N.C. company builds storm-resistant homes on Coast

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Some Gulf Coast residents are preparing for future hurricane seasons by rebuilding with the help of a North Carolina company that specializes in storm-resistant homes.

Security Building Group LLC, a Sneads Ferry, N.C. company, specializes in building Atlantic Coast homes of concrete using removable, reusable aluminum forms, elevated on concrete pilings.

John Watts, a dentist, is rebuilding his waterfront home in Bayou View which he lost to Katrina. Watts said he found the company after researching ways to effectively rebuild.

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“Dr. Watts tracked me down and initially asked if I would come down and build him a house,” said David Pfanmiller, managing partner with Security Building. “I said no. Just economically, there was no way I could. But based on his persistence, we came down and took a look at this market.”

The company now has another house, plus two in the design phase and two in the “discussion phase,” Pfanmiller said. “We’ve had two informational seminars in Dr. Watts’ lobby. At the last one, we had 75 people show up.”

Watts’ home is elevated nearly 19 feet on concrete pilings that are driven 40 feet below the ground.

Watts figured another Katrina-level hurricane would leave him ripping out some cabinets and drying and cleaning up instead of having to start over.

Watts said this type construction costs about 15-20 percent more than wood frame construction but he thinks he’ll make up at least that amount quickly in reduced utility and insurance costs.

“I think it will pay for itself. I’d rather pay the money toward the mortgage and equity than give it to insurance. In the long run, this house may only be break-even along those lines,” Watts said.