In Canada, wood is the number one material for constructing homes. But they aren’t perfect. This has led many to consider alternatives such as concrete. So, can you build a concrete house in Canada?
Yes, you can construct concrete houses of various types in Canada. Concrete is becoming popular because of its qualities such as durability, energy conservation, health benefits, design flexibility, noise proof, and low maintenance. But there are issues such as cost and non-biodegradable nature.
However, since there are several building materials, it’s possible to combine multiple building materials during home construction. This article examines concrete home construction in Canada and all you need to know about it.
Types of Concrete Homes
When it comes to concrete constructions, there are several methods. Using these methods, we classify concrete homes into four types.
1. Concrete Block
This is one of the most affordable ways to build with concrete. Concrete blocks come in different shapes, sizes, and designs. They are quick to make, and once ready, using them for construction is fairly simple. In addition, concrete blocks have more strength than poured concrete, making them ideal for foundations and constructing a building in areas with high winds. They also have high insulation.
2. Precast Panels
Precast concrete is produced at concrete plants and generally serves as the exterior walls of a home. A combination of foam insulation, electric wiring, and steel reinforcements forms the exterior of the home. Constructing with precast panels is fast as they only need to be attached to the other panels. Even though they cost a little more than other concrete options, they’re very durable against winds.
3. Insulating Concrete Forms
ICF is arguably the most popular form of concrete construction in Canada. They are made of extremely dense plastic foam filled with steel and concrete reinforcements. All these make them highly insulated and airtight. Even though steel is prone to corrosion, the chance of this is low because they’re buried within concrete. To make them fireproof, the plastic foams are treated with flame retardants. All these increase their durability.
4. Removable Forms
In this type of concrete home, the builder pours concrete into removable wall forms containing insulants and reinforcement steel. Once the concrete course, the removable form, which is made of wood, steel, or aluminum, is removed. Construction is faster with removable forms because the concrete for the interior and exterior walls can be poured simultaneously. They also offer several insulation methods, and homes built this way last very long.
Pros of Concrete Homes
The growing popularity of concrete homes in Canada is a testament that homebuyers are starting to see its various benefits. These benefits include:
Concrete homes provide the owners with higher protection against environmental elements such as winds, extreme cold, and fire. For example, ICF can limit the damage to a home from debris resulting from a hurricane or tornado with wind speeds as fast as 250 mph.
It also protects against fire. House fires are existential risks. Fortunately, concrete walls can last up to 4 hours without structural failure when facing temperatures up to 2000 degrees faint. This is far more than any wooden house can boast of. Concrete is also durable against earthquakes.
2. Higher Life Expectancy
Concrete is non-biodegradable and thus has a longer lifespan. With concrete, there is no risk of termites boring holes into the walls or the wood rotting. As a result, a concrete building can last for over a century and still retain its strength.
3. Energy Conservation
Concretes are solid and insulated structures which means they can save you a lot of money on energy. In addition, concrete homes have exceptional thermal resistance, which helps maintain a pristine and stable indoor environment no matter the temperature outside.
Whether it’s summer or winter, you don’t have to spend more to keep your home at a consistent temperature. According to the US Department of Energy, insulating concrete form reduces your energy bills by up to 19%. You won’t just be saving money on energy. It also means you don’t need expensive HVAC equipment for your home, thereby saving construction costs.
4. Low Maintenance
Concrete homes also require little maintenance over a long time. The exterior walls only need a façade to make them beautiful, and you can count on them resisting damage from winds, heavy rain, blizzards, or flying debris. With proper construction, a concrete wall can’t dent.
5. Healthier Options
Concrete homes are also good for your health as they have lesser mold, toxins, and airborne allergens than wood-frame houses. The wall limits infiltration of outside allergens, and concrete has more resistance to mildew and mold. That means health concerns such as headaches, immune system disorders, and respiratory infections caused by wood are completely avoided. Concrete also produces lesser volatile organic compounds compared to wood.
6. Design Flexibility
You can use concrete to make just anything. So, unique shapes, custom designs, and lots more are possible in concrete buildings than in other types of homes.
7. Noise Proof
Concrete walls also have excellent acoustics, which limits the transmission of unwanted noise and sounds. This is due to its high rigidity and mass, which exceed that of most building materials.
Cons of Concrete Homes
Even though concrete has several advantages, there are also some disadvantages.
1. Cost of building
Building with concrete costs more money than it’ll cost to build with wood. This means it’s not as affordable and accessible. But the lifetime savings on energy and maintenance can make up for that.
The fact that concrete is not biodegradable is a positive because it means it can’t rot, but it’s a disadvantage because it means more waste when you demolish it. Also, the production process of concrete isn’t entirely eco-friendly.
3. Higher Cost of Maintenance in case of damage
Concrete homes don’t require regular maintenance, but if there’s a structural problem, the cost of maintenance can be very high.
You can build homes with concrete in Canada. There are lots of benefits that come with concrete homes. So, it’s not surprising that many Canadians are embracing this option.