Alternative Building MethodsWe've built three houses — two that were full custom homes we designed from the ground up. We've lived in our dream home for almost exactly two and a half years. Nothing can beat the feeling.

Still, looking back at some of the photos fills me with anxiety! I'm so glad the building process is over! It can be (and was) stressful and aggravating.

When we built our home in 2010, we choose to use an aerated concrete block to form the main structure of our home. These were later filled with concrete. While most people build with atypical wood frame, we took the less common route. The motivation was three-fold:

  1. Strength — you can't punch your fist through a ten-foot thick block of concrete unless you are Chuck Norris (and you aren't).
  2. Flammability — Sam had a house burn down when he was a kid; never again.
  3. Energy saving — the thick, insulated walls keep the home temperature very stable.

At the time, our soon-to-be neighbors were fascinated (and somewhat appalled) at the appearance. They didn't realize the house would end up looking relatively normal. But since then, they've been exposed to alternative building methods more than once. Our new next-door-neighbors built an ICF home that was completed just last fall. Then another home on our street was similarly built.

If you plan to build a custom home, you may end up using typical building methods, but don't be afraid of researching innovative building materials. You'll have to find a builder who is able and willing to do the work, but in the long run, the advantages can be worth the trouble.