How Long do Houses Last Built with Popular Materials?

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    On average newly built house lasts between 80 and 110 years. Lifespan depends on materials used for construction, quality of work and continuous maintenance of the house. Commercial buildings survive 20-40% longer than residential homes.

    As it turns out every decade new built homes are built with less lifespan. Construction materials used and workmanship is aimed at speed production instead of increasing of making houses last longer.

    Every year our planet spends enormous amount of resources for construction of new houses and renovation of old buildings. Unfortunately our technology has not reached the level of construction where we can recycle and reuse resources.

    Types of Home Compared for Lifespan:

    • Timber Homes
    • Concrete Homes
    • Steel Frame Homes
    • Log Cabins
    • Brick or Stone Homes

    Not every construction will last exactly as our table predicts. There are timber frame homes that can last over 150 years and we have seen brick houses that fall within first 15 – 20 years. Our statistics are just average numbers to understand material selection.

    Type of Material Used in ConstructionAverage Lifespan of Structure
    Timber Homes70 Years
    Concrete Homes85 Years
    Steel Frame Homes100 Years
    Log Cabins60 Years
    Brick or Stones Homes90 Years
    How long do houses last chart

    How Long do Timber Frame Houses Last?

    Timber frame homes are thought to last less than any other houses built with different top 5 materials. In some sense it is true, but as we say it all depends. On average timber frame homes last 70 years and we took a lot of data to come up with this number.

    As you may know there are timber frame homes in northern and central Europe that were able to withstand over two centuries of time. However newer construction methods are not as firm and meant to last just over 50 years.

    The worst timber frame homes have lifespan of just over 30 years. Adding all of it together we get somewhere in between. Of course quality contractors using good materials and engineered specs with precautions can build homes that will last 70-90 years.

    How Long do Concrete Homes Last?

    It is believed that concrete structures are more durable and require less maintenance than wood homes. This statement is false, even though average of concrete home lifespan is 85 years.

    Main reason why concrete home on average lasts more than timber is simply because there are more mistakes done during regular framing and less building codes involved. Typically we see concrete homes built with professional and experienced contractors with instructions of engineers or architects.

    To make structure last loner rebar is put inside concrete. It tightens the structure that wraps around spirals of steel. Temperature and weather can definitely impact stability of concrete and to save it, major repairs are necessary.

    How Long do Steel Frame Houses Last?

    We hardly see residential homes being made of steel, but it is out there. Modern homes with full open floors and floor to ceiling windows can be built with steel frame. It is a long process and costs way more than regular timer or concrete wall construction, but steel frame houses last for over 100 years without a problem.

    Steel frame has to be properly wrapped around without leakage of air and possibility of water getting through. Appropriate construction method helps prevent steel from rusting.

    The benefit of steel frame homes is that they can withstand more of structural load and open up the space completely. Steel construction is easier to maintain and replace parts of structure when absolutely necessary.

    How Long do Log Cabins Last?

    If you live near mountains or forest area than most logical construction material to select would be logs and natural wood. On average log cabins last 50 years due to harsh weather conditions and surrounding area affecting lifespan.

    For some people it may be cottage home as secondary residence where you spend weekends and holidays, while other home owners may happen reside in area where long homes and cabins are considered to be only option.

    Similar to timber frame homes, log cabins has wide range of possibilities to collapse sooner than supposed to or stand for more than 100 years without major issues.

    We had to take into consideration poorly made and prefab homes that don’t last long time. They are the main factor the lifespan of log home drags down. Large homes with logs like you see in Montana or similar can be a residence for over 60-70 years if constructed properly.

    How Long Brick or Stone Homes?

    For many centuries brick and stone were main materials for building homes around the globe. It definitely makes strong walls and helps to protect from weather. Stone and brick homes should last for at least 90 years, but can go way above that number in perfect conditions.

    This natural resource was available in every continent and people have learned how to carve perfect stones for home construction. It is not flammable can could protect from rain, high winds, animals and even enemies during wars.

    Nowadays it is used less and less due to high expenses and complicated building technique. Home owners that are willing to spend extra and create traditional looking homes still prefer bricks and stone over timber or concrete.

    Other Materials Used in Home Construction

    We have listed five materials mainly used in home construction. Less developed countries or experimental projects have variety of other materials that can become new home structure.

    Companies around the world try to recycle material and even print homes with 3d printers. Melted and compressed plastic formed as large bricks used for exterior and interior walls.

    Poor countries with lack of resources and import build homes with cinder blocks, wood sticks, roofing metal sheets and literally anything they can get hands on.

    Location dictates the material and natural resources for building. Northern countries can even make walls for their home out of snow and ice. While places around equator do not require thermal insulation, forestry and soil become main source of materials.

    What Countries Have Most Long Lasting Homes?

    There are two factors that dictate how long homes are going to last from the day they were built. First and far most important factor is what is the intention of construction and how is it approached.

    Travelling through Europe we can spot homes made out of stone that have lasted for centuries and only minor structural upgrades were performed. Their initial though process was directed towards long lasting structures no matter how much resources it took.

    Another way to increase how long houses last is to continually upgrade building codes and prioritize structural integrity. Developed countries with laws and inspections in place on home construction on average have longer lasting structures.

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    Steven H.
    General Contractor and Home Builder with over 20 years of experience. Write and Edit educational posts for several Remodeling Blogs. Specialize in trade management and technical construction details.

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