NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Neat looking duplexes can be found under construction on County Road 122 in Nacogdoches. Their curb appeal is far more than looks. A concrete mixer is constantly running mixing the concrete as if it were for a cake. Mixers are a common at building sights, but this one plays a vital role. The house is built of concrete. A worker is spraying the mixture from a hose. Up and down, up and down. "What he's doing right now is shot-creat process," explained home builder Ken Langford. "Which is a wet mix as opposed to a dry mix, like they do swimming pools," the owner of SmartStructure pointed out.
Langford is a guy drawn to this kind of construction. He just doesn't like things that go to waste or wear out. "I hate going back and replacing stuff," said Langford who currently lives in a conventional home, but sure would like a concrete one. Two inches of concrete are sprayed inside and out. Sandwiched in between are Styrofoam panels. "They're super insulated. Your energy costs will be so low it's like paying yourself," claimed Langford. The trained sculptor gave an example. "For a 1500 square foot structure with only a 13 SEAR type air conditioner we're looking at a maximum of $70 a month and that's all electric."
The wet concrete is smoothed out and textured. The exterior can be covered with stone or brick, but the appearance isn't compromised if you just paint it. The same is true for inside. The interior resembles most any other home, but Langford demonstrates by pounding on the wall the different sound that comes with concrete. There's no detection, except for the sound, when sheet rock meets concrete. The thickness provides sound protection and keeps the home insulated from extreme temperatures. In addition, a concrete house isn't affected by the common problems homeowners experience in east Texas. You won't see any wood rot. You won't have mold. And you certainly won't have a termite problem. In case of a fire, the home won't burn down.
People around the world live in concrete houses, the company, Volcanwall www.volcanwall.com brought international builders to East Texas so they can learn the trade from Langford. " Australia has much tougher mandates than the United States. This construction meets the requirements. Peru has done extensive earthquake testing on this product and it's past all their regulations," explained Langford. Another example of its durability is closer to home. The now famous photograph of the one remaining beach house that survived Hurricane Ike when it hit Crystal Beach near Galveston is made under the same construction principal.
Langford is wanting concrete to take off in East Texas. He built a three story home for his brother. Now he's building some rental duplexes to refine his craft. Tenant Brian Abshire is looking forward to his first low utility bill. "I like how it always maintains fresh air in there. There's never any dust," he also noted. Concrete houses are so tight that it's unhealthy if fresh air isn't piped in. Each home that Langford builds comes equipped with a humidifier to monitor the humidity level. The concept is often pitched to allergy sufferers.
Concrete home costs vary according to the design. Conventional additions, such as pitched roofs and metal or wood shingles can drive the cost up. Langford says he's competitive with wood homes and any extra costs are made up in energy savings.