Oregon builder planning disaster-proof concrete homes

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MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (KPTV) — A local businessman and his sons are building what could be the home of the future for disaster prone areas.

“This is going to revolutionize the way America builds homes,” Jim Jenkins, owner of CMJ Systems said.

In McMinnville, Jenkins is taking a synthetic concrete technology used for fire department training facilities and turning it into something you can build a home out of.

“This house isn’t going to burn. The contents in it won’t burn. Simple as that,” he said.

Concrete houses aren’t anything new. A Washington man recently rode out the Okanogan Creek Complex Fire in his concrete dome house, from the comfort of his own living room. It was built in 1999 for a disaster like this.

“I didn’t know how it was going to work out but I figured I was safe inside the building. It was cool and well protected with the concrete and everything,” homeowner John Belles said.

Jenkins has built a home out of his synthetic concrete product in Louisiana. He said his homes will not only look good, but they’ll be even stronger than conventional concrete homes, built to withstand fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and potentially earthquakes.

“The rigidity, the strength of this is unparalleled,” he said.

There is still testing to be done and Jenkins said his product is in the process of being rated for withstanding high winds. He’s confident it will be one of the strongest products out there.

“The slab is either made out of these panels or poured concrete. The walls, the roof, all made with these panels. Nothing of that structure will burn,” he said.

It’s a way of building homes that could save lives and the precious things inside.

Jenkins said his product costs 15 to 20 percent more than a conventional wood home.