eli5: Are there any benefits if building homes with wood vs brick and cement?

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The US makes homes with wood while the rest of the world uses cement blocks. Are there any added benefits over either?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Cost. Wood framed homes in the USA are significantly less expensive than brick/cinderblock/concrete homes. This is because wood is both cheaper, you need less of it when framing walls, and it is lightly and easier to assemble/put up. Building a brick wall costs more in materials, costs more in labor time to build, and the materials themselves are heavier so the labor is more strenuous.

The reason Europe doesn’t have wood houses really is because Europe lost its timber industry LONG ago. There aren’t really any major logging operations going on on the continent because there aren’t any wild forests left to log. They’ve all been inhabited and populated by humans for hundreds of years. So people had to turn to brick and stone because that is the material they had access to.

But the USA has PLNETY of timber. There are a lot of abundant cheap forests to log. And really the US timber industry has gotten so good at replanting areas that it’s damn near self sufficient at this point. There are more trees in the USA Today than there were 50 years ago.

So it’s just a matter of cost and availability of materials

Anonymous 0 Comments

Wood is plentiful in most areas making it cheap to use.

wood is relatively light and sturdy making it easy to work with and strong enough to support the structure

Wood is native to the areas where it is used making it a lasting material 

“The rest of the world” might be a bit over simplified…..ever seen both ancient and modern homes in Japan??  What about the islands near the equator

Anonymous 0 Comments

It is about what Materials are available to you. The Americans have access to lots of quality timber. At the same time, there are less places that yield appropriate clays for bricks etc.  In Europe we had a thing with using our quality timber for building boats so we could trade and/or go to war with our neighbors. There is also ample access to clay rich soils to make bricks from.  So a significant part of Europe used the wood for boats, and had an alternative for the houses. The Americans didn’t do the boat thing to the same extent because it is such a recent country and the lack of nearby countries or fight. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

This question seems to be based on a false assumption, without any further qualifying statements.

Never been to a city in the US like St Louis, Chicago, or Fort Worth have you?

Cities that are near clay deposits may make use of that in the construction of buildings because it’s cheap, and they’re less likely to go up in flames(Chicago 1871). No clay deposits locally, or easily transported makes timber a suitable alternative.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Beyond cost, brick houses are inherently fire resistant, and offer much better soundproofing. 

Wood houses are easier to retrofit/modify utilities in the future (plumbing, wiring, hvac etc)

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s about tradition and cost.

In Europe wooden houses are associated with low classes while masonry with upper classes, so wooden houses are traditionally seen as inferior.

Even if that tradition is changing, Europe has lot of masons and few framers, so due to work costs, wood framed houses tend to cost more then brick and cement ones.

US don’t have this traditions, and they have developed industry for wooden houses, so in most cases they go for cheaper solution.