Tornado-resistant homes with safe room in the works for Trotwood

A local developer will begin building homes in Trotwood designed to withstand tornado-speed winds less than two miles from the path of the EF4 tornado that wreaked havoc on the community earlier this year.

G.F. Bailey began talks with Trotwood about the new homes more than a year ago before the Memorial Day tornadoes that damaged 4,434 properties in Montgomery County and displaced as many as 1,100 households. But the design always included houses able to withstand EF3 tornadoes, said Max Fuller president of G.F. Bailey Build Group.

After the tornadoes, the developers added a safe room that consists of extra steel reinforcement in the frame of one of the interior rooms, he said. G.F. Bailey learned about the "safe room" at a county-sponsored event following the tornadoes.

“With everyone’s recent experience, that’s pretty important,” Fuller said. “…Though tornadoes were not in the picture when we began, these features have become more important in light of our recent tragic tornado experience, as well as the need for replacement housing.”

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Alt Architecture is working on the final drawings for the first four homes to be built in the Sycamore Woods development in more than a decade. Trotwood’s planning commission approved the homes earlier this week on the condition they include more brick for cosmetics, said Jung-Han Chen, Trotwood’s planning and development director.

“We hope to get two to four under roof before winter,” Fuller said. “We will have an option to buy quite a few more lots. We’ve even broached the subject of a long-term relationship with Trotwood, building in several neighborhoods.”

The homes are expected to sell fast, Fuller said. G.F. Bailey has the option to buy more of the 28 available lots in the Sycamore Woods area, said Fred Burkhardt, executive director of the Trotwood Community Improvement Corporation, which currently owns the parcels.

Homes on the other parcels would have options for customization, Fuller said. The layout can be made to ADA standard or as accessible as a buyer wants and both the interior and exterior design could be altered. Atl Architecture is also working to develop different layouts.

G.F. Bailey is also interested in developing the tornado-resistant homes in Drexel and Townview, and the developer can scale up or down the homes to fit the market.

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“If you’re going to build and you’re going to build new, build not only for sustainability, but build for a contingency,” Burkhardt said.

The homes will be made with a pre-fabricated all steel frame and metal roofs, Fuller said. The exterior can be finished with various textures from brick to vinyl siding. The first four will feature three bedrooms, two baths, a two-car attached garage and 1,200 square feet of living space and used as models until they’re sold.

“We’re using metal roofs with a 50 year warranty and we’re using steel infrastructure for strength and we’re trying to make them as long lasting and maintenance free and energy efficient and green as possible. We’re not just building a house, we’re challenging home building,” said Tim Forbess, founder and principal at G.F. Bailey.

The homes are 90 percent recyclable and require almost no maintenance on the exterior, Fuller said.

The metal frame, pre-fabrication model also helps keep the price down, below $150,000 if possible, and helps speed construction, Fuller said.

“It’s right next to Sycamore State Park. So it’s contiguous to walking trails; it’s contiguous to horseback riding, to fishing, to camping, and we think we found this little jewel in the county,” Forbess said.


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Tornado damage by the numbers

1,070: Trotwood properties damaged

4,434: Montgomery County properties damaged

1,100: Families in Montgomery County displaced

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