ICF homes have a remarkable ability to shield occupants from all sorts of disasters, including collisions with out-of-control vehicles.
Over the past 15 years, at least three separate ICF homes have experienced accidents of this type. With a solid core of steel-reinforced concrete sandwiched between two layers of shock-absorbing foam, ICF walls not only protected the homeowners, but withstood the impact with virtually no damage.
The latest incident took place just last fall in Clayton, New York, a few miles south of the Thousand Islands region on the St. Lawrence River.
According to Daniel Byers, sales manager for Top Notch Building Components in Clayton, New York, the driver hit the house going between 45-50 mph. Built with Nudura ICFs, the wall has a four-inch core of steel reinforced concrete. There was no damage to the concrete or drywall on the inside of the garage corner that was hit.
“If this was a wood-framed garage, the car would have went through the wall into the garage, or possibly the house,” Byers says. As is, the siding and other minor damage can be easily repaired.
Exactly ten years earlier, on the other side of the country, a similar event occurred.
At the time, Mary Heacock and her family lived in a small community located on the shores of Puget Sound a few miles northwest of Seattle. The Heacock’s home was built with Quad-Lock ICFs in the late 1990s, and they had enjoyed the benefits of ICF for more than a decade, primarily in the form of lower heating and cooling costs.
They didn’t appreciate the strength and safety of the walls until the early morning hours of a hot August night in 2009. About 3:50 a.m., an out-of-control SUV sped down the hill in front of their home, missed the sharp turn at the bottom, bounced over the curb and plowed though the yard. Security camera footage shows the big Ford Explorer crashing through railings and upending flower pots before crashing into the house.
Heacock says “the whole neighborhood” heard the car, but inside the house they didn’t feel it. In fact, the video footage shows that the car more or less bounced off the house. (The film can be viewed via a link on the www.icfmag.com website).
“We never thought we’d have to fend off invading cars,” she says.
The 24-year-old driver was transported to the hospital, but fortunately, no one else was injured. Damage to the home was limited to a small area of siding and a few small chips of concrete.
“Had this been stick construction, we absolutely would have lost our house today,” Heacock told reporters.
The third case occurred back in 2005. Ray Demczyk was living in an ICF home in Cape Coral, Fla. Like Heacock, he was awakened in the early morning hours by a dull thud. Thinking it was some item that had gotten knocked down, he got up to find whatever had fallen, only to find a set
of headlights just inches from his living room window.
According to police reports, a Pontiac Firebird was racing through the neighborhood around 2 a.m. at more than 90 mph when the driver lost control of the vehicle, left the roadway and slammed into the exterior wall of the Demczyk home. Alcohol was a factor in the crash.
The ICF wall had reduced the sound of the deafening crash to a barely audible thud.
“I believe the ICF wall saved my life,” Demczyk said shortly after the incident. Emergency workers on the scene told him the car would have penetrated the residence had the walls been made of wood.
Though the car was completely totaled, thankfully, the driver survived the collision without major injuries. The strength of the home’s walls was evident when the cleanup was completed. The only damage was a 3’ x 5’ section of the exterior finish that had been crushed by the impact.
With that impressive demonstration of strength, the Demczyk’s chose to stay put when a hurricane roared through their town less than three months later. As the wind gusted to 165 mph, the family was confident they’d be safe.
“I have known that this house was solid since the day I built it,” Demczyk said. “Strength, wind resistance, and insulation are the reasons I chose ICF.”