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Your Complete Guide to the Advantages of a Concrete House

If you're interested in a new modern home you might be wondering about building a house out of concrete. This style of house can be very modern and flexible and has a lot of advantages over traditional building materials. We look at the main types of residential concrete construction as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. If you're looking for the top concrete construction companies, speak to Fortress Home today to learn about their expertise as Chicago's best concrete house builders.

What is a concrete house?

Did you know that types of cement construction have been around for over 8,000 years, although the material has been refined over time? According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors limestone was used in the Middle East around 6500 BC as mortar for watertight structures. The limestone reacted to the air and water, hardening to create a protective layer.

The basic form of cement we use today, Portland Cement, was invented in the early 1800s in England, and over the last century, the recipe has been refined and modified with additional agents being added to increase temperature resistance and to make it easier to work with.

After the introduction of Portland Cement, it took a while before concrete homes were socially acceptable, and it was initially just used for industrial construction. The first 'modern' concrete houses were built in England and France around 1880.

Nowadays concrete homes are considered modern, stylish, and desirable.


Concrete or cement

Many people use the words cement and concrete interchangeably but actually, cement is just one of the ingredients that are used to make concrete, and actually makes up just 10 - 15% of the finished product. Concrete is made up of:

  • sand
  • gravel or crushed stone
  • water
  • cement
 

The cement and water paste mix harden to make the finished cement. And this hardening process doesn't stop after a few hours or days - it can actually continue for years, making concrete even harder over time.

Why would you want a concrete house?

If you're serious about building a concrete home it's important to weigh up the pros and cons before you start the concrete home construction process.

Advantages of concrete homes

Environmentally friendly

A concrete home has many environmental advantages over a wood frame construction. These include:

  • Your heating and cooling costs will be reduced thanks to the great options for insulating concrete forms and other forms of concrete insulation.
  • Your house will be more sustainable as the materials used in concrete are much more sustainable and have a lower carbon footprint than those used in a wood-frame home.
  • Recycled materials can also be used in concrete home construction, making them a more environmentally sound choice.

 

Weather and pest resistant

Concrete house construction is very durable when it comes to extreme weather or pests:

  • Concrete homes can withstand wind speeds of up to 250mph so are great for hurricane-prone areas.
  • Unlike a wood frame house, there is nothing for termites and other pests to snack upon.
  • Concrete homes are also very resistant to moisture with no wooden frames to get damaged by damp.
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Safe

Concrete homes are also very safe as they are fireproof, with no structural elements to ignite. This means that some insurance companies will reduce their premiums by up to 25% for concrete houses.

Soundproof

With all the insulation in a concrete home, as well as the natural materials in the interior and exterior walls your house will be much better soundproofed than a traditional wood-frame house, making them ideal for noisy urban locations.

Stylish

There are plenty of ways to create a stunning and unique concrete home with this flexible building material. Thanks to its versatility of shape you can create curves, angles, and any other shape you can imagine with concrete forms.

Get inspired by these amazing concrete houses.

Disadvantages of concrete houses

Cost

The cost of concrete homes is generally slightly more expensive than that of wood-frame houses. Of course, this varies a lot based on the design with concrete block and poured in place concrete wall systems being more affordable in general than insulating concrete forms and precast panels.

But like all home construction, the price will depend on many other factors, including the design, land, and other regional factors.

Expertise

Depending on the type of concrete house you want to build you may need to find specific experts in the field, to ensure your home is built to last. This is generally less of a challenge with concrete block construction but more so with other techniques.

Appearance

The appearance of concrete homes isn't really a negative but for some people, the modern designs that feature concrete are not appealing. However, this can easily be overcome as there are so many concrete home construction types and designs, to please almost everyone.

How to build a concrete house

There are several different methods for concrete house construction and we detail them below.

Concrete blocks

A cheap concrete block house is probably the first thing that springs to mind when you think of concrete house construction, especially if you have traveled around Asia or Africa. But concrete blocks can be used to create some different house structures, taking the place of bricks. Concrete walls can be erected and then a wooden frame roof put on top.

A concrete block home is a more affordable option and is quick to build. They also have the advantage of being hurricane-proof making them very popular in the Southern coastal states.


Poured in place

Another cost-effective option is removable forms which are poured in place. The concrete forms will be set up for your exterior and interior walls and floors at the same time. Then the concrete is poured creating seamless concrete walls and floors. After the concrete is cured the frames will be removed, leaving behind your house structure.

These concrete systems can be more efficient as large concrete blocks or slabs don't need to be transported to the site. However, quality control is key in this type of build to ensure the concrete mix is done accurately. So skilled concrete masons are vital for this type of construction.

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Precast panels

Precast panels are made in a concrete factory and allow for a wide range of shapes and sizes. In the factory, they will be cast, have steel reinforcement, insulation, and wiring installed. The panels will then be transported to your concrete house construction site where they will be attached to the foundations and the house structure will be assembled. As the panels are assembled in a factory, quality control is generally very consistent resulting in high-quality concrete panels.

This type of concrete home construction is ideal for clean lines and smooth walls and can work well in more difficult building sites as a lot of the work is done before the panels reach the building site. Although the site will need to be accessible for cranes so the panels can be put in place. They can be more expensive than other concrete house techniques, especially for smaller buildings, but allow for interesting shapes, such as smooth, curved walls.

Insulated concrete forms

One of the most popular current concrete home techniques is insulating concrete forms. With this method, concrete forms are created, either as panels, blocks, or planks. These forms have steel reinforcement and fireproof insulation pre-installed. The pieces are then assembled forming the structure of your concrete home.

This type of concrete house is generally the strongest and most flame resistant, as well as being ideal for all types of extreme temperatures, making it the most advantageous concrete home type today.

Frequently asked questions

How long do concrete homes last?

It's very difficult to say exactly how long any particular type of house, including concrete homes, will last as it depends on so many factors. Factors that can contribute to the longevity of a building are:

  • Style of construction
  • Quality of materials used
  • Strong foundation
  • Expertise of builders
  • Type of soil
  • Location and climate

 

Currently, there are some concrete buildings that are over 100 years old and are not showing any signs of problems, but other concrete constructions made with shoddy materials and poor foundations only last 30 - 50 years. All this being said, if you work with someone who has experience in concrete residential construction your new concrete home should last at least 70-80 years without any issues.

This goes to show the importance of working with concrete building contractors who understand the building techniques, have experience in general concrete construction, and use high-quality materials. Fortress Home, Chicago prides itself on its team's expertise and the quality of all its construction work, whether using concrete or traditional materials.

Are concrete houses cheaper to build?

Generally, concrete houses are slightly more expensive than traditional homes. According to Homeadvisor standard house construction prices range from $100 - $200 per square foot and concrete houses cost between $105 - $208 per square foot.

Some of this increase in costs may be that a larger percentage of concrete homes are custom designs, and are design-led, which will naturally lead to higher costs, so it's perfectly possible to build an affordable concrete house.


What's wrong with concrete houses?

The main negative to concrete homes is that they can be a bit more expensive than traditional homes to build. However, this money will be saved in the long run, thanks to better insulation so lower utility bills, as well as the durability of concrete.

Some people object to the appearance of concrete, but cladding and siding, and painting can be used to mask the grey color if that's your main objection.

Is a concrete house cheaper than brick?

If you are building a standard house and are using regular concrete blocks instead of bricks then the concrete blocks will be cheaper. They also have the advantage of being stronger than bricks and are weather and temperature resistant.

Build your dream concrete house in Chicago

Contact Fortress Home in Chicago for a no obligations consultation to discuss your dream concrete house at +773-770-8607 or [email protected]

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