FCR production is given in catchwords only:
+ Low initial investment
+ No direct import of raw-materials (foreign currency involved only indirectly for cement and plastic if at all )
+ Communities producing their own building materials
+ On site production (no transport)
+ Low energy input for production process
+ Low costs for maintenance of equipment
- Use of cement which might be scarce anyway
- Energy input for cement production
- Need of foreign currency to buy equipment
- Training courses overseas or expatriate trainers are expensive
Another problem to determine the economics of FCR is the lack of knowledge about the products life-span and a lack of marketing experience. A comparison with other roofing materials has to consider the different life spans as well as the fact, that prices of other materials known are retail prices which include profits of wholesalers and marketing costs . Estimates of life span of a FCR product vary from 4 to 30 years, depending on experiences of succes or failure so far made by the people answering the questionnaire. Empiric experiences date back to 1978. Reported failures are mostly caused by bad production or bad roof-structure and less by material properties.
Economics of FCR-products including roof-structure
There Is no evidence in the questionnaires, that FCR products require a more expensive roof-structure than other roofing-methods. No special comments are made on the system of roof-structure. It seems, that most projects are using a traditional local roof-structure technology, adapting it to the dimensions determined by their FCR product.
The scarce information given on structural problems of the roof asks for more clarification of how a FCR roof should be built.