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Old Posted Oct 18, 2012, 6:04 AM
IMBY IMBY is offline
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Concrete, I love Thee, But Where Art Thou?

Having traved widely thru Mexico/Central/South America, that which mystifies me the most about traveling there, walking around their cities, is the plethora of concrete used in construction. Don't think I've ever seen a house down there built of wood, or stayed in a motel constructed of wood.
Concrete all the way!

With that, that allows the rooftop decks on houses and even the motels I've stayed in. And even concrete walls between the units in high rise hotels!

When I bought a lot in the south Tijuana hills, 6 years ago, I had an architect design me a house for the site, and given every stitch of it was to be built of concrete, I went for the curved walls and a whole floor on the top being a deck.

I've heard these excuses why they build primarily with wood in the U.S. and it all falls on deaf ears: it's so expensive to build with concrete!

A Las Vegas townhouse developer, a few years back, went an built some scattered townhouses in this city, and through the article in the paper, he claimed it only cost $3k more to build them out of concrete!

So what's really behind it all, the truth and nothing but the truth? Rapidity of construction? Lumber companies lobbying?
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Old Posted Oct 18, 2012, 4:11 PM
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I think it's a matter of profits and the status quo in construction.

The vast majority of American houses use wood-frame structures. Therefore, the vast majority of construction workers who build single-family houses are versed in only building wood-frame houses. That's not to say that these workers can't build or can't learn how to build concrete houses (after all, they already know how to build the houses' concrete foundation walls). But they're so used to constructing wood frame houses that if they were presented with concrete house project, their game might be thrown off a bit. So besides the extra cost of the material and equipment, there's the extra cost in more specialized labor as well.

Of course, if you decided that you wanted to build a concrete house, you should be able to find someone in the Yellow Pages who can build it for you for not too much more than it costs to build a wood-frame house.

The problem is that very few homeowners are the type who will go through the time and effort to contract their own architects, engineers, and constructors to build their homes. Most prospective homeowners will simply look at existing houses available on the market. And most newly-built houses are built by developers looking to keep costs as low as possible in order to maximize profits. As long as the houses are built to the requirements of the existing building codes, they're good enough for the developers.

Also, I believe that most of the price you pay to buy the house is derived from the property value of the lot and not the house itself. In this sense, the developers treat the houses as pretty placeholders whose aesthetic appeal is more important than their engineering standards. As such, there's no sense in spending more money than needed on your pretty placeholder if you can meet the minimum code requirements.
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Old Posted Oct 18, 2012, 6:19 PM
Rizzo Rizzo is offline
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Just casually observing construction data, I tend to see concrete construction more costly per square foot than wood on small lowrise buildings. It's not substantially more, but enough to convince a client to otherwise build with alternate materials, yet still get the same look.

Here in Chicago, much of the residential construction from small to large residential buildings involves masonry. It's not cast in place, but CMU block, and precast deck planks.

My future home will utilize precast planks and concrete sandwhich walls to achieve optimum durability, reasonable flexibility, and high energy performance.
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Old Posted Oct 19, 2012, 2:28 AM
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When you consider all the Mexicans who came up here during the boom times, not versed in wood-frame construction down there, why didn't we utilize their concrete construction skills while they were here?

I just like the termite/fire proof angle of concrete construction. I read of these brush fires destroying homes in Southern California, periodically, and the forest fires consuming homes elsewhere in the country, and so much of this damage could have been averted!

And a tiled rooftop deck, to gaze out at the stars at night, and peak in on your neighbors , who wouldn't want that kind of luxury!!!
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2012, 2:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IMBY View Post
When you consider all the Mexicans who came up here during the boom times, not versed in wood-frame construction down there, why didn't we utilize their concrete construction skills while they were here?
Do you honestly believe that that the Mexican construction workers here had their careers in construction when they were living in Mexico? And that they were simply transferring their professional skills here when they emigrated to the U.S.?

Mexicans (many of them illegal immigrants) are a big part of the construction field because they're cheap labor and because this field requires a lot of unskilled menial labor. It's no different than the farming or landscaping industries, both of which also have many Mexicans working in them.
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Old Posted Oct 20, 2012, 3:36 PM
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Here's another angle- being (I presume) hurricane and tornado proof.
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Old Posted Oct 22, 2012, 2:54 PM
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^ Yeah, if you want concrete, come to Miami.
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