Why You Should — and Shouldn’t — Build a New Brick Home
Is building with brick a good option for your residential construction company? The answer depends on the preferences of your buyers, cost, how durable the home needs to be and more. Here are some of the most relevant pros and cons of building new homes with brick.
It’s low maintenance. Brick doesn’t require painting after installation, and it’s not subject to rot or damage from hailstorms. While homeowners have to replace wood siding and trim from time to time, brick typically remains durable for decades after initial construction, unless it endures substantial damage due to tornadoes or earthquakes.
It is resistant to fire and infestation. While they aren’t totally fire-proof, brick homes are resistant to fire damage. Since it doesn’t aid in the spread of fire, brick can help contain a fire within a home and prevent it from spreading. Brick is also resistant to termite and other types of insect infestations. Unlike wood, it can also withstand damage caused by nesting birds.
It’s eco-friendly. Since it’s made of two of the earth’s most abundant natural resources – clay and shale – brick often appeals to buyers who favor “eco-friendly” and “zero energy” homes. What’s more, if builders have leftover brick after construction, they can use it to line patios or create walls for raised-bed gardens.
Brick provides better temperature control. When combined with quality insulation, brick helps stabilize interior temperature and delay the movement of heat through walls. During the winter, heat stays inside; during the summer, interiors stay cooler. Brick can also block more sound from outside compared to wood and vinyl siding, even with thick insulation as a buffer.
It’s more expensive. Brick homes are more expensive than stick-built homes. On average, brick exteriors also cost around six to seven percent more than vinyl siding. While that might not seem like a big difference, the costs can add up fast depending on the total size of a home. To offset material and labor costs, builders typically have to charge more for a new brick home.
There aren’t that many options. Since brick is made from natural materials, builders only have a few color options to choose from — generally a series of browns, reds and grays. Although brick can be painted, it can be a labor-intensive process. In addition to priming the surface, painters usually have to use brushes and rollers to force paint into tiny holes and cracks, since spray rigs have difficulty thoroughly coating the porous brick surfaces. Homeowners also need to repaint every couple of years to keep brick exteriors from chipping and/or fading.
Repointing is sometimes necessary. Every now and then, homeowners will have to pay to replace pointing (the mortar used to keep the bricks together). While this is less likely if the original pointing is properly performed, it can still happen even under perfect conditions. Since this can be an intensive and expensive repair, some homeowners are leery of brick homes.
You get what you pay for. While cheap, poorly made bricks can save builders money, they are porous. This increases the risk of moisture issues, mold problems and cracks. Since knowledgeable buyers and real estate agents will be wary of such issues, it’s important for builders to make sound buying choices when selecting construction materials.
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