Local home builders are coming up with all sorts of ways to save lives by building homes that can take a tornado’s direct hit.
The alternatives are always going to be more expensive than traditional stick frame construction so many want to be sure making the change really is safer.
Insulated concrete form construction isn’t a traditional method of building in Oklahoma but Daniel Keeslar of Paragon Fine Homes is pleading with his colleagues to change their ways.
“The home is built much like a bank vault, if you will,” said Keeslar. “It has not only a lot of mass to it but it has a tremendous amount of strength and they will hold up to 250 mile-an-hour winds.”
They start with styrofoam forms and fill the center cavity with concrete.
Keeslar has proof that the walls of these homes can withstand devastating conditions.
He says these homes won’t have to start from scratch.
“One of the homes in Moore has been hit three times now,” Keeslar said. “It’s a concrete home and they simply go back in and build on the same walls after the debris is removed.”
Curtis McCarty of C.A. McCarty Construction agrees with Keeslar but said there is more to a home surviving a storm than just the walls.
He said he thinks concrete is a step in the right direction but not much can fight 295 mile-per-hour winds.
“If you want to talk about how we protect a house from an EF-4 or 5 tornado, I think it`s going to be pretty tough to build something in Oklahoma that`s affordable that will take those kinds of direct hits,” McCarty said.
Keeslar said he thinks all homes in Oklahoma should be built out of these reinforced walls.
“It doesn`t make sense to continue building stick frame homes that you know will be destroyed in a fire or high wind situation when concrete is available,” Keeslar said.
McCarty said even if you build strong walls, if you don’t secure the roof, homeowners may see the same devastation that they would with stick frame construction.
“The most important thing that I’ve seen in storms is holding the roof assembly onto the house,” said McCarty.
Keeslar agrees but said he still thinks his method is pretty fool-proof.
He’s had homes come out of a direct tornado hit with the walls still standing.
He says these homes can just keep rebuilding with the same walls.
“The walls will stay, there’s no question in my mind that they will stay,” Keeslar said. “We hope Oklahoma will turn to this type of construction because it will eliminate what happened in Moore.”