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Wood Frame VS Concrete Frame Buildings


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#1 rayne_k

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Posted 19 January 2008 - 12:13 AM

^ I don't understand what you are saying. There are hundreds of concrete and steel condos on the market that people can buy.

Are you suggesting that we should make woodframe illegal?

They fill a valuable lower cost option to the market. If you want concrete then they are there for the purchase.


First - this discussin probably no longer belongs here, I would be ok if it got moved to whichever thread it would be better suited to.

Ok, I have thought long and hard about this.

My response is that sound/vibration and privacy within a building envelope is a livability issue since it has the potential to restrict who the residents in the building are are. I believe that a building, any building regardless of construction, ought to be able to be livable home to people in all stages of life concurrently (from an 80 who has trouble sleeping, the 4 year old that can't stop running and the 1 year old that screams non-stop).

Residents should have just as much right to adequate sound/vibration barriers within a dwelling unit as they should adequate ceiling height.

If sound/vibration issues in a wood frame building cannot be adressed to the satisfaction of the median tolerance of society then buildings should be only built of concrete. If the sound issues *can* be addressed, as Mike K suggests it can, then fine keep the wood frame but chrissakes build it right.

I believe that in the big picture, if a shift in culture can be acheived (buildings lose their stigma, people feel they can actually raise families in buildings), then it will have been worth it becuase there will likely be more willingness/openness to density and supply will keep up.

#2 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 05:03 PM

Does anyone have any details on what the construction type is? (i.e., wood or concrete?)

I live in a neighbourhood that, like so many in Victoria, is full of 3-storey stick-built apartment buildings from the 60s and 70s, most of which look slightly decrepit now and are nearing the ends of their shelf-life.

I have a real problem with building more buildings exactly like that. If this, too, is another wood-construction job, we need to ask ourselves what it will look like 30 years from now. When those stucco-covered boxes were built in 1970, they probably looked pretty good then, to people then. Now they look very utilitarian. It's good that we have them -- they provide at least a vestige of affordable housing -- but they're not quality buildings anymore.

On the other hand, if we want concrete buildings that actually hold up a bit longer, we're not going to get them at 4 storeys. They'd have to be significantly taller, to meet the builder's financial bottom line. (I'd be pleased if I'm wrong about this one, and it is concrete.)

I'm just throwing this out here, not to dis this particular development as such, but as a reminder to those folks in Victoria who think we can build happily at, oh, say 6 storeys and have everything come out alright. It won't. At 4 storeys, you can still build with sticks (wood), just. And that means that you're building something that might not hold up so well a few decades down the road. By the time you get to 6 storeys, you're looking at concrete, but then you're dealing with materials cost of another order altogether, and suddenly only 6 storeys makes no sense anymore. That's why we have stalled or abandoned projects in places. It's sort of like being penny-wise and pound-foolish. I want to see buildings go up that will hold up over time, which means quality materials and concrete or steel construction.
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#3 G-Man

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 05:10 PM

This is a rebuild of an old building. It is an original wood frame building.

Personally I don't think that wood frame construction is inherently worse than steel and concrete. It is all in the craftsmanship.

Also wood frame construction especially in areas like Burnside are definitely more plausible as this area is low in the sales price point, so high cost steel and concrete that demands higher priced sales may not yet be possible.

Just some thoughts.

#4 Mike K.

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 06:04 PM

Some projects in the westcomms are being built with concrete first floors to allow for four storeys of wood-frame above.

I agree that it's the craftsmanship that makes a big difference, but with a busy construction scene and lots of inexperienced craftsman working out there we're not going to get the sort of longevity as we've seen from turn of the century (20th C.) single family dwellings.

#5 rayne_k

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 02:08 PM

This is a rebuild of an old building. It is an original wood frame building.

Personally I don't think that wood frame construction is inherently worse than steel and concrete. It is all in the craftsmanship.

Also wood frame construction especially in areas like Burnside are definitely more plausible as this area is low in the sales price point, so high cost steel and concrete that demands higher priced sales may not yet be possible.

Just some thoughts.



I think that wood frame multi-dwelling buildings are absolutely terrible. I live in an older one, which to be fair, isn't a good example of the new ones... but even the new ones are a shadow of what solid concrete construction can be.

As far as I am concerned, my upstairs neighbours and next door neighbours ought to be able to have a horse prancing on tile floors and I shouldn't be able to hear a sound or feel a single shake AT ALL.

And this isn't impossible -other countries have them- and it would go a **long, long** way to making apartment and condo life that much more appealing to everyone since no one would have to listen to anyone else. At all. Ever (well except for the hallway).

#6 Baro

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:00 PM

There's no reason not to use those new insulated concrete forms for your buildings, no reason at all. They pay for them selves within about 5-8 years from the energy savings along, and that's vrs wood frame, not other forms of cement. So for only a bit more you get a cement building with ridiculously nice insulation.

