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ICF provides security to coastal residents

As hurricane season is once again ramping up, Turnstone Builders is constructing virtually hurricane-resistant homes in the Rehoboth Beach, Del. area. When Turnstone’s CFO David Eppes and Managing Director Harvey Ryan learned that insulated concrete forms (ICF) houses were nearly hurricane proof, they applied the building process to a three-story, 7,100-sq.-ft. house on Collins Avenue in Dewey Beach.

While researching ICF, the team watched videos of cars driving into ICF buildings and ricocheting off. Another video showed a 2 x 4 being shot at an ICF home at 109 mph (equivalent to winds of a Category 2 hurricane) and bouncing off. Further evidence of hurricane resistance came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which reported that many of the homes that survived Hurricane Katrina were constructed of concrete.

Turnstone believes constructing ICF homes along the Delaware beaches could bring safer, sturdier and more energy-efficient standards to custom home building. “We believe that ICF homes will be the new high standard of coastal living,” said Eppes. ICF homes cost about $4 more per square foot; however, they are exceptionally energy-efficient. The concrete walls and ceilings act as thermal barriers, which eliminate hot and cold spots and maintain steady temperatures throughout the house, thus, reducing utility bills.

The Collins Avenue home was designed to be sound and functional with unique architectural details throughout, and is supported by a foundation of poured concrete footers that are 3 x 3 ft. in diameter, dug in 20 ft. below grade. The concrete roof weighs 250,000 lb. Epps stated in a recent interview on a Delaware radio station, "If you had to tear this house down, it would be very, very difficult because the concrete and the steel form a web. It's really the steel that creates the majority of the strength."

Going against the typical concrete home stereotype, the home is as aesthetically pleasing as it is strong. A handcrafted “barrel” entrance continues in the interior. Functional appointments, such as indoor/outdoor entertainment area and bar, multiple decks, indoor/outdoor shower, and beach and bay views from the rooftop are additional features. "We decided to build this house as a demonstration that a concrete house doesn't have to be ugly, because most people, when you say 'concrete house,' that evokes images that are not realistic," Epps comments.