Masonry advocates ask, what’s in your walls?

What’s in your walls? The Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCMPA) and MasonryWorx are asking the same question.

Photo: MasonryWorx

Photo: MasonryWorx – A series of ads supported by both organizations are attempting to re-educate home consumers by reminding them to look beyond the luxury granite countertops and jacuzzis, and instead into the quality of a home’s construction.

“We are running ads called ‘What’s in your walls?’ to help educate the consumer about building types and the advantages of building with masonry,” said Paul Hargest, president of CCMPA and executive board member of MasonryWorx.

An effort to advocate for masonry has been a challenge with the increase in competiton from other building materials. According to Hargest, in 1988, there were about 100 million blocks sold in Ontario and today it stands at roughly 40 million.

There has been a significant drop in the wall market share for brick, block and stone, especially now with the quick progression wood is making in the construction industry.

Hargest suggests there is a growing perception that wood is an equally good alternative to load bearing masonry, but “our job is to educate the consumer that in fact it is not.”

“It’s a challenge to re-educate the consumer because you need a lot of financial resources to get the attention of the everyday consumer. It’s partially education, but I think most consumers feel houses are built to code, and since they are it will meet their requirements,” he said.

Though Hargest is quick to point out that the national and Ontario building codes only exist to set the criteria for minimum requirements, he says consumers need to be aware of the minimum requirement they are building to, and that they should be looking at better types of construction.

In a recent press release Judy Pryma, president of MasonryWorx, reiterates the same message.

“There’s no other building material that is more durable, intrusion-proof, insect-resistant and fire-retardant than concrete block,” Pryma said. “If fire strikes or severe weather hits, other materials don’t do nearly as good a job at keeping you safe.”

When asked about the cost concerns for both builders and buyers, Hargest said costs are not as expensive as people believe it to be, especially with what they get in return.

Based on some cost comparative studies done with CCMPA through a couple of large general contractors for six-storey apartment-style structures; a building built out of lumber versus a building out of masonry was just over two per cent more, he said.

“It’s amazing because when you bring all the costs in…why would anyone not build with masonry given the values attached to what you get in return for it? You get cheaper insurance, better thermal capacity, it’s more durable and it’s certainly safer,” he added.

Yet, masonry options are still on the decline as builders aren’t as keen as they once were with using masonry.

Hargest does believe if consumers are better educated then demand will follow and builders would have to adjust to consumer needs, but for now he reminds us of the fable The Three Little Pigs.

“We all grew up with The Three Little Pigs story, but I think we all forgot the lesson learned in that story. As silly as it sounds, if we bring that back to the adults of today who are buying…they need to remember that story because there is a lesson to be learned there.”