How to Build an Inexpensive Safe Room

If you were the victim of a home invasion, what would you do? What if you couldn’t get to a phone? Do you have a safe place from where you could contact your local authorities for help?

These questions are part of the reason why constructing a “safe room” can be a great idea for your home. While some people spend upwards of $50,000 building a high-tech safe room, it’s possible to build a basic, affordable safe room in your home. Here’s a quick guide on how to build an inexpensive (but functional) safe room.

Assess Your Home
The best way to save on constructing a safe room is to choose an existing closet as the foundation for your room. The closet should not have any windows or skylights, and should ideally have some existing reinforcement. Since you will want to communicate from your safe room, choose a closet that may easily be modified to add a phone jack. If you plan to use a cell phone, make sure the closet is able to get cell reception. If you want to be able to use your safe room for natural disaster protection (such as protection from a tornado), choose a closet that is in the central area of your home.

Installing the Door
Once you’ve chosen your closet, the first thing you should do is replace the door. A good safe room should have a solid core wood or steel door. Ideally, you should purchase the strongest steel door that you can afford.

Reinforcing the Frame
While you’re installing your new door, you should also begin reinforcing the frame around the door. You should install a sturdy steel door-jam, or reinforce the door frame with steel angle iron. This will help protect the door from being kicked in by unwanted intruders. When screwing in metal plating or other reinforcing material, it’s best to use at least 3″ screws.

Installing the Lock
The type of lock that you use for your safe room depends on your personal situation. Many people choose to install a dual-cylinder deadbolt lock, which can be opened with a key from either side. A spare key is always kept inside the safe room. However, since this will mean that you  need to keep a key for opening the room from the outside, it’s possible that your safe room key could fall into the hands of an intruder.  If you install a deadbolt that only locks from the inside, it’s possible that a child could accidentally lock themselves inside of the closet. No matter what type of lock style that you use, be sure that the deadbolt is made of reinforced steel, and extends at least 1″ into the door-jam. If you have a keyed lock, make sure that you keep the keys in an easily accessible location.

Building a Safe Room for Natural Disasters
Aside from protecting you from intruders, a safe room can also be constructed to help protect you from natural disasters. Here’s a quick video with some tips about constructing a safe room designed to withstand a natural disaster.