Concrete homes are healthier homes. Concrete walls contain no organic material, so they won’t support the growth of mould, mildew and other potentially harmful microorganisms.
Concrete is naturally fire resistant and waterproof, and doesn’t require any special sealers or coatings. It’s impermeable to water and air making your concrete Compass Home almost perfectly airtight. This reduces the possibility of drafts causing inefficient heating and issues such as leaks.
A comparative house built of wood contains many dangerous chemicals such as copper, chromium, arsenic and solvents. Read more about chemicals currently used in the treatment of wood in New Zealand. Compass Homes can build your home so that it is healthier than most other homes in New Zealand, simply by using concrete.
Concrete has the unique property called thermal mass. Concrete, by its very nature, takes time to heat up and time to cool down. This means that a Compass home will heat up during the day, keeping the inside of the house cooler; and then release this heat overnight, keeping the home warm while you sleep. This has many advantages - the variations in temperature are less than in a similar house constructed in wood. Your concrete home has qualities that buffers the interior of the home from the extremes of outdoor temperature during every 24-hour cycle, and the density of concrete has a heat-absorbing property called thermal mass. This smooths out swings in temperature over time. Thermal mass keeps the house from overheating or getting suddenly cold throughout the day by absorbing the heat and releasing that same heat during the night.
The thermal efficiency of concrete means that the heat energy is stored and released by the concrete about 6 hours after being saved, warming the building when it gets cold, and cooling the building when it gets hot. The concrete absorbs and releases heat energy so that the net effect is that the swing of temperature (that is, the difference between the highs and lows) is reduced, therefore providing a more stable and comfortable environment. As the external temperature increases, this warmth is absorbed by the concrete. This takes time, and there is a delay in the heating of the concrete. This effect is beneficial as it allows the concrete to reach maximum temperature just as the outside air is cooling into the night time.
This graph shows the typical swing in temperature outside and inside the concrete home. The variations in temperature are buffered by the concrete saving on heating costs and regulating the temperature to a comfortable level throughout the day and night.
Compass Homes also utilises a layer of polystyrene to act as a thermal insulator between the two solid slabs of concrete on the external walls, giving your concrete home a thermal rating twice that required by the building code.
Concrete is a naturally dense substance, and therefore is impermeable to air leaks, which are a major source of heat loss. Compass Homes are constructed in one solid pour of concrete, making them solid, water tight and air tight! As a comparison, a conventional timber-framed wall is an assembly of components – wood, linings (such as Gib board), insulation and bracing. Where these different elements meet presents a potential air and water leak – and if air leaks through the house, your energy required to maintain the temperature climbs considerably.
A well-designed Compass home that includes the ability to utilise heat from the sun will accentuate thermal properties of your home and make your home naturally more energy efficient.
Allowing the natural heating and cooling effect of concrete will reduce the energy, and therefore expense required to heat and cool your home. This is just another reason why building in concrete is a better and more cost effective option. CCANZ have done extensive research on the thermal properties of concrete in New Zealand. Download a copy of their research by clicking here.
Strength, durability and beauty
The life-span of a concrete home is significantly longer than one built from conventional materials. Concrete construction has been used extensively as a building material for thousands of years and outlasts all other building materials and technology.
Typically, a home constructed of concrete will last 200 – 300 years. Under the New Zealand building code, houses only need to be built of materials that will last 50 years.
Concrete offers true value if investing in your future is important to you. Concrete walls are made of solid concrete, and therefore are highly resistant to any damage that you would normally expect in a house constructed using materials such as Gib board. Faced with the potential fury of nature, few building materials can match this robust, durable building material.
Peace and quiet
Noise control in buildings is a significant factor in creating a relaxing, enjoyable and private environment. A solid concrete home is a quiet home, on average around 60% quieter. Because concrete is an inherently dense product, it naturally limits the conductivity of sound and is a natural sound barrier, particularly in the lower frequency range.
The unique qualities of the Compass Homes concrete construction method significantly reduces sound transmission between rooms and noise penetration from external sources. Advances in entertainment technology (i.e. home theatres) and increased requirements by homeowners for enhanced privacy in their day-to-day living make concrete the ideal building material for modern homes.
