What does CBS mean in house construction?
Sunday, July 8, 2018
If you are not talking about television, then it stands for Concrete Block Structure, and means the exterior structural walls are concrete blocks that are 8” high by 8” wide by 16” long. There are other sizes available, but 8x8x16 blocks are standard. The blocks have holes in the center which, although they make them lighter and easier to handle, are primarily there to create long vertical shafts in the wall that can be filled with concrete and reinforcing steel at strategic locations to strengthen the wall against lateral (sideways) loads. A stucco finish is usually applied to the exterior of the block wall after the mortar joints have cured, but we have seen CBS houses with brick or shiplap siding applied over the block walls.
A stucco finish on the exterior walls does not automatically mean that the house is CBS construction. Some stucco-finish houses are wood frame structures. Others are half CBS: the first floor is concrete block and the second floor is wood frame with stucco over metal lath. When a two-story home is half CBS, you will see a one-inch bump-out at the middle of the wall where the underlying structures change.
Also see our blog post What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?
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To learn more about exterior walls and structures, see these other blog posts:
How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes
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