While structurally and environmentally safe due to strict national housing codes, the majority of average residential properties in the USA are still highly vulnerable to most man-made forms of attack. Even someone with limited building skills can still significantly improve their security by creating a DIY safe room.

New Construction or Retrofit?

Typically, a DIY safe room project will be undertaken after a home is already built. Though this results in some technical limitations, there still are numerous options for creating a secure space. The various components of a secure strategy will vary with the overall budget and your personal expertise (one can somewhat compensate for the other).

At Fortified Estate we specialize in helping DIYers create their own safe or panic room. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to achieve safety for your family. We are happy to review your particular situation (including blueprints and pictures, if available) to share with you our expertise.

To get started, start thinking about these key factors in advance of reaching out to our team.

Intended Purpose of DIY Safe Room

These rooms can primarily be divided in to two categories: to protect valuables and to protect people. Of course a third category is the protection of both. But with each of these intended goals, different considerations should be made.

If the primary purpose is to protect people, more specifically a panic room, then a certain set of scenarios should be considered. How can we make the room closest to family members? What sort of attack might we be dealing with. How can our family enter the room as quickly as possibly? How can we ensure we are adequately prepared to be stuck inside of our room? How can we be sure the criminals will not get in during a possibly sophisticated group attack.

Though similar, the needs for protecting valuables is quite different. For one, valuables are always present in the room. This means the door needs to be fully locked at all times. Since it’s not designed for emergencies, the door may be located in a more distant location of the house, increasing concealment. Food, water and safe airflow are not important (except if protecting fragile goods). However, an attack may occur while a residence is empty, such as while occupants are away on travel. This means the rooms security must be capable of withstanding much longer durations of attack, for the criminals presence may not be known for some time, or until it is too late.

Build DIY safe room in your home

Placement of DIY Panic Room

As previously mentioned, the location should depend on your planned use. The ideal would be a location that handles both, is discreet but also accessible to occupants. In many houses, there may be multiple rooms family members stay in. It will take some personal planning to determine whose room the safe room should nearest be. Perhaps near the kids room since they are least equipped. Or maybe near the parents room is better, if the kids will soon be off to college.

For most of us creating this space as a DIY project though, we don’t have tons of rooms with which to choose from. Certainly any safe room area is better than none.

Walls and Doors of the Safe Room

Your safe room is only as secure as the structures surrounding it. This is primarily of course going to incorporate the four (or more) walls around the structure, though can also include the floor and ceiling. The security of the panic room door is also critical. There are various locations that can make securing the walls easier or harder.

Of course, a smaller room will have less total wall space. A walk-in closet may have 28 linear feet of walls while a whole bedroom may be 50 feet or much more. The larger the space, the more materials required to secure the walls. A large room maybe be a requirement though, if you are storing a large quantity of valuables or want to have the resources for a long stay inside. Or you may have a large room if you choose to convert a frequently accessed room (such as a bedroom) in to the safe room.

Since this is a DIY project, you won’t have the luxury of pouring new cement walls. Therefore we’d recommend cladding your walls in 4 x 8 sheets of fiberglass ballistic panels or Kevlar panels.

DIY Panic Room Supplies

If your intention is to build a do-it-yourself panic room, then you will need to consider not only the room’s security, but supplies for keeping your family sustained and occupied during their time inside. Many of us may recall the scene from Panic Room where Jodie Foster realizes she does not have her daughter’s time-critical medicine in their panic room.

There are various elements that need to be planned for to preserve humans that aren’t required when preserving objects.

Arguably, the most immediate concern is airflow. At a basic level, there is a finite amount of oxygen in any small space, especially a tightly sealed panic room. Some selected rooms, such as a closet, may have no ventilation in the first place. There, certainly, a ventilation method must be added.

However, even with standard ventilation reaching the panic room, others will choose to go a step further. Having ventilation connected to the rest of the house does leave occupants potentially vulnerable to various gas attacks by potentially sophisticated criminals, in an attempt to “smoke out” the occupants. Therefore, some will install special ventilation just for the panic room that is secure and separate from the main home’s system.

Create a DIY Saferoom

Our team can remotely provide you with the tools, materials and expertise you need to affordably creating a safe space in your home.