The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy left a lot of devastation, especially to homes built near the coast. A 60-year-old house on the coast of Normandy Beach, N.J., built on very low elevation received 6 feet of water after Sandy. Not wanting to relive that type of devastation again, the homeowners chose to rebuild in the absolute strongest way possible. Engineer and architect John J. Chando Jr. Inc. suggested building with insulating concrete forms (ICFs), constructed to strict FEMA V-Zone flood construction requirements.

Building with ICFs allows homes to be built stronger and more energy efficient. “We can maintain control over the look of the finished structure and have a much higher R-value for insulation. This type of construction results in what we call a hurricane-resistant home,” says Justin Chando, vice president of business development.

The new FEMA flood zone maps specified it needed to be at a 14-foot elevation and have breakaway walls underneath the structure to be compliant. The walls were designed to fail under certain wave force conditions to allow the water pressure to flow through the building without causing any further damage to the foundation or above the walls. “But unlike other breakaway walls, these walls were made of concrete blocks,” says Chando. Shear walls parallel to the flow of water were constructed using ICFs filled with reinforced concrete to provide extremely strong lateral support to the overall structure and allow the building to withstand high wind forces.

This type of construction is very unique in the coastal residential setting in New Jersey and has gathered a lot of local interest. “The ICF construction wasn’t just for the foundation,” says Chando. “We used it for all three stories.” This is the first home to be rebuilt in the area using ICF forms, and the contractor hopes it will lead the way for sustainable rebuilding. Having a home that is not only elevated, but rated to withstand up to 200 mph winds is an incredible way to ensure a sustainable home many years into the future.