It’s pretty unusual for researchers to destroy a house in the name of safety. But that was the case Tuesday at the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s new building sciences facility in Chester County.
The center is designed to test how well new construction reacts to extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes or hailstorms. As part of its grand opening Tuesday, IBHS researchers demonstrated a wind tunnel that featured two fully-sized houses inside. One was constructed according to basic building code requirements, while the other used the Institute’s more stringent “Fortified” standards.
After 30 minutes, the standard home was literally blown away.
Kevin Kelso chairs the IBHS board. He was excited about the new facility’s potential.
This is it. There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world. When we set out to build this, people said we were crazy, that you can’t contain basically a Category Three hurricane in a building, but that’s essentially what we’ve done here. There’s still a lot of potential that we haven’t taken advantage of yet in this facility. This is just the beginning.
The center located outside the tiny town of Richburg was built by funding from over 50 different companies.
Among the onlookers was South Carolina Farm Bureau CEO Phil Love. The Farm Bureau was one of 50 companies which helped fund the facility. Love said he hopes the testing shows homeowners the importance of looking for “fortified” homes.
The reality is customers want to save money and they want to be safer. Customers need to shop around and find companies that, if they do the things that are shown today to build a fortified home, that they could save money right up front.
While researchers will mainly use the center to study how building materials react under severe weather, Kelso says it also helps homeowners see why having a well-constructed home saves money and lives.
The video of a house blowing over is very rarely available after a hurricane because, with any luck, everybody’s out of there. This is a controlled environment where we can safely show what can happen.