Remember the story of The Three Little Pigs? The first one built a house made of straw and the wolf blew it down. The second pig built a house made of wood and the wolf blew it down as well. Only the house of the third pig, the once made of stone, did not get blown down.
Of course, it’s a fairy tale. Log cabins can be strong and sturdy while some houses made of concrete may not withstand earthquakes and other natural calamities. If you remember the Cherry Hills disaster, those were concrete houses that got carried away by torrential rains because they were built in a landslide-prone area.
Personally, I wanted logs. If you’ve seen the interior of the Manor House in Camp John Hay, well, I fell in love with the log structure. However, because I do not want to add to the ecological problems of the world, I know I shouldn’t be the reason for the cutting down of more trees.
Most architects will recommend concrete. But concrete can mean a lot of things.
- Reinforced concrete (a.k.a., cement filled hollow blocks)
- “Buhos” or reinforced concrete slabs
- Pre-fabricated walls and columns (such as those by Vazbuilt) which do not require plastering
Clay bricks, although more expensive and labor-intensive, are generally considered superior to concrete. They age gracefully too. The older the bricks become, the more mellow and “distinguished” they look. Then, there are bricks made from shale, slate concrete and even ash.
It is best to know about the difference between all of the above before deciding. Ask your architect to explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of material and the comparative cost. Ask about how your choice affects the length of construction as well. Pre-fabricated walls and columns, although expensive, also means a shorter construction time and, ergo, less labor cost. Bricks, although elegant and will need very little maintenance in the future, requires longer construction time.
So, weigh your options:
- Consider if the higher cost of one kind of material will save on labor cost.
- What about your time table? Remember that the longer the construction takes, the longer you are exposed to the fluctuation of prices of construction materials.
- Think about future expenses. Spending more during the construction stage, like choosing bricks over hollow blocks, might means a lot of savings within the next ten years because bricks do not need to be painted and re-painted.