fireproof construction, bombproof techniques, Earth blocks, waterproofing innovations

Unleash Unbeatable Fireproof & Bombproof Construction Secrets

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

Get ready for an extreme education in house construction that tries to defy the forces of nature! Join your host Matt Risinger as he pulls back the fireproof curtain on the bombproof building methods pioneered after the devastating Marshall Fires, Colorado, USA.

Matt’s looking at the extraordinary resilience of compressed Earth blocks – forged from local clay, sand and lime (no Portland cement!). At 2,000 PSI with perlite insulation, these dense beauties are practically indestructible while delivering unreal thermal performance.

See the waterproofing artistry combining masonry rope weeps with strategic through-wall flashing and stainless steel for flawless drainage. See how Italians prioritize longevity through cost-conscious techniques.

But the resilience goes far beyond waterproofing. Matt reveals an arsenal of advanced protective measures like LVL top plates, hurricane straps and the mind-blowing net blow system for unprecedented fire and impact resistance.

From seal pans to window integration, no detail is spared in creating this fortified fortress. And talk about energy efficiency – we’re reaching stratospheric R-values up to 60 in the roof assembly! While not cheap, the cost premium unlocks construction that blends sustainability with bombproof security.

Get ready for the ultimate show home unveiling constructed to laugh at fires, storms and pretty much any threat nature can muster. Steve’s even got the direct connect to the block manufacturer for your feedback!

Whether you’re a builder or just appreciate structures built to last an eternity, let Matt open your eyes to construction’s cutting edge resilience. This fireproof frontier is the future’s blueprint!

Over to you, Matt – bring the heat!

Unleash Unbeatable Fireproof & Bombproof Construction Secrets

Video Transcript

Build shows on the road today coming to you from Superior, Colorado. Boulder’s over this way, Denver’s over that way, and there was a fire that went through here, uh, just a little shy of two years ago called The Marshall fires which absolutely devastated this neighborhood.

Over a thousand homes burned literally all the way down to the foundation in about 6 hours. Homeowners got out with their lives. I don’t believe any lives were lost in this subdivision, but literally over a thousand houses lost like that.

And check this out – here’s some cars side of the job site that were part of the fire, and you can see the melted glass on the window. Holy cow, isn’t that crazy seeing that melted folded glass? This is pretty nuts. Anyways, today’s build show we’re going to be checking out some fire rebuilds. We got lots of tips for fire-resistant construction. We’re also going to be checking out some passive house construction. Got a lot of good stuff today’s build show, let’s get going.

Okay y’all, let’s take a quick tour here. So what you’re looking at here is double wythe masonry, and these compressed Earth blocks that you’re seeing look like brick, but they’re not actually a fired product. They’re literally a compressed product. I’ll show you one when we go on the inside, and so you’ve got uh masons that lay it up kind of like brick on the outside.

They were they lay two courses: an inside course and an outside course. Uh, you know, we’ve been doing this around the world for at least a century now. You would typically see this uh in Mexico and Italy and all kinds of other foreign countries. And then this concrete layer is what they call a bond beam which ties everything together and also gives you a place to put your floor system.

And then, because we’re worried about fire here, we’ve got a closed uh soffit fascia system with an unvented attic. Uh, I mean like I said, this this looks a lot like this house could be built in Mexico or built somewhere else in the world. Let’s go inside. Let me show you one of the compressed blocks and then you’re going to notice the inside construction looks a lot like typical American construction once you get inside.

You’ve got you know normal framed walls, you’ve got I-joists in here, 2×4 interior framing, an LVL that’s been bolted into the uh bond beam so that we can run a floor system. And then they’ve got uh, I’m assuming these are some type of pressure treated bucks that uh the windows have been placed into so that you can actually uh, you know, nail in a normal kind of flanged window on the outside.

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Now here’s one of the compressed Earth blocks. These are made locally here in Colorado. I don’t know the exact dimension but I’m thinking that’s like a 10 in by 4 in maybe, and I was talking to Lisa the owner of the company that makes these. These are made with local clay, uh, local sand, and uh, I want to say like 6 or 8% lime so no Portland cement, and they put this into a compression machine and it’s actually compressing it to about 2,000 PSI.

So the finished block or brick, I guess whatever you want to call it here, is something like 1200 PSI. And then I mentioned earlier that it’s double wythe construction so you’ve got this block here on the inside, you’ve got an outside block, and then in this hollow gap here which is 3 in they’re pouring perlite for a more natural insulation value. And the electricians are working with the masons to set their boxes and then set conduit.

I’m not quite sure what the detail is – why this conduit is kind of sticking out of the top of the wall there – but uh, anyways, that’s the conduit that’s going to bring the wires into these boxes. Fascinating system, isn’t it?

