1. Dave Seitzinger of MJD Development Inc., Tigard, Ore., is helping his son, Mitchell, create a market niche for structural brick homes. To distinguish their home-building business from others, the Seitzingers are introducing the reinforced brick construction methods common in commercial work to the residential real estate market. They are now in the midst of building their sixth all-brick home.Another builder, Traditional Brick Homes, Inc., Kirkland, Wash., is finishing five structural brick homes with reinforced brick walls, concrete tile roofs, concrete paver sidewalks and driveways, and Rumford fireplaces. Located in the land of Microsoft, each home is wired for computers, security, cable, satellite dish, and audio.A structural brick home has many advantages. It is affordable, strong, durable, quiet, energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and resistant to earthquakes, fire, and pests. Moreover, it's easy to maintain, holds its beauty, and appreciates in value faster and costs only 5% to 10% more than a non-brick home. The exterior reinforced brick walls provide both structure and finish, and because the exterior walls carry all of the loads, the homeowner can locate, and relocate, interior walls anywhere.Home builders and residential trades, used to pounding nails, find it difficult to change their way of doing things, especially in a hot building market. Most masonry contractors also are reluctant to build structural brick homes. Commercial masonry contractors know how to build reinforced brick, but they usually can't afford to bid on residential jobs because their operating costs are too high, they own more equipment than residential contractors, and, in the residential market, often they can't afford to pay their craftspeople customary union wages. Residential masonry contractors who don't have the experience building reinforced brick are afraid of it so may bid too high.The engineering that structural brick homes require also can make builders balk. Engineering for a structural brick home can cost as much as $5,000. And because building officials are unfamiliar with structural brick homes, the building plans sometimes can encounter tough reviews, requiring the engineer to educate local officials on structural brick design. A structural brick home's walls contain three main elements: Hollow-core brick.
  2. Steel reinforcement.
  3. Grout.
  4. Structural brick homes clearly differ in construction from traditional wood-frame homes clad with brick veneer or wood, vinyl, or aluminum. Aside from the grouted, reinforced brick walls, other major differences include: Footing connections
  5. Wood plates
  6. Wood ledgers
  7. Electrical wiring
  8. Electrical fixtures
  9. Oven exhaust fans
  10. Plumbing
  11. Windows
  12. No overhanging walls