What should your home be built out of? The answer can vary substantially depending on where your home is built. Different regions have different climates, and temperature and moisture are both important factors when it comes to construction. The ground itself will affect what kinds of material should be used for the foundation.
In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Talk to your home builder about the options that they’d recommend – they’ll be more than happy to discuss upfront costs, benefits, and more with you.
But, you’re not here to hear us say “talk to your home builder” – you want to learn about some of the materials available. We’ll go over four basic features of a home’s construction: the foundation, the frame, the roof, and the siding. We’ll talk about some (but certainly not all) of the materials available, and their pros and cons.
Let’s get started!
There are three materials that are commonly used for foundations – wood, concrete, and insulated concrete forms (ICFs). In and around San Antonio, you’ll also see (though not commonly) pier and beam foundations, which will sometimes use steel.
Wood foundations are not what you want to be using. Wood and moisture don’t mix well, and you absolutely don’t want your foundation shifting – foundation problems are already far too common in Texas.
Concrete foundations are quite useful – though the way you make your foundation matters. Concrete block foundations are not favored, since the joints between the blocks make them less moisture resistant. Poured concrete is typically the way to go. It can be more expensive than wood (depending on where you are), and the concrete can crack, but it tends to be a lot more durable.
Perhaps the best option is using ICFs. They feature rigid foam insulation and steel, with a hollow center that’s filled with concrete. This provides excellent insulation, and they can be a wonderful option for those looking to construct a green home. ICFs are more expensive than traditional concrete but those costs may be offset by energy savings over time – it depends how long you’ll live in the home.
There are several options when it comes to framing. You can use the ICFs that we discussed in the foundation section – ICFs can be used all the way up to the roof. If you’re looking for a highly insulated home, this may be your best bet, but ICFs are pricier than traditional framing materials. Contractors trained to use ICFs are also a bit harder to find – it’s a relatively new building material.
Wood remains the most popular option for framing. It’s adaptable, readily available, and easy to work with. That makes it a fairly inexpensive framing option. Wood framing does not, however, stand up very well to natural disasters like hurricanes. It’s also vulnerable to termites.
If you’re looking for something that can stand up to torrential winds, steel framing may be a good option. Steel is a more expensive option than wood framing, however, and it can take some time to find a contractor who knows how to work with steel.
There are a lot of different roofing materials available – it would be impossible to cover them all in this post. Let’s look at some of the most widely used:
Asphalt remains the most popular roofing material. It’s very inexpensive, and it comes in a wide array of colors and styles. It’s certainly not the best roofing material, however. Asphalt has a short lifespan, it’s not environmentally friendly, and it doesn’t provide the best insulation.
Metal roofs are popular in areas with extreme weather. They’re also great in hot places like San Antonio, as they reflect the sun’s rays. The only real downsides to metal roofs are that metal is one of the more expensive roofing materials, and the aesthetic of a metal roof is less customizable than something like asphalt or clay tiles.
Slate is a beautiful roofing material that can last for over 100 years – it’s the last roof you’re ever likely to need. Slate is also incredibly fireproof. The big problem? It’s quite expensive to procure, and slate roofs require special framing, adding to your labor and material costs.
Vinyl is one of the most popular siding materials. It’s incredibly customizable, and very inexpensive. It’s also notoriously easy to maintain. The only real downside? Some people feel it looks too fake. The quality of vinyl has been skyrocketing over the years, so less people are taking issue with that now.
Wood siding can last for years, and it will give your home a cottage-like appeal. It’s more expensive than vinyl, but still affordable. The biggest problem with wood is that it takes a lot of effort to maintain. If you’re willing to put in the work, it can last you for decades.
Brick siding is incredibly durable and relatively low maintenance. There’s a reason brick has been used for hundreds of years – very few people dislike the look of brick. The biggest downside? Installing brick siding is expensive.
And with that, we’ve covered a few of the construction materials you might use for a residential home. Again, it’s important to consult with your custom home builder about the materials that they recommend – things can vary depending on where your home is being constructed, and the form you want your home to take. Looking for a luxury custom home builder in San Antonio? Give us a call.