Automatic fire sprinklers have been in use in the USA since 1874. They have been widely acknowledged in different studies and by a wide range of users to be the single most effective way to fight the spread of fire while it is in its early stages. This has seen them become a requirement in certain building codes. The challenge however for their adoption at home has largely been the cost factors. For many home owners, the idea of investing in fire sprinklers is a bit lavish and they imagine the cost to be quite prohibitive. This understanding has greatly contributed to the low adoption of fire sprinklers by home owners. This article looks at the cost of fire sprinklers and the various factors which affect their cost.
Cost of Fire Sprinkler Systems
The rule of thumb is to estimate the cost of fire sprinklers with the cost of fitting new carpets. For more reliable figures, you can work with the data produced by the National Fire Association Research Foundation. The foundation conducted two studies to establish the adoption of fire sprinklers and the impact on cost. The studies were conducted in USA and Canada. In the 2008 study the range of costs of a sprinkler system were $0.38 to $3.66 per sprinklered square feet. The ‘sprinklered’ square feet covers the total area needing to be covered by sprinklers. This includes the living spaces to areas like attics, garages and basements. The foundation abbreviated it to SF2. The average cost of a sprinkler system was $1.61 per SF2.
This changed in the 2013 report which sought to update data in the 2008 report. It showed that the average cost of a sprinkler system was $1.35 per SF2. The range for total costs was from $1, 695 to $21,000. Aside from the findings on the cost, the foundation identified factors which affected the cost one would end up paying for the full installation.
Types of Fire Sprinkler Systems
There are two types of fire sprinkler systems. These are multipurpose systems and stand-alone systems. Multipurpose sprinkler systems are integrated with the existing plumbing systems. On the other hand, stand-alone systems come with their own plumbing systems. This makes multipurpose plumbing systems much cheaper since they take advantage of the plumbing in place.
Size & Structure of The House
Installing fire sprinklers in larger homes costs more due to the space that has to be covered by sprinklers; this project needs a bigger sprinkler system. In terms of structure, homes with a slab foundation have a cheaper cost per SF2 compared to those with crawl space and basement foundations. The latter two create more space to be covered.
Location Of The House
Houses built in areas where the fire sprinkler ordinances have been in existence for more than five years tend to have lower sprinkler installation costs. This is because they have experienced market acceptance of the sprinklers leading to competition and lower prices. The opposite happens to the houses built in areas where the ordinances have been in existence for just a year or less.
Another factor is the type of piping used in the fire sprinklers systems. Homes that use non-metallic pipes have less installation costs compared to homes which use a mix of metallic and non-metallic pipes or use metallic pipes exclusively.