How to Build a Concrete House
Concrete is easily the most trusted construction material for building almost any kind of structure. Due to the versatility and strength of concrete, it is the material of choice for freeways and parking lots. But can you use concrete for a residential building?
When they think of a concrete home, most people imagine a commercial looking building. But concrete is the most adaptable building material as it can be finished with the texture of wood, glass, or other materials. A concrete house is virtually indistinguishable from other houses.
Moreover, concrete homes offer clear advantages over buildings made with other construction materials. Although the concrete home costs more, it is more valuable and saves its owner a lot of money in the long run.
The benefits of building your house with concrete include:
- Concrete homes are more durable and last longer.
- They have better outside noise-cancelling abilities.
- They are more energy-efficient due to their superior insulation and lower air infiltration and this translates into lower cooling and heating costs.
- Concrete houses also have higher resistance to fire, mold, and insect attacks.
- They can be reinforced to give them the ability to withstand floods and hurricanes.
- The insurance premium is lower because concrete homes are tough.
- You can design your concrete home to look like any kind of house.
- A concrete home with high-end finishing has extremely high resale value.
The truth is that homes built with concrete regularly outcompete other homes in terms of aesthetics and functionality. If you choose to go this route, you will be making an investment that pays off handsomely in the future.
Steps for building a concrete house
1. Create the layout and stake the house
The first step is to mark out the corners of the house by creating a rectangular outline of the entire building. Using wooden stakes, mark out the corners of the house and run masonry string between the stakes to connect them. Make sure the layout strings are level.
2. Excavate the foundation
In this stage, you create a flat-bottomed trench where you will pour the concrete foundation to support the cement block walls. For this step, you need earth-moving equipment. The house must have deep frost footings. To determine the required depth and width of the footing, ask the local authorities. Generally, frost footing should be 8-12 inches below the deepest frost level for that area.
3. Lay the footers
The next step for preparing the foundation is to lay the footers. The size of these depends on how big the house is going to be. Typically, footers should be at least 12 inches deep and twice as wide as the walls or a minimum or 4 inches wider than the width of the walls.
4. Pour the foundation
The foundation is what supports the cement blocks that make the walls of your house. This is created by pouring concrete into the hollow shape that represents the outline of the building. The concrete can be mixed by hand, but a quicker way of doing it is to order ready-mix concrete.
5. Lay the first course of block
This step cannot begin until the foundation is fully hardened and cured. On every 90-degree corner of the house, lay 6-8 blocks on each side. The blocks must be perfectly vertical and straight. Builders will often use stakes and strings to make sure the rows of blocks are properly lined up.
6. Start building the walls
The next step is to place one line of blocks on top of another line of blocks until the walls of the house are erected. A nylon string stretching from one corner to the opposite corner is used to ensure the wall is straight. Window and door frames should be ready and available, so they can be set in place.
7. Add reinforcement
You will need metal reinforcements. Typically, after every third or fourth course of blocks, horizontal joints are reinforced. This is done with metal strips that are embedded in the mortar before the next course of blocks is laid. Vertical joints are reinforced by filling hollow cavities with concrete and driving a rebar into the hollow.
8. Finish joints
As blocks are being laid, you will periodically need to return to the previous lines of blocks to finish their joints. This cannot be done immediately after blocks are laid since the mortar is still soft. But it should be done before the mortar has completely hardened.
9. Finishing the walls
How high the walls go depends on the size of the house, your design, and your budget. For a typical small house, the walls are usually 8-9 feet tall. The wall height is very different for multi-story houses and homes with high ceilings.
To conclude, the above is a highly simplified outline of the steps for building a concrete house. The process of going from designing the house to actually moving into the finished home has many steps.
Choosing concrete for your home is one of the best decisions you will ever make. But to reap the benefits of that decision, you need an experienced builder by your side.