In the Nashville area in recent years, we’ve been overwhelmed by severe weather including deadly tornadoes and historic flooding. In such events, we all want our homes to be safe havens, but without some preparation, sometimes that just might not be possible.

When you meet with Arthur Rutenberg Homes, we’ll go over all the features and amenities you want in your custom luxury home, but the design process is a good opportunity to also think about safety features you’d like to include to ensure your home is always a shelter from a storm. It might cost a little more up front to include some of these necessities, but the peace of mind it will grant you is priceless.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning your custom home:

1. Consider a generator: You can get a small portable generator, fairly cheaply, that will keep the electricity and water running. However, if you’re willing to spend a few thousand dollars on your generator, you can buy and install an automatic standby generator that will automatically kick on when the power goes out. It will require a connection to a natural gas or propane line, but the money it will save you by keeping food from spoiling, preventing flooding when the sump pump goes out, and keeping air flow moving through the house to avoid mold growth, will more than pay for the cost to install it. Installing such a generator can also save you money on your homeowners’ insurance; some companies will give a five percent discount to homes with generators.
2. Protect appliances and fixtures: L-brackets, child safety locks, and V-hooks can keep appliances, cupboards, and wall decorations secure in the event of a tornado or other severe weather event. We hope it never comes to that, but if a strong storm did damage your home, you would be safer without such things flying around the house. Outside, have your builder or other professionals attach the water heater and furnace as securely as possible to the home. Ensure that proper tie-downs are installed around the house and any outdoor storage like a shed.

3.Pick the right windows: Newer glass is impact-resistant, making it much less likely to shatter in a severe storm. Go for the strongest windows you can find when building your custom home.

4. Plan trees very carefully: On the one hand, tall trees around your property create a natural windbreak if high winds come up and threaten your home. On the other hand, they can create another hazard if they’re not properly maintained. Be sure to trim trees and remove broken branches when the weather is calm, and clean your gutters so that they’re not weighed down by leaves if they have to handle a lot of rain.

5. Choose the right insurance: Most homeowners’ insurance doesn’t automatically cover flooding or sewage backup, but you can add these to your policy. Go ahead and plan for both of these when applying for insurance for your new home; they don’t cost a lot extra, but flood insurance takes some time to kick in, and it would be better to have it right off the bat than to have to worry about not having it in the event of a flood. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency fund to cover anything that your insurance doesn’t or to pay your deductible. And don’t forget to keep an updated inventory with photos of everything in your house in case you need to file a claim. You can keep it in an email folder or a cloud-based server for easy access from anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about filing paperwork or keeping a computer safe.

Once you move into your custom home, there are extra precautions you can take. Put together an emergency kit with a battery-operated radio, flashlight, and extra batteries. Prepare for storms with extra groceries, especially non-perishables, and bottled water. Keep your cell phone fully charged and your car’s gas tank full in case you have to leave. Learn how to turn off the electricity and water to your house and do so before leaving the house in a storm. Don’t keep loose items like gardening tools in your yard, and don’t store flammable or hazardous materials under the house.

If you’re building a custom home you want to enjoy it for years and decades to come. Taking these extra precautions from the get-go ensures that your home will be a safe place to live for a lifetime.