A bridge designer from Idaho brings his innovative spirit to Mississippi. He and his wife are building their dream home on her family’s land in Hinds County.
The big bad wolf could and puff, but when it’s finished, not even a hurricane could blow one Hinds County couple’s house down.
During his long military career, Dwight Utz took engineering classes for 13 years. To say the award winning bridge designer is ‘handy’ is like using a sledgehammer to drive home a pushpin.
Now, he’s turned his innovative eye East of the Mississippi. Dwight and his wife Sherry Gaddis are building a home that’s a little unusual in our neck of the woods.
Sherry explains, “It’s an insulated concrete form house. So the house will literally be made out of styrofoam, concrete and steel.”
You’re not the only one who thinks these building blocks look like Legos, but there are functions to this form. Energy efficiency, strength and durability top the list.
Dwight lays it out like this, “Specifically the concrete, the concrete itself will be here until we are not here anymore. The stryofoam and stuff, overtime, age 150-200 years, if it’s not taken care of, it’ll start deteriorating, but if it’s taken care of, it’ll last longer than stick.”
Sherry says, “I think it’s going to be the safest (house) in Hinds County.”
ICF houses can cost about 30 percent more to build, but Dwight and Sherry hope to make the money back through lower power bills.
Dwight explains, “For every $100 that you pay for a stick house for electricity, I pay $25.”
No ductwork, no drafts and no termites, either. The roof will be made out of styrofoam, concrete and rebar, and when it’s on, this home should stand strong in winds of up to 250 miles per hour.
Dwight says, “When the hurricane comes, we’ll just sit in the front room and party.”
For such a sturdy structure, its carbon footprint should be light as a feather. That was an important selling point for Sherry.
She says, “Well, I hope that a lot of other people can get inspired by building the same type of house, and knowing that there are other options, other than just having a stick house.”
With luck, Sherry and Dwight will have us over for a housewarming. Storm or not.
Dwight has been planning the ICF house for 4 years. It should be finished less than a year from now.
Former Mississippi gubernatorial candidate and trucker, Robert Gray, helped Dwight and Sherry by hauling in the styrofoam blocks from Douglasville, Georgia. It’s a small world after all.