Lake and Home Interview

Filed in Lakeside Living by on August 9, 2014

Summertime at the family cabin is typically a dream vacation. But the threat of severe weather can quickly turn that dream into a nightmare with the absence of a basement for shelter from the storm. We recently spoke with Cory Budke of Budke Excavating and Lifesaver in Fergus Falls about his upstart business building above ground storm shelters.

LifesaverTell us how you got into the storm shelter business.

I’ve been in the excavating business for eight years and through my work, I have observed a large number of cabins and summer retreats are built – or being built – as one-floor dwellings without the safety of a basement in the case of inclement weather. After researching the storm shelter construction businesses in Tornado Alley, I decided to take the business to a different level. In the Spring of 2014, we introduced Lifesaver, a business providing steel storm shelters that are easily anchored to an existing foundation – adjacent to a garage or the corner of a home or cabin.

Where did you look for inspiration in your shelter design?

The plans for the Lifesaver were gleaned from existing, tried and true, structures built throughout Tornado Alley. We intentionally chose a design that can be added to an existing structure, and anchored to the slab or foundation.

What was the driving factor for you in looking at building above ground solutions?

A There really seemed to be a need for something like this. There are so many cabins without basements around our lakes area, as well as numerous slab-grade homes. Many people don’t want steps and don’t want to deal with a basement. Initially, thinking like an excavator, I explored the option of in-ground storm shelters. However, after doing some digging – figuratively speaking – it became obvious that Minnesota’s extreme temperature swings would lead to moisture and mold. While being below ground may seem to be the safest and best option to some, above ground storm shelters have many advantages, including being handicap accessible. Steel fabrication also allows the ability to flex as needed, versus concrete that could crack and, ultimately require replacement.

Can you tell us a bit about the shelters themselves?

The Lifesaver above ground storm shelters are four-feet by six-feet and made completely of steel. There is one door leading in, and swings open to the inside to help deal with storm debris falling outside of the door and blocking the exit. The door has three slide latches in various places along the door to secure once inside. The 2,300 pound metal box is rated to withstand EF5 level winds, or one that packs wind speeds from 261 to 318 miles per hour.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this safe house is rated for six people sitting. But if necessary, these structures could easily fit many more individuals if they remain standing. Each Lifesaver shelter is enamel painted, inside and out, to prevent corrosion. As an upgrade, bench seats can be installed; however, you could easily set a few lawn chairs or folding chairs inside for additional comfort. Two fresh air vents are also installed on each unit, designed in a manner to allow airflow.

Q How is business so far?

A We are still in the startup phase with plans to set up shop in Fergus Falls. I’ve already had a lot of people following my business and lots of interest around the lakes area. Because of their versatility, I expect interest to grow. These unites can also be used as a safe room, protecting families against home invasions; in addition to being a fallout shelter. Regardless of their use, my ultimate hope is to keep people safe and allow families to thoroughly enjoy their time away – rain or shine.

by Jenny Holmes, a writer from Nisswa.



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