Video | Insulated Concrete Form home designed to battle Texas tornadoes
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Having seen a deadly tornado as a child, Dallas resident Gary Karnavas built a new home designed to stand up to Mother Nature.
Karnavas told TV station NBCDFW he chose to build his new home with insulated concrete forms because of that memory.
Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) are cast-in-place concrete walls that are sandwiched between two layers of insulation material, usually expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam insulation forms. The foam blocks are stacked as interlocking blocks, connected with steel reinforcing rods. They offer well-insulated, airtight, energy-efficient building enclosures. ICFs are a popular wall system choice in regions prone to severe weather because of their strong impact resistance.
Tests have shown that ICFs are able to withstand winds of up to 250 miles per hour, enough to provide protection from both an EF5 tornado and a Category 5 hurricane, according to Realty Times.
As if concrete walls weren't enough, Karnavas added a tornado shelter inside the home for an extra refuge. It also serves as a kitchen pantry, but the shelter has a steel door hidden behind the sliding barn door that's used every day.
Karnavas has a meteorology degree and a keen interest in extreme weather and he wanted to make sure his family, including three grandchildren, would be safe in storms. The walls of the home have a six-inch core of concrete, so it's about nine times stronger than a traditional wood-frame structure, Karnavas said.
While building with ICFs may cost 5 to 10 percent more, increased energy efficiency can offset the cost. Karnavas told NBCDFW that the highest electric bill for his 5,700-square-foot home was $200 per month.
Read more about insulated concrete forms.