Concrete homes may not be mainstream just yet, but more people are turning to this durable, low-maintenance material when building their homes. In fact, the number of concrete-framed homes rose 46% between 2018 and 2019.
Precast concrete homes build on the advantages of concrete homes. But what exactly is precast concrete? What are the advantages of precast construction?
What is Precast Concrete?
Precast concrete is created by casting concrete in a form, or mold, and allowing it to cure in a controlled environment. It is often called prefab concrete but you get the point.
Precast is commonly used for interior and exterior walls. Because it’s produced in a controlled environment, precast concrete is generally of higher quality. Additionally, precast construction is safer than cast-in-place because it can be performed on ground level.
The forms used in precast construction are reusable, which helps reduce formwork costs.
Precast concrete has long been used in commercial, multi-family and municipal construction. In fact, precast concrete has been around for almost as long as concrete itself.
In 1300 BC, builders in the Middle East covered their homes with burned limestone. Shortly after, the Romans began constructing aqueduct systems by mixing crushed limestone and soft rocks into water and sand. The mixture was an early form of concrete, and many of those aqueducts are still standing today. The Romans poured their concrete mixture into wooden forms or molds Without this early version of precast concrete, it would have been incredibly difficult for the Romans to construct their complex catacombs and aqueducts.
In the modern world, precast concrete is making its way into the residential sector as more people realize the benefits of precast. Just before World War I, John Alexander Brodie, a city engineer in Britain, patented the construction process for precast paneled buildings. The rest, as they say, is history.
Precast construction is still not mainstream in the single-family residential sector, but things may change as more people choose concrete over stick-built homes.
But what exactly is it about precast concrete homes that people love? What are the advantages of these homes?
What are the Benefits of Precast Concrete Homes?
In general, concrete homes offer many advantages over their wood-frame counterparts. However, Precast offers additional benefits that make it an even more attractive option.
With the right precast concrete products (precast concrete plans and precast concrete walls), it’s possible to build your home without columns and beams for a truly open floor plan. If you want to maximize your home’s usable space, precast may be an excellent option for you.
Having an open floor plan also provides more possibilities, allowing you to create a layout that complements your lifestyle.
With a precast concrete home, components can be built off-site in a controlled facility. Unlike with site-cast concrete products, the weather is never a concern. Once the off-site manufacturing is complete, the precast products are delivered to the site, and the home is then assembled on-site.
Many homeowners are surprised by how quickly the process moves. In many cases, precast homes can be ready for move-in after just 60 days. Some homes are ready even sooner. By comparison, it can take a year or more to complete construction on a stick-built home.
Quicker construction can also save you money on your project as a whole. In addition, because most of the work is done at the manufacturing facility, fewer workers need to be on-site, which may further reduce costs.
It’s important to note that concrete homes generally cost more upfront compared to a stick-built home (depending on the size, of course), but they offer greater long term savings that more than makes up for the higher initial investment.
More Energy Efficient
Precast concrete homes are generally more energy efficient than their stick-built counterparts. That’s because the walls absorb heat and then slowly release it throughout the day and overnight. The cycle repeats itself daily, which can lead to impressive energy savings over time. In addition, the home’s HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep the home at a comfortable temperature.
The energy efficiency of precast concrete homes makes them a great option for more extreme climates.
Precast homes are exceptionally durable and aren’t as vulnerable to many of the problems wood-frame homes face.
Concrete homes are naturally resistant to:
Concrete is not flammable, and it can stand up to the heat of several thousand degrees. With a precast concrete home, you don’t have to worry about an electrical fire being hidden inside the walls and engulfing the home in flames.
The contents of the home are flammable, but the concrete components are highly resistant to heat and fire.
Tests have shown that solid and ICF concrete walls can withstand temperatures of 2000° F for four hours without affecting their structural integrity. Concrete walls can also help slow the spread of flames, which can be particularly useful when homes are located in wildfire-prone areas.
Concrete is exceptionally strong and naturally resistant to wind. In areas that are prone to hurricanes, concrete homes are often the only ones left standing. When Hurricane Michael ripped through Florida as a category 4 hurricane, one concrete home was left standing and virtually unscathed. That storm produced winds of 155mph and storm surges.
Of course, precast homes aren’t windproof, but they can withstand very high winds with ease.
Concrete isn’t a hospitable environment for pests. Termites love wood, but they have no interest in concrete. That’s because concrete has no nutritional value for insects. They may seek shelter in your home, but they’re not likely to destroy it.
Pest infestations are far less common with concrete, even after decades of homeownership.
Concrete homes can provide a more peaceful and calming environment because of their soundproofing properties. Concrete naturally reflects and absorbs sound waves, making it an effective barrier for noise.
