It was not a fair fight.
One of the houses had been battered by winds at least 15 times, some gusts reaching 135 mph - the wind speed of a category 3 hurricane.
The other house was brand new. They appeared exactly the same, made from blueprints from a home in central Illinois.
As the wind speed increased Tuesday at the Institute for Business & Home Safety research center, pieces of the houses started breaking away.
First to snap off were shingles. Vinyl siding wavered and then ripped off. A window blew out.
Officials halted the test - modeled after a real storm in Lubbock, Texas - opened the doors on the two houses. Opening the door increased the pressure inside the unfinished houses.
The test resumed and as the wind speed increased it pushed the wall out and the floors up. When winds reached 96 mph - the wind strength of a category 2 hurricane - one of the houses broke free.
Pieces crashed into the center's concrete walls. Others blew out the facility's back door into the Chester County countryside. It was difficult to tell the pile of rubble was once a house.
The house left standing and largely undamaged was the older model - the one with metal straps connecting the floors, walls, and foundations. The shingles were nailed in place rather than stapled and the door opened outward, making it harder to be caved in by the wind.
The new house was constructed to typical building standards. The fortified house costs between $2,000 and $3,000 more, money institute officials said could be the difference between life and death when a storm hits.
"It does not cost a lot to keep your family, your possessions, your community safe," said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Institute for Business & Home Safety.
The dramatic demonstration before more than 100 members of the media, the insurance industry, plus fire and safety officials, showed off the potential of this one-of-a-kind facility in Chester County.
No only can the facility make wind, it can create fire and hail damage in a variety of circumstances.
But what sets this facility apart, is its ability to do full-scale testing. Other places have tested roofs or walls. The Richburg facility can test two houses side-by-side on a turntable, spinning them around for various tests. The wind tunnel area can accommodate up to nine 2,300 square-foot houses at one time.
Tuesday's test is the second time researchers have huffed and puffed and blew a house down. During tests of the 105 wind turbines, a traditionally built house crumpled when winds blew in the front door. A video of the trial is a prized possession on Rochman's Blackberry.
The $40 million facility was funded by insurance companies. The facility's purpose is to understand how things fail and find better methods of construction, or better ways to make materials. The result should bring safer houses for consumers and houses that can sustain extreme weather, resulting in less damage. As damage claims drop, insurance companies should be able to lower policy premiums, institute officials said.
Karl Jaccobson of Liberty Mutual Insurance came from Boston to view the demonstration. Like most of the insurance representatives present, he has seen the results of weather damage. Tuesday was his first chance to see it happen live.
"I didn't think the house was going to go," he said. "The pressure difference means everything."
The ability to test and film the tests is one of the key assets of the facility. Officials hope the ability to not only read the test data but to see it happen will result in changes to building standards and where homes and businesses are built.
Officials with the institute still have some equipment to install and several other events to demonstrate its potential. Testing of roofing materials should start next year.
About the tunnel
Facts about the Institute for Business & Home Safety research center in Richburg:
The wind tunnel has 105 fans, each capable of running at 140 mph.
When the fans are turned on the facility draws 30 megawatts of power, equal to the power needed to serve 9,000 homes.
The testing chamber has half an acre under roof, the equivalent of 4 1/2 basketball courts.
The facility has a 750,000 gallon water tank, greater than the capacity of an Olympic swimming pool.
Richburg was chosen because of its climate, the proximity to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, its rural location and access to electric power.