Choosing Materials to Build With

What are the best materials to build my home?

Many new home builders ask this question in the hopes of receiving a simple answer in response. However, in reality, it is not as easy as a ‘one size fits all’ approach. When building a new home, you need to look at a few items before making your overall material selection in order to reach the best solution for your individual build.

Site analysis

The first item to look at would be the site details. What products are actually available to your location? Once this has been established, you can then look at what materials are best suited for your individual site.You may be on a steep block where you are required to cut into the site, so materials with good retaining properties like bricks or blocksmay be best suited. Alternatively,it may be a flat site, but with difficult site access, so using lighter, easier to handle materials may be a better choice. You may be located close to the coast, within a cyclone or even a bush fire zone.Again, all of these elements will greatly effect the overall selections, as materials selected for homes within these zones will need to withstand particular natural elements.

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Tiny house design by Domenic Alvaro's built on an inner city parking lot.

Once you have analysed the site in detail and determined the selection of suitable materials, where to next?

Climate zone

With a huge movement to better designed, more suitable housing, one huge consideration when selecting materials is the overall climate zone of the property, in particular, how the material will perform in your climate zone. Some materials perform better than othersin all climate zones, whilst some may perform good in one particular climate zone, but not in another. Combining different materials with eachother can greatly improve their performance in a particular zone, such as combining brick construction with framed construction for a reverse brick veneer- one of the higher rated standard wall construction methods.

Cost

One key factor to be considered it the cost of the materials. With the huge number of various building materials on the market, there is an incredible number of choices available. A large driving factor in any construction is the overall budget. Whilst many people look at materials as one up font cost at the time of construction, what really needs to be considered is the overall cost of the material over its lifetime.Some materials require more maintenance than others and some have a longer overall lifespan. Some materials, like brick and stone can be left as the finished product exactly as they are laid, whilst some materials need additional finishing, which of course, comes at an extra cost.

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Red brick house by B.E Architecture.

Therunning costs of thehome also needs to be considered when looking at the costs of individual materials. Some materials may have a cheaper up front cost, but may not perform as well as others,costing you more money in the long term for the auxiliary heating and cooling of your home.

Time

The overall time frame for the construction of your home plays a huge role in the selection of materials. If the project has a tight time frame, material selection can hugely impact this, possibly blowing out time lines if not planned correctly. Some materials have a longer lead time, which could rule out their use all together if not planned ahead. On the other hand, some materials have longer on site time, whilst some literally fly up. A number of products even come with the ability to be prefabricated off site, saving time on site. When time frames are tighter, more speedy construction methods may be considered and looked at as a priority over thematerial price, whilston constructions where time is not an issue, the freedom in material selection is greater.

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Concrete panel house by Juan Carlos Salas

Purpose

Is the home intended as a rental investment property? Does it need to withstand the wear of an entire family or is it a house for a single occupant? Solid materials such as tiles, brick, stone and concrete can take more wear than less impact resistant products. In a property where it will be leased out or has to deal with the wear of an entire family, more hardwearing materials such as tiles, brick, stone and concrete should be considered. In a less high traffichouse, softer, more delicate materials with less wear and tear properties such as timber flooring could be considered over harder wearing tiles.

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Design by Room 11 Architects.

Maintenance

Similar to the above, if the home is intended to be an investment property, it is likely that materials which require a higher level of maintenance will be avoided. The overall maintenance toleratedfor an individual property comes down to the individual owner. The location of the site will play a huge impact of the level of maintenance that a particular product will require. Coastal properties in general require a higher level of maintenance due to the harsh salt air and winds. Products with stronger properties, although possibly more expensive upfront, may be a better long-term investment.

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Costal house designed by Vibe design Group.

Development

Developments have particular material selection criteria, which is often influenced by time and cost. As developments are often multi storey, the product needs to have the structural integrity to withstand being built on top of. Added consideration also needs to be given to the overall performance of the material with regards to noise transfer, fire proofing and energy performance.

Overall, there is no single number one material to be used, but instead a selection of materials with varying properties that suit various different applications. Some with cheaper upfront costs, some with quicker constructions times, some with better energy ratings and some, which are just aesthetically more pleasing. Each product needs to be analysed and selected based on its individual application to suit your particular house and location.

mm Article by Janik Dalecki - Dalecki Designs

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    Showing 2 comments
    • Marty
      Reply

      I am going to owner build soon and this will come in handy

      Cheers Marty

    • Ivan Vastag
      Reply

      Great to talk to professionals

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