Wesson family getting new Styrofoam home

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 14, 2002

WESSON — A spacious walk-in cooler is being built on RussellCircle, but it won’t be used to store food.

Brad Turner says the 2,400 square-foot house he is building forLinnie Dillard is one of the most energy efficient homes on themarket because of the use of Styrofoam.

“It really is like a big cooler,” said Turner. “We built one inJackson and sealed it up on a cool morning when it was about 60degrees and the inside of the house stayed that cool the whole timewe were working on it, and that was in July.”

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Sheets of Styrofoam line the outside walls and roof of the home.The Styrofoam on the walls has an R40 value, while the roof hasR45, which compares to a normal rating of R13 for insulation, saidTurner.

He said the Styrofoam also seals the house well, even to thedegree that some people believe Styrofoam houses are too airtight.

“It doesn’t’ have near the cracks and leaks that a normal househas, so it doesn’t let air leak in,” said Turner, who is majoringin construction engineering at University of SouthernMississippi.

After two years at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Turnerbegan working in construction and has worked on several Styrofoamhouses, which he says seems to be catching on throughoutMississippi.

Once completed, the house will be so energy efficient that itwill only need a small heating and cooling unit.

“The air conditioner man said the smallest they had was a oneand a half ton and that was probably a little too big,” saidTurner, adding that most houses need a four and a half tonunit.

Dillard is excited about how much money she will save on heatingand cooling costs with her new home. She’s also impressed that theconstruction costs are the same as any other style home.

“I’m thrilled about it. It’s going to be quite a bigdifference,” said Dillard, who lives in a trailer in front of thenew house right now.

She will be joined in the Styrofoam home by her daughter,Natalie Miller. They will share the four bedroom, three bath housecomplete with kitchen living room and utility room.

The completion of the house this summer will be a dream cometrue for Dillard, who lived most of her adult life in a trailer.She and her husband, the late Ernie Dillard, had planned to buildyears ago.

“He became ill, so we put it off for a while,” said Mrs.Dillard.

She revisited the idea of building earlier this year whentalking with Turner, who is a friend of her grandson, ShaunCrapps.

Turner designed the house to Dillard’s specifications and sentthe information to a company specializing in Styrofoam homes inAva, Mo.

“They called me about two weeks later and I went up there withmy truck and trailer and picked up the whole house and brought itback,” said Turner about the dozens of Styrofoam sheets made to hisspecifications.

The sheets are a few inches thick with metal beams serving asreinforcements. The 23-foot roof panels weigh around 300 poundseach, said Turner.

“It’s all pretty lightweight and it’s passed all the necessarytests, like the 200 mph hurricane test,” he said.

Turner said what he likes most about Styrofoam houses is howeasy they are to build. In just four days of work, he was able topour the slab and frame up the house inside and outside.

“The construction part of it is about as simple as it can get,”he said. “Three people can put it up. It doesn’t take a bigcrew.”

Now that he is out of college for the summer, Turner plans todevote more time to the project. The house will be finished offwith sheet rock walls inside and brick outside.

“When this house is completed, nobody will ever know thedifference. They won’t be able to tell that this is not like anormal house,” said Turner.