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There are a number of ways to construct concrete saferooms. The three most common methods are with ICFs, concrete masonry and conventionally cast concrete.

Basic saferoom design with concrete blocks, traditionally cast concrete, and for 4- and 6-inch flat ICF walls and 6-inch waffle grid ICF walls may be found in the FEMA publication Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building A Safe Room Inside Your House, which includes construction plans, materials, and construction cost estimates. It's available from FEMA at no charge by calling toll free (800) 480-2520.

For additional information on ICF safe rooms contact Polysteel at (800) 977-3676 or Lite-Form International at (800) 551-3313.

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs)

ICFs are basically forms for poured concrete walls that stay in place as a permanent part of the wall assembly. Made of foam insulation or other insulating material, they come in two basic configurations: pre-formed interlocking blocks into which the concrete is poured, and as individual panels with plastic connectors that form cavities into which the concrete is poured. All major ICF systems are engineer-designed, code-accepted, and field-proven.

To further help homebuilders and homeowners build economical safe rooms for new and existing homes, the Portland Cement Association, American Polysteel, and Lite-Form International worked together to develop safe room plans specifically for insulating concrete forms (ICFs).

Up until now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) guide for safe room construction included plans for conventionally cast concrete safe rooms and reinforced concrete masonry safe rooms. The new plans include details for 4- and 6-inch flat ICF walls and 6-inch waffle grid ICF walls.

Read more about this project here and view project photos.

For more information about ICFs, click here

Concrete Masonry

Concrete blocks are another quick, relatively simple method for building a saferoom. Water repellant can now be mixed into the block at the plant, and additional sealer and flashing applied on-site. Foam insulation is used as a moisture repellant, while lightweight metal brackets allow space for wiring and plumbing.

Concrete masonry can be used in new construction, on existing homes, and in stand-alone saferooms.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) guide for safe room construction included plans for conventionally cast concrete safe rooms and reinforced concrete masonry safe rooms. The new plans include details for 4- and 6-inch flat ICF walls and 6-inch waffle grid ICF walls.

The FEMA publication Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building A Safe Room Inside Your House, includes construction plans, materials, and construction cost estimates. It's available from FEMA at no charge by calling toll free (800) 480-2520.

Conventionally Cast Concrete

Conventionally cast concrete structures are built with re-usable aluminum or plywood forms to form walls and foundations.

The process is very quick, as all walls can be poured at the same time, with door and window openings cast at the time the walls are poured. Steel reinforcing bar is typically used to strengthen the wall. Some systems even use cast-in-place floors and ceilings. These saferooms may be built in existing homes, new homes or as stand-alone rooms.

Basic saferoom design with concrete blocks, traditionally cast concrete, and for 4- and 6-inch flat ICF walls and 6-inch waffle grid ICF walls may be found in the FEMA publication Taking Shelter From the Storm: Building A Safe Room Inside Your House, which includes construction plans, materials, and construction cost estimates.

It's available from FEMA at no charge by calling toll free (800) 480-2520.

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