The quiet comfort of concrete makes a concrete home a solid investment in lifestyle - especially if your home is being built in a high density area where noise pollution from neighbours is predominant.
CCANZ recently conducted a project designed to look into the effect of concrete construction in a residential environment. It concluded that “concrete has the potential to provide demonstrably better sound insulation in medium and high density dwellings, particularly for low frequency sound.” Read more about the sound reducing qualities of concrete.
Earthquakes & floods
Simply put, concrete houses are far stronger than wooden framed or steel framed houses. Superior in strength and durability, concrete homes are far better able to withstand earthquakes, floods and fires. Compass Homes use 35MPa concrete in the construction of homes. As a comparison, a normal driveway density is 17MPa.
Compass Homes are constructed in one pour (they are not put together as slabs on concrete erected on site, commonly known as ‘tilt slab’ construction), resulting in each wall being one solid piece of steel reinforced concrete, not panels joined together. This creates a stronger, reinforced structure with better longevity and higher resistance to structural damage from ground movement.In the recent earthquakes in Canterbury, concrete structures performed better than other wooden and masonry structures.
Concrete homes are also better able to withstand flooding. Should a flood occur in a concrete house it is highly unlikely that there would be damage to the structure of the house, unless the foundations are undermined. Should a flood occur, a concrete house would not need any restoration work, and the house can be restored to its original state easily and quickly by replacing the internal fittings such as carpets. Conversely, with a house made out of timber framing, it is likely that damage will occur to the wood (as wood is a natural sponge) and lengthy and costly repairs are likely to result.
Concrete is incombustible – it can’t catch on fire and, unlike wood which is a natural source of fuel for a fire, concrete actually resists fire. As it does not burn, concrete does not release any environmentally hazardous smoke, gases or toxic fumes. By its very nature concrete can’t burn and indeed, can limit the spread of a fire in a house as it is an effective fire shield. Concrete structures have been tested to withstand temperatures of over 1000 degrees Celsius for 4 hours and maintain the structural integrity without failing or allowing fire to penetrate.
In 2012 The University of Canterbury conducted experiments on the effect of fire on concrete floor slabs and found that the floor slabs withstood the effects of fire to a very high degree, maintaining their structural integrity. Many studies over the past 10 years undertaken in the US and Europe have all concluded that structures built of concrete are far more fire resistant than any other form of construction.
CCANZ have published information about the performance of houses built of concrete with specific reference to the New Zealand Building Code. Concrete provides an impressive level of fire resistance that ultimately assists to preserve life and minimise damage.
Additional information on the fire resistant properties can be found in reports completed in New Zealand from the New Zealand Concrete Masonry Association (NZCMA) by clicking here and BRANZ in a report here.
There are a large variety of finishes available with a Compass Home. Compass Homes concrete walls need only minimal maintenance. An occasional wash-down is all that is required to keep the finish looking good. Comparatively, material such as masonry and brick which is porous, requires sealing and needs re-applying of mortar over cracked or failed areas.
Economic, social and environmental stability
To quote from the information released by Concrete Joint Sustainability Initiative: “The importance of sustainable development is currently dominating headlines, and as a concept is frequently defined as the practice of meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The quest for sustainability has been compared with New Zealand’s nuclear free stance in the 1980s, and politicians have been enthusiastically pledging their support to make New Zealand the “first nation to be truly sustainable”. There is no question that sustainable development has been adopted as the philosophy to direct New Zealand’s way forward, and as a means to find solutions that provide the best economic, social and environmental outcomes. Produced from readily available raw materials, concrete’s strength, durability and versatility ensure it provides solutions for the built environment that help achieve sustainable development.”
Read more about the sustainability of concrete in New Zealand from the CCANZ by clicking here and more information on the Concrete Joint Sustainability Initiative, an international initiative committed to education about the the role and responsibilities of concrete in resilient and sustainable development.
All concrete used by Compass Homes is supplied using the natural resources found locally. Compass Homes is supplied exclusively by Firth Concrete. Firth has committed significant resources to developing a special concrete that is suitable for New Zealand conditions and produces solid concrete homes.