Concrete vs Wood Frame Condos


The Pros and Cons of Concrete and Wood Frame Condos

I’m sure home buyers have noticed, one of the biggest differences between different types of condos is the construction, specifically having the choice between wood frame and concrete structures. Vancouver building code states that anything above 4 stories has to be concrete, which is why when you look around East Vancouver (and elsewhere in Vancouver) you’ll see a number of low rise, older wood frame buildings. Though concrete condos are the preferred choice in most measures, wood frame buildings have some of their own positive aspects as well.

Wood Frame Buildings

Aside from the height restriction on wood frame buildings, one of the big reasons why developers choose to build wood frame structures is the lower build cost.

Pros of Wood Frame Condos

Wood frame condos and townhouses are seen across the city, and in older buildings and newer buildings, as it is an easy to use, lightweight material for builders. One of the biggest benefits of an older wood frame building can often be the larger than normal floor plans, which gives owners a little bit more space.  The biggest benefit of wood frame condos? Wood is far cheaper than concrete, which keeps the cost of ownership down for home buyers. There is often a thin concrete barrier between floors of wood frame condos to improve noise transfer.

Cons of Wood Frame Condos

Being in Vancouver, we can get a lot of rain. If water penetrates the exterior of a building, reaching the actual wood frame, the dampness can lead to structural issues over time, as well as mould and rot. Keep in mind that concrete condos can suffer damage due to water ingress as well, but it doesn’t happen nearly as fast. There are some pests and termites that can cause damage to wood frame buildings as well, though the wood can be chemically treated to prevent some of this activity. Wood frame buildings also don’t insulate against sound very well, so if you have some noisy neighbours, whether beside you or above you, you’ll hear them if they’re being especially loud.

Concrete Condos

Any building built higher than 4 stories will be concrete in Vancouver, and concrete condos are known to be the “premium” build product.

Pros of Concrete Condos

Concrete condos are sturdy, solid structures and you can feel that when you’re in the space. The noise transfer between units will be far less than a wood frame building which gives owners a little more privacy and quiet. Insurance companies may look a little more favourably at concrete condos, though that doesn’t affect enjoyment of the property. Though concrete condos require their own type of maintenance, it’s typically needed less often than a wood frame building, and can withstand much more when it comes to the elements, so when thinking long term, concrete is the way to go. Concrete condos often have a better “green” rating, thanks to their efficiency and durability.

Cons of Concrete Condos

Some of the cons of concrete condos include some noise transfer – if someone drops, say a marble, in the unit above you, it can reverberate through your unit. Also, the cost of concrete becomes a major factor for most buyers – either it’s too expensive to afford, or you’ll end up paying more for less space.

Contact us if you’re looking specifically for concrete condos, as you can’t always tell from the exterior whether or not something is concrete. You can also take a look at our specific Concrete Buildings search.

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