There are multiple options when building a house. Materials like concrete, wood, and metal are used for the frame of the building, and it’s hard to get a trustworthy opinion on which one is the most suitable one.
I’d say they all have their strong points and weak points. If I’d overly simplify it, concrete is strong, but it doesn’t insulate well by itself. Wood is light and insulates well, but it can rot and burn if not appropriately built, and then there is the metal offers pretty much no insulation but is very strong.
Then there is also the cost of the materials that varies depending on the use. The bigger the building is, the more you notice all of these being used.
That being said, concrete might be the most used building material in the world. It’s strong, durable, insulates, sounds well, and it’s also resistant to nature with proper insulation. And, of course, concrete houses can also look pretty good as well.
There are at least 5 types of concrete house plans at the moment for concrete home builders to pick from:
- The first one is done with removable forms and poured concrete
- The second one is the concrete blocks
- The third one is precast panels
- The fourth is insulating concrete forms(ICF)
- The fifth is autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC).
Forms and reinforced concrete frames
Forms and reinforced concrete are done on the construction site. Reinforcement and forms must be done first so the pouring can happen.
Inside the forms is the reinforcing steel structure; after the pouring, curing begins.
Floors and ceilings are also done with the same technique. After the concrete has cured for about a week, depending on the weather, the forms can be removed. This kind of building with concrete is also resistant to wind and other pressure as it’s pretty solid all around.
Building with concrete forms is one of the traditional ways with a strong history. A well-done reinforced concrete foundation is a solid piece of concrete when done well, so that can handle a lot.
Concrete block house
A concrete block house is pretty true to its name, blocks made of concrete. Held together by mortar and is very resistant to the wind as well.
It’s also a very traditional way to build houses, so that department should have no problem. There are also concrete blocks on the market with hollow structures, so reinforcement and concrete can be applied.
These make such strong structures that they’re almost as solid as structures with forms. Almost.
The most significant fault compared to a foundation done with forms is the possible leaks if it doesn’t reach the level of solidness we hope for. If the soil has a lot of water, the pressure and capillary might let the water through the joints into the structures.
This could also happen to a foundation with cracks in it.
Precast concrete homes
Precast concrete homes are often built on plants and then transported to the building spot. Precast concrete panels are insulated with foam, and everything, like electric wiring, is ready at the plant.
Production on plants protects the precast panels from weather, and the quality should be standard. It’s also a fast way to build when everything is done.
The only problem is that you cannot supervise the whole process, and quality control is left to trust. It might also be problematic if there are problems with quality; what is the standard that should be followed with the product?
Then again, I work at a concrete factory, and quality samples are taken regularly so that the concrete is strong enough and reinforcement is checked before the pour. I cannot say this care happens at all construction sites.
This is a more modern take on concrete buildings. Its good side is that buildings with precast parts can be pretty fast, and you can see it a lot when you look at modern city buildings.
Insulated concrete forms
I haven’t done any of these, but the idea of using forms is pretty much the same as forms and reinforcement.
With insulating concrete forms, like its name, concrete is poured into permanent forms. With this having a concrete house with wooden panels is possible.
This building provides lots of insulation, so it should be suitable for cold and hot areas. It also makes it energy efficient as warmth doesn’t escape so easily.
A good insulation materialö offers more than five times more insulation than concrete. you do have to think about water condensation, though, so it won’t condensate on the wrong layer.
This is a more cost-heavy option, but if you plan to live in the house for a long time, it can save itself back with the energy save you will have.
Autoclaved aerated concrete
Autoclaved aerated concrete (AAC) is a lightweight foam concrete block. It was invented by Sweden and used more in Europe.
It provides excellent fire resistance, and like its name, it’s lightweight building material because of the airtight chambers in its structure and microbubbles; it’s an excellent thermal insulator.
I haven’t personally seen a lot of houses fully built with AAC, but I’ve seen it a lot in bathrooms and other walls where light structure and fast building time are needed.
Building a concrete house from start to finish
Now this one depends on where you live and how things are regulated. I think building anything suitable for a living should have professional advice involved.
Why do I think that? The structure carries all the weight built upon it, starting from the foundation. It all has to be calculated so that the reinforcement is enough so it won’t give in.
Concrete house construction is precise work if you want good results. It also takes patience as everything has to be well-measured to fit well.
The pros of concrete houses are pretty good, though, so it’s worth the effort.
Concrete house frame and walls
The overly simplified process would be building a foundation, getting walls, beams, and pillars up (whatever the frame needs), then the roof. Pour the floor when there is coverage from the weather. Then install windows and doors if not installed at the factory if it’s built from elements.
Every house needs some foundation, and concrete foundations are stable ones. With a concrete house, weight and everything else will have to be considered so the supporting structures can handle the weight.
What kind of soil is there under it? Do we need piers for support for the foundation, floor, and so on?
Building walls is about what kind of concrete building type you end up with. Concrete blocks, precast, and insulation concrete are all built-in in different ways; the same goes for poured concrete.
The last thing would be the cost of a concrete house. Concrete houses might be slightly more expensive than wooden frames, but they can even out with time.
If the insulation is well done, it might save money in the long run if you live in a windy area, for example. What affects the price are local material prices, cost of labor, what building systems are used, etc.
Concrete house floors
You can use all kinds of materials on top of the concrete floors, from wood, laminate, vinyl, and tiles to natural stone or even pure concrete surfaces. Since it’s a concrete house, let’s think about concrete flooring.
To find out the concrete floors pros and cons, it would be good to consider their properties. Concrete is hard/strong when it’s polished. It can handle pressure at a single point and for daily use.
Another good thing is that it should be inexpensive if the floor is already made of concrete. It could be polished, stained, textured, stamped, etc. Polished concrete is also easy to keep clean. With an adequately coated concrete floor, you don’t also have to worry about it getting wet too much.
Another good thing is that long-lived concrete floors might last for decades with maintenance. Concrete floors in the kitchen are good as they can handle lots of traffic, can handle stress, and it’s easy to clean if done properly they will look fine.
Other rooms like bathrooms, garages, and entry rooms to the house also benefit from concrete floors as they see lots of use. Some polished surfaces and coatings can resist oil and dirt very well, so keeping those spaces clean is easy.
Stamped concrete floors are a good solution if you want concrete floors that look like wood. When the concrete is wet from pouring, it’s stamped with something imitating natural building material like wood. It’s used a lot in patios, decks, and driveways, so why not inside?
As you can see, many kinds of concrete houses are being built, and concrete can be used innovatively. At the moment, I’m interested in element and block building as there have been some innovations lately.
When looking for concrete house design, comparing the building cost, energy efficiency, and the final outlook is good. Nothing is stopping you from combining the best qualities of all of them.
Wood and steel have their places as well. It doesn’t have to be a whole concrete house.
Also, here is some fun speculation on building concrete shelters as it is near this subject. And while we’re at it, here is a guide on concrete water tanks, as those might be important to some people who live where water storage might be needed.