Fire Resistant Homes Don’t Cost More, Report Says

After a record-breaking wildfire season, California’s Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise and left a burn scar that encompassed over 150,000 acres. That fire became the deadliest fire in California's history after it killed at least 85 people. The blaze has destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings, more structures than the state's other seven worst wildfires combined. Today, one-third of all U.S. homes are in the wildland-urban interface, the area where flammable vegetation and homes meet or intermingle.

According to a new report, homes in wildfire-prone areas around the U.S. could be built to better withstand blazes without increasing the cost of construction. The research by Headwaters Economics and the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety found that fire-plagued communities could curb damage and save lives using standard techniques and materials while also conforming to the International Wildland-Urban Interface Code.

To identify where the cost of constructing to a wildfire-resistant building code differs from typical construction, this study priced new construction expenses for a three-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot, single-story, single-family home representative of wildland-urban interface building styles in southwest Montana. The typical home was assumed to have an asphalt shingle roof, wood siding, dual-pane windows and a wood deck. Wildfire-resistant materials were selected to comply with wildfire-resistant building codes. Costs were derived from RSMeans, a database that averages material and labor pricing from hundreds of U.S. cities and includes materials, labor and contractor overhead and profit.

Build With Strength, a coalition led by NRMCA that promotes fire-safe concrete building systems, can help leverage research to help place more concrete. To learn more about these programs or for more information on how local resilience policies can help you, contact Tien Peng at or 206-913-8535.

National Ready Mixed Concrete Association