YES, it does matter! The type of construction and methods employed can make a huge difference when considering a new home purchase. There are many factors to consider when determining what type of home to purchase. Some of the most important things to look at are environmental conditions, insurance rates, energy efficiency, and maintenance. Let us explore each of these individually:
Environmental conditions: The Florida and South Georgia environments present several challenges to homeowners. First, and most obvious, is the potential for hurricanes and tropical storms. Even though the last few years seen very mild hurricanes seasons in this area, the devastation seen in the northeast, with hurricane Sandy, has brought this issue to the forefront.
Concrete block construction is the most commonly accepted method for home construction throughout most of the state of Florida. The main exception to this is the northeast Florida area, which is mainly a frame construction market. Concrete block has a much higher rating when it comes to protection form high wind forces and wind-borne debris. During hurricane Andrew in 1992, there was much more destruction caused to frame homes than to concrete block homes.
Even concrete block homes have some vulnerabilities when it comes to storms. Water intrusion during storms is a very large problem and the type of construction method employed, even in a concrete block home, can make a big difference. A stem-wall foundation method has been shown to be more effective at preventing this kind of damage when compared to a monolithic slab foundation. In addition to storms, the humid environment found in Florida is also a big factor to consider. Concrete block is impervious to rot and deterioration from water and humidity.
Another environmental factor to be considered in this area of the country is the presence of termites and other wood destroying organisms. Termites and carpenter ants cause more damage every year than storms, fires, and all other perils combined. Concrete block walls are impervious to this type of damage. That is not to say that there is no risk in these types of homes, but major structural damage is not as likely.
Insurance Rates: Hazard insurance is a big consideration in Florida and coastal Georgia. Since there is a greater chance of tropical systems near the coast, rates can be reflective of this risk. Concrete block homes traditionally receive lower insurance premium rates than do frame homes. In addition to the construction method itself, the building code under which the home was constructed has an enormous effect on the rates as well. Homes built under the FBC 2001, or later, receive a significant discount over those built prior to the adoption of this code. The Florida Building Code (FBC) is revised every 3 years and homes built today are constructed to even higher standards.
Maintenance: Concrete block homes with masonry finishes on the exterior require much less maintenance than wood and other materials. There is maintenance required on this type of construction, but it is less costly and less frequently needed. Many people think that brick homes are maintenance free since you do not have to paint them, however, unlike concrete block, brick homes are basically just a frame home that has a brick “veneer” or “facade” applied as a finish. These homes look great and do not require painting, but they do require maintenance of the mortar joints. The biggest risk in this type of construction however, is the potential of termite infestation behind the brick, to the wood structure of the home. This is a very common occurrence and can be even more costly to repair, as it involves repairs to the brick facade in many cases.
Energy Efficiency: Concrete block homes are 16% more energy efficient than a home constructed with wood frame. The “Thermal Mass” of the block provides “inertia” against temperature fluctuations, keeping the home warmer in the winter, and cooler in the summer. Wood frame homes rely solely on fiberglass batt-type insulation, that is less effective and prone to air infiltration.
Maronda Homes has been building quality concrete block homes in Florida since 1972. They currently build homes in North Florida, the Treasure Coast, the Sun Coast, and the Central Florida areas. They also build in the Southeast Georgia region, in Kingsland and St. Mary’s, Georgia. In addition to the exclusive concrete block construction materials used, they employ the “Stem-Wall” foundation method explained above. This “Stay-Dry” foundation method has been shown to minimize the risk of water intrusion during storm events. All of Maronda’s new homes are built to the highest standards of the Florida Building Code (FBC 2010). Visit one of their decorated model homes today and see how they can build one for you.