ABC7's Eric Horng visited a company in west suburban Naperville that specializes in making fortified concrete walls. From the outside, the homes look like any other built of traditional materials, but in a tornado, the company says, these houses could be a lifesaver.
"Imagine if you can, when you are in a wind event, and you and have a garage door. Once you lose that garage door, and that blows off, the rest of your wood structure becomes a sail," said Brian Bock, vice president of Dukane Precast.
With their sandwich-like panel design, Dukane's fortified concrete walls, according to the company, are 75 percent stronger than traditional concrete construction, enough to withstand an EF-5 tornado.
The key, says Dukane, is its ability to pre-make the walls at its factory, as opposed to traditional concrete, which is set in place.
"We can control the strengths in a controlled environment . Really, that's the key," said Bock. "And we use a much denser mix that has a whole host of other benefits in addition to the strength."
The company says, for a single-family home, their concrete exterior walls and ceiling will cost about 10 percent more than traditional construction.
But, the larger the structure, the smaller the price difference.
Officials at North Central College in Naperville say the school's combination rec center and residence hall, which was built by Dukane, actually cost less than traditional construction.
"It gives us something to look forward to as we build other buildings on campus, is to look at precast as an option, how we can integrate it into our other campus buildings," said North Central's Mike Hudson.
In addition the storm protection, Dukane says its materials also make homes more energy efficient and fire-resistant. Homeowners might also save a little money on their home insurance bill.