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Building the Ultimate Safe House 289

Hugh Pickens writes "Candace Jackson writes that an increasing number of home builders and buyers are looking for a new kind of security: homes equipped to handle everything from hurricanes, tornadoes and hybrid superstorms like this week's Sandy, to man-made threats ranging from home invasion to nuclear war. Fueling the rise of these often-fortresslike homes are new technologies and building materials—which builders say will ultimately be used on a more widespread basis in storm- and earthquake-threatened areas. For example, Alys Beach, a 158-acre luxury seaside community on Florida's Gulf Coast, has earned the designation of Fortified...for safer living® homes and is designed to withstand strong winds. The roofs have two coats of limestone and exterior walls have 8 inches of concrete, reinforced every 32 inches for 'bunkerlike' safety, according to marketing materials. Other builders are producing highly hurricane-proof residences that are circular in shape with 'radial engineering' wherein roof and floor trusses link back to the home's center like spokes on a wheel, helping to dissipate gale forces around the structure. Deltec, a North Carolina–based builder, says it has never lost a circular home to hurricanes in over 40 years of construction. But Doug Buck says some 'extreme' building techniques don't make financial sense. 'You get to a point of diminishing returns,' says Buck. 'You're going to spend so much that honestly, it would make more sense to let it blow down and rebuild it.''

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