Buyer 101- From the Windows to the Walls

One of the first thing you will notice when looking at prospective homes is the type of building materials and construction. There are several different types of materials that could be used in your potential purchase and it’s good to know the pros and cons of each. Let’s look at some of the more common types in this month’s edition of Buyer 101. 

Wood Framed Homes – Most new contraction in The Valley will be wood framed construction on a post tension slab, (see Buyer 101 Blog on foundations). The low-cost nature of wood construction is the main reason it is so popular in Arizona as well as the rest of the country. The ability to build quickly is also a factor. With good engineering practices developed over decades and quality hardware, a wood framed home can last for generations. To make that possible, it will be important to maintain this home type over time with Termite prevention and exterior maintenance to prevent moister from entering and compromising the structure. A large percentage of homes in Arizona are covered with stucco, this makes maintenance easier and less expensive. 

Masonry – Masonry or block constructed homes are also common in Arizona. Because of the higher cost to build with block, you could find the home you are looking at might only have a masonry front elevation and wood framing or a less expensive block or brick on the sides and back. Block and brick can come in two different types, hollow or solid. Depending on how and where they are being used in the home, (corner, door, and window jamb) certain type of block will be used. Having the hollow spaces reduces weight and allows electrical and plumbing to be run inside the walls. A builder can even add rebar and reinforce the wall for greater strength. Solid blocks are going to mostly be used for pavers, planters, retaining walls, etc. Builders will also get creative by using weeping mortar or create a brick pattern to make the home more attractive. In older homes you may also see burnt clay brick, classic red brick, in mid-century homes you might see actual cinder block with volcanic cinders in the block matrix, or even slump block famous for being removed from the mold early to create a distinctive bulging or roundness to the brick. Even if the home is brick on all sides, the interior of the home is most likely wood framing and construction. 

Adobe – Not as common as wood or brick-built homes, this building material does join the market from time to time. Adored for their appearance specific to the Southwest, they are also loved for their thick walls, solid log Viga beams and Spanish tiles. Adobe homes can also stay cooler because of their ability to spread heat out with its high thermal mass. Surprisingly, adobe homes cost less than brick construction but do require more maintenance over time to keep it in tip-top shape. 

Reinforced Concrete – There are homes built of poured concrete in The Valley, (check out the people feature “Decisions in Concrete), you will mostly find this construction type in condo and apartment towers. Used for its strength to build up, this construction type allows higher vantage points and amazing views. In place of interior wood framed construction, you will most likely find steel framing studs. Reinforced concrete construction also allows you to be creative with your space if a remodel is in the future. 

Unlike other components of your home that we have gone over in Buyer 101, the walls of your property are static and probably are not going to change over time. If future expansion is the plan, it is great to know what type of materials you are working with and the idea of the expense to edit or remove parts of the structure for your future plans. 

Written by: Colby Schmeckpeper

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