From adobe rock to insulated concrete, today’s builders are experimenting with organic, healthier, and sturdier materials. Seeking out ground-up construction and existing investment properties that use these cutting-edge building materials can encourage a higher selling price and faster sale or rental.
Earthy Materials Support Organic Architecture
Frank Lloyd Wright first coined the term “organic architecture” in the early 20th century. Exemplifying designs that seem to grow naturally from their environment, the concept is experiencing a resurgence, especially in luxury homes.
Indoor and outdoor living spaces can flow together, merging into the open floor plan today’s buyers covet. In an organic home, the slope of the roof might mimic the slope of the land. Curves and swoops are commonplace, and the materials used to build these houses are also softer in look and feel.
Adobe rock is one of the more common materials used in today’s organic architecture. Popular in the south and southwest regions of the U.S., including California and Arizona, adobe homes tend to stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing energy costs and increasing sustainability.
In addition to being cheaper to heat and cool, adobe homes cost substantially less to build. Prices can range from $85 to $150 per square foot for a contractor-built home. This compares favorably to the average cost to build a home, which is around $150 per square foot. Pricing varies by region but that will factor in no matter what materials you use.
Modern Modular Homes Don’t Reveal Their Roots
When most homebuyers hear the phrase “modular home,” they think of basic prefab construction, usually a rectangular in-line ranch similar in design to a mobile home. But today’s so-called modular homes can be prefabricated in manufacturing facilities from steel, glass, and wood, and then assembled, section by section, on the building site in virtually limitless designs.
It is impossible for anyone but building experts to tell these homes are modular, yet the flexibility of the components allows for customization to meet the needs of today’s buyers. Modular homes can take the form of Cape Cods, Colonials, Craftsman style, Victorian homes, and virtually any other popular home design on the market today.
In places like California’s Bay Area and the New York tri-state area, modular apartments are helping address the problem of affordable housing. Many of these multi-dwelling units feature retail or office space on the first floor with affordable apartments above.
Stacked like LEGO™ bricks, these buildings look modern and sturdy, and, through the addition of various facades and design features, can blend into virtually any suburban or urban neighborhood.
Modular homes are convenient and cost-effective because they can be built in mass quantities on assembly lines and then constructed on site. Construction can take place offshore to further cut costs. On the low-end, a modular building made out of shipping containers can cost less than $6,000, while single family homes with all the amenities could cost as much as $110 per square foot, which is still lower than the average price to build a standard home today.
Builders report saving as much as 6% in overall building costs using modular construction, as well as enjoying reduced construction timelines.
Insulated Concrete Forms Hold Up Against Any Weather
In the past, homebuyers seeking to live in a tornado- and hurricane-proof structure would turn to sturdy concrete domes for the ultimate protection. But houses built from insulated concrete forms look like any other home on the block while providing protection against 250 mph winds, giving them an EF-5 tornado-proof rating.
ICF construction, as it is called, uses sturdy reinforced steel rebar for the beams of the house, and then concrete foam is poured between the steel structures to create exceptionally sturdy walls. The walls can be finished in virtually any material inside and out to create a house that looks like any other on the block, in any style.
While ICF concrete homes can cost between 5 to 10% more than traditional houses, the added protection they provide make them a smart investment in areas prone to wildfires, tornadoes, or hurricanes.
Due to the insulating concrete, these homes are also eco-friendly and cost less to heat and cool. Homeowners may also be eligible for insurance discounts, which can further reduce the cost of ownership and make these new homes even more desirable to buyers.
When Should You Think Beyond Traditional Building Materials?
Not every region or community is going to be a good fit for adobe houses, modular homes, or ICF construction. Weather patterns, buyer demographics, the cost of living, and the overall real estate market in an area is going to affect whether buyers are ready to look beyond traditional building materials or home styles to embrace the latest building trends.
But if you have the opportunity to invest in new construction, your property will undoubtedly stand out, attracting buyers willing to pay top dollar for a home that fits their needs.
Cutting-edge building projects require no-nonsense financing: Let 5arch get you started!
Originally published: 11/4/19; updated: 1/21/20