Does it make you cringe when you drive by one of those spec neighborhoods where they throw houses up in a matter of weeks? They may be cheap, but the price tag on the finished product usually reflects the quality of design and construction.
If you want to build a house that lasts, you need to focus on the materials you use.
Many new homeowners leave material selection to their builder, but you ought to be more involved in the process. As you wander through the design and selection phases, here are four of the durable building materials you might consider using for your new home.
It should come as no surprise that brick is one of the most durable building materials on the planet. Just look at some of the most famous structures in the world — such as the Great Wall of China, the Pantheon, the Roman aqueducts, and the Taj Mahal — and you’ll notice they were constructed primarily with some type of brick.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Give me a brick and it becomes worth its weight in gold.” He didn’t seem to be exaggerating. Buildings made from brick tend to retain their value over time, largely because of their incredible durability.
Stone is another material that’s been used for centuries and has proved its ability to hold up over time. As quarrying methods have improved, stone has taken on a number of unique appearances.
It can be installed in a raw form for a rustic look, or a finished form for a refined and modern style. Because of the durability of properly cut stone, it’s able to protect homes from any number of environmental threats.
Steel is a material that has predominantly been used in industrial and commercial architecture over the years, but it’s becoming increasingly popular for residential structures now — particularly in the case of steel windows and doors. One of the biggest benefits is the durability: When properly cared for, they can last a lifetime.
“Like any part of your home, steel windows will require some upkeep, but with proper protection and care, they will last 75+ years,” states Joy Palmer of FireRock. “Galvanized and painted steel is easy to maintain. Inevitable wear and tear can be repaired onsite by a home owner or handyman as this only requires touch up paint.”
While steel boasts longevity and ease of maintenance, homeowners should be mindful of its high thermal expansion. This characteristic can lead to complications if not accounted for, particularly when steel is used alongside different materials or during home renovations in the cold winter months.
Concrete is another material that holds up well over time. Made of a combination of stone, sand, cement, and various binders, concrete has been lauded for its ability to be molded into any number of shapes and then hardened for unbelievable strength.
Many people assume concrete may only be used for driveway applications, but there are plenty of benefits to using it for other purposes. When concrete pavers are used as flooring, they not only look good, but they don’t absorb and hold heat, which makes them more comfortable to walk on in the summer.
It’s common to find homes that were built in the ’50s and ’60s and are still in fantastic condition. They require upkeep, obviously, but the high-quality building materials used by homebuilders during those periods have held up well over time. One can’t help questioning whether today’s cheap spec houses will still be habitable in another half a century.
If you’re building a home or renovating an existing one, make sure you invest in quality building materials that last. The price tag might be a little steeper on the front end, but you’ll enjoy tremendous savings down the road. Make the smart choice!