The Cary News, By Wendy Lemus
EVEN THE THREE LITTLE PIGS KNEW.
It’s a clever line Rex Bost uses to explain why he began building custom homes using concrete masonry – a construction method rarely seen in a state known as the softwood capital of the world.
But Bost’s borrowed Big Bad Wolf story isn’t his only explanation why he thinks concrete homes are a worthwhile investment. He comes from a family of masons and laid a lot of brick in his early career. “I knew it was a strong way to build things.”
Beyond their solid structure and resistance to high winds and hurricanes, concrete homes offer other advantages: resistance to fire and termites, thermal efficiency and soundproofing.
“It is a little more expensive and it is more trouble for us. Obviously we can build using all kinds of conventional methods,” said Bost, president of Bost Construction Company in Cary” A lot of our upper-end customers are very intrigued by this.”
Here in North Carolina, most homes are, of course, wood-framed. The readily available natural resource has made it the method of choice for most local homebuilders. However in other parts of the country such as Florida and the Southwest, as well as in many European and third-world countries, homes are typically made of concrete.
Masonry-framed homes are constructed using concrete masonry units reinforced by concrete and steel The exterior can be covered in stucco, stone, brick or even siding. The interior of the home is finished just like any other home, with insulation placed between the concrete block exterior and the sheet-rock interior walls.
Bost recently completed his second masonry-framed home, in Morrisville’s Weston Estates community He says he learned a lot from the first concrete home he built in Cary’s Preston subdivision in 1999; he has improved his method, cutting the cost to a 3-4 percent increase over a wood-framed home.
‘IT’S SO QUIET’
Gopal Muppirala moved into his new 4,800 square-foot concrete home last month. He said one of the greatest advantages he sees so far is the noise reduction. His house sits on a flight path to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and he constantly sees airplanes flying overhead. “Once you’re inside, you don’t hear the noise; it’s so quiet.”
He says’ he expects to save money on his heating and air-conditioning bills due to the thermal quality of the 12-inch-thick exterior walls.
Bost’s Parade of Homes entry this fall is another masonry-framed home currently under construction in Morrisville. It’s a nearly 4,000-square-foot, European cottage-style house with a covered porch and stucco and stone exterior.
The interior of the home has some unique features as well. The breakfast nook leads to a hearth room, giving more space to the kitchen area – where the guests usually end up gathering anyway. “It’s an extension of the kitchen so more of the party can hang out there,” said Bost.
Mark Correll, the company’s director of sales and marketing, said he believes that hearth rooms will become more popular, replacing the formal living room as a desired feature of the home. “People are just living more informally now,” he said. The 2002 Parade of Homes entry has concrete countertops in the kitchen and master bath, hickory floors, a stone fireplace and a “safe room” in the home theater area of the basement. Built with reinforced walls and a steel door, it’s designed to withstand the forces of nature and protect the family in case of a severe storm, a hurricane or tornado.
“This room is like a self-contained cubicle that will stay intact,” said Bost.
THE CREATIVE PART
Bost Construction Company has been building homes since 1987. The custom homebuilder has become known for its unique designs in the upper price ranges, usually building about four to six homes a year.
Also an architectural designer, Bost describes his company as a design/build enterprise; he often works with the customer from the initial design phase through the construction
“I have always enjoyed the creative part of it, so it was just sort of a natural thing,” said Bost. “It really spawned from customers coming to me (with architectural plans) and getting their dreams crushed.”
The many times he’s seen people spend thousands of dollars on architectural plans that were beyond what they could afford to build. “We can help them through the design process, but being a builder we also understand the construction costs involved,” said Correll.
Bost said homebuilding has become a much more involved process than it used to be, especially in the upper price ranges. There are more options to choose from, more details to consider, more possibilities than ever before.
“There’s a lot to this design-and-build process that really serves the public well. It’s not just sticks and bricks anymore. The clients we’re working with are sophisticated business people and expect us to operate our construction business as a (highly professional) business.”
In fact, he designed Muppirala’s house, incorporating some unique features such as a spiral staircase that’s the focal point of the home. The first floor is completely open, aside from the laundry and powder rooms. The entire process through the home’s completion took about 16 months.
“He’s customer focused, easy to work with, and was willing to give me what I wanted … he did a great job,” said Muppirala.
“I’m just one of those types of people who can’t stand to have anyone, mad at me,” said Bost.