Times Daily News

Still standing

Central man's building panels pass earthquake test

By Ty West
Staff Writer

H.H. "Hoot" Haddock, of Central, says he's pleased with a recent test of his Thermasave building panels to see if a house built with them could withstand a simulated earthquake. JIM HANNON/TimesDaily

Two weeks ago, H.H. "Hoot" Haddock took his Thermasave building panels to Cincinnati to see if he could build a house that could withstand a simulated earthquake.

Maybe the real test should have been whether the earthquake test machine could withstand the house.

"They shook the heck out of that thing, and in the final shake, the shaking-table started to break, so the lab put a stop to the test," said Marc Spangenberg, of Louisiana, who witnessed the test.

Haddock, of Central, who has been perfecting his panel building system for more than 20 years, was pleased with the results.

"The highest natural force that has ever been recorded is 4 G's (G-force), and they were shaking it much harder than that and the house was not damaged in any way," Haddock said.

In order to have his panels tested, Haddock had to travel to Cincinnati and construct a two-story house on top of a shaking device at a laboratory.

Haddock and the crew began assembling the house Jan. 17. It was ready to be tested within 48 hours.

Rachel Jagoda, of the Federation of American Scientists, which funded the test, said Haddock's building system performed remarkably.

"We were searching for a building that could withstand an earthquake with only minor, structural damage," Jagoda said. "But the Thermasave system survived the earthquake and remained entirely undamaged."

Jagoda, who is the project manager for Housing Technology at the FAS, said her organization began testing new building methods to find a system that could be used in areas of the world like Afghanistan, which have high building costs and are prone to natural disasters.

"The technology is very important for the developing world, because it has material that can go through trauma without causing damage and bringing hardship on the family," Jagoda said.

The Discovery Channel was also on hand at the earthquake test and filmed 16 hours worth of footage, which will be featured on the cable network later this year.

Haddock, who owns International Haddock Systems Network Inc., Central, said his panels are made of polystyrene foam (just like drinking cups), concrete embedded with cellulose fibers and plastic, and they can withstand more than just earthquakes.

"My panels were used to build a home for the U.S. Olympic skiers in Alaska, and they can withstand 200 mph winds," Haddock said.

In addition to the safety advantages of the system, a study by Builder Magazine concluded that Haddock's system could save up to 75 percent on utility bills.

It was the hurricane-force winds, many earthquakes and high utility bills of Alaska that led Haddock to develop Thermasave.

Haddock lived in Alaska for 17 years while working on the Alaskan oil pipeline. He explored a safer and cheaper way to build houses.

"The first house I built was my daughter's in Alaska in 1984," Haddock said. "3M had worked with me on the project, and they told me I should take it nationwide."

Now, Haddock's technology has gone worldwide, with houses using the panels in Mexico, England, the Dominican Republic and Italy.

Haddock has worked with scientists from across the country to test his panels, and they have been tested for earthquake, wind and fire resistance. The building system has also been certified by the International Code Council.

Haddock is also sharing his technology with the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Florence native has weekly conference calls with top building scientists from the top universities in the country.

"I'm a high school graduate, and I'm on the phone with a dozen Ph.Ds," Haddock said. "The scientists think that's pretty funny."

Haddock's system has been used to build thousands of homes and commercial buildings.

Recently, his technology was used on the new Macedonia Church of Christ building and the Cherokee Public Library.

Haddock plans to move ISHN into Florence's industrial park, and he is working with Spangenberg to possibly use Thermasave panels to build Habitat for Humanity homes in the New Orleans area.

Ty West can be reached at 740-5720 or ty.west@timesdaily.com.