Storm Shelter Surge

March 22, 2019
In Tennessee's new and existing home markets, homebuyers and owners increasingly want storm shelters included in their home's design.
Photo: Unsplash/Ehud Neuhaus

In Tennessee's new and existing home markets, homebuyers and owners increasingly want storm shelters included in their home's design.

Following damaging natural disasters, home builder David Patton says he's noticed an uptick in buyer demand for storm shelters. “I have five homes under construction. Three of the homes have a tornado shelter,” he said, telling The Tennessean that in previous years, roughly 10 to 15 percent of buyers wanted a shelter. Now, says Patton, that share has more than doubled.

Instead of setting aside space for a shelter that will be used only during emergencies, most homeowners want them to function as usable space inside the house. Walk-in closets and pantries are popular choices, said Trey Pettis, founder of Pettis Builders. Behind the wood paneling or drywall, there could be 10-inch-thick concrete reinforced with steel rebar in the walls, floor and ceiling, he said. "When you walk in, you have no idea. It looks like a pantry or a closet,” he said. “Theoretically, the home could be destroyed around you and you’re still safe,” said Pettis.

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