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As more wildfires continue to appear in the West, builders are trying to figure out ways to construct homes that could end up being potentially fireproof. Robert Balzebre built his three-story Hollywood Hills home without vents or roof overhangs to avoid embers from being trapped. The home also has outside steel staircases, ipe hardwood decking that naturally resists fire, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows tempered to withstand temperatures up to 450 degrees.

Balzebre bought the house in 2014 and looked to transform it into a showplace not only eye-catching and modern that takes full advantage of its hilltop location, but one that is more fire safe. That led him to designer and builder Abeer Sweis, who accepted the challenge.

Safety comes at a cost. Tempered glass costs 20 percent more, and fire-rated wood can cost twice as much as conventional, she said. But at a time of record real-estate valuations and an estimate of $4.5 million that Balzebre said he received on his 2,489-square-foot property, it becomes affordable.

Besides being protected from fire with highly fire-resistant materials, Sweis said she went to lengths to make sure the house was fully sealed with no gaps. It doesn't help that the house is close between two older houses with lots of exposed wood. But Sweis remains confident about how it will hold up in a fire. She said her firm designed another house north of Los Angeles in the rural community of Ojai, one of the areas hit by a fire last December that claimed 1,063 homes and other structures. It survived.

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