Concrete: A Better Home for the Future

A home insurance crisis is forcing builders to rethink designs. This has some looking at concrete where a trend is breaking ground and alleviating some drawbacks of wood-framed homes.

Concrete vs Wood Homes
Unlike wood, concrete is not vulnerable to external factors like insects, moisture, mold, fire, or wind - all of which can result in structural damage and pose safety risks.
Nonquit Homes

Homeowners across the U.S. are running out of options when it comes to protecting their homes. The problem is that climate change has increased the risk of catastrophic damage due to windstorms, flooding, and wildfires. With the cost of rebuilding after a disaster rapidly increasing, insurance agencies are passing the burden to homeowners, with no end in sight. In fact, according to a report from First Street Foundation – a nonprofit research group – almost 1/3rd of all homeowners in the lower 48 states are already struggling to find affordable insurance. Without cost-effective coverage, the housing market’s future is in peril. 

While governments and the insurance industry grapple with viable solutions, there is growing discussion as to the future of residential construction and the pursuit of a more durable alternative to wood-framed, single-family homes. This is of particular importance to those living in areas where natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires devastate thousands of wooden structures every year in the U.S.

Concrete homes are expected to greatly reduce the total cost of ownership. 

While looking for an advanced technology for the future, some home builders are looking to improve upon a design that has been used in other parts of the world throughout history; namely concrete. There are several advantages to utilizing concrete over wood. Most notable, of course, is its durability which greatly outperforms wood-framed homes. Additionally, unlike wood, concrete is not vulnerable to external factors like insects, moisture, mold, fire, or wind, which can result in structural damage and pose safety risks. 

Yet, even with the advantages of utilizing concrete, there are some significant reasons for the lack of widespread adoption. Chief among them is the high cost of construction. Other factors include concrete’s poor insulation, less appealing finishes and designs, and the added time required for construction.

However, recent innovations, are not only eliminating these obstacles but promise a huge reduction in initial cost, making them comparable to wood-framed structures. In fact, when lifetime upkeep, insurance, and other expenses are factored in, concrete homes are expected to greatly reduce the total cost of ownership. 

Concrete vs Wood HomesNonquit Homes prestressed sandwich panels can be poured on site, thus eliminating the need to be transported in from a precast manufacturer – which reduces both cost and time.Nonquit Homes

Driving Down Construction Costs

“What we are seeing in the concrete industry today is incredible. The things we thought would be horribly expensive just five years ago, we're doing every day now,” says Mark Sinicrope, Precast Specialist at Master Builders – a chemical solutions provider for concrete construction. 

Sinicrope has more than 40 years of experience working with precast and prestressed concrete products in applications ranging from bridge beams to parking garages. While most of the advancements and cost-cutting to date have been on the commercial side, Sinicrope is starting to see those innovations flow into residential concrete home construction. For example, Sinicrope recently helped Texas-based Nonquit Homes with a concrete mix design used to develop tilt-up, prestressed concrete panels for residential construction.  

“What they are doing is pretty much the same thing we are seeing for large-scale commercial buildings,” explains Sinicrope. “In fact, the new Tesla plant in Austin has a very similar sandwich panel design, and they go up like a big Erector Set.”

However, the residential concept from Nonquit Homes is also aiming to eliminate some of the traditional shortcomings of commercial concrete construction. To begin with, the prestressed sandwich panels can be poured onsite, thus eliminating the need to be transported in from a precast manufacturer – which reduces both cost and time. 

Concrete vs Wood HomesDepending on the size, a typical wood-framed home can take 6 months to a year to complete. Once the concrete building process is perfected, contractors could greatly reduce that build time by utilizing prestressed, insulated concrete.Nonquit Homes


"It just takes one person to figure out a way to make it profitable and everybody will jump in."
Mark Sinicrope, Master Builders

“In construction, it is all about how fast you can go,” adds Sinicrope. “Let’s say I wanted to put up a parking garage today. We could have it up in two or three weeks, but it might take a year or more because we have to wait for someone to actually produce all those concrete panels and then ship them to the jobsite.” 

Costs are further trimmed by reducing the size of the panels so there is no need to bring in expensive cranes to move large panels around the jobsite. Instead, the panels can be maneuvered by forklifts – which also cuts down on labor.

