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Wood-Frame vs CBS Homes: Which Is a Better Building Material?

Before purchasing a property, you should be confident that the building material is cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, resilient to damage, and valuable at resale. To better understand material property construction, you’ll need to become familiar with wood-frame and CBS structure methods.
Before purchasing a property, you should be confident that the building material is cost-effective, aesthetically pleasing, resilient to damage, and valuable at resale. To better understand material property construction, you’ll need to become familiar with wood-frame and CBS structure methods.

Most residential properties are built around two structure-based materials. One material is engineered wood-frame and the other is concrete block structure (CBS). Before you ask, brick is not typically considered a structure-based material method as it does not support internal weight or interior construction.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, it’s important to consider the impact of the building material and construction process upon building strength, upfront and long-term cost, structural lifespan, and resale value. Read on for a performance break-down of wood-frame and CBS homes in each of these categories.

Cost

Wood-Frame

Wood-Frame construction tends to be less expensive than other building materials. Aside from being a lightweight and relatively plentiful material, wood-frame homes can be built quickly in comparison to a CBS home. Remember, the initial cost savings for wood-frame material are balanced by a greater number of long-term damage vulnerabilities.

CBS

The cost of CBS construction depends on the size and density of the concrete masonry units (CMUs) used in construction. Most CBS homes are built with poured concrete foundations and concrete block partition walls. Although CBS is a more expensive building material, you can save money by strengthening hollow-core CMUs with cheaper steel reinforcing rods.

Strength

Wood-Frame

Structurally graded wood-frame is a versatile and durable building material. The dimensional stability and high strength-to-weight ratio of wood-frames ensure protection against moderate environmental stressors.

CBS

A CBS construction is significantly stronger than an equivalent wood-frame building. Unlike wood-frame, CBS is resistant to fire and weather effects and has a higher tensile strength. However, poor workmanship can severely undermine the strength of concrete foundations or partitioning.

Lifespan

Wood-Frame

The long-term lifespan of a wood-frame building is dependent on user maintenance and conditions in the surrounding environment. Compared to CBS construction, wood-frames are more susceptible to termite damage, fire or storm damage, mold damage, and general wood deterioration.

CBS

A properly built CBS construction has a long lifespan. Because of the material’s elevated structural strength, CBS buildings are better equipped to withstand high-to-extreme weather events. As a building material, CBS is unaffected by insect infestations, high temperatures, and moisture. However, improperly laid concrete foundations can be exposed to significant damage if the water table is affected.

Resale Value

Wood-Frame

Home resale value is determined by a variety of factors, including property location, market dynamics, curb appeal, interior aesthetics, and building material. Aside from the previously discussed building material factors, we’ve listed two other wood-frame features that may improve resale value:

  • Compared to CBS, wood-frame construction is generally more energy efficient.
  • The natural design vectors of wood-frame construction create an aesthetically pleasing interior and exterior atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the resale value of wood-frame properties may be compromised by the material’s long-term susceptibility to structural damage.

CBS

As a stronger and longer-lasting building material, CBS construction typically has a higher resale value than wood-frame buildings. We’ve listed three other factors that can further increase the value of a CBS home:

  • CBS construction is highly insulated, improving energy efficiency and reducing noise pollution.
  • With a skilled designer, you can manipulate liquid concrete into an aesthetically attractive design.
  • Curb appeal can be improved by applying a decorative concrete-adhering paint or overlay to the exterior of a CBS construction.

Personal Suitability

Remember, choosing between building materials is a situation-specific decision. The suitability of CBS or wood-frame construction will depend on your specific personal, financial and location requirements.

Need Further Guidance? Contact an Experienced Agent

If you’re considering buying a new home, reaching out to an experienced local real estate agent is a good first step. Agents can offer guidance on property market trends and help you evaluate the suitability of prospective homes on all levels, from location to construction material to current condition and much more. Contact Clever to connect with a top-performing full-service agent near you.

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Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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