Shelter from the storm

Storm Safe Homes are designed to endure the effects of storms, hurricanes and tornados.

For Kristin Beall, home safety begins with home construction.

The third generation home builder who has spent most of her life in Florida had never experienced a hurricane until 2004. After spending a few days in a walk-out basement shelter, Beall started putting together a plan to make the homes she builds as safe and as storm-resistant as possible.

Thus her new venture: Storm Safe Homes. Beall is working with companies like Owens Corning (roofing, insulation), Better Bilt (windows), Window Armour (storm shutters), Color Wheel (paint), Master Security Doors and 84 Lumber to make homes that can withstand winds up to 150 mph. She completed the model in February and has several homes in various stages of construction in and around Eustis, Fla., which is in the center of the state.

Beall has also partnered with the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to build the first “Fortified for Safer Living” community, where everything from the houses to the privacy fencing to the mail boxes are engineered to withstand high winds. (Prices for lot and home start are in the $220,000 range.)

“Most of the time when people move into a home, they’re going to change the lighting fixtures or the faucets, but you can’t go back and re-engineer the roof or the walls,” said Beall. “The strengthening has to be done during the construction process.”

Storm Safe Homes range in size from 1,300 to 2,000 square feet and contain the following features: 130 mph impact resistant shingles, 150 mph impact resistant ridge vents, 130 mph impact resistant roof trusses and 98 mph impact resistant paint. All houses also contain a “safe room” designed to withstand winds up to 250 mph.

“Nothing could ever be totally hurricane or tornado resistant, but we’re trying to do the best we can to provide safe homes at the best price,” said Beall, a former Miss Florida, whose grandfather founded the family business 50 years ago. “People are still living in the homes my grandfather built 50 years ago, and I hope people will be living in my houses 50 years from now.”

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