Building Materials or Concerns?

Asked by Manny Angelos, 33308 Sun Mar 21, 2010

I've seen many different types of building materials used for the framing and roofing on homes in South Florida i.e. concrete block/stucco, brick and wood as well as asphalt shingles, tile, metal respectively.

Given the area's harsh sub tropical weather and the ever present threat of hurricanes and lightning strikes, what are preferred building materials for framing and roofing?

As for windows, where can I get more information on "Hurricane Impact Windows" types, grades, materials, etc. and how can I tell if windows in a home are HIW or not by just looking at them i.e. label, marking, etc.?

Other than these and the Chinese Drywall issue, what other building materials or issues that are specific to the area should I be concerned about?

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Gary Birtles, , Scottsdale, AZ
Mon Jan 26, 2015
I think your contractor should be able to ease some of these concerns for you. If you are going with a local contractor, more often than not, they'll know what materials will work best in your environment. Just discuss your concerns and make sure you aren't leaving any bases uncovered.
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Gerald Vonbe…, Home Buyer, Jackson Springs, NC
Mon Dec 1, 2014
I've had the same question about roofing for a while. I am redoing my roofing right now on the house and on the shed out in the backyard. I've heard that it's a good idea to have the same roofing on a shed that you would put on a house. My shed doesn't have anything that valuable in it, though. It's pretty big too, so it would be expensive to put a regular roof on it. In the case of the shed, it seems like metal roofing panels would be a better option.
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I've had a metal roof on my shed for years, It is well hidden from the street, in the back of the house. If yours is visible to the street though, metal might take away a bit of curb appeal.
Flag Mon Mar 16, 2015
Mark Leach, Home Buyer, Pine Bluff, AR
Tue Oct 21, 2014
I am planning on remodeling the house by myself. Is this recommended? If so, where can I obtain the building supplies necessary to do it? I am located in newmarket. Thanks!
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Cory Trevor, Home Buyer, Aberdeen, OH
Thu Oct 9, 2014
I have only lived in brick homes and have never had any problems. I have been fortunate enough to escape most of the biggest storms, though. A lot of people recommend using Structural Insulated Panels. Try asking around your local hardware store.
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I know what you mean, I have never had problems with the materials that I use to build. I enjoy building homes out of brick the most, but wood works pretty well also. I agree with Cory that you should ask around your local hardware store.
Flag Mon Oct 27, 2014
Ali Haghgoo, Agent, Pikesville, MD
Thu Jun 5, 2014
I would recommend looking into Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). Not only are they excellent for insulating your home but they are very strong. In fact, homes built with SIPs have been known to survive multiple hurricanes while their conventionally-built neighboring homes were flattened. My team is currently representing a zero-energy home builder, High Performance Homes, who is building all their exterior walls with SIPs. Check us out at The Links at Gettysburg.

Also, here is a SIPs website that gives examples of their homes surviving natural disasters (w/ pictures):
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karablader, Home Buyer, Utah County, UT
Thu Jun 5, 2014
It's hard to say which building materials are the best. It all depends on your preferences and on your budget. We had a bunch of brick houses built in the neighborhood behind us and they are very sturdy structures. I always liked how brick houses look, too.
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Scott Patter…, Agent, Aventura, FL
Fri Aug 30, 2013
We recommend logging onto Angie's List. They have a number of forums that discuss these regional issues. Best of Luck.
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Olga Rubin, , Miami Beach, FL
Tue Jul 30, 2013
What astute questions! We recommend consulting neighbors as well as Angie's List, if you are looking to hire a contractor. Word of mouth is very powerful in South Florida, hopefully you will get good recommendations.
Web Reference:
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Debra B Albe…, Agent, Port St Lucie, FL
Tue Mar 23, 2010
Brick is not really a South Florida thing. Of course you can build with brick, but you just do not see many homes built this way. It is just a regional thing. I am from South Carolina, there brick is the primary building material and I loved it, however, when in Rome....

Debra Albert,PA
Coldwell Banker Residential
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Manny Angelos, Home Buyer, 33308
Tue Mar 23, 2010
You all brought up some great points, thanks!

That Insulated Concrete looks interesting but what material is on the outside of the house? It seems like most prefer the CBS but, where does does brick rate? And if CBS or brick framing is used, what's between it and the drywall? Insulation, studs?

I see metal for it's life expectancy & wind resistance but my 1st thought was a metal roof in the middle of Lighting Central didn't sound like such a great idea. As for roof ties, it's impossible to know what's there unless it's new construction, which for some reason I hadn't really considered buying until now, thanks!

What are "window coverings"exactly?

Where can I find resources online about building a hurricane safe house including different storm shutter systems as well as a summary of the building code improvements since hurricane Andrew?
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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Mon Mar 22, 2010

Your concerns are real but not overwhelming when you consider that all newer construction in Florida must be built to the highest building code. Beyond this, it's a matter of preference. Others may disagree but we would rate metal, tile, & asphalt roofing in that order. Many new constructions are now going with metal roofing because of its longevity as well as wind resistance.

A home inspector will be able to answer your questions about the window issue. We would suggest that HIW's aren't absolutely essential when the home is equipped with a good storm shutter system to protect your home during the storm season.

We would also recommend making sure you keep an eye out for wood destroying organisms and mold, even with newer construction. We have seen brand new homes with attic mold issues that needed to be addressed prior to closing. Again, a good home inspection will be able to identify any potential problems prior to taking ownership.

Because of the weather extremes and WDO's we would recommend avoiding a home that is built as a total wood construction. In our opinion, to do so would invite a higher percentage chance for future problems.

Best wishes with your search. You are asking the right questions at the right time.

The Eckler Team
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Debra B Albe…, Agent, Port St Lucie, FL
Mon Mar 22, 2010
There is an ongoing debate about frame/stucco and CBS (concrete block and stucco) with people on both sides of the table. Frame construction gives a little. Think the palm tree in the storm that survives when the mighty oak did not. Also, CBS can hold moisture and cause a mold issue. On the other side of the table, CBS is just stronger. The actual answer is it is not the most important consideration. The roof tie downs and window coverings are the main issue. If you keep the integrity of the windows and doors, you keep the roof on the house!

Impact windows are expensive and you find them in upscale neighborhoods. It saves you the work of installing shutters when a storm is approaching. The more important issue is when was the property built? Building codes were updated after Andrew blew into South Florida. As building codes improved, all construction improved its ability to withstand a major storm.

Interesting note, if you are looking at a property with a pool and screen enclosure, you can tell when it was built. As building codes changed, the construction of the screen room improved as well. The crossbeams became wider, the rivits became more numerous and then added reinforceing plates.

The real answer is the later the home is built, the better the building code and safer the property.

I really hope this helps!

Debbie Albert
Coldwell Banker Residential
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Dan Chase, Home Buyer, Texas City, TX
Sun Mar 21, 2010
I will not be able to answer your exact question. If you were asking about building new I would strongly consider using quadlock (or similar manufacturers) method. It involves putting up foam blocks that look like legos. You will the inside of the blocks with concrete. It will not blow over. A hurricane could break windows but the house will remain. They are said to be much quieter and energy efficient than other methods of building.

One thing I would consider for roofing would be life expectancy. The florida sun is hot. It can bake good asphalt shingles long before they would die up north. I would look into buying a metal roof. Make sure you look at the thickness. Some are made cheaply and sell for less money.
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