“I can see an entire house going up with just 3 or 4 people onsite to tilt up the panels and set them in place,” says Terrell Wiggins from Nonquit Homes, who along with engineer Alonso Forcado, designed and built the first residential home outside of Atlanta using this style of construction. “Plus, you’re not sitting there waiting on the framer or struggling to schedule all the different trades required to build the actual house. For a builder, that is huge.”

Depending on the size, a typical wood-framed home can take 6 months to a year to complete. However, once a builder gets going and perfects this new concrete building process, they could greatly reduce that build time.

Concrete vs Wood HomesWith Nonquit Homes’ new concrete designs, an entire home can be built with just 3 or 4 people on site to tilt up the panels and set them in place. This virtually eliminates many scheduling hassles for contractors.Nonquit Homes


While the insurance crisis is illuminating the need for more durable housing, climate change will only increase the urgency. According to data from NOAA, there were 60 weather and climate-related disasters in the U.S. from 2020 to 2022, with losses exceeding $1 billion per year. For comparison, between 1980 and 2019 the average per year was eight. 

Concrete homes can even withstand the extremely high winds associated with large hurricanes and tornados. “Today, precast can hold up to a 200-mile-an-hour wind load, depending on how it's designed,” explains Sinicrope.

However, it is often not just the straight-line wind that causes significant damage during a wind event. Shrapnel from other structures is also a major concern. As part of that, the Precast Concrete Institute (PCI) wanted to test the durability of concrete panels by pitting them against both a concrete block wall and a wooden house with brick veneer. 

“They fired the two-by-fours out of an air cannon at 150 MPH at the concrete sandwich panel and the lumber shattered into toothpicks, without any damage to the panels” adds Wiggins. “However, it blew a massive hole straight through the exterior of both the brick and cinderblock wall.”        

Energy Efficiency 

Another area of concern being addressed by new concrete home designs is energy efficiency. While concrete is very dense and therefore airtight, it is not considered a good insulator. By incorporating a thick layer of insulation into the concrete panels, however, the energy efficiency of the home can exceed that of a traditional wood-framed home.

In addition, adding insulation into the casting process further reduces construction time and costs by eliminating the need for insulation and sheetrock along the exterior walls.  Concrete vs Wood HomesDesign options could include the same look as extra-large marble slabs commonly used in modern bathrooms and kitchens. This high-gloss, heavy-veining appearance can be accomplished with modern concrete designs at a fraction of the cost.Nonquit Homes


Traditional concrete homes typically offered limited architectural design options. However, the concrete industry has come a long way and design choices are now almost endless with colored, patterned, and textured concrete.

An example of an interior design would include the bathroom and kitchen tile trend of utilizing a single marble panel that runs from floor to ceiling. These extra-large marble slabs can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars to install. However, the same high-gloss, heavy-veining look is also now possible with concrete at a fraction of the cost. 

Additionally, contractors can also utilize traditional materials for exteriors such as stone, brick, or stucco to add to the coveted curb appeal.

Further Savings

While builders can see their construction costs greatly reduced by utilizing these new methods for building concrete homes, homeowners also stand to benefit. Not only does it promise a much safer option, with lower energy consumption and fewer repairs, but there are several government and banking incentives to buying concrete as well.  

Concrete vs Wood HomesRecent innovations in pre-stressed, insulated concrete for residential construction are making these homes comparable in cost to wood-framed structures. Yet contractors can charge more since the lifetime costs of the homes will greatly decrease.Nonquit Homes

For instance, concrete homeowners may qualify for Energy Efficient Mortgages allowing borrowers to qualify for a larger loan amount due to the ongoing energy savings that result in much lower energy bills.

Some of the biggest savings, however, are likely to be seen in the dramatic drop in monthly insurance premiums. Many insurance companies already offer lower rates for concrete homes because they produce far fewer claims arising from fire, wind and water damage, or pests.

As insurance costs surge, the challenges associated with wood-framed homes may provide the crux for a major shift in residential home building. Especially if the right design can make sense for a home builder’s bottom line.   

“Like with anything else, it just takes one person to figure out a way to make it profitable and everybody will jump in,” concludes Sinicrope. “When it comes to residential concrete homes, I think we’ve finally reached that point.”