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Building materials and cost information

Product information, materials specifications and materials costs are available using a number of printed and electronic resources.

Product information

Trade Literature Collection

This collection consists of a selection of the most important literature required by the practising architect. It combines technical literature with manufacturers’ catalogues to provide comprehensive coverage of trade (or product) information for the construction industry.

The collection is arranged using the CI/SfB system of classification. This system groups trade literature by parts of the structure, from the foundation to finishes, and by material type. British Standards and further reading on each part or the structure or each material type are provided as appropriate.

To find trade literature by part of the structure, look for the yellow labels.This section is classified using bracketed numbers. The broad arrangement of this section is:

  • (0-) System Buildings
  • (1-) Sub-structure
  • (2-) Structure
  • (3-) Components
  • (4-) Finishes
  • (5-) Piped Services
  • (6-) Electrical Services
  • (7-) Fittings
  • (9-) External Fittings

Manufacturers producing materials with many structural uses are most likely to have a catalogue in the materials type section of the collection. To find these, go to the green labels and identify the material type using the combination of capital and small letters as indicated on the displayed index.

You will find the Trade Literature Collection on the mezzanine floor of the Architecture Library.



Available via Info4education, Specify-it is a comprehensive electronic collection of UK product catalogues for the construction industry. Contact details for 10,000 manufacturers, datasheets and 40,000 FastrackCAD drawings are provided in addition to the full-text catalogues. The focus is on catalogues for civil engineering professionals. Nevertheless, Specify-it offers an alternative to the Trade Literature Collection for those unable to visit the Architecture Library in person.

This electronic collection of catalogues is arranged by CI/SfB and may be searched by product type, product name or company name.

RIBA Product Selector

RIBA Product Selector

A print publication listing contact details and product information from over 9,000 UK manufacturers and product and services suppliers. The directory also provides listings of advisory organisations and trade names. The online version at includes pdf versions of some suppliers' catalogues. The print version is available next to the trade literature collection.

Barbour Product Search

Barbour Product Search

A directory of products from 7,500 manufacturers. It includes product descriptions, photographs and manufacturers' contact details, plus regularly updated product case studies discoverable by building name and links to FastrackCAD drawing of building components.



A source of building product information for the construction industry.

A directory of products and services for the built environment. Use the email feature to request product samples and register to save favourite products to your named projects. Permits easy comparison of products and manufacturers and includes product technical standards and case studies. 

Green Book Live

A directory of environmentally accredited products and services. Produced by BREGlobal who are responsible for the BREEAM assessment schemes.



A charged subscription service, with a 15 day free trial, listing over 2,200 environmentally preferable products, with insights on the green attributes of each product.


Materia is a knowledge centre for developments and innovations in materials, and their applications for architecture and design. Search their database by material, project or keyword. Requires free registration.

The Building Centre

An excellent source of product information for the construction industry, the Building Centre, based in central London, holds product samples and has ever-changing product exhibitions. The Building Centre's long-established product manufacturer directory provides downloadable manufacturers' catalogues.

Books and journals at Cardiff University


The Architecture Library houses some key books on the subject of materials, located mostly at 691. Classified advertisements in architectural journals are a further source of information on available materials. Look in particular at Architects’ Journal, bd, Architectural Review and Architecture Today.

Materials exhibitions

Exhibitions at the Building Centre give some insight into available and new buildings materials. Annual exhibitions, such as 100% Design and ecobuild, are an additional way for the professional architect to discover what is available. Free student tickets are usually available for this September event. Visit the RIBA What's On? page and Building Talk's Building Industry Events page for suggestions of forthcoming exhibitions.

AJ Specification

AJ Specification

The journal AJ Specification (formerly AJ Focus) has a regular series of articles, 'Focus On…' , looking at materials. Each issue features a different material.

AJ Buildings Library

Showcases hundreds of exemplar projects, mostly from the last 20 years. Projects can be searched by age, cost, architect, building type, footprint and location. Each project has full project data, including some materials information, and architectural photographs and drawings. Cardiff University does not currently subscribe to this resource, but a number of projects are freely available to non-subscribers.

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Building Costs Information

Spon’s Architects’ and Builders’ Price Book

This indispensable reference book includes prices for materials, labour, machinery and overheads, allowing the architect to calculate building costs. For those in a hurry, there is a section listing indicative costs by building type. Located at Architecture: Reference 692.5 S.

Griffiths Complete Building Price Book

A guide to pricing mid-scale new work projects (up to £1 million) and mid- to small-scale alterations and repairs projects (up to £50K) with a reasonable balance of work in most trades. Located at Architecture: Reference 692.5 G.

BCIS Online

BCIS Online provides the most recent information covering cost analysis of materials, labour, etc., and detailed cost analysis for the purpose of estimating building costs.

The University is allowed two concurrent users at any one time, each using a different logon. Please Log out once you have finished using BCIS Online, so others are able to access it. Please note, BCIS Online can only be accessed on-campus.

Cardiff User 1    Cardiff User 2


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