Concrete Homes – Built to last!

Concrete Homes

Courtesy of Buildipedia.com

With an ever growing population in a constant need for new housing options, a planet that seems to want to shake us of her back with record floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and wild fires, building stronger home as well as conserving non-renewable resources is becoming an absolute imperative. As a result, old and new ideas emerge, and in the field of construction, concrete homes is making a headway.

WHAT ARE CONCRETE HOMES

In addition to pouring the usual concrete slab as the foundation and a driveway, concrete homes replace stick framing with concrete walls that are made with forms. The idea to replace wood structures is by no mean new, adobe homes are some of the oldest dwellings still standing that used rammed earth in lieu of wood. But they require substantial man power and time. Concrete homes on the other hand can be built in very little time with a small crew for about the same price as regular stick framed homes.

NEW DISCOVERY?

Not really! In 1908, while looking for an affordable and durable housing solution, Thomas Edison invented a concrete forming system for homes and patented it! The whole process would take 4 days to erect the mold structure, then pouring the concrete in 6-hour increments, completing the entire project in less than 2 weeks!  In 1937, Frank Lloyd Wright built its famous Fallingwater home in concrete showcasing its strength and ability to create unique shapes that beautiful blend with the surrounding natural setting.

concrete home using insulated concrete forms, ICFs

Setting up insulated concrete forms. Courtesy of saipreethiprecastbuilder.com

HOW CONCRETE HOMES ARE BUILT

To replace the wood structure, insulated concrete forms (ICF) are used. Once the forms are stacked up to form the wall, they are braced on the outside, a moving scaffolding is used to pour the concrete poured into the walls. Some insulated concrete forms incorporate expanded polistyrene (EPS) for greater insulation (R-60). The next day, the walls are set and framing of the interior walls can start and the scaffolding can be moved to the next house. This process could save up to 2 days of work per house!
Watch how a 250 square foot studio home is built in less that 3 hours in this short video.

WHY BUILD A CONCRETE HOME

Concrete homes are tornado and hurricane proof

Concrete home left standing after Katrina.      Courtesy of Conradscastles.com

Ask any long-time home owner what features would an ideal house have and the following is mentioned:
– Moisture, mildew and mold protection
– Termite resistant
– Provide better insulation at the same price
– Eliminate cold spots
– Provide even temperature through day and night.
– Protection against wild fires in drought prone regions (concrete is naturally fireproof)
– Withstand high winds (in hurricane prone regions)
– Meet seismic building code requirements (up to zone 4)
– Better sound proofing
Unbelievable but true, concrete homes address every feature in this list without adding extra cost for each problem.

GREEN BUILDING

Concrete homes are considered green because they recycle cementitious materials like fly ash, slag cement, silica fume that would otherwise be dumped into landfills.

For builders and home owners looking to green their homes, concrete homes completely eliminate the need for volatile preservatives found in the various glues that make up particle wood panels.

With over 9 states in the US experiencing exceptional to abnormally dry weather in 2015, the need for better insulated homes is paramount. When cooling and heating bills in Southern California can be as high as $600-800 a month for a 2,800-square-foot home, the possibility of saving up to 50% of your energy is a huge plus.

DESIGN BENEFITS

Left in its original grey color , concrete can be experienced as masculine, a bit cold and dull, but the use of concrete finishes can transform this material into warm and stunning surfaces that can be combined with wood, glass and other materials.
Concrete homes also offer a greater flexibility in terms of design. Curved walls can easily be incorporated and cheaper to build. They can be very simple and have been transformed into magnificent designs by architects around the world leveraging the surrounding landscape and terrain. Concrete can accommodate very unique modern futuristic designs and angles and can even be used to build monolythic domes.

ISSUES WITH CONCRETE HOMES

Placing concrete in the walls can be challenging and blow-outs can occur. But a experienced operator can take all the necessary precautions to avoid them.

Concrete homes used to cost 3-5% more than standard stick-framed buildings but with a 30-45% energy savings and up to 20% insurance discounts, the monthly operating costs of a concrete homeowner is equal and often even less than regular homes. So cost is no longer an issue when building a concrete home!

MARKET ADOPTION

In a market that constantly sees ups and downs, concrete homes represents a real business opportunity for concrete operators and pumping companies to stand out. Accurate placement of walls requires expertise and know-how. As in all well-established industries, new ideas can be threatening but the benefits of concrete homes so far outweighs the small learning curve builders have to go through to familiarize themselves with ICFs, pouring techniques etc.

More and more environmentally conscious consumers are doing their research and asking for concrete homes that offer energy-efficient solutions, that are much more durable and less toxic. They will only hire contractors that have experience and can do the work. So while most builders may shy away from new techniques and rather do what they know best, there is a growing new market that is waiting to be grabbed.

What size market are we talking? About 14% of the single family homes built in 2002, that’s about 171,000 homes were concrete homes, according to Jim Nicholl, PCA residential promotion manager. So with increasing unpredictable harsh weather patterns we are seeing all over the world and certainly in the US, the need and future for safer and more sustainable concrete homes is real and promising.

If you are looking for great deals on used concrete pumps or aerial lifts,
call United Equipment Sales at: (503)283-2105.

REFERENCE MATERIAL

http://concretehomesmagazine.com/

http://www.cement.org/think-harder-concrete-/homes/building-systems

S.M.L.

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