Insulated Concrete Forms
Hurricane-Resistant Building Designs
Architectura SA and ICFs
Natural disasters will always be with us. Thanks to ICFs, builders and building owners can be prepared. Architectura SA has the experience and expertise to effectively design and integrate Insulating Concrete Forms into any project to withstand major natural disasters. Let us help you construct a hurricane-resistant building with the latest in comfort, energy savings, and storm-resistant construction.
Regardless if the design requirements are complex or simple, we can assist in selecting appropriate building materials and design cost effectively within the available space and reasonable budget. For the past 12 years we have incorporated the use of Insulated Concrete Forms in our designs for clients desiring high performance building envelopes. The use of ICF has proven to be a cost effective approach for the design of sustainable buildings that provide high level of occupant’s satisfaction, comfort, and safety. In addition, the use of I.C.F. design (Insulated concrete forms) provides a fast and effective path into achieving a FORTIFIED designation, a National Standard for Resilient Construction that recognizes increased performance of the building against severe weather. Architectura S A is listed by the Insurance Institute for Business Home and Safety as a FORTIFIED-Wise Professional and evaluator.
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ICF Building Construction
Preparing for the Worst to Achieve the Best
Hurricane-resistant building designs are revolutionizing the world of new construction. As adverse weather events continue to grow in intensity and number, storm-resistant construction is becoming more important. While many natural disasters can be anticipated, none can be prevented. Inclement and even destructive weather are part of life. Sadly, when hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters do happen, many buildings are unable to withstand them. When buildings fail from natural disasters or bad weather, it signals one thing above all else: They need a stronger, more durable structure to stand up against the elements. This is where Insulating Concrete Form (ICF) buildings come into play.
Insulated Concrete Forms and Hurricanes
An ICF is a hurricane-resistant building design that withstands more impact from winds and water damage. ICFs have become the standard for storm-resistant construction in recent years because of their superior durability. In fact, many Insulating Concrete Form buildings survived the wind and storm surge of Hurricane Katrina, one of the United States’ worst natural disasters.
“Safety was a secondary consideration when we chose to build with ICFs,” said ICF homeowner Randy Robbins. “For us, the greatest benefit was its energy efficiency. Yet we’re alive today because of these walls.”
Because of its use of hurricane-resistant building designs, Robbins’ home was protected from tornado-force winds with speeds up to 157 mph.
Robbins is not alone. In many cases, builders or owners may have initially chosen ICFs for their energy efficiency. However, the ability to withstand hurricane-force winds and water damage turned out to be the most significant benefit. This durability is what makes choosing storm-resistant construction one of the best decisions homeowners can make.
What Are Insulated Concrete Forms?
ICFs are an innovative alternative to traditional wood or light-gauge steel building frames. Because it is constructed using durable concrete, an ICF building is an effective hurricane-resistant building design. Wood-framed buildings can generally hold up against 120 mph winds. In contrast, ICF buildings can withstand anywhere from 200 to 300 mph winds, more than double wood’s capacity.
ICFs and Hurricanes
FEMA recommends that storm shelters be constructed using ICFs. This alone is a testament to just how powerful ICF buildings are and how much they can help builders prevent disaster. ICFs’ hurricane-resistant building design is unparalleled in modern construction and gives the best chance for occupants’ safety.
One of the major factors in a building’s wind resistance is whether it uses a continuous load path from the roof to the foundation. This lets the structure transfer wind uplift and shear loads safely to the ground level. ICFs do this by using a wall-to-foundation connection to bolster vertical reinforcing steel bars. Specialized hardware is used for roof and floor connections, while roof trusses are attached directly to the concrete or using straps connected to metal plates inside the concrete. Optional ledger systems can reinforce the connection between the wall and floor for an even more effective hurricane-resistant building design.
ICFs and Earthquakes
ICFs are also being implemented to protect builders and owners from earthquake risk. Softwoods have been used for years since their lighter weight gives them an advantage against seismic shifts. However, softwoods often have issues with bracing and structural connections. This has often been the undoing of softwood buildings in earthquake zones. Concrete resists compression forces that push other materials together. Meanwhile, reinforced steel keeps the structure from coming apart and cracking. Double rebar curtains are often added in areas with especially high seismic activity for extra protection.
ICFs and Flooding
Concrete actually gets stronger in the presence of moisture. This is a major advantage since it means ICFs suffer virtually no damage even when submerged in floodwaters. Wood, on the other hand, is vulnerable to mold, mildew, and rot. Concrete keeps its composition over time, even under adverse conditions. Often, all that concrete needs after submersion in a flood is a pressure wash. This gives additional peace of mind to those in flood zones or considering designs for buildings to resist a hurricane.
Hurricane-resistant building designs offer an array of other benefits and advantages. These alone are often enough to convince builders to use ICFs in their construction.
- Lower Insurance Premiums. Insurance quotes for concrete risk builders can be anywhere from 22 to 72 percent cheaper than for builders using wooden frames. Commercial building owners generally see a reduction by 14 to 65 percent in their premium costs. Insurance companies continue to incentivize ICFs as disaster-ready construction practices become more prevalent.
- Higher Building Resale Value. Investing in storm-resistant construction practices from the beginning can pay off immensely if you decide to sell. Among other aspects, building appraisers consider storm-resistant construction in making their appraisals. This is even truer in areas with a high risk of natural disasters.
- Financial Benefits. ICFs can create additional incentives from tax credits, utility discounts, reduced mortgage and financing costs, favorable permits, and more. Often, these differ in each state and locality, meaning your area could have unique benefits not listed here.
FORTIFIED goes above average building codes, which are minimum standards, by giving you options to increase the performance of your home or business against severe weather.
Using third-party, independent FORTIFIED Evaluators, provides an in depth verification process that gives occupants an added layer of protection by ensuring a building is built to the highest construction standards.
FORTIFIED qualifies homes or businesses for insurance discounts and tax credits from a growing list of states. Certain states have legislated these discounts or credits.
The FORTIFIED designation lasts for five years, at which time it must be renewed. This allows you to continue to receive any insurance discounts or benefits and lets you know your home is still performing to the highest standards.
A FORTIFIED designations stays with a property. When you sell your property, the next owner gets the same benefits you did… that’s a selling point. Speaking of selling points, a recent study led by the University of Alabama and co-authored by the University of Mississippi and Auburn University shows that a FORTIFIED designation increases a property’s value by 7% (in some cases more) when it sells.
FORTIFIED has been shown to be affordable at every price point. From Habitat for Humanity to beachfront homes, the costs to build, re-roof or upgrade are minimal compared to the benefits. Sleep better knowing your home is built to some of the highest standards available and your home and your possessions are protected.
Originally we said ‘this cannot happen to us’,
then we said ‘this cannot happen to us again’,
now we say ‘when will this happen to us again’
– Moore, Oklahoma councilman
and repeat storm disaster survivor
More ICF Architecture
We would love to talk to you! We can help you achieve economies of scale with our vast knowledge of insulated concrete forms, and bring your dream building to reality in short order with our acclaimed designs of sustainable, energy-efficient facilities, and turnkey capabilities.