There’s been a lot of devastation in the past several months across the country. We’ve had the hurricanes down in Florida and the fires in California. There have been whole communities destroyed, and people are having to rebuild. When devastations like these sweep across the country, it’s time to ask ourselves, isn’t there a better way?
For thousands of years the stick-frame home has been the standard mode of building—of course, the wagon was the standard mode of transporting goods for ages as well. Just as the wagon has been replaced by modern transportation, shouldn’t the building of the past be replaced with better, more modern types of building? The tools have all improved, but the basic methods have stayed the same.
At Universal-Concrete, we want to bring you the best of modern building that makes sense, like Benson Bondstone’s PermaPanel. The PermaPanel is stronger, more efficient, more comfortable, fire resistant, and storm resistant. We’ll go over these points and share why a concrete home should be your home. We’ll go over the safety reasons first and then move on to money and comfort.
First of all, too many people lose their homes in a fire (380,900 home fires in a year). As we saw in the terrible California fires, home after home after home burned to ash with just a few chimneys and A/C units left to tell the tale. A typical house fire is 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit. A concrete home won’t burn at this temperature. In fact, concrete doesn’t really burn. When it does get too hot, it crumbles, but even if you sustain 2,000-degree flames on a home built from insulated concrete forms (ICFs) for four hours, it still stays up. If you get the right panel system, such as what Universal-Concrete or Benson Bondstone provides (https://bensonbondstone.com), even the interior walls, floors, and ceilings won’t have a chance to burn. What this means is that even if a home’s carpet or cabinets burn, the home isn’t going to be destroyed, which means lives will be spared, futures will be secured.
When a big storm like Hurricane Harvey wreaks havoc on a home and flood waters bull through a home, the damage is substantial. It’s not just the initial shock of muddy water that ruins a home—it’s what the water does to the wood that ruins it. Most subfloors are made of a mix of plywood and particle board. The plywood is secured to the joists, and the particle board goes on top. The problem with this is that even just a small amount of water destroys the particle board and crumbles it. While the plywood can fair better, it too can swell as well as the joists, which ruins a floor, making it uneven and unsafe. Then there’s the mold and the smell. Drywall falls apart and the studs swell, which even creates problems for the ceiling, and if the water is there long enough the exterior walls will swell which will then weaken the roof. Back to Harvey, some of these homes in Texas sat in water for days. Unfortunately, wood can’t handle that much water and remain structurally sound. Concrete, however, can withstand days of water saturation, so long as it’s able to dry up after. Most concretes today become waterlogged within thirty minutes of full submersion. However, using a specialty mix of aerated concrete such as that of our E-Panel or Benson Bondstone’s PermaPanel, the concrete takes more than five hours to become waterlogged—but does not deteriorate. So even if the concrete home is exposed to water for days, it’s not going make it crumble.
When it comes down to it, Mother Nature’s going to win. But wouldn’t you want to know that your home has the best chance of surviving a disaster?
We’ve talked about fires and storms, but what about earthquakes? Having a stronger home, especially during an earthquake is a smart choice. There’s not really any better earthquake protection for your home than reinforced concrete walls.
If you take specialized aerated and reinforced concrete, you get an even stronger system that can withstand earthquakes even better. The reason why is because the aerated concrete can flex and absorb force better than regular concrete can while still resisting compression. Reinforce it, and it withstands even better.
The typical wood home needs to be reheated or re-cooled about every twenty minutes. There’s just too much heat transfer. Even wood homes that are insulated with polyurethane spray foam have heat transfer issues where each of the studs are (granted it’s much better than batt insulation, there’s still more heat transfer than a concrete home). Part of the issue is the different densities of materials, whereas, with a concrete wall, it’s going to be virtually the same across the board. Another issue is that it’s virtually impossible to make an air-tight home with wood construction. Concrete walls are seamless, and when built with the right panel system, so are the roof and floor (we’ll get to the ventilation in a moment). Combine no air seepage with a high R-value, and you’ve got a home that will be easier to heat, easier to cool, and easier to maintain temperature—and all of that means a home with a much lower energy bill.
A lot of people, when they think of a concrete home, think of a cold, Soviet-style barrack of a brick home. After all, how would you have anything other than a flat roof? Thankfully, with the PermaPanel system, any home can become a home, not just a brick. Steep-pitched roofs are no problem. Beautiful architecture is no problem.
When we talk about a home being more comfortable, here’s what we mean: easier temperature control, cleaner air, and quieter.
Because of what we discussed in the energy efficient section, it’s much easier to maintain a stable temperature. And because the house doesn’t need reheated or cooled within around twenty minutes, it’s actually easier to heat or cool. One of the many tips energy.gov gives is to not worry about heating or cooling the entire home. What that means is that rooms could be either freezing in the winter or burning in the summer. A big part of that comes from the air seepage we’ve talked about. Some estimates say that 15–20 percent of your heating and cooling bill is because of how windows are installed. Updating the process only makes sense.
Now, every concrete home needs a proper ventilation system. Without it, kiss everything goodbye because the home will become uninhabitable within months, possibly even weeks. If there is one advantage that stick frames have, it’s that ventilation systems aren’t required. But because ventilation systems are required with a concrete home as well as a filtration system, it’s actually a plus because you can control the fresh air that comes into your home. Pollens, molds, and other airborne factors have less chance of coming into your home.
And—the concrete home is quieter. Those pesky neighbors who think it’s a great idea to play the drums at night or who include a two-thousand dollar sound system with their workouts are no longer going to be problems. Even if a storm is raging outside, your home is not going sound like it’s howling.
When devastations happen, we have to ask ourselves—isn’t there a better way? There are numerous articles that could be written on these small five points alone. There are others yet to be written.
But when it all comes down to it.
There is a better way.