Let’s go in the back of the house here and I’m going to show you a couple details that I thought were interesting too, um, for instance, here’s your weeps at the bottom. They just had a real traditional uh masonry rope so any water that gets in here is going to come down and weep out at that rope. Now the whole outside of the house is going to get an inch and a half of stucco, so a pretty traditional stucco coat on the outside.

There’s a through-wall flashing right here in the center, uh, right above that bond beam there’s a stainless steel flashing that’s about an inch and a half sticking out and that’s going to be the screed that the masons will use, or pardon me, the stucco contractor will use. And then I also saw some different weeps when I was looking from the upstairs out like some tubes that are weeping out there, so the idea being you know if this wall takes out any moisture that it’s going to be able to weep out.

But pretty fascinating building isn’t it you don’t see this in America very often, uh, big thanks to the homeowners uh Mateo and Mel for allowing me to uh film in the house. The homeowners actually are from Mateo from Italy originally and said you know when we build houses in Italy we build them to last we built them for total cost of ownership in mind and Americans tend to build houses just thinking about that house as a stepping stone. 

He was really excited that this was a house that was going to be around for a while that would be comfortable to live in that would have some forgiveness built 

If these windows ever had a leak someday, it would leak into a masonry wall cavity and there’d be nothing to rot and mold in there. I really appreciated his thoughts on that. Also fascinating to see that it’s really not that difficult of a leap really. I mean, these outside walls are different, but the rest of the framing, the rest of the house pretty typical, pretty normal.

You know, uh, he also mentioned the Advantech flooring in particular was awesome because they got some heavy rains as the masons were working. They put that first floor deck in. Oh look, you can see it – some rain coming in right here on the Advantech, and that Advantech has had no problems. Had to use typical flooring, uh, plywood or maybe typical OSB would have had some serious problems.

But here you can see the framed opening here. I’ve got some tapcon screws to uh put these in. It looks like they used some type of waterproofing here, not quite sure what that is, and then they’ve got a sill pan and then they’re installing some outer windows like the neighbors were using as well.

Traditional uh roof system here, just all trusses from BFS. This is pretty interesting though – it looks like an LVL top plate that’s probably bolted down into, I’m assuming, some type of bond beam on the top there. Uh, hurricane straps to hold each one of those down, and then this will be a closed soffit and is going to get a net and blow system. I’m assuming similar to what Chuck had on his house next door.

And then you can see the hole upstairs is pretty darn traditional. Interesting to know, when I was walking in the house earlier with the homeowner Mato, he mentioned that the house next door is being built uh or rebuilt with uh not as much attention to wildfire, and he was worried about it. So he turned these windows into block, uh, glass block windows so that there’d be no issues with fire on this side of the house if there was a problem here.

And then also you can see here if I pull this up, you can see the perlite in there. Uh, Lisa the owner of the block company was telling me that this house on the performance path is rated as an R17 wall assembly, and then I’m assuming this roof could be at least probably R50 or R60 maybe even higher. Pretty awesome, very impressive system. I like it. I mean, it’s definitely different uh than what we would do uh traditionally in American homes, but uh, what a cool system.

I’m not entirely sure on cost on this house, but uh, in talking to the homeowner he was kind of giving me some general cost. He said that the block system here was like $50,000 with a block up. And then he did have some uh additional cost that he wasn’t uh uh totally sure of the pricing, but he’s got some steel lintels that actually doesn’t look like a steel lintel, but he’s got some steel lintels on these headers.

And then for uh aesthetics, he also put some um uh cedar lintels in as well. They look pretty, but that was a kind of a cool touch.

And uh, this is going to be the view from the office space. How cool is that? Pretty amazing to think about this view, and this is exactly the view of where the fires came in when that Marshall fire happened. So to build a house like this and be this solid, not have to think about that fire issue again, pretty impressive.

I’ll put a link to the block manufacturer down here. Uh, I’m curious what your comments are, guys. What do you think about this style of construction? Is something you guys would consider, especially if you’re in a fire-prone area like where these guys are building here in Colorado? Very different here for America, very different for Colorado, but you know, pretty typical for other parts of the world.

In fact, it was kind of funny, he said that the uh uh the masons that built the walls said “Gosh, you’re building a house just like Mexico where I’m from originally. Uh, what an honor to work on your house.” I thought that was a really cool quote from the homeowner, uh, talking about some of the subs that worked on the house.

But anyways, that being said, guys, thanks for taking a tour for me. What a cool project! If you’re not currently a subscriber, hit that subscribe button. We’ve got new content here every Tuesday and every Friday. Follow me on TikTok or Instagram. Otherwise, we’ll see you next time on the Build Show.

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