Researchers used more than 100 giant fans to create hurricane-force winds in an experiment Tuesday that crumpled an ordinary home within minutes but left a better-built home standing at its side.
Authorities said the experiment conducted in the cavernous Insurance Center for Building Safety illustrated the superiority of fortified building materials against materials and methods used in conventional home-building.
"This is an opportunity to create demand for better construction," said Tim Reinhold, the center's chief engineer. The Richburg facility was built by insurance companies in a bid to find ways to reduce damages and losses from natural disasters.
The conventional home took minutes to collapse in 96-mph winds similar to those of a Category 2 hurricane; once the house began to shake, the end came seconds later. Reinhold said the stronger house cost about $5,000 more to build but suffered only cosmetic damage in the same winds.
Reinhold said builders normally won't use higher-end materials unless those are required by building codes or requested by homeowners. He hopes the images of one house left standing while another lay in ruins is persuasive.