#7 G-Man

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 04:11 PM

I think wood frame building serve their purpose especially when you consider the increased cost for cement. It is good to have both available to the purchaser. I live in a wood frame townhouse and it is fine. YEs you can hear your neighbours but I still love it here. I guess it is up to what you will put yp with.

#8 Nparker

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Posted 13 January 2008 - 10:13 PM

I agree (as you might have guessed) G-Man. Woodframe makes an affordable alternative for low-rise construction. With some attention taken to insulate properly in the building process, woodframe can be almost as quiet as concrete. And let's face it, if you REALLY don't want to hear your neighbours, buy a detached house, in the middle of a piece of acerage, somewhere VERY rural...or maybe just relocate to a very small island in the middle of an ocean.

#9 rayne_k

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:13 AM

And let's face it, if you REALLY don't want to hear your neighbours, buy a detached house, in the middle of a piece of acerage, somewhere VERY rural...or maybe just relocate to a very small island in the middle of an ocean.


No. That idea only exists here in the land of "wood frame".

Look anywhere else in the world and it is perfectly reasonable that you can live a soundproof life from your neighbours in a building. Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East.

The cheap construction that we are used to seeing in condos and apartments contributes to their stigma and lack of desireability in our culture. People like privacy, and if we really want to make higher density living appealing then we need to catch up to the rest of the world.

It blows my mind that I can buy a condo in Mexico or Portugal or almost whereever (as long as it isn't the poorest end of town), and while I might *not* have an elevator I *can* have friends over dancing the night away in high heels without anyone hearing footsteps or feeling vibrations.. yet that is practically impossible here at home.

#10 G-Man

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:19 AM

^ I don't understand what you are saying. There are hundreds of concrete and steel condos on the market that people can buy.

Are you suggesting that we should make woodframe illegal?

They fill a valuable lower cost option to the market. If you want concrete then they are there for the purchase.

#11 Mike K.

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:19 PM

The majority of local builders cheap out with woodframe condos by using standard insulation typically found in single family dwellings. It meets local codes so builders use it.

To each his own, of course, but there are few individuals that I know who do not complain about noise in their woodframe units -- and they're not nit-pickers by nature.

#12 rayne_k

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 09:21 PM

Thanks to Mike K for moving this one over here.

#13 mat

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 10:51 PM

Not being a construction specialist, but sound transfer was an issue during renovations in our house. Most wood frame houses built in the 50's and 60's use central 'air push' heating, and those ducts carry sound - along with the actual wood beams. Cavity insulation does help - what worked best was carpeting/rugs in high traffic areas.

#14 G-Man

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 07:35 AM

Still feel that it you feel it is a problem then don't live in a wood frame building. We need some cheaper accomodation in this city. If it is cheap because it is a little noisy than so be it. I have lived in many wood frame apartment blocks in this city and yes you have some minor noise issues but it never affected me to the point of distress. Plus there is something comforting about knowing the schedule of someone you have never seen the face of.

#15 aastra

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 09:15 AM

Residents should have just as much right to adequate sound/vibration barriers within a dwelling unit as they should adequate ceiling height.


But what about people who like hearing the sounds from other units? Do we not count? I actually like knowing my building is alive.

#16 Caramia

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 10:26 AM

After 15 years of communal living I'm a pack animal. I sleep better when I know there is human life nearby. Currently I live alone and on quiet nights sometimes find myself staring at the dark a bit too much. That is part of why I want to move back downtown - so I can have the noises of people around again.

Humans can adapt to anything. I sometimes think we've allowed ourselves to get too used to isolation. I guess that is fine, if that's how you like to live, but it shouldn't be a reason to build less affordable units.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
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#17 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 10:34 AM

I just looked at the beginning of this thread, and see I'm listed as thread-starter. But I don't recall starting this - and reading my post, it looks more like I was responding (with a question) to another thread already in existence.

Did you guys merge something? It seems really wonky somehow.

Plus, I recall posting in a thread about how the Province will now allow 6-storey wood construction, but all my posts on that topic are not here - and they included a pretty cool pointer (imo) to a video of a 7-storey wood construction building going up in Berlin (which really showed how solidly built this can be - and I bet you wouldn't have the noise issues you get in the shabbier plywood construction here). That was in a thread about concrete v. wood, too.

What's going on with the topics/ threads??
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#18 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 10:36 AM

That other thread was this one.

How come this current one seems somehow to be a mix/merge of different posts, but the other thread isn't included?
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#19 Caramia

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 11:22 AM

Ideally, when we split threads we capture most of the off topic conversation and remove it to the new thread, leaving behind most of the on topic conversation. Are there posts on the old thread you would like moved over?
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#20 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 November 2008 - 11:27 AM

Are there posts on the old thread you would like moved over?


I can't remember what the old thread is - I just see that I'm the "thread starter" for this one, but can't recall which old thread I was actually posting in... :(

On another note, I do think the other thread on 6 storey wood frame construction would perhaps make sense together with this one.
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

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