July 9, 2009

Marco Island | Wood Frame Construction

Many times I am asked should I purchase a wood framed home on Marco Island Florida? There are lots of questions surrounding wood framed homes and I think it is important to share some of the information that I have gathered over the years.

I recently showed a wood framed home to a prospective buyer. They got extremely nervous about it because of the risk with termites and their belief that these homes are not "hurricane proof". Bottom line is even CBS homes have wood in them, they are less resistant to termites because they have less wood in them. One thing worth noting is that there is virtually no inspection by any building officials of the quality of the block or mortar used in the construction of Concrete Block Walls (CBS). Environmentalists point out that it takes 6-8 times the energy to construct a wall of brick or CBS as opposed to an all wood wall.

Here are the PROS to Wood Frame Construction:

  • Wood has four natural properties that make it the preferred all around building material here in South Florida. -- Strength, Insulating capacity, Durability, Warm natural appearance and beauty.
  • Wood is not as dense as it looks. Unlike CBS wood allows a home to "breath" thus stay warmer in winter and cooler in the summer.
  • Termites are a threat to any type of structure wood or CBS. Termites burrow through concrete or eat through wood. They often breed in the dark, damp, empty cells of a concrete block wall. This is why termite proofing protection is required during the construction of all types o new homes and is a prerequisite for a mortgage.
  • Many woods are resistant to decay including redwood, Cedar and Cypress.
  • Many of Palm Beaches oldest and most notable wood homes are still in excellent condition because the lignin that cements its cells together is not only very strong, hue is largely impervious to water and the extremes of heat and cold.
  • Wood accepts stains and other finishes that can achieve different visual effects, or can be coated at the factory with new super finishes that have a guaranteed long life.
  • It would take a concrete wall 5 feet thick to equal the insulating quality of just 4 inches of wood.
  • Wood insulates 6 times better than brick, 15 times better than concrete, 1,770 times better than aluminum
  • One of the most surprising qualities of wood is its incredible strength. A wood block just 1 inch square and 2.5 inches long, weighing only 3/4 ounce can support 10,000 pounds (the weight of three cars).
  • Practically all wood building materials and wood structures go through many stringent inspections by quality control engineers in the mills as well by building inspectors in the field.
  • When wood sheathing is fastened to wood wall and roof framing, the entire structure becomes one unit, giving and recovering under stress. When built to the new existing codes, wood frame construction will survive far better during a hurricane.

Some Internet resources for more information can be found here:

Retrofitting Homes for Wind Protection

Wood Frame Construction

Steel Home Frame Construction

CBS vs Wood Frame

About Termite Protection

Not all wood frame homes on Marco Island are bad. I strongly suggest that if you are considering purchasing a wood frame home that you have it fully inspected and make sure that you have termite protection with a licensed professional.

Living in Southwest Florida, I have weathered a few hurricanes, the only time that I really felt comfortable was the time I spent in a wood frame home. In fact I slept soundly during the experience unlike the neighbors that weathered the storm next door in a concreate block home. And they are definitely a lot cooler in the heat of summer. Every type of construction has pros and cons, and I would suggest that you do your research if you have questions.

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