By Jon Solomon
One of my favorite stories is The Three Little Pigs in which the “Big Bad Wolf” tries to destroy the pig’s home (and make a nice meal of the pigs for himself). You know what happened to the first two homes made of straw and sticks, but the house made of bricks stood up to all that huffin’ and puffin’. And of course, the 3 little pigs lived happily ever after.
So enough of my trip down memory lane, how’s this apply to Tampa custom homes?
Well it’s not much of a stretch to use this story to compare homes built with concrete block vs. wood frame. I think we can all agree that the house of straw wouldn’t fair too well in Florida. Since brick isn’t structural, but rather a facade to the structure, we’ll compare concrete block in its place.
As quick background on frame and block, homes in Florida that are constructed with frame exterior walls use 2”x4” or 2”x6” lumber that is covered in plywood or OSB sheathing. Homes built with concrete block use blocks that are 8”x8”x16” and about 80% hollow. Mortar holds each block in place and some of the hollow cells are filled with concrete. In both frame and block homes, the roof trusses and foundations are the same.
So which is best – frame or block?
While both methods meet all current building codes, in my opinion the block structure is better due to its durability and sound proofing. The block home also significantly decreases the amount of wood available for fires and termites. That’s why most home insurers provide a premium credit for homes built with block.
That all sounds great, so what are the downsides to a block home? Well, here they are:
- Energy Efficiency: A block wall costs more to insulate than a frame wall. While a frame wall places insulation in the wall cavity, block walls have foam injected into the hollow cells.
- Cost: In addition to the cost of insulation, the block itself is more expensive than frame.
- Design: Since the 2nd floor block needs to stack on the 1st floor block to support its weight, that can often result in some design challenges to make the home architecturally interesting.
- Changes: Making a change to a block wall for windows or doors is more difficult.
So who is afraid of the big bad wolf?
You shouldn’t be and as an experience homebuilder in Tampa with a long history of using both frame and block, Javic Homes isn’t either, but we believe the benefits of block far outweigh any downsides.
Do you have additional questions about frame vs. block constructions? Please contact us.
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