Concrete in Kennebunkport
Chris Genest, a fourth generation owner of a family masonry business, set out to create a product that would put the masons back to work in home construction, but also one that provided a cost-effective alternative to stick built, green home construction. The Concrete in Kennebunkport home balances the heaviness of concrete by introducing a bright white design palette while adding the warmth of wood on the ceilings and doors. Words that come to mind when you enter this home are warm, stylish and cozy — not what you might expect from a concrete home.
The major challenge for this project was to build a complete masonry home from a newly designed and developed insulated concrete block product. Comfort Block is a 16” insulated concrete masonry wall system. At about .04 per cubic foot of air space in the house, this house uses about 1/3 the energy to heat than a typical house this size. We trademarked a product and we wanted it to be tried and tested, so what better way than to build my own home with it. If I don’t like it, my customers won’t either. The first challenge included finding contractors willing to work with a new product. It took a month of educating contractors and then we started to find a very willing audience. Once construction started, it was an intuitive process. The blocks are calibrated and there is no mortar needed on the job site. The installation is simple as the blocks are glued together. This concrete home is wired and plumbed using traditional contractors and sub-contractors thanks to a design feature within the channel of the block. Other challenges included teaching contractors on how to do seal around windows and doors, using an energy efficient masonry product. The entire wall systems is made of inorganic materials so we used plaster over the walls and there was a learning curve for subcontractors there also. But what was so successful, despite our challenges is that we learned what worked really well and what needed to be tweaked. My home led to a redesign and the birth of a second generation block.