If you’re out looking at new houses on this first weekend of the Parade of Homes and severe storms kick up, 1505 N. Graystone in northeast Wichita will probably be the best place to find yourself.
The house is built of concrete, able to withstand winds of at least 200 mph, said Kent Webber of Beran Companies, which did the concrete work on the just-completed house. It joins 112 other houses on the Spring Parade of Homes sponsored by the Wichita Area Builders Association. The parade, starting this weekend and continuing the next two weekends, allows the public a look inside a variety of new houses built in the area ranging in price from $100,000 to more than $1.5 million.
The one at 1505 N. Graystone was designed by Cherie Nies Cowgill, daughter of Nies Homes founder Clifford Nies. Cowgill imbibed house construction as a child and now has a passion for designing all aspects of a house. She checks out new houses around the country and brings ideas back to Wichita.
Trends are away from frou-frou and toward clean lines, Cowgill said. But people in our area also shy away from contemporary because it’s too edgy, she said. She calls the look of the Graystone house, which is north of 13th Street and east of 143rd Street, “urban traditional.” It has arched doors and a curved staircase but is without extra ornamentation.
“It’s classy and elegant,” Cowgill said. It also has custom-built cabinets and fiberglass windows.
The house is built of ICFs – insulated concrete forms. Concrete is poured into Styrofoam forms that become insulation, Webber said. You can’t tell a house is made of concrete just by looking at it from the outside or inside. About the only clues are deep doorways and windowsills, Webber said. Concrete houses cost about 5 to 9 percent more than frame houses, he said. The house on Graystone is listed at $580,000, about $35,000 more than it would cost if it was frame rather than concrete, Webber said. But the extra money paid for such a house is quickly recouped by the energy savings, said Wess Galyon, president of the builders association, and those savings last “forever.” (The builders association building at 730 N. Main is also made of concrete.) While a frame house costs 11 cents per square foot to heat and air-condition, a concrete house costs 3 1/2 to 5 cents a foot, Webber said.
Other characteristics about a concrete house: It’s very quiet. While you can’t hear much from outside the building, the sounds inside are easily picked up, Webber said. And there isn’t the usual access for bugs to get in, he said.
Concrete houses are “becoming more and more popular,” Cowgill said. “They’re very popular out in the country, in rural areas, and they’re starting to catch on in the city.”