Compared to stick-built homes, concrete homes require less maintenance. There’s no need to worry about rot, pest damage or even placing a vapor barrier. Precast concrete homes are highly resistant to impact, abrasion, weathering and corrosion.
Concrete is highly durable. The biggest concern will be cracks in the exterior paint, and that’s a simple fix.
Homes that are low maintenance will save you both time and money over the lifespan of homeownership.
Many people steer away from concrete homes because they assume that a gray, unwelcoming exterior is their only option. But concrete homes have come a long way, and today, they can look just like a traditional home. They’re also a natural fit for the modern home aesthetic.
Manufacturers of Prefabricated Concrete Buildings
While you won’t find many prefab concrete home kits, you will find many manufacturers that offer prefabricated concrete buildings. These structures are built quickly and allow homeowners to enjoy all of the benefits of a concrete home.
Molin Concrete became a popular manufacturer after creating the Lake precast concrete house. The Lake home has precast wall panels, prestressed beams and a hollow core floor. Considered a masterpiece in precast construction, the Precast Lake Home demonstrates the high-end quality of Molin Concretes walls.
A few of the many benefits of these precast walls are:
- Fire resistance, along with the benefit of stopping fire from spreading from room to room.
- Storm resistance thanks to the reinforced concrete, making construction extremely resistant to high winds.
- High-end insulation, with values of R-24 on the walls.
Insulated wall panels come with an array of customization options, including textures and finishes. Quick installation is possible thanks to the precast design, and reduced installation times and costs.
Additionally, Molin offers insulated foundation wall panels and solid foundation wall panels that are designed to offer a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution to builders and homeowners.
Finally, solid shear wall panels are also available and offer a top-tier choice for locations where high winds and seismic shifts can cause a structure to collapse. A wide range of thicknesses is available to ensure that the walls allow you to build a structure perfect for your location.
Northeast manufactures superior walls that they call Xi & Xi-15. Xi is short for x-tra insulation, and the manufacturer states that nearly everything is insulated. The following components include insulation:
- Bond beams
- Foundation system
Added insulation keeps homes more energy efficient, which is a top priority of many builders that are trying to find ways to reduce customer energy bills. A more efficient home is a comfortable home.
Northeast’s walls are Zone 4 or Zone 5 if choosing the Xi-15 wall compliant and use thermal isolation for their Xi Walls.
Foundations are poured at once with reinforced steel rebar and fibers to ensure that the foundation will withstand decades of use.
Xi-15 walls have access holes built in to make plumbing and electrical wiring of the building easier. Wall systems also come with a footer beam that has a four-inch insulated bottom. When creating precast walls for the Northeast, the manufacturer knows that if there is one thing that’s constant, it’s not the weather.
You can go from 70 to snowing in a few hours.
With that in mind. Zone 4 insulation is kept at a continuous R-12.5 to keep the home at a comfortable temperature day and night. If you’re in Zone 5, where temperatures are even lower, there’s a continuous insulation value of R-15.3.
Additionally, Xi walls are:
- Installed within just hours
- Designed to be highly energy efficient
- Pre-studded and pre-insulated, so they’re ready to finish
- Rated at 5000+ PSI for added strength and durability
All walls are made to be code accepted, and you don’t need a vapor barrier thanks to the permeance of the walls. Additionally, the walls offer dampproofing and are fire resistant. For homeowners who want peace of mind, Northeast Precast can help.
Ecocast Homes states that you’re just two months from being able to move into your new home. When you work with Ecocast, you can be confident that the company operates year-round, with one main focus:
- Concrete panels for ceilings and walls
All of the company’s panels are reinforced with steel. When working with Ecocast, they can adapt the plans that you already have, or you can use the manufacturer’s own plans. Builders will often use the precast walls to speed up construction on multi-unit buildings.
The walls are delivered to the building site so that the shell of your home can be constructed.
In the following weeks, all of the additional work is completed, such as electric, plumbing, insulation and more.
When you choose Ecocast, you’re choosing a company that offers:
- Modules, building blocks and concrete panels that are precast in factories
- Solutions that work for buildings that are 500 square feet and up
- Focuses intensely on quality to create panels that exceed traditional construction standards
- Faster construction that can be completed on-site in less than 60 days
Personalized styles are available through Ecocast, so that you can enjoy a rock-solid house shell that is resistant to fires, floods and even remain standing when hit by an F5 hurricane.
Precast concrete homes are exceptionally durable and can withstand natural disasters far better than wooden structures. If you’re considering having a home built in an area such as Texas, where tornado damage rips through the state every year, precast concrete solutions make sense.
Plus, you’ll save time on the build while enjoying a home that you’re confident will withstand tornadoes and other disasters, such as wildfires and hurricanes.