The National Fire Protection Association estimates suggest that wildfires experienced in the past decade have led to costly destruction of properties. For instance, in 2018, over 14000 homes were destroyed by two consecutive wildfires. This resulted in over $19 billion in losses. The continuously surging temperatures and short rains further exacerbate the potential damages of wildfires, exposing real estate properties to real danger.
These conditions lengthen fire seasons and make them more destructive. That said, homeowners in fire-prone areas should adopt fire-proof architecture as they rebuild their destroyed homes.
1, Use insulated concrete forms in the foundation
Unlike before, expert home builders recommend the use of insulated concrete forms in the foundation. ICFs are essentially energy-star rated polystyrene blocks, which connect like Lego pieces. This creates a shell that locks out harsh weather and sound. Insulated concrete blocks are made from concrete, making them heat and fire-resistant.
Generally, concrete is a good material to use when constructing fire-resistant homes. Concrete materials are non-combustible, and it takes a while before fire-damaged concrete structures. Construction experts suggest that insulated concrete forms can withstand fire for up to four hours. While they cost between 1 and 4% more than wood-frame houses that aren’t fire-resistant, the additional costs are worth the investment.
2, Choose a sturdy wall siding
Apart from the foundation, you should also make your house’s exterior fire resistant. Fortunately, you shouldn’t compromise the building’s aesthetic to make your exterior fire-proof. You can choose from several fire-resistant siding materials, including stone, interlocking tiles, fiber cement, stucco, and metal siding materials.
Note that different siding materials have different fire-resistance ratings. For instance, bricks have a fire-resistant rating of between one and four hours. However, this depends on the thickness and construction of the wall. Stucco is a combination of sand, lime, cement, and metal reinforcing mesh.
While at it, avoid untreated planks and wood shingles, as they are least resistant to fire. You can use vinyl, provided there are no gaps or crevices that fire can penetrate.
3, Armor the roof
Even though a concrete foundation and fire-proof siding are critical, you should pair these measures with fire-resistant roofs and windows. Even though most roof architectural designs prefer stylish tile rooves, these designs have cracks and openings that embers can sneak through and start flames.
That said, you should opt for class A fire-resistant roofing materials, such as concrete, metal, tiling, and slate roofs, which interlock tightly. Additionally, steep roofs pitch fares faster than flat roofs, as fire embers easily roll off. For additional safety, you should prefer metal gutters to vinyl.
4, Protect your windows
Though often overlooked by homeowners, windows offer the fiery inferno sufficient opening into the building. High temperatures can shatter window panes or trigger any combustible materials inside your house without fire embers even reaching your house. That said, you should consider using insulated double glazing tempered glass. Single glazing glass isn’t as sturdy and cannot withstand fire and other disasters.
A South Caroline study found that single-glazed window panes crack when exposed to high temperatures and fire while double-glazed takes twice as long to crack. Besides, the outer layer breaks first, and the heat-treated tempered glass is four-time stronger. You should also consider using fire safety or wire glass, which stays compact even when cracked. As for the size, small windows are better than large ones.
Homeowners rebuilding their fire-damaged properties after fire restoration should consider various factors to reduce the severity of future wildfires. Apart from the tips mentioned above, using metal or fiber cement doors, modifying their backyards, landscaping, and increasing the distance between the house and nearby wildlands are also beneficial.