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Building Materials Explained

Home » The Ultimate Guide to Rental Property Construction » Building Materials Explained

Building materials are the most basic raw materials used in rental real estate construction – e.g. wood, sand, cement, etc. They are different from building products as they are usually more un-finished in nature. Below we take a deep dive into everything you need to know about building materials for rental real estate properties.



What are Building Materials?

Building Materials, also called Construction Materials, are the individual natural occurring or man made materials that are collectively used to construct a building.


Types of Building Materials

Building materials range from “Raw Materials” such as wood, sand, cement, etc. They differ from building products in nature by usually being more un-finished in nature. Below is a list of some of the most common types of building materials.

Concrete/Masonry

Concrete and masonry refers to building materials that are generally used in exterior or foundational applications. Concrete can often be found in building foundations and exterior pathways such as walkways and vehicle driveways. Masonry refers to the bricks, stones, and blocks found either on the facade of a building, or throughout the property grounds. These building materials are typically made up of a mixture of cement, sand, and other minerals mixed together with water.

Drywall

Drywall is a material used to create walls and ceilings within a structure. It is made of a white power mineral called Gypsum, that is pressed together between 2 sheets of thick paper. The finished product is usually 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide sheets. Drywall gained widespread use in North America as a time and labor saving alternative to the previous method of wall building called Lath and Plaster.

Insulation

Building insulation can take many forms. It is most commonly used to help control the climate within a structure for either keeping the interior cool (heat prevention) or keeping the interior warm (heat preservation). The most common form of insulation found among North American buildings is fiberglass or mineral wool batts (i.e. sheet). These sheets are sandwiched inside of a building’s walls between interior-drywall and the external-facade. Insulation effectiveness is rated on it’s R-Value, where a higher R-Value equals greater its effectiveness. A properly insulated structure can greatly reduce heating and cooling costs regardless of the type of thermostat or HVAC unit it has.

Lumber

Lumber refers to wood that has been processed into standardized sizes and shapes to be used primarily for structural purposes. Common types of lumber include Dimensional Lumber, Plywood Sheets, and Sheathing. Engineered lumber is also commonly used in construction as a derivative of wood that is cross-laminated for additional strength. Lumber varies greatly by type and its intended application within the overall building construction process.

Metal

Metal is a broad term that describes all solid materials that are malleable and conductive. The most common type of metal used in construction is steel. Steel is a semi man-made building material that’s made by mixing iron and carbon together. Its high strength-to-weight ratio makes steel a preferred building material to use when a structure needs to support a significant amount of weight. Similar to steel support beams often found in framing, commercial properties often use metal studs to build walls for their resilience to termite or mold damage. Steel and various types of metals can also be found in many other construction products such as nails, screws, bolts, rebar, and more.

Roofing

Most North-American roofs are made up of 2-parts. A lower layer called an underlayment, and a top layer that’s exposed to the elements such as shingles. These 2 materials combined, work together to provide a waterproof barrier to protect the structure below. An underlayment is commonly a roll of black asphalt or felt paper. The top layer can vary depending on location and style preference. They typically can be asphalt shingles, clay or tile, slate, metal, wood, and more.

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Building Material Durability

Durability is a factor to greatly consider when selecting building materials. In different parts of the world, different materials are used based on durability to the local climate. Areas that see a lot of snow and harsh weather will utilize more durable materials such as cement and steel. Other areas that see mostly mild weather often use less durable materials such as wood. Keep in mind that more durable materials usually cost most. It would be cheaper to build a house out of wood, as opposed to cement and brick.

Building Material Prices

The price of building materials is tied to a variety of factors that all make up the end user market price that you will pay for a product. Natural products such as cement and lumber pricing usually depend on the input costs to source, finish, and transport. If there is a disruption in the sourcing or transportation of the product, that could affect pricing. Supply and demand also play an important role in the price of building materials. When a lot of building is going on, material prices will usually go up. When building slows down, building material prices usually go down.

Where to Buy Building Materials?

Building materials are bought at supply vendors that include warehouse home improvement stores, online retailers, local hardware stores, and supply warehouses. Small amounts of building materials can be bought at local home improvement stores such as Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards. Larger amounts of materials are usually bought at supply warehouses (also called supply yards) that have large amounts of materials onsite for sale. Some supply warehouses specialize in a specific type of material such as wood (i.e. lumber yard) and offer pricing discounts for bulk purchases.

How to Buy Building Materials?

When buying building materials it is important to keep a few things in mind. First, plan in advance what you need and where to get it. The more you plan in advance, the more time you can save. Second, check prices and availability at your local suppliers. You might be surprised that the material you need may not even be available nearby or significantly more expensive than you might have thought. Third, ensure that you have the proper car to transport the building material for your landlording endeavors. Transporting 20 foot lumber beams or tractor scoops of raw cement requires a heavy duty truck or trailer.


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