Concrete home still has the wow factor – 10 years on - Firth | ArchiPro

Concrete home still has the wow factor – 10 years on

Products used: Exposed AggregateHotBloc®


When Architectural Designer Mark Rantin from MRA Limited, Residential Concrete Design, became aware that a masonry home he designed more than 10 years ago had come up for sale, he paid a visit and was fascinated to discover that the home looked just like it did when it was first built.

“I designed this house in 2005 for a couple with young children,” says Mark. “The brief was for a hard-wearing, simple design with a contemporary look that was suitable for normal family living. We used Firth’s stack bonded HotBloc® for the external and feature walls with portions of it plastered for effect.”

Firth HotBloc® provides insulation and gives the home thermal advantages with more even temperatures vs the extreme heat and cold of timber construction.

“The house also includes a suspended concrete floor and highly polished designer concrete floors in the entrance, the lounge and the dining area - which still look amazing,” adds Mark. “We used a linea weatherboard on the top floor to add interest and break up the honed and plastered block work.”

“I was asked to sell this house, not because the owners were up or down sizing - as they loved the house, but because they were heading overseas for work,” says Robert Thompson, Real Estate Agent for Barfoot and Thompson, Epsom Branch.”

Robert says that when he first entered the house he was surprised to find out it was built in 2006. “Over the three-week marketing period 100 people viewed the house - which is a very high number,” he says. “I cannot tell you how many times, during that period, I was told by people how stylish, well presented and well maintained the house was. Like me, most people found it hard to believe it was 10 years old. The polished block walls and floors give it a very contemporary look. It sold very well and the owners, although sad to leave it, were very happy.”

“I loved the house when it was designed and it still looks amazing today,” adds Mark. “This house is the proof in the pudding for me and demonstrates the enduring quality of concrete and masonry construction.”

Why choose concrete and concrete masonry construction?

  • Durability and longevity - Concrete and concrete masonry is a highly durable construction material with low maintenance requirements. Well-designed concrete structures can be expected to exceed their minimum service life as specified in the New Zealand Building Code, and in some cases last for centuries.
  • Fire protection - The benefits of concrete masonry are recognised by the Fire Service and the insurance industry.
  • Noise protection - Concrete masonry is an ideal sound barrier, providing reduced sound transmission relative to the size of the wall.
  • Robust and secure - Concrete will not rot, rust or corrode. In fact, concrete actually gets stronger throughout its life. Reinforced concrete, with its capacity to accommodate alternative load paths, is ideally suited to New Zealand’s seismic conditions.
  • Energy efficiency - One of the most valuable advantages of concrete masonry is the cost saving derived from its capacity to store energy and to delay the passage of heat. This unique feature, known as the 'thermal mass effect', allows masonry buildings to be designed with less additional insulation. Hence, material costs and energy consumption can be reduced, and the comfort of living space is improved.
  • Cost effectiveness - The use of reinforced masonry can result in substantial savings for buildings of up to ten storeys. For the construction of structural walls and buildings, the need for formwork and associated labour is eliminated. The savings result from the speed and simplicity of using concrete masonry as a structural frame (load bearing and shear walls with horizontal diaphragms), as well as exterior skin and space divider.
  • Resale value - In many cases masonry homes maintain a premium resale value compared to alternate construction
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