If you draw parallels between a structure and an essay, design and the choice of words play a similar role in them, giving them their identity. But what materials are to a building, language is to an essay. The language chosen must be the one in which you can communicate fluently.


1. The most significant factor - Cost

The construction of almost all structures is confined by budget. It is usually the fundamental factor in choosing any material and is the first considered factor. But the cost of any material is never an isolated factor. Not necessarily, but the quality of materials improves with the increasing costs, not just because of the quality of raw materials, but also the processing costs. The cost of materials can be very misleading if other factors aren’t evaluated consciously. 


2. Longevity

Its longevity or durability is another factor that visibly holds importance. The life of material helps make decisions if it is worth investing. It also depends upon the desired or estimated life of the project. The life of the structural materials is non-negotiable, while the life of finishes can have a smaller lifespan. It is possible in conditions where there is a tight budget restraint and funds will be available in the future to renovate or upgrade the material finishes.


3. Climate compatibility

Climate is often neglected when choosing building materials, just because of their exotic appeal or visual features. Factors such as the life of a building material, and the requirement of maintenance change if the material is not compatible with the climate. Heat, Cold, Precipitation, Humidity etc affects materials greatly and should be considered while choosing a material because it directly affects long-term maintenance costs. If chosen correctly, materials can help make buildings more energy efficient, and thus sustainable. 


4. Availability

Where the material is acquired affects multiple factors. Using a cheap material that needs transporting over long distances is not a great choice if a better material is available at a higher cost in the vicinity. It thus also affects the lifespan of the structure and its sustainability. Locally sourced materials are the best choices as they are also often the most climate-compatible, requiring much less transport, making the use of material more sustainable. 


5. Sustainability

The construction industry and building operations industry accounts for 38% of the total emissions in the world and 35% of the total energy consumed. It is vital to use energy and resources responsibly for downsizing the adverse effects on the environment. Material sustainability can be calculated by factoring in the life of the material, the energy required to produce it, the energy needed for its maintenance and how much impact it has on the environment after its disposal when its lifecycle is complete. Materials can directly affect the active energy consumption of a building after it is constructed, so that is also a factor that can make a material more sustainable. The sustainability of a material is measured in every factor it influences, from cost to interaction with climate. 


6. Building Function 

The function of the building is crucial to the choice of materials. Its construction type and technology also drive which materials would be the most suitable for the building. The material quality and type also change depending upon the type of building, which could be anything from a residential, commercial, industrial or public building. 


7. Maintenance

Maintenance is a crucial element depending upon the use case of the building. All structures cannot be regularly maintained, and if a high-maintenance material is used in places where it can’t be maintained regularly, that causes nuisance as it would affect the material lifespan. Maintenance can also increase when the material used is not locally sourced and thus incompatible with the climate. 


8. Aesthetics

In places such as hotels, restaurants and other businesses that provide experiences, materials play a huge role in the aesthetics as it directly drives the businesses. The material features such as colours, textures and how they reflect light play a huge role in how it affects the user experience. 


9. Structural 

Strength is also a crucial quality of structural materials & they cannot be compromised, because it would affect the safety of the building. It is essential to use materials that help a structure maintain itself and the amount of live load it has to carry. In some Architectural styles, the structural elements also act as the aesthetic elements of the building, and thus it is important for the material to also have treatment finishes to protect it against the natural elements. 


10. Storage 

This is a factor which is important during the construction phase of the building, as it affects the budgeting as well construction management. Proper care should be taken to assess storage options available for the material and how they’re preserved to maintain the highest quality while being constructed. A slight drop in quality during the construction phase can compound into a bigger problem during the lifespan of the building.  


11. Availability of Labour 

Each type of material requires different skills for handling and thus becomes a crucial factor in determining the materials used. Not using local materials raises the cost of procuring the material but also increases the amount spent on labor. It also increases the possibility of project delay because of the unavailability of labor