Safe Rooms


In Part 1 we told you of an inconvenient truth: that the typical construction of a Safe Room may increase your risk, because of the large number of workers that know of the Safe Room and can leak it to criminal elements. We at ConsultResearch do it differently, so only a very few, trustworthy people know about your Safe Room. Here we tell you how we do it.

Let’s work with an example to understand the features of the Safe Room and the process from start to finish.

The image below shows a simple sketch of a one-story home planned for South Florida. Exterior walls are masonry (i.e., concrete block). At the top right corner of the image is Walk-in Closet 2, in the Master Bedroom area. This closet was sized and located to allow its conversion to the Safe Room. An electrical outlet and a phone outlet were specified just outside the closet at the red dot, and the location of the A/C ceiling vent was specified at the blue rectangle. All of this was done through the owners working with the architect, so as to mask the involvement of ConsultResearch and the eventual conversion to a Safe Room.

When construction and all inspections are completed, our 3-man team of highly trusted craftsmen will take about a week to convert Walk-in Closet 2 into a Safe Room by making the changes detailed below.

  1. All of the closet hardware (rods, shelves, etc.) and all of the drywall on the ceiling and the two interior walls are removed, thereby exposing the studs (they can be either wood or metal).

  2. The electrical and telephone wires from the outlet shown in red above are “fished” from the back of the electrical boxes and new electrical and telephone outlets are installed inside the Safe Room.

  3. The A/C ceiling vent is extended downwards and sheathed in ballistic Kevlar so that an intruder firing a weapon through the ceiling vent cannot reach people in the Room. A closure is installed allowing the vent to be closed in case intruders try to inject noxious gases.

  4. The ceiling and interior walls are lined with ballistic Kevlar, which is both screwed and glued to the studs. The “standard” Safe Room uses Level 3 sheets that will stop the most powerful handgun ammunition (.44 Magnum) and resists breakage from repeated hits of a sledgehammer or hatchet.*

  5. The standard door is removed and replaced by a security door; more on this below.

  6. Drywall is installed on top of the Kevlar, and the joints and nail holes are then plastered and sanded.

  7. The room is painted and the closet hardware (rods, shelves, etc.) is reinstalled.

  8. A small set of shelves is installed at the far end of the room to house survival equipment stored in the room (cell and regular phone, uninterruptable power source (UPS), water, first-aid kit, etc.). Less than 6% of the floor space and 3% of the Room’s volume is occupied by these shelves, so the Room may serve its normal function of a walk-in closet.

When finished, the interior of the Room looks like a normal closet. The shelves with survival equipment are easily hidden behind hanging clothes. Only the door included in the “standard” Safe Room identify this as a Safe Room. The standard door, shown in the image, is a steel unit with a steel frame, with 4 heavy-duty hinges and 3 Grade 1 deadbolt locks. Its look is likely to be significantly different from the other interior doors of the house, which are typically decorative 6-panel doors. Other options exist -- like the security 6-panel door shown at far right -- which more closely resemble the other interior doors used in the residence but at such a high cost that it will nearly double the cost of the entire project. However, two things can be done to partially disguise the standard steel door. First, notice in the floor plan sketch that, through the owners, we specified the door opening direction so that when the door is left open you don’t see the door unless you penetrate deeply into the Master Bedroom. Second, a woman’s long dress hanging from the door will do a good job of hiding it.

* Thicker Kevlar sheets are available to resist ammunition from automatic weapons, but the materials and installation cost is higher, partly because of the weight (a 3’ X 9’ Level 3 sheet used in our “standard” Safe Room weighs 108 lbs and is about the limit of what can be installed by a 2-man crew).