If you’re looking to build a new home on coastal waters where hurricanes are known to roam, you might want to skip the two-by-fours and cement and instead start drinking bottled soft drink. A Canadian company has recently completed construction of a home with exterior walls made from recycled plastic, and it’s claimed to be able to withstand winds gusting at over 483km/h.
Built by JD Composites, the three bedroom home is situated near the Meteghan River in Nova Scotia.
Aside from a distinct lack of trees, gardens and neighbours, the house looks like any other dwelling with a clean modern design and a minimalist facade. Inside it’s fully furnished and finished with drywall-covered lumber walls, but the exterior is what makes the house appealing as a new, and seemingly much improved, approach to construction.
Wrapping the house, and providing its reinforced structure and extreme durability, are 15cm-thick panels made from somewhere around 612,000 plastic soft drink bottles that were shredded, melted and then in injected with gas to create a sort of plastic-based foam.
These panels has several key advantages over more traditional construction materials. They provide better insulation in both the winter and summer months; they’re moisture and mildew resistant; they help keep plastics out of waste facilities; and they allow a house to be assembled in a matter of days, not months, because the panels are first created offsite and assemble like a giant puzzle.
But it’s the extreme durability that will attract many home builders, particularly those who work along the eastern coast of Canada and the United States where hurricanes pose a major threat every year.
Samples of the plastic panels were sent to a certification facility who subjected them to conditions similar to what would be experienced in a category 5 hurricane. For comparison, in 2015, hurricane Patricia pummelled Guatemala with winds measured as fast as 346km/h.
It was considered to be one of the most powerful hurricanes ever recorded, but JD Composites’ panels were able to survive wind speeds up to 524km/h in testing, and possibly even stronger, as the testing facility actually maxed out its wind tunnel’s capabilities.
It’s estimated that the house cost somewhere around $US400,000 ($569,541) to build, which is on par with traditional material and labour costs. But the durability of the plastic means there are fewer repairs down the line, and the potential for avoiding a complete rebuild should a hurricane strike.
It’s actually up for sale now if you have plans to move to the US, but if the builders can’t find a buyer they plan to list the property on Airbnb which should help spread the word about their accomplishment.