While each has its own distinct look, there’s a lot more to choosing between brick and timber than aesthetics. Both materials are widely used throughout Australia and have their own pros and cons. In this article, we’re comparing timber and brick houses and weighing up the advantages of each so you can make an informed decision. Brick house vs timber house: let’s find out what’s the best option for you!
Brick homes – Advantages and Disadvantages
Higher resale value: Brick houses on average tend to fetch higher prices in auction and the open market than wooden ones.
Durable: Brick homes are known for being long-lasting and require little maintenance compared to wood.
Pest and weather-resistant: Brick houses aren’t as susceptible to termites or problems such as mould, wood rot or water damage.
Great insulation and energy efficient: Better insulation will help your home reduce heat loss during the winter and keep cool during the summer, increasing your house’s energy efficiency. Popular in colder climates.
Higher initial costs: The major drawback of brick homes is the higher initial cost, both for the materials themselves and the labour. Though you spend more money upfront, the build quality may save you money on repairs, maintenance costs and heating in the long run.
Less Stylistic choices: When choosing your floor plan, you may find your builder has fewer options for brick homes than timber-framed ones.
Not ideal for areas with erosion: If your block has issues with erosion, brick won’t be an ideal material for you. It’s also vulnerable to earthquakes, however, in Australia this isn’t a huge issue.
Timber Homes – Advantages and Disadvantages
Affordable: Timber usually has a lower initial cost than brick making it the preferred method among those on a budget.
Sustainable option: This depends on where you’re getting your wood, but assuming it is from a sustainable source, such as reclaimed timber or specially designed trees, timber can be an eco-friendly option.
Pests: Termites, carpenter ants and other pests can make a home in a wooden house and cause significant damage to the building structure.
Fire: Timber is more vulnerable to fire than brick. This is particularly an issue in bushfire zones.
More maintenance costs: Timber is a natural material and is vulnerable to weather conditions. Regular maintenance is required to avoid issues such as pests, wood rot, warping and water damage. All of these issues can be incredibly expensive to fix if not caught early.
Construction and Insulation Considerations
In terms of initial construction costs, timber tends to be cheaper to build with than bricks. Both the bricks themselves and the labour costs will be higher with a brick house initially, but it could be a great investment in the long run. There’s more maintenance needed and they can also attract higher insurance costs due to their vulnerability to fire and termites.
When it comes to insulation, both materials can be used to build a comfortable house that will use less energy to heat or cool. Brick houses are great at keeping heat and coolness, but their thermal mass means they take longer to heat or cool if you do wish to change the temperature.
Maintenance and Longevity
When it comes to longevity, both are fairly even. There are plenty of examples of both wood and brick buildings that are decades, even centuries, old. The key difference comes down to the weaknesses of each material. A wood house can suffer severe damage from termites, rot and moisture, which aren’t issues with brick houses. However, brick suddenly becomes much more susceptible if you have erosion issues or are in an earthquake-prone area.
While overall brick houses tend to need less maintenance and repairs, when they do need work, it tends to be more expensive. Therefore, The importance of trying to limit the amount of work your house will need.
Overall, with proper maintenance, both timber framed and brick houses are incredibly durable.
Design and Aesthetic Considerations
The question of which looks better really comes down to personal taste and the quality of your house design. A badly designed house is going to look unsightly regardless of your choice of material.
Timber houses tend to be available in more floorplans than brick houses are, however, this will depend on your builder. More houses use timber frame construction than any other method, therefore a timber frame house will fit into just about any neighbourhood in Australia.
Brick tends to add more resale value to a house, however, both materials have a timeless quality to them.
Environmental Impact and Sustainability
The answer to this will depend on a few factors. Nowadays, timber-framed construction and wooden houses can be more environmentally friendly than masonry construction and brick homes. It may seem surprising, but due to timber coming from specifically grown trees, it is actually a renewable material that has a smaller carbon footprint than the process of making a brick home. Now, if your wood is for some reason coming from a non-sustainable source, this completely changes things, however, this is an unlikely scenario.
Brick houses are made of clay, shale and other readily available materials and are also seen as more eco-friendly than other options such as stone.
Brick houses will usually cost more to build than timber homes. However, there is the long-term benefit of a higher resale value. For the materials alone, expect to pay around $50-100 per square metre.
If you’re a first home buyer, a wooden house will have a lower initial price making it an affordable option for getting your foot into the property market door.
For a middle-ground solution, you could consider brick veneer construction. Brick veneer is a thin layer placed on the outside of the house with gives your home the appearance of brick at a fraction of the price. This means you won’t have many of the benefits of double brick construction such as insulation and added home value, but it will provide a downgraded version of this.
Regional and Climate Considerations
Where you’re building can play a role in deciding whether to build a timber or brick house. Timber frames and wood houses can be vulnerable to moisture meaning a higher chance of rot, mould or water damage. Brick is vulnerable to severe frost, but otherwise provides solid insulation in most weather conditions.
Resale Value and Market Trends
According to market trends and our personal experience, brick houses tend to have a higher resale value than other types of homes. Remember there are external factors such as your location and the design of your home. Stylish wooden houses in a desirable location can still fetch a great price.
Which building material should I choose?
The right choice for you will come from careful consideration of your budget, what suits your needs, aesthetic. Timber is a more flexible material that can create either a modern or traditional look. Brick houses are less versatile in design than wooden houses, but offer a durable home with a classic look.