Sunday, May 19, 2013

Can I build a house with stronger walls?


Q:

I want to build a new home but I am worried about the severe storms coming off the water where the home is to be built. Can you recommend a way to build a house that would be guaranteed to withstand the harsh climates?

A:

There are many ways to build a home to withstand the harsh elements that you are describing. There are many ways to build homes in the modern age and have them survive any kind of storm. What you should be thinking about is not if the home will survive the harsh climates but how it will perform in those harsh climates.

One of my favorite ways to build a home is to build with Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF). ICF is basically two pieces of polystyrene with a concrete core in the middle. What this gives you is a concrete walled home, the insulation placed on both sides of the wall keeps the concrete core warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

 A concrete wall allows no air to pass through it; this means that the wall performance is amazing when it comes to heating and cooling. One of the hardest things to do in a conventional home is heat it when there is high winds outside. The reason for this is that the wind chill reduces the temperature of the inside wall cavity.

This doesn’t happen in an ICF wall because it is a concrete core wrapped in insulation. Since the wall never drops in temperature then the interior of the home doesn’t drop in temperature either.

The other thing that ICF homes do rather well is reduce the transfer of outside noise into the home. Insulation wrapped concrete walls allow almost no sound penetration.

When those big storms coming roaring in off the water you would have a concrete wall that is re-enforced with rebar, this concrete wall would be tied into your footings underground and would continue all the wall up to the roof. The wall would never move, creak or flex. If your builder takes the time to install hurricane brackets to the roof trusses then your roof would also be anchored to the concrete walls.

Think about your house in terms of concrete walls instead of wood and with the insulation wrapped around them, those creating a warm, dry and quiet living space. With that in mind you should be able to sleep peacefully even through the biggest of storms.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.

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