Choosing the right building materials is essential to success in a construction project. The selection process is made easier by keeping in mind the following five factors:
- Cost. While the price of the material may give you clues about affordability, it’s not always a good predictor of value by itself. For example, many cheaper materials offer inferior lifespan or quality when compared to those that may cost a little more. Look for materials that offer a good balance between price and craftsmanship.
- Appearance. This is ultimately a personal, subjective decision. A building material that looks great to one person may be an eyesore to the next. Some people adore the look of stucco. Others prefer classic red brick, aluminum, or vinyl siding.
- Location. Weather, geography, and the surrounding environment all affect what materials you use. For example, a home built alongside the Canadian border will require a steep roof for snow and heavy insulation for warmth in winter. Residents in southern Florida, on the other hand, should make maximum use of available shade to help manage air-conditioning bills.
- Maintenance. Building materials vary widely in this regard. For example, a masonry home needs less maintenance over time than one framed in wood, which requires occasional repainting. So keep in mind how your property will perform not just today but 20 years down the road when choosing materials.
- Energy Efficiency. This is especially crucial today, given the ever-rising costs of heating and cooling a building. Materials like brick and stone offer advantages in terms of thermal mass, which resists sudden changes in outside temperatures. Of course, modern insulators can accomplish much the same purpose. The important thing is to build with an eye towards what your utility bills will look like down the road.