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The Hard Facts About a Concrete House

Concrete and Masonry
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Why own a concrete house?

In the past decade, concrete has become more and more popular as the primary construction material for houses - by 2015, concrete houses are expected to make up 15-20% of new homes built. There are numerous benefits to concrete houses that make concrete a much better building material than nearly any other.

Comfort and quiet. The barrier formed by the insulated concrete forms (foam molds filled with concrete) reduces the amount of outside air entering the home by about 75%, creating more even temperatures and causing fewer drafts. The thermal mass of the concrete, coupled with the layer of foam insulation, protects the interior from outside temperatures and eliminates cold spots that can occur in frame walls. The concrete's mass also reduces sound penetration by more than 80% compared to frame houses. Some sound will still travel through the windows, but a concrete house is typically two-thirds quieter than a frame house.

Pest-proof. Insulated concrete forms and concrete are not food sources for termites or carpenter ants. They also prevent rodents from residing in the walls.

Safety. FEMA recommends using insulated concrete forms in tornado shelter construction, as the walls can withstand debris from tornadoes or hurricanes, as well as wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour. Additionally, insurance companies recognize that concrete is the safest form of construction if fire threatens a house. As such, rates are significantly reduced for homes built from this material.

Lower energy bills. Homes built with insulated concrete walls require about 45% less energy to heat and 30% less energy to cool than a frame house. Concrete walls are solid and airtight, and, along with the insulation provided by the foam molds, effectively prevent air from escaping the home - reducing the amount of air exchange and keeping the temperature where it should be.

Healthier indoor environment. Insulated concrete form walls do not contain organic material, preventing them from molding or mildewing, and having to be replaced. The reduced air infiltration that concrete provides helps to keep allergens out of the house as well. The foam generally used in the forms, polystyrene, is nontoxic and free of asbestos or fiberglass.

There are many benefits to owning a concrete house. When looking to buy or build a house, be sure to ask what materials are under the brick or stucco exterior - if the answer is not "concrete", there may be better home-buying investments available.

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