Concrete house's life



From: Anonymous

I am a newbie and please forgive me if my questions are stupid. I saw a property (looking for 2nd IP) today with the external material made of concrete/cement. The price was so low (after hunting for 4 weeks) and the house is about 50 years old but in great condition. My concern is if I buy this house, will I start forking out lots of money on repair, as I could see some cracks. Does anyone know how long a concrete house last and what kind of maintenance does it require, say compared to brick or weatherboard.
Is it worthwhile to call for an structure inspector? Can someone recommend one in Melbourne?


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Reply: 1
From: Kristine .

Hi, Monto

The Holmesglen factory churned out zillions of 'tilt slab' concrete houses which were assembled on site from Corio to Pakenham and everywhere in-between.

The 'Housing Commission' made good use of precast concrete, too, and there was also a material using compressed cinders, called 'ashcrete', or something similar.

It is worth keeping in mind that nearly all houses are, in fact, timber framed construction on stumps of either concrete or timber, with an outer skin of bricks, concrete, timber etc. What we call 'solid brick' is in fact brick cavity, with the outer frame (as it were) made out of bricks.

Archicentre offer a building inspection service, and have a wonderful collection of horror photos, which gets shown at the ANZ new home owners info nights, which are run by REIV approx four times per year. Cracks are usually the least of a properties worries, and will to a large degree depend on the type of subsoil rather than the properties construction.

Getting back to your concrete house: they are usually very well built 'stick frame' houses, and the concrete shells may require the occasional bit of render over time, but by and large if there was any generic fault in this type of construction 'we' would have heard about it by now.

Regarding price, usually the designs were somewhat boxy, loo off the laundry, concrete wash troughs etc and these houses have not been very fashionable - up to now. In West Ivanhoe for example, where acres of concrete Housing Commission houses were built, modernised versions are now showing strong growth. Compared to privately built houses they are still very cheap and usually on good sized blocks of land in well built up areas.

So, if all else seems OK, you will probably have less maintenance than on a weatherboard house of the same age.

Good luck!

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