PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Consumer Case Study

Looking for Shelter from the Storm

Transplanted Floridians Find Greater Storm-Resistance and Energy Efficiency


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"I wasn't really happy with the block house. It conducts an awful lot of heat. So I read up on panels, it seemed like a better way to go and a better way to build. It seems sturdier and faster."

Wiles's research led him to precast concrete panels. The walls are cast and cured in a factory to ensure quality and consistency. Manufacturers can add steel reinforcements to increase storm resistance or cast the panels against foam insulation to increase energy efficiency. The panels don't absorb water and are designed to handle the stress of 5,000 pounds per square inch (psi), which is up to 40 percent stronger than poured concrete.

"I like the idea of the extra insulation in the walls. The thicker concrete and the higher psi concrete addresses water penetration and strength. It all adds up to a more storm-resistant home," Wiles says. "However, there's more than that to a home. We were looking for things that were a little more energy efficient. We like to do things that are environmentally friendly. Ultimately, we wanted to be comfortable not just in -- but also with -- our home."

"After reading a Tarpon Coast ad, I decided to check them out," says Wiles. "I didn't come across many builders that actually engaged in advanced construction methods like that."

[IMAGE: Precast concrete panels are cast and cured in a factory to ensure quality and consistency. Additioanlly, the walls can be installed quickly in almost any weather.]

In coordination with Mike Romig, president and co-owner of Tarpon Coast, the Wiles chose several additional features for their home, including double pane low-e glass in all windows and doors; 16 SEER air conditioning system with fresh air intake for healthy air quality; PEX manifold plumbing system to conserve water and reduce maintenance; water conserving toilets, faucets, showerheads; and xeriscaping, or the cultivation of native grass to reduce landscape watering and maintenance.

The Wiles were particularly interested in upgrading the insulation in the home, after having previous houses where the insulation was installed incorrectly. Poorly installed insulation can create unnecessarily high heating and cooling bills, plus leave parts of the home less comfortable. As a result, the builder used BioBased Systems foam spray insulation on the underside of the roof deck, while meeting an insulation value of R-16 in the exterior walls. And to make sure the insulation works the way it is supposed to, Tarpon Coast air sealed the attic, making the entire structure a sealed envelope and eliminating outside air penetration.

Wiles says the home cost about 10 to 15 percent more than a similar home in the area because of the structural upgrades; the standard Tarpon Coast home runs only 1 to 2 percent more than the market. Still, Wiles expects to earn much, if not all, of that investment back through lower energy costs.

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Content updated on 3/3/2008

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