How to build a disaster-resilient house

Extreme weather events in every season now are thrashing, burning, flooding and flattening many homes into rubble, and such storms are making many homeowners wonder what would happen to their homes if they were in the path of such destructive winds.

The frequency of severe storms is giving us one more reason to build with the strongest materials and the smartest technology available. Concrete walls, instead of wood, are a good start, but as it turns out, they are also far more energy efficient, healthier for residents, cost effective and eco-friendly.

“If you ask for the house to be built with insulated concrete forms, known as ICFs, it will immediately withstand winds of up to 402 kilometers per hour,” says Todd Blyth at Nudura, a leading name in building technology. “An ICF home is also top-rated for its insulation.”

Specifically, the walls are constructed with preassembled, interlocking units (similar to Legos), so they’re easily transported to any building site. Each form consists of two panels of thick foam (expanded polystyrene) connected with a Nudura patented web system. Guided by the architectural design and beauty aspects you request, the ICFs are stacked, steel reinforced, and filled with concrete until the entire building envelope is complete.

The material required for your walls is a decision to be made early in the process. If you opt for concrete, says Blyth, here’s what you’ll get:

  • In addition to hurricane and tornado impact resistance, the fire protection rate is as long as four hours.

  • Premium insulation will vastly reduce air infiltration (compared to wood walls), giving you an efficiency rating as high as R-50 due to the thermal mass of the concrete (compared to an average R-20 in wood structures). That equates to reducing household energy bills by up to 70 percent. And if optional inserts are added to the ICF forms, this efficiency is improved even more.

  • Walls with a solid concrete core deliver even temperatures throughout the house by preventing thermal bridging. Outside cold easily travels through wood-framed walls, creating uncomfortable chilly spots.

  • Concrete will give you an effective sound barrier. ICF walls will dampen sound vibrations from outside noise, delivering remarkable peace and quiet inside.

  • The system is eco-responsible: concrete reduces the need for trees, the process uses recycled materials, the construction creates less waste than traditional methods and the occupants use fewer fossil fuels for a much smaller carbon footprint.

  • A stronger, safer, greener home – and one that is more durable, cost efficient, and requires less maintenance and repair – will steadily increase in resale value. More information is available online at

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