Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is the unit you are considering in a Concrete and Steel or Wood Frame Building? What could this mean for your investment & comfort?

There are dozens of reasons why steel and concrete buildings are more popular with buyers: better value, strength and durability, sound protection, style and flexibility, energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. 

This long list explains the increasing demand from builders and buyers alike. Steel and concrete construction can create buildings in an unlimited variety of styles and designs. This is one of many factors that make these materials the most desirable for home building.

Steel and concrete offer an unparalleled durability and stability to home construction. The materials last longer than any other and have an incomparable strength in withstanding fire and severe weather. They are naturally water-resistant, non-combustible, resistant to wear and tear, rot and insects.

These factors contribute to buildings that are built to last and hold their value costing the association less over the long term.

Both steel and concrete are fire- and heat-resistant, giving these homes added protection. Even if a steel and concrete home does catch on fire, the damage does not seriously affect the structure, making repair a simpler and more cost-effective task. Maintenance costs, in general, on steel and concrete buildings are a lot less. Without the shrinkage seen in timber-framed homes, there are fewer repairs required as the building ages.

Steel and concrete homes are quieter: compared to timber-framed homes, up to 75 percent quieter.*

Concrete floors provide the perfect sound-dampening. To reinforce concrete’s natural insulating qualities even further, concrete floors tend to be thicker not withstanding the insulating and sound blocking nature of concrete. In addition, walls built using steel studs and double-layered drywall offer extra sound protection.

Steel and concrete also provide insulation from the elements, slowing down the passage of heat and cold. This means concrete buildings stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, reducing heating and air conditioning bills and conserving energy. With environmental concerns on the rise, steel and concrete homeowners benefit from materials that are not only energy efficient, but environmentally sustainable as well.

Steel production and processing is environmentally friendly, and steel itself is recyclable. Concrete, unlike what is required for the production of wood — vast amounts of land, a limited natural resource and a production process that takes a heavy toll on the environment — is an ecologically wise choice. It comes from a mix of the earth’s most common and abundant raw minerals, uses recycled materials such as scrap tires and fly ash, and requires no preservatives, coatings or sealants, as wood does.

Not all buildings in Hoboken and Jersey City, old or new, are made with steel and concrete construction.  You should ask your agent as part of your due diligence about what type of construction was used to build the building where you are considering buying.  

Steel and concrete buildings usually trade at a higher price per square foot than wood frame buildings.  In my opinion, they don't trade enough above wood frame buildings because many buyers don't think about it, don't understand what it means in terms of comfort and long term cost and as such don't put a premium on those buildings.  I would say that only about 15% of my customers pro-actively ask me about the construction of a building.  It's this lack of valuing the difference between wood frame and concrete and steel construction that is holding down the price per square foot of concrete and steel construction.  And by the way, it's this lack of consumer awareness that drives developers to use cheaper materials.  If developers are not going to sustain their margin when going to the more expensive material, they will stick with the cheaper stuff. 

Whether I am working as a Transaction Broker or a Buyer's agent, I like to pro-actively tell my clients about the building as well as the unit.  Unfortunately, however, people don't necessarily understand the significance of buying in a wood frame building vs concrete until after they have bought and moved in.  It's when they are lying in bed and can hear their neighbors sneeze that they realize, "oh this is what she meant".

It's ok to buy in a wood frame building but just know what you are getting.  I, personally, would like the building code for new construction to change here in Hoboken to insist that new buildings be built with steel and concrete frames.

Anecdotally, of the new construction in town, i.e., less than 10 years old, there is a higher turn over rate and a higher ratio of Tenants to Owner Occupants in new wood frame construction.  The insight is that steel and concrete is better as a long term home rather than a transient place to live.  Again, that might be what you are going for - a place to occupy for a few years and then when you move to the burbs you expect to rent  - fine.  Again, Caveat Emptor - know what you are buying.

*The Concrete Centre, Camberly, UK

Information Provided by Donna Antonucci
Prudential Castle Point Realty



No comments: