Builders turn to technology to protect homes from wildfires - FOX Carolina 21

New techniques used to build disaster-resistant homes

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Building materials called insulated concrete forms (ICFs) help contractors erect houses that are resistant to elements and pests. (Source: FOX) Building materials called insulated concrete forms (ICFs) help contractors erect houses that are resistant to elements and pests. (Source: FOX)

OAKLAND HILLS, CA (FOX) - Larger, more destructive fires have led homebuilders to explore the latest technology and design techniques to create highly fire-resistant replacements.

Builders use walls built with Styrofoam block forms that look like large Lego's called ICFs (insulated concrete forms). The walls are filled with cement, and they're virtually impossible to penetrate.

The homes cost 5 to 8 percent more to construct, but there are benefits. They're more energy efficient, repel termites and most other bugs and hold up well against hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. They also help save on insurance costs.

"It goes back to the security of knowing that if there is a fire or harsh weather they are more protected than anyone else in the neighborhood, or as protected as you can get," said homebuilder Mike Evans.

Wildfires across the western United States are more frequent and burning bigger during the last 30 years, according to recent studies.

Homeowners from Colorado to California are looking to stop fires at their doorsteps.

"It's really construction-friendly," said homebuilder Erik Adams. "It's been around for a while, and I think they're a great product."

Homeowners can also retrofit the outside of their houses with rock or stucco the eves to get increased protection from the elements.

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