Habitat for Humanity partners with design company to build reinforced homes able to withstand high winds

Jessi HawkinsVolunteer Spotlight

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Technology is giving us a boost when it comes to staying safe in severe weather. In Joplin there’s a newer, safer, way of building homes.

“When that tragic day happened that was a horrific situation. It was unbelievable devastation. A third of the town was destroyed and that means gone,” said Scott Clayton, executive director, Habitat for Humanity Joplin.

Charles Peay came from St. Louis to volunteer during the clean up efforts.

“Just watching the devastation, what nature will do and the families that were taken out of their homes, lives just ruined and having to start over,” he said.

He will soon own a new home with the help of Habitat for Humanity.

“That is a big thing with me is being comfortable, feeling safe,” he said.

Fred Malik is a part of the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety team that created the Fortified Products used to build reinforced homes.

“We do building science and building research that allows us to learn about how buildings come apart. Then we can bring that technology, that information out to different markets like Joplin so that they can use that information before it finds its way into the code.”

Malik says the walls of the structure are layered with a foam material and concrete instead of a wooden frame and drywall. He says the company has come up with a way to also reinforce garage doors and roofs to be able to withstand winds up to 165 miles per hour, equivalent to an EF3 tornado.

He says the cost is marginally higher than regularly built home.

“I had family members that were displaced by Hurricane Andrew. We were the last plane out and the first plane back. The total devastation opened my eyes. As a builder I had no idea that that was possible. That led me to try to investigate what can I be doing better,” said Malik.

Clayton said, “It’s pretty amazing to see. Like with anything experience is going to be your best teacher. By experiencing this house’s construction, to see isolated concrete forms being blocked together and then the concrete being poured in between, it was something to behold. It’s a really interesting way to construct.

“Why hasn’t this been a long time ago? It just makes more sense other than to continue building the same structures that went so fast in the disaster,” said Peay.

Habitat for Humanity Joplin is also partnering with the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety team to build a duplex as well.

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