BUILDING AFFORDABLE HOMES IN A HOT REAL estate market seems difficult enough, but building them to withstand a Category 3 hurricane seems nutty and impossible. “It's a challenge,” says Mount Dora, Fla.–based builder Kristin Beall. But she says it is possible.
To prove it, Beall is building a 59-unit development of small to midsize “Storm Safe Homes” that will be engineered to withstand 130-mile-per-hour winds. “After experiencing the [storms of 2004], I wanted to go one step further than the codes,” she says.
Located 45 minutes from downtown Orlando in Eustis, Fla., the homes will range from 1,250 to 1,900 square feet and will start in the $150s (not including the lot). Each house will have a poured concrete safe room built into a walk-in closet; impact-resistant glass and storm shutters; and out-swing exterior doors to provide greater wind and rain resistance.
The roofs will get extra attention, Beall says. Hip-style roofs will reduce the amount of surface area for the wind to grab, and hurricane straps will hold the roof and the walls together. Self-adhering roof membranes will help prevent leaks, she adds.
A third-generation builder, Beall is the granddaughter of Charlie Johnson, who was known as the “Father of Affordable Housing” in Central Florida, she says. Part of her goal is to carry on that legacy while building these types of homes in vulnerable areas of the country. “I would like my homes to be a prototype for other builders,” she says.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Orlando, FL.