The latest episode of “100 Day Dream Home” could actually involve a matter of life and death.
Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt always manage to pull off the amazing feat of building a unique dream home in 100 days or less, but on the episode “Hurricane Safe Haven,” the project is especially urgent: Ross, Erika, and their two teenage children have relocated from New York to Florida, and are currently living in a rickety rental home with a fenced yard and 10 chickens.
“In Florida, any structure that’s made out of wood, during hurricane season you pretty much have to vacate the premises and go somewhere safer,” says Ross.
“With hurricane season only four months away, we’ll have to evacuate,” says Erika. “The kids are scared.”
“They need a secure home for their family to call their own,” agrees Brian.
Erika and Ross have a great start on their project before the Kleinschmidts even arrive. For $67,000, they’ve purchased a beautiful, 3-acre, pine-covered lot in Ruskin, FL, right near Tampa Bay.
They have a good idea of exactly what they want: four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large main suite with a walk-in closet, an office, and a three-car garage. They would also like an open floor plan and a kitchen with an island. Their budget: $365,000.
But first and foremost, their new home must be absolutely safe and secure—able to sustain even the strongest hurricane winds and heaviest rains.
After a good deal of thought and planning, Brian and Mika figure out how to give them exactly what they want, and then some. Here’s how they pull it off, along with plenty of take-home tips on how to build a home that’ll stay put, no matter what the weather.
Stick to one story if you plan to stay forever
While Mika takes the couple on a tour of inspiration homes, they come across a charming modern farmhouse. Erika stops her before they enter.
“This is our forever home. I don’t want stairs, really, when we’re old. So one story,” she says.
She’s thinking ahead: Consider the best floor plan for both now and later.
Light floors = lower maintenance
Also while they are touring inspiration homes, they come across a home with flooring that appears to be a deep, rich walnut. While it looks elegant, Erika immediately rules it out, knowing that scratches, dust, and debris show up much more readily on dark floors than they do on light floors, especially if the light floors are of variegated color.
Remove dead trees
The first step in the build involves clearing the lot.
“First, you’ve got to get some trees out of the way,” says Brian.
Easier said than done.
“Unfortunately, in Florida, it’s the lightning capital of the world,” he continues. “These pine trees are lightning rods. A lot of them get hit by lightning, and they die.”
But not all trees will be removed.
“They fell in love with this lot because they liked the trees,” Brian says. “So we’re going to keep plenty of natural trees here.”
Use cinderblocks up to the rafters
While some of the homes that the Kleinschmidts build have cinderblocks only halfway up the walls, on this home, they go all the way.
“One of the biggest things we talked about is that you guys want a super safe house,” Brian tells the couple. “So this thing is going to be cinderblock all the way up to the roof.”
It’s hard, heavy construction work, and the builders (Brian included) know that they’re going to have sore backs for a while.
But as he says, it’s definitely worth it.
“When it comes to hurricanes, cinderblocks are what hold up to the elements the best,” he adds.
Truss the roof to keep it in place
“Trusses are going to be hurricane-strapped to the house,” explains Brian. “This roof is not going to come off. Every 24 inches, these trusses are strapped down with hurricane straps.”
Now that’s reassuring!
Impact windows won’t shatter
“We’re going to put impact windows in here, so even if one of these pine trees got uprooted and smashed into a window, nothing will happen. You’ll be able to sleep safe and sound,” says Brian. “These will even withstand 200 mph winds.”
Yes, there’s even hurricane-tolerant landscaping
With the landscaping, “We’re doing something a little bit different,” says Brian. “We’re doing a combination of pine straw and peanut grass.”
Peanut grass, he notes, is a good-looking, low-maintenance ground cover that prevents future erosion, and it will actually be serving a purpose here.
“With hurricane season right around the corner,’ he adds, “this peanut grass can withstand those heavy rains and not flood the yard away.”
There’s a price to pay, though. It will take 600 plants to cover the front yard, and that means 600 holes to dig.
“The endless hole digging continues … and continues,” Brian grouses.
Nevertheless, it’s worth it.
Mix dark colors with light
Mika is a little concerned when Erika says she wants her home to be both “light and airy,” but also “dark and moody.”
How can she combine the two opposite vibes?
She finds the solution in the kitchen. She designs it with black lower cabinets, white upper cabinets, and countertops with veins of gray.
“The kitchen is my favorite part of the whole house,” says Erika.
Use the outdoors for indoor inspiration
When she’s deciding on colors for accent walls in the primary bedroom and the office, Mika looks to the pines outside, knowing that the family has bought the property because they loved the trees.
“This green matches the lot. They are surrounded by beautiful trees,” says Mika, as the paint glides on. Ross and Erika later declare that they love the color Mika has selected.
Chickens like their homes to be safe and sturdy, too
Brian and Mika aren’t about to forget their 10 feathered family members, so they use some of the money they put aside for the ideal chicken coop. Then, they visit an expert to find out: “What do chickens need?”
“They like space,” the expert tells them. “They like to forage and look for bugs, and when they can’t do that, they need a safe [place], where they can be secure when they’re not out walking around.”
Mika observes that chickens like many of the same things that people do: They want their homes to be spacious, and outfitted for indoor/outdoor living and security.
On day 99 of the build, the Kleinschmidts stay up late, placing furniture, rugs, and accessories just so. On day 100, when the family comes to see their new home for the first time, Erika breaks down into tears of joy. It’s a hurricane-safe success!
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