Stately. Solid. Strong.
These adjectives can't help but come to mind when describing a brick home. It's a look that has withstood the test of time, and also is highly desirable among buyers.
A recent study by the National Association of Home Builders found that, nationally, consumers prefer genuine clay brick exteriors over vinyl siding, stone, stucco, wood and fiber cement.
Marlene Gross of Ed McNulty Realty, who has listed brick homes on the South Shore in towns such as Lynbrook and Rockville Centre, agrees that brick is often a big selling point.
"I think that people like the brick when they see it," Gross says. "It has curb appeal and desirability."
Brick can increase a home's value by 2.5 to 5 percent, depending on the market, says Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Manhattan appraisal firm Miller Samuel.
Brick is not just for classic Federal architecture. Stephen Sears, a spokesman for the Reston, Va.-based Brick Industry Association trade group, says what he likes most about brick is that it lends itself to varied architectural styles. Even modern architect Philip Johnson paired his iconic Glass House in New Canaan, Conn., with an all-brick structure.
"You can get brick going from the very, very traditional look all the way to something ultra-modern," Sears says. "It just lends itself to whatever you want it to do."
There's also the Big Bad Wolf factor. Especially after superstorm Sandy, some say they find security in a house that a huff and a puff won't necessarily bring down.
A 2004 study conducted at the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center at Texas Tech University shows that a medium-size object blown by wind at speeds of 25 miles an hour would penetrate homes built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding, but an object would need to travel at 80 miles an hour to penetrate the wall of a brick home.
"Unlike other materials, if a high wind situation comes about or, gosh forbid, a fire, it's the brick that's left standing," Sears says.
In the National Association of Home Builders study, home buyers ranked energy efficiency as the most important factor when choosing their preferred exterior. Brick is a heavy, dense material that can store heat and then slowly release it, which means brick homes stay cool during the summer and warmer in the winter.
Brick is also low maintenance, and, while it does come at a higher price than other materials -- roughly $7,500 more than aluminum or vinyl siding on a typical house, according to the association's study -- there is savings in the long run since it doesn't need regular painting or power-washing. The mortar holding brick together does need repointing, which keeps moisture from getting behind the brick.
"It takes about 30 years before you would ever need your first repointing," says Gary Zaccaro, president of Ambassador Home Improvement in Massapequa, which offers brick and stone masonry designs. "Because of the turnover of homes, the average person would never have to worry about it."
5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 2 half-bathrooms
Paul Diesu served as general contractor for the construction of his home in East Islip's Moorings community in 2002, and chose brick for its timeless look. "To me, brick really is not a fad," Diesu says. "You had stucco homes come and go, and bevel wood come and go, and the contemporary look. Brick is extremely stately and rich-looking. You can look at houses 20, 30 years old made of brick, and they stood the test of time."
LISTING AGENT Irene Lockel and Steven Rainone, Netter Real Estate, 631-661-5100. Click here for more information.
3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms
The charm of this all-brick Colonial is what drew seller Al Croce to it in 2006, but the energy efficiency of brick is an added bonus, which translates into energy savings. Croce says his gas and electricity bills combined aren't much more than $300 a month.
LISTING AGENT Monica Kranepool, Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty, 516-922-9155.
4 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms
Jennifer Kobel, who bought the center hall Colonial by the water 10 years ago and also is acting as the listing agent, says the house is at a high enough elevation that it stayed dry during superstorm Sandy. But the brick front of the 1985 house also gave the family a feeling of security in high winds. "A brick house always feels strong and safe," Kobel says.
LISTING AGENT Jennifer Kobel, Charles Rutenberg Realty, 516-575-7500.
3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms
Sellers Simon and Bozena Pasternak say they chose a brick veneer for the front of their Colonial when they completely renovated it in 2006. "It looks very attractive on a Colonial," Simon Pasternak says. The couple installed insulation between the brick veneer and the plywood, which adds extra warmth during the winter.
LISTING AGENT Annette Mina, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-831-0163.
3 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms
This 1955 split-level is in the hamlet of Salisbury, which is known for brick construction. Jean Demetrius, who bought the house in 2001, says that when he was looking in the area, all of the houses were made of brick, though it was the in-ground pool that drew him to this particular home.
LISTING AGENT Nina Naqvi, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 516-621-3555.
$399,000 to $429,000
3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
The Tudor style is what drew sellers Danielle and Todd Karmel to this house in 2006. "There are one or two in the whole town," Danielle Karmel says. Sellers come away with a good impression of the 1923 brick home, she adds. "Most of the people think the same way we did -- that it's unique."
LISTING AGENT Marie Frei-Tuzzi, Coach Realtors. 631-331-3600. Click here for more details.