Wood Frame House in Florida - Yay or Nay

14 Replies

Looking through some duplex opportunities in Tampa, Fl and found one that meets the 1% rule and has room for forced appreciation...big downside at this point is that it’s Wood Fame instead of Concrete Block. With hurricanes I’d prefer concrete block...should this be a deal breaker? Or is that what insurance is for? Are insurance premiums significantly higher for wood frame in Florida? Thanks!!!

We've found rehab and maintenance is always higher on frame properties. There's always going to moisture, termite, and wood rot issues. 

I wouldn't be too concerned about hurricanes blowing it down. We've got plenty of houses built in the early 1900s that have survived the last hundred years just fine. In historic areas the frame houses are worth more than the block ones. Of course this is also a function of us avoiding a direct hit from a major hurricane... You won't find a ton of frame houses in Miami. 

I own a wood frame home in Cape Coral. I prefer concrete block.

We have not had issues with termites, but the moisture here has played a role in higher maintenance costs with wood rotting from a poor stucco repair from the previous owner.

Our insurance has increased to over $1700 from $1200 last year with no claims. Heck, we even had a new roof put on right before Irma and it’s held up just fine. I just think that’s too much to pay, so we’re ditching them.

Are you planing to buy/hold or flip it? 

I attended a panel discussion several years ago featuring four home inspectors from Cape Coral.  I asked the panel if they would buy a wood-frame home.  To a man, they all said yes.  But, they stressed the  caveat that they do require more preventative maintenance: caulking, painting, sealing, termite treatment, etc.

The delight regarding a wood frame house is that you can usually buy it cheaper than concrete block. In fact, Wade Jurney is building brand new 4 bedroom 2000+sf wood frame homes and some are still priced under $200K. If you figure the rent on a 4 bedroom / 2.5 bath home, it's not too bad (frame vs block doesn't really hit rent much). Yes, your insurance premiums will be a bit higher, but in some pockets, the cost difference could be over $20K... so you save on the front end and pay a bit more in premiums. 

Just get a WDO inspection prior to buying and keep a good pest control company out there and you'll be (mostly) fine.

95% of all new houses built in South Florida are CBS (Concrete block and stuccoed).  The main reasons are stated above but I can restate them. Some houses as you move up the coast are still stick built but if they're in High Velocity Hurricane Zones the amount of strapping required almost cancels out any savings  you would realize from wood framing.

1. CBS is stronger/ more resistant to hurricanes

2. They resist termites and other wood destroying organisms better although almost every house does still have wood trusses.

3. They resist water and rot better. During the summer the climate is very wet down here. 

The older homes, that were built in the 20's and 30's down here were built using dade county pine which is an extremely hard wood more resistant to termites and rot although those houses obviously were not built with all the current hurricane strapping, tie downs etc. If the house has been there for 80 or 90 years then yes most likely it will withstand most hurricanes but you never know. The wood used today is not nearly as dense and resistant to termites and rot. There are also other considerations you need to take into account. 

1. Whether you own a CBS or wood frame house you need to closely monitor any termite or other WDO infestations and stay on top of it.

2. Your insurance premiums will be higher if your roof isn't strapped and you don't have hurricane shutters or impact resistant windows. There are other factors that come into play also during a wind mitigation survey - age of roof, shape of the roof, how the roof was framed, nails used etc.

3. If you do a major renovation on the property your local building inspector could force you to add strapping to all of your roof trusses or hand framed rafters, plus additional strapping / tie downs on load bearing and gable walls.

4. And yes there will be more maintenance if you have some type of wood siding as a building facade or wood windows etc. Most times you can stucco over existing siding if it's bad shape or strip it and install boral or hardie plank cement based siding.  Just make sure you have someone certified to deal with lead paint removal if the old siding is painted.

I would still consider wood framed properties but proceed with caution and make sure you are taking all of the above into consideration. 

@Kelly I. It's not as much the hurricanes (the roof on a block house is still wood frame) it's the termite damage. I have a frame house in St. Pete, insurance isnt much more than a block, as long as the roof has reinforced roof shingles. You just have to make sure you have a termite inspection done and prepare for some damage that needs to be repaired.