How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
Is a brick house sturdier than a wood frame house?
Friday, October 19, 2018
Not really. Most brick homes in the Gainesville area are actually wood-frame homes with a brick veneer applied over the sheathed wood walls, as an alternative and upscale wall surfacing. Here’s an example below of a new home with brick facing in the process of being installed over a wood frame wall.
Perhaps one in thirty brick homes we inspect are “structural brick,” meaning that the bricks provide support for the roof with no wood-frame wall behind it. If you look closely you will see a concrete tie beam (usually painted in a similar color to the brick) wrapping around the top of the walls of the newer structural brick homes. Older structural brick (pre-1940) skipped the tie beam. In the photo below, of a structural brick house in Alachua, the brick on the interior of garage is another clue that the house is structural brick.
And in this next photo you can see the tie beam near the ceiling inside the same garage. Sometimes the tie beam is not visible at the exterior because it is concealed by the soffit, covered by the return of the roof overhang.
Brick does have the virtue of being a lower maintenance wall than wood siding, and many people equate brick with quality construction too. There are also a number of different brick shaped concrete blocks--but often larger than regular bricks--that were used to build houses in North Florida from the 1950s thru the 1970s. Realtors call these “Ocala Block” houses. The origin of the name is obscure, but Ocala Block houses are structural masonry, with similar properties to a regular concrete block homes. To learn more about them, see our blog post What is "Ocala" block?
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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:
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