Wood Frame or Concrete Block?

10 Replies

Hey BP,

I'm a buy-and-hold investor on the east coast of Central Florida (Brevard County). I own 2 properties, one is concrete block and the other is wood frame...

Moving forward, I'm trying to narrow my target criteria for acquisitions and I'm wondering whether or not to only purchase concrete block homes. My goal is to put together a portfolio of 100 single family homes by the time I retire, and pass them down to my kids... so I'm looking for properties that will make the most sense LONG TERM in regards to minimizing upkeep, capital expenses, insurance costs, etc... Keep in mind that in my market, termites and hurricanes are both a concern.

I'm interested to hear from investors who have owned both wood frame and concrete block homes for a long period of time, to see if the block homes are worth the extra cost upfront for less hassle over the years to come.


@Michael Smith in my limited experience, wood frame has been a bit more costly to insure (and more difficult to find). Plus the risks and costs of termite treatments in Florida, I think in the long run CBS is the easiest to go.

Though we only bought one wood-frame and stopped after that :)

@Michael Smith no long term rentals there myself, but my philosophy has been to weight the total projected costs, along with the time factor. That would seem to be in favor of CBS, but a good deal is a good deal, and I will not turn down a good deal on a wood frame house. But only if it is relatively new where the building codes required better construction.

All things considered, with two equal properties, CBS is my preference.

Thanks for the input guys. I think for now I'll continue to consider both frame and block houses as long as the numbers make sense.

I live and invest in Brevard County most people I know always go for Concrete block in this area however as long as termite issues are kept on top of and the property has a termite bond, not sure it is such a big deal. The later wood frame houses are usually better and it gives you more choices if you look at both. I can be contacted at [email protected]

@Michael Smith,

For your" buy and hold " strategy I feel you need to look

at the future "Marketability" of the holdings- Superior location,

healthy sq.footage, etc. should get you over any resistance

to frame Your Kids may want to " cash-out" and have no interest

in Real Estate.

. Properly maintained you should be Ok but no question

about it- you have to leave room for " Market-Bias" . Best for Success!

hi @Michael Smith

I tend to agree and echo the @Robert Brubaker 's comments even though I don't think I would ever encourage a frame house for personal residence in Florida unless the homeowner went in eyes wide open.

For investment properties I think letting the numbers decide makes the most sense... But make sure to consider all the numbers.

Long term: termite bonds, insurance and hurricane ins, utility costs?(how well insulated is the house?) future market values and long term market trends.... Total cost of ownership vs total revenue.

Short term: market bias, if I was flipping a framed house I would allow extra holding costs in the budget with an expectation to be nearly the last of inventory to sell

I would be interested in metrics of frame vs block for insurance claims, mold issues, long term market trends...

Seems like if the numbers crunch nicely then why not.


Just to chime in specifically about termites and hurricanes...

Block homes aren't completely impervious to termites. Although, there is way less wood in a block home the trusses are typically going to be wood. And sometimes there is still wood on the exterior, even under stucco in some cases. Just something to think about.

As for hurricanes, to me the biggest issues are the roof and garage door. On older homes in Florida, whether wood frame or block, the roof was either not required to be strapped down or very minimally. My parents own a block home in the Cocoa, FL area. It was built in 1989 and the roof is for the post part literally just sitting on top of the blocks. Code now requires there to be straps, which are cemented into the block, and wrap all the way around every truss. There are a bunch of holes in each strap and every hole must have a nail in it. Garage doors are another potential weak point in a hurricane. However, a garage door can easily be replaced or often reinforced to be hurricane rated. That can affect your insurance costs. Having said that, my parents have owned the above mentioned house for 20+ years and it's been through quite a few substantial hurricanes and held up fine. And they've never had any issues getting insurance which was reasonably priced.

From what I've noticed as a mortgage lender, insurance premiums are at least a little lower for a block home vs a frame home even if both pass a wind mitigation inspection with flying colors.

I'm just thinking long-term since I plan on holding these through retirement... What will renter preferences be down the road, what will cause the least headache, etc.

Most of my rentals are just south of you in Sebastian and the major factor for us has been roof type and age for mitigating insurance cost. A hip roof installed after 2002 will be the best verses a flat roof on a 1950's CBS Bungalow. You also have to consider exposed T-111 verses Stucco on frame when considering long term maintenance of wood frame houses. A termite bond is a must for peace of mind for all of your rentals, especially in Florida.

all very good points @Josh Randall , especially for any investors less familiar with the southeast, to consider before buying here.

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