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What You Need to Know about Building a Storm Shelter: An Interview with Ric Rhodd of Hausner's Precast Concrete Products Inc.

By Ric Rhodd

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Our company was founded in 1954 by Gene Hausner. He utilized plywood forms for septic tank production and had the capacity to make 2 per day. All of the concrete was mixed by hand and wheel barrowed over to the form. The concrete was then placed in the form by using buckets. In 1974 Allen Hausner, the second to oldest son, bought back into the company and began the process of expansion. The eldest son, John Hausner, returned to the company in 1975 and our first storm shelter was produced.

We progressed to enclosed shop buildings, overhead cranes for stripping and production as well as continuing to upgrade our truck fleets. We currently can produce 175 shelters per week as well as septic tanks, aerobic tanks, commercial grease traps, car wash pits, cattle feeders and many other products! We are currently in the fourth generation of management.

What are some important questions to ask a contractor before beginning the process of building a storm shelter?

When a homeowner decides to have a storm shelter installed it is important to do a little research before selecting a contractor. Of course the Better Business Bureau is a good source of information. It is also valuable to know how long the company has been in business. Many companies pop up after a big storm and then are gone within a couple of years. Shelters come in several different configurations including above ground, below ground, back yard installation and garage installation. Homeowners need to decide which type fits their family best. Possible considerations include size of backyard, presence of a garage, and whether handicap accessibility is needed.

If you could, please list the basic steps involved in the storm shelter building process.

All of our shelters are precast, meaning we pour them in our shops versus pouring them on-site at a customer's house. We design the shelter then submit the drawing to a certified engineer. They review our drawing and compare our concept to the existing standards to ensure that we meet or exceed the current standards. They also do buoyancy calculations to ensure the unit will stay placed in the ground in the presence of rain and/or groundwater. Once we have the unit signed off on, we can build forms and go into production.

What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to designing/building storm shelters?

There are many challenges to production including the concrete mix design, the actual mixing of the concrete including staying within a window of time for placement in the form, rebar placement and finishing the final product. While we don't consider this a complex process, it is important to do it correctly. Temperature and moisture variances are constantly monitored and adjustments are made to the mixing and placing process.

What is your ideology when designing/building a storm shelter?

It is important to us to be an industry leading company. To that effect, we continue to improve our products as new technology surfaces and implement beneficial changes such as chemical additives. We also try to make available a top notch product that is affordable for the consumer. Potential buyers should always feel comfortable asking producers how long they have been in business, are they a member of the Better Business Bureau, do they make their own products, do they offer a warranty and if so, how long is it, what is covered and is it transferrable. It is also becoming more relevant to be a member of a professional association such as the American Tornado Shelter Association or equivalent.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

We can be reached either by phone M-F, 7am-5pm or through our website anytime.

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About The Author

Ric Rhodd is a Sales Executive at Hausner's Precast Concrete Products Inc.

Phone: 918-352-3479

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