Our homes feature both safety and security that far exceed nearly all other methods of construction, including steel framing, wood framing, masonry, brick cladding, and Structural Insulated Panels.
The Portland Cement Association reports that for every dollar spent on disaster mitigation, $4 is saved after a disaster!
Understanding how Insulating Concrete Form walls are superior is not too difficult, given that they are built with solid reinforced concrete walls that are at least 6” thick. But perhaps you tell yourself that if a such a disaster is headed your way, you would simply leave. But what about the tornado that comes in the middle of the night while you are all asleep, or the vehicle careening off the road and smashing into your bedroom? Can you run when you see a stray bullet headed your way? We often have little time to respond to disasters, which is why building an ICF home gives you so much peace of mind. What other system can protect you from all of these disasters?
Wildfire embers can travel over 1 mile. Landing on the shrubbery or roof of your home, how much time do you have? This video demonstrates how a typical home withstands hot embers.
While traditional walls carry as low as a 20 minute fire rating, Insulating Concrete Form walls are rated from 120 to 480 minutes. Which one would you rather rely on to keep a fire out?
Not only that, but in the unlikely event that an ICF home were to be destroyed by fire, the wall would remain standing. The concrete core will not burn, and will not collapse; even if the fire-retardant foam were to burn completely off.
The residential code requires building homes to withstand 90 mph winds. While it is certainly true that wood framed homes can be built to withstand higher winds, the detailing and metal connectors required to do so add significant cost and complexity to the project; and in some cases, leave less room in the wall for insulation. ICF homes are easily designed to handle wind pressures of 150 mph and higher. In fact, many ICF homes have withstood direct hits from tornados, including this one as well as the video on this page, that felt the fury of EF-5 tornado; and this one that was on the coastline when Superstorm Sandy hit.
A significant portion of the damage from high wind events such as tornados is caused by flying debris. Your neighbor’s house can easily turn into a pile of missiles directed at your home.
ICF walls prevent flying debris from turning your home into swiss cheese.
ICF homes are highly resilient during periods of extended power or gas outages due simply to their very low heat loss or gain. Here is a report from a client of ours in Northern Michigan: “We were there in November for a month and lost power for a couple of days. We used a generator to run the basics but did not use it for the geothermal system. Even with no heat the temperature in the house only went down about 2 degrees over the two day period. It was very comfortable and we were thrilled!” The most beautiful home in the world does little good if it gets dangerously cold when the power goes out.
ICF homes are much more resistant to being washed away in a flood, and the walls themselves need only dry out; none of the materials will rot or develop mold problems due to extended saturation as a stick framed home will. The materials are simple: EPS foam and concrete. Both inert materials that will not rot or decay.
In the photo above, notice all the pads left where there once were homes. This home was under construction when hurricane Katrina hit, but she held fast. If it were complete, it would have kept the owners’ belongings from being strewn about the entire neighborhood.
Explosions, Gunfire, and Random Large Objects
Of course we hope this never happens to you, but even a standard 6” core Insulating Concrete Form wall will withstand multiple direct hits from a .50 BMG rifle, and even explosions don’t shatter or knock over the wall.
ICF homes are more secure than traditional construction methods. Most people don’t realize that someone could easily break into their home with nothing more than a handsaw, although a cordless reciprocating saw would save a few minutes. Think about it! You have a layer of vinyl siding, then 7/16” OSB, then insulation, then ½” drywall. There is something solid only every 16” when you hit a stud. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call that terribly secure, no matter the high-tech lock you have on your door!