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Thread: Why are the houses in USA from wood?

  1. #1

    Default Why are the houses in USA from wood?

    Hi!

    I have a stupid question for you who live in North America! Why are the houses in USA from wood?

    Here in europe they are all from brick! A hurricane would never destroy a house freom brick..I think!

  2. #2
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Hurricanes would destroy a house from brick.

    Brick is also harder to work with, heavier, and does not insulate well on its own.

    Wood is cheaper, and quicker, and lighter. It is not the best for certain situations, but it all depends on what and where you are building.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Because the USA used to be covered with forests ...

    Nowadays there is far less wood used per house in housing construction -- metal "studs" have replaced much of the wooden "2 x 4"s formerly used for interior walls.

    While a well constructed Brick House might keep you safe and happy (like these \/ 3 little guys) in a wind storm or other calamites Brick won't do much to protect you from the storm surge of a hurricane or the rocking and rolling of an earthquake ...



    http://www.galleryone.com/images/gus...tle%20pigs.jpg

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ligel View Post
    Hi!

    I have a stupid question for you who live in North America! Why are the houses in USA from wood?

    Here in europe they are all from brick! A hurricane would never destroy a house freom brick..I think!
    Not much can be done against storm surge, except get out of the way. One cubic meter of water weighs one metric ton. Multiply that many times, and that's a lot of mass hitting a house.

    New hurricane building codes in some states in the U.S. protect against wind damage, such as roofs being blown off. If a door is blown open, then hurricane force winds can destroy the house from the inside.

    http://aec.ihs.com/news-05Q3/florida...resistance.jsp


    Brick would be a better choice than wood in tornado zones, where the much higher winds can propel objects right through house walls.

  5. #5
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    WARNING!!!!

    TECHIE!!!!


    Water denisty is 62.4 PCF (english pounds per square foot). Fluid pressure varied directly with its denisty, so water pressure against a wall would be the height of the water itself times its denisty (10 feet of water would place a load of 624 pounds per square foot at that depth on any surface that was containing it).

    MOVING water is even worse, with that you have conservation of momentum, and a whole host of other things that pretty much equate to rippnig a house right off its foundations.

    Now airflow is similar, but air, being comprssable, is not as dangerous as water. It still has some rules though.

    The basic wind pressure used by code is equal to 0.00256 times the velocity (in MPH) squared times a bunch of factors that try to quantify building height, shape, ground topography, enclosure and importance. Other factors like mean recurrance are factored in later if desired... (This yeilds pressure in PSF. NYC building code was a bit less picky and would chose arbitrary pressures based on building height alone. Although it was not as technical as ASCE, BOCA, IBC, UBC or any other building code, it has held up pretty well so far...)

    Wind speeds are measured at 33 ft (about 10m) from the ground and can be quantified as "Fastest Mile" (what is the fastest time the wind could "run" a mile.), Average and 3 second gust.

    Now, back to building materials. Wood was readily available, and a renewable resource. But pre-manufactured aluminum divider walls are now being used in many developments because of the cost and ease of use.

    Brick is pretty good, but lacks any kind of bending capacity without the insertion of rebar (metal reinforcement) between the courses running in the direction against the bending (say vertically to resist bending the wall in or out).

    Nowadays, very few buildings are actually BUILT using brick or CMU (Concrete Masonty Unit). They are only used for infill walls, or facade work. Sometimes rarely in foundation work. The two most commonly used materials are Concrete and Steel, and some areas are starting to experiment with interesting laminates, composite materials/sections and different material substances alltogether (carbon fiber being one of them).

    But things take a LONG time to be enacted in Civil Engineering due to the cost of changing over, and the cautionary nature of using new, untried means, materials and methods for residential units or workspaces.



    But, wood is still used for a lot of the 1-2 story residentials going up in the US since it is still cheaper and easier to use.
    Last edited by Ninjahedge; August 28th, 2006 at 02:39 PM.

  6. #6

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    ^Applause!


    Well I have something of a stupid answer....they're nicer!

    My parents had our winter vacation home built in Vermont many years ago.
    It cost under 100,000 for a huge lot and a two story, 3-bedroom cedar wood house.

    The thing is beautiful, warm as any house in VT, and smells like a forest even after all these years. Perhaps the only drawback is that wood tends to need frequent sealant touch ups and bug control.

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    The Dude Abides
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    I have some family members in Poland who asked the very same question upon their first visit to the USA. In Poland, most older houses are almost all concrete, and newer houses are almost all combinations of brick and concrete. In addition to the reasons that have already been given, I'd like to add that a wood-frame house feels a lot "warmer". I just hate the feel of cold concrete walls whenever I visit Poland, and I much prefer the feel of houses back in the USA (as do many other people I know who've lived in both). That being said, I do think that Tornado Alley houses should be built with more brick/concrete.

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    Ninjahedge, you don't know how to make bombs, do you?

    I think the real answer to why is simply that it's the cheap.

  9. #9

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    ^
    Two parts to the original question:

    1. Why are the houses in USA from wood?

    2. A hurricane would never destroy a house freom brick..I think!

    He answered the first part simply:
    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    Wood is cheaper, and quicker, and lighter.
    The second part was more complicated.

  10. #10

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    Nothing is more beautiful than stone, brick and stucco.

    My building dates back to the 1200´s and my "new" apartment that I´ll be moving into soon, is from the 1300´s. Vaulted ceilings, terracotta floors, carved stone detailing....walls that are a meter thick. Certainly no one builds like this today, but wood cannot achieve the artistic heights that stone can....or last so beautifully.

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    King Omega XVI OmegaNYC's Avatar
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    Americans historically don't believe in if it would look pleasing to the eye. America typically follow a Utilitarian style of thought. If it works, (wood is strong and cheeper than brick), then we will use it. Plain and simple.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post

    My building dates back to the 1200s and my "new" apartment that Ill be moving into soon, is from the 1300s. Vaulted ceilings, terracotta floors, carved stone detailing....walls that are a meter thick...
    Sounds great ...

    Any chance that you'll post pictures of your new home?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    Nothing is more beautiful than stone, brick and stucco.

    My building dates back to the 1200´s and my "new" apartment that I´ll be moving into soon, is from the 1300´s. Vaulted ceilings, terracotta floors, carved stone detailing....walls that are a meter thick. Certainly no one builds like this today, but wood cannot achieve the artistic heights that stone can....or last so beautifully.
    Well I wouldn't dare to compare a wooden house to something like that, but I think we were talking about low-end houses, right? Wooden houses in the US tend primarily to be 100 year old upstate residences.

    BTW, Fabrizio, when your building was built people worked 16 hour days for a loaf of bread! Haha, we should've had them building skyscrapers huh?

    EDIT: I just googled things and got some nice photos, this first one is a lot like mine in VT, although a bit bigger.



    and BTW, I think when people say wooden house in the US they mean more like this...

  14. #14
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Or this ...


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