Concrete Homes

French

This home is located just outside of Cherbourg, in Normandy, in the Northwest Part of France.  I stayed here with my family for a week. It got me thinking about construction and architecture in the USA. 

The home is made of concrete.  The windows are very energy efficient and have shutters on the outside that can be controlled from inside the home.  It has central heating but the radiator in each room has it’s own control.  When a room is not being used the heat can be turned down.   Instead of natural gas Kerosene is used, to fuel the furnace which is very energy efficient.  The garage is located in the basement and the owners drive a subcompact Renault Clio  that burns diesel fuel and gets about 50 miles to the gallon.

We don’t build many concrete homes in the U.S., maybe because we have plenty of trees.  It is a shame because these homes are more energy efficient and like wood frame homes can be built in many forms.  Here in Minnesota, especially during the cold winter months we could all save a lot of many on energy costs if we had homes like the one in the picture.

We don’t drive subcompact cars either, instead we drive larger vehicles and expect the auto makers to make them more energy efficient so that we can keep our fuel costs down.  Most in my profession opt for the larger vehicles especially the SUV’s, because of the generous tax deduction for business owners and for those occasions when room is needed to transport several buyers.   

I have asked a couple of builders why concrete homes have not caught on in the U.S. and I have gotten several different answers.  Each builder indicated that these homes can be made more energy efficient and are cheaper and faster to build.   

Why do we still build mostly wood frame homes?

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9 Replies to “Concrete Homes”

  1. My colleague just bought a condo with polished concrete ceilings and floors. I assume the upright walls are concrete as well since they would need the strength to support the weight of the floors and walls. They finish over the concrete surfaces using other building materials IF the owner chooses.

  2. The UK builds almost all of its residential buildings using block construction (cement & concrete). Presently there is a discussion about greenhouse gases and how cement is really bad given the environmental impact. Much better to use timber if people would get comfortable with the idea that a house can be built out of wood.

    The problem with cement is large amounts of energy which is consumed to produce the product. Lots of CO2 being released just to make the raw material for building a house. Definitely worse than using trees is the thinking.

    The report from London.

    John Corey
Real estate investor, 20+ years – multiple states and countries
http://johncorey.wordpress.com/ – advice for real estate investors

  3. John – I know nothing about this which is why I am asking but it does take energy to chop down trees and process the lumber. non renuable resources are used in the process and polutants go into the atmosphere. Trees absorb C02.

  4. Amazing, I just saw a show on the History Channel last night that highlighted building homes out of concrete — and I come to visit St. Paul and Teresa is on top of it 🙂

    Why don’t we build more homes out of concrete? I think the biggest reason is that it is still seen as “unique” and when spending $100,000+ on a home – unique scares people.

    I would compare it to modular homes and the bad-wrap they receive.

    But that’s just my currently uninformed thoughts.

  5. Amazing, I just saw a show on the History Channel last night that highlighted building homes out of concrete — and I come to visit St. Paul and Teresa is on top of it 🙂

    Why don’t we build more homes out of concrete? I think the biggest reason is that it is still seen as “unique” and when spending $100,000+ on a home – unique scares people.

    I would compare it to modular homes and the bad-wrap they receive.

    But that’s just my currently uninformed thoughts.

  6. What a nice family vacation. Having lived in St. Louis, Boston, two places in Maryland and Cleveland, it’s been intersting to see the variety of materials used; I agree that concrete is used in places and for some reason it sounds like a cool idea lol. Kerosene would probably be expensive here, but can’t be any worse than that pesky natural gas

  7. My experience is that people in Europe tend “stay put” in their homes for a long time. Often homes are passed on from generation to generation. The best way I can describe it is that Europeans don’t move as much as Americans. Therefore I conclude that most Europeans have durability and longevity in mind when they buy a home. Naturally things like block, brick and concrete are very appealing versus stick frame or wood frame construction. This is probably why I shied away from a wood framed house when I bought my first home in the US. We felt much more comfortable being surrounded by brick walls versus by a couple of 2×6’s, plywood, chicken-wire and a little bit of stucco. Current economic conditions make it appealing to use wood frame construction to build a home and this is probably why we do not see a whole lot of “alternative” construction methods.

  8. Thanks for the comments all. I have had builders tell me that concrete construction is better and costs less and that homes can be molded into most any stlye. I have also had builders tell me that wood is cheaper and better. Who know?

  9. Minnesota leads the nation in the use of insulating concrete form construction for both residential and commercial applications. For more information about concrete homes, to view a photo gallery of concrete homes built in Minnesota, or to find a qualified concrete home builder, visit http://www.chooseconcretehomes.com

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