This recent article delivered a very clear call-to-action for builders and federal/municipal interests alike – it’s time to build disaster-proof homes before storms strike, not afterward. In our own post citing the benefits of ICF for homes, we noted that Alberta averages approximately 15 tornadoes and hurricanes per year. Storm protection is as just as important to us as the rest of the well-known weather battered regions of North America. Prospective homeowners, residential developers, and governing bodies are searching for a solution. Are insulated concrete forms it? Let’s find out.
Reasons Why Insulated Concrete Forms are a Superior Form of Storm Protection Construction in Alberta
1. Stronger – it’s that Simple
Some of you may remember the now iconic 2005 image pictured above. It depicts one single-standing home in a region of Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. That last remaining home was known to have employed insulated concrete forms in its construction. ICF offers one the most effective barriers from natural hazards and disasters. The structural integrity of an ICF foundation is second to none and protects properties (and occupants) from storm-born flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes, and strong winds in addition to other natural disasters such as earthquakes. When using the right product with a solid concrete core, you are provided greater impact resistance that can withstand winds of up to 402 kph, or 250 mph. There is no way around it, ICF concrete homes are stronger and sturdier than traditionally built wood frame homes.
2. Fire Resistant
Drought and dry-seasons in Alberta can pose a fire hazard to homes. Factor in a windstorm and the problem is further ignited. Coming off of the costliest disaster in Canadian history (Fort McMurray), every Alberta residential developer and prospective homeowner is placing fire-protection high on their list of necessities. Fire damage can also ensue when rainwater and wind impact electrical in the home. Thankfully, insulated concrete forms offer a superior level of fire resistance when compared to traditionally built structures. Total ICF uses NUDURA forms, which offer a fire protection rating of up to 4 hours. These insulated concrete form homes are built with steel reinforced concrete and a non-toxic fire-retardant expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam ensuring optimal safety.
3. Thermal Resistant
Storms also bring extreme temperatures. Even if your home is structurally safe, occupants can be detrimentally impacted by hot and cold temperature fluctuations. Because ICF walls have a high thermal mass, the interior celsius reading is better maintained (for comfort) during autumn, winter, spring and summer storms. Tornado and hurricane driven air-infiltration is also dramatically reduced due to the continuous air barriers provided by ICF.
4. Additional Comfort
Homeowner experience is extremely important. Developers are looking not only to provide a safe and healthy environment, they look to provide comfort in every way possible, especially during the stressful times that storms can bring. Howling winds and battering debris can make residents (from parent to child to pet) uneasy but with ICF these other storm-born occurrences are also abated. Insulated concrete form homes offer superior performance when it comes to creating a sound barrier. The forms filter out the unwanted noise of extreme winds and all acoustics associated with storms. Total ICF (via NUDURA) insulated concrete forms hamper sound vibrations and put the icing on the cake of a truly comfortable home, even when the world outside doesn’t concur.
5. Lower Insurance Rates
This recent study reports that Canadian builders’ risk insurance rates were 7.5 times higher for the construction of traditional wood buildings compared to those made of concrete. The study concluded that lower rates were due to the greater risk and repair costs of water and moisture damage for buildings using wood frames. In Alberta, water, moisture, and wind damage predominantly comes from hurricanes, tornadoes, and other all-season storms. From a pure cost perspective using insulated concrete forms to hedge insurance risk makes perfect sense.
Ready to storm-proof your next residential build in Alberta? Contact Total ICF at 403.887.2214 at your earliest convenience.