The best house construction types

Updated March 21, 2017

When it comes to building a house, the newest construction methods are not necessarily the best, although considerations such as energy efficiency and environmental responsibility may be better addressed by the latest innovations in the construction industry. The best house construction type for your family depends on a number of individual factors, including your location, your vision, and your budget

Wood Frame Construction

Wood frame houses are the gold standard of the American construction industry. Builders are most familiar with this type of construction, and materials are readily available. The major component of wood frame construction--wood--is a renewable resource, with regulations for harvest geared towards preserving forested lands for continued use. Most house styles lend themselves to wood frame construction, and because it is so common, it is one of the most economical mainstream construction types. Too common for your dream home? Consider a timber frame house. The heavy, squared timbers--or logs--typical of timber framing give a house a rustic look. One drawback of wood or timber framing is the material's susceptibility to termite damage.

ICF Construction

Insulating Concrete Forms (ICF) are the main element of this type of construction. Arguably a better method than wood framing, ICF ensures maximum energy efficiency in the resulting structure. The forms themselves are made of rigid polystyrene foam which serves as a mould for the concrete during pouring and curing, then becomes an integral part of the house structure, staying in place to add thermal insulation to the concrete walls. The insulating forms come in panels, planks, and blocks, and are adaptable to many home styles. While the initial construction cost is higher than wood framing--as much as 8 per cent higher--future energy savings will quickly make up for the discrepancy. If you cannot visualise living in a concrete house, rest assured that you can apply interior and exterior wall finishes of your choice, which are more in keeping with your aesthetic. Unlike wood-framed houses, ICF houses are not susceptible to insect damage or dry rot.

System-built Homes

System-built housing utilises your choice of construction materials to produce prefabricated components for your house. The components, either entire room modules or smaller structural panels, are constructed at the manufacturer's site using precision equipment for a better-built home. Once the components arrive at your construction site, your builder can complete the house faster, allowing you to move in quicker--in as little as 90 days after on-site construction begins. System-built houses can be customised to your specifications. They are subject to local building codes just like any other construction type, and the components are built to withstand the greater stress of transportation to your location, so they may be more durable than traditional construction. System-built houses can be made of logs, lumber, concrete, or other materials.

More Construction Types

If none of the above types is exactly what you have in mind, perhaps another construction method is best for your house. If you live in a dry climate, look into straw bale construction, a method with superior insulating properties and low environmental impact. If you are a traditionalist, you may like brick construction best, a method which produces durable, long-lasting houses with a classical look. Stone house construction is another method which uses natural resources that have good insulating value and are readily available in many regions of the country.

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About the Author

I have an MFA degree in Creative Writing and am a published poet who has received several poetry awards. I have established a reputation as an environmental activist, both through the group I co-founded -- see -- and through a series of op-ed pieces in Montana newspapers. I have written extensively on alternative energy, recycling and endangered species.