Better Cost Through Standardisation: Ask the Expert

At Sapphire we’ve been focussed on refining balcony solutions to deliver improved quality, speed of install and rigidity. A key component in improving the efficiency of balcony design, production and delivery is increasing standardisation. Standardisation comes with a range of benefits which we discussed with Sapphire MD, Luke Haughton.

What does standardisation really mean in relation to balconies?

Standardisation does not mean the loss of variety or features but rather the reduction in balcony types to be as efficient as possible with materials, manufacture, and logistics.

For example, having a single balcony size on a project may seem ideal from a manufacturing perspective, but can make for very inefficient logistics. Alternatively, 3-5 balcony types with a few different sizes not only reduces cost and complications in manufacture, it also allows balconies to be ‘nested’ for more efficient delivery.

How does standardisation impact project costs?

Cost reduction doesn’t have to mean sacrificing important features in order to hit budgets. By being aware of where costs escalate in design, and by embracing standard sizing and repetition where practical, costs can be clinically cut whilst still achieving a high-quality end product.

The higher the number of variations the higher the cost per balcony as additional types add to the design, manufacture and logistical expenses. By reducing balcony types while striking the balance with desirable features and some variety, costs can be cut without compromising on the vision.

How can standardisation reduce waste?

Waste reduction helps keep material costs lower while also improving the speed and efficiency of manufacture.

One of the ways standardisation can reduce waste is by designing the balcony projection to work to whole deck board modules, avoiding the need to cut individual boards. This eliminates the need to dispose of excess decking while streamlining the manufacture of the balconies. This same idea can be applied to other elements of the balcony, for example, sticking to standard 400mm Cassettes® reduces the need to cut the aluminium panels to a bespoke size.

What are some hidden costs which are often overlooked in design?


Simply put, the less interfacing with other parts of the building, the more cost, design and time savings there are. Avoiding interfacing like extractor vents fitting within the Cassette® avoids the need for additional design work and works on site reducing costs and programme time.


Downpipes and gutters for drainage must be non-combustible which makes them a costly element to high-rise design. You also need deeper balconies to accommodate them and double soffits to hide connections to pipes. They also require ongoing maintenance.

Opting instead for controlled drainage through sloped soffits reduces the need for interfacing while managing water in line with NHBC requirements.


Small changes add up to big savings on high rise buildings. The higher the number of balconies on a project the greater the impact of standardisation on cost and waste.

Crane use

Greater variation means more complex installation and interfacing with other trades, all adding to install time and crane hire cost. The faster the install of balconies the sooner the crane can be used elsewhere on site or removed entirely.