In a down market, businesses have to find a way to set themselves above the competition. Technical proficiency is one way to do that; and in the coastal market of Florida’s “Space Coast,” near Cape Canaveral, New Smyrna Beach Construction Company New Smyrna Beach Construction Company is finding success with that strategy. Ten years ago, company V.P. George Barrett told Coastal Connection NSB was building with wood, just like its competition. But as wind-related codes got tougher, the company took on the challenge not just to meet the code, but to go beyond it. Today, Barrett says, “I tell customers that the code is just a minimum. I’ll build to the minimum if that’s all the budget allows; but I offer them the chance to build something much stronger.” Even concrete block doesn’t satisfy Barrett: when you see windborne debris testing of a block wall, he says, “the 2x4 blasts right through the blocks where the cores are hollow. With a concrete wall, the projectile shatters, and you can’t even tell where it hit the wall.” Barrett took Coastal Connection on a walk-through of a current beachfront project on South Atlantic Avenue in New Smyrna Beach — a teardown of an old wooden A-frame house, and the construction of a new poured concrete house. The 8-inch-thick reinforced concrete walls were built with a conventional forming system, while the floors were formed with a post-tensioned ICF system. Only the roof framing is wood; the low-slope trusses have 2x6 top and bottom chords, and the roof is insulated with Icynene spray foam.

Rising like a concrete castle from the dunes, dunes, the house has a rock-solid feel (top); the upper-floor window’s will offer a royal view of the open Atlantic and the white sand beach (second from top), while the garage floor level, built into the dune, offers bomb-shelter-like security against high winds. Intermediate floor systems are foam-insulated ICF construction, with post-tensioning cables sufficient for a 36-foot clear span (second from bottom). The roof insulation is airtight, low-density spray foam (bottom). The airtight roof insulation and the thermal mass of the concrete give the house a head start on energy efficiency: even under construction and with no air conditioning, the house felt cool on an 80-degree day in March. And the the home’s spectacular beach views will come with a relatively tolerable risk for the owners: despite its 120-mph design wind speed, Exposure B location, the house will be far more secure in case of hurricane than its wood-framed neighbors on the beach.