Secret doors, bunkers, and panic rooms
Posted by Hughes Group Blog Team on Saturday, February 4th, 2017 at 3:10pm.
This article is for educational purposes only
Hidden rooms, secret doors, and bunkers— you’ve probably seen them on movies, TV, or in other media, but have you ever considered building one in your own home? Over the past few years, what seemed like something that was purely fictional is now an actual possibility for your own home. Thanks to advances in construction technology, almost anyone can have a secret room, a hidden door, a bunker, or a panic room in their home. In this article, we will talk about the 3 broad categories for unconventional rooms you can build in your home: secret rooms, bunkers, and panic rooms. We will talk about what makes a good one and what you will find if you were to go inside one. But remember, this article is for educational purposes, if you really want to have one of these in your home, talk with a professional first.
The traditional secret room
The crux of any hidden room whether it be a bunker, a lounge area, or a panic room is the door. To sufficiently hide a room, the door needs to blend in with the wall that surrounds it, it needs to be easy to open and it needs to be lockable. You have two options when it comes to your secret door: make it yourself or buy one.
Nowadays, prefabricated hidden or secret doors are pretty easy to come by. You can order them online (and there is quite the variety available) through several different manufacturers and distributors. They will send you the door and all you will need to do is to have it installed. This can be done yourself if you have the time and knowledge, or it can be done by a professional (the recommended option). With these prefab doors, you can quickly take an ordinary room in your home and hide it away from the world with ease.
If you choose to build your secret door, you have many options to choose from. You will want to look online for ideas as no two houses are going to be the same and the internet is full of different ideas on how to retrofit your home to have one. Most people build bookshelves to hide their secret doors however you can also hide them behind mirrors, furniture, and so on.
Uses for a hidden or secret room
For the most part, people use hidden and secret rooms for fun or entertainment purposes. They make the hidden room a nice hideaway for them from the world, a game room, or just a fun thing to share with guests when they come over. However, you can also use it to stash your valuables, as a workshop and so on and so forth.
A bunker or bomb shelter is not as popular in modern construction as it was during the cold war. However, there are still some people that like the idea of having a bunker in their home. Usually, you won’t see them in brand new homes, but more as an aftermarket items. However, before we go any further we need to ask the question: what constitutes a bunker?
The basic function of a bunker is to provide you with a place to stay long term if anything bad were to happen. Most of the time people build them for the end of the world or some other doomsday scenario. However, they can be used for much more than that. They can also protect you from tornados and other natural disasters if built correctly. We’ll dive into more uses for a bunker in a little bit, but first, let’s talk about how bunkers are constructed.
Most bunkers are, at the very least, supposed to be like a bomb shelter. They are supposed to be a last place of refuge if something happens. Because of this, they are usually constructed out of steel, rock, concrete, and other durable materials. Sometimes you will also see some with lead lining to help prevent against radiation. Exactly how they are constructed, and how much of what materials you will need will not be explained here. If you wish to build a bunker or bomb shelter of your own then you will want to do your own research and talk to professionals.
Since bunkers are meant to be a sanctuary for a long period of time a good bunker needs to include a few essentials. First off, there is food and water. If you plan to live in your bunker for longer than a few hours, you will want some food and water. Next, a bunker needs some sort of sewage system as well as an air filtration system— these will help keep everything sanitary and everyone healthy. You will also want your bunker to have a place to sleep, a generator, a phone, a radio, and games or books to help pass the time.
However, more elaborate bunkers don’t stop there. For instance, like we said earlier, some bunkers are lined with lead to keep out radiation in the event of a nuclear disaster. Others will have ham radio for long distance communication. And then some will even have faraday cages to store all their electronics— a faraday cage is a metal box or cage that redirects electrical surges that would normally render your electronics useless.
If you don’t have space or time to make your own bunker, you can actually buy a premade bunker. There are a few companies around the country that make and sell custom bunkers that they can bury for you on your property. They can be a bit expensive though so you will want to price around before you make any purchase decisions.
When you aren’t hiding in your bunker during and emergency, you can easily use it for storage space, a workshop (like we said earlier) or any other number of things. You could even turn it into a hobby room which would mean you could still do your hobbies if you were stuck in the bunker for a long time.
Lastly, while it is not necessary, you can use what we learned in the section above and hide the bunker from strangers by camouflaging it and creating a secret door.
A panic room, like a bunker, is a place that you can go if there is an emergency, unlike a bunker, however, it is only meant to be stayed in for a short period of time. Panic rooms are used to protect yourself if there is an intruder or, if they are constructed correctly, a tornado. It is important to remember, though, like we said before, they are only meant for short-term use.
Since this is meant to keep you safe from an intruder, you may want to consider hiding it like we talked about with the bunker and secret room.
You can make a panic room in your home pretty easily, whether it is hidden or not, by taking a room and reinforcing it and the first step in that process is getting a secure, lockable door. Since the door will be the first line of defense between you and an intruder, you will want it to be heavy and hard to break into. We suggest a solid wood door or a metal door with at least two sturdy locks (it is best to also add another lock on the inside that can’t be accessed from the outside so if you are in there you can stay safe even if they try to pick the other locks).
After you have the door all figured out you will want to reinforce the rest of the walls. You can do this with concrete, steel, or thick wood. This will prevent anyone from getting into the panic room by breaking through the walls. If you have put your panic room in your basement and one or two walls of the room are shared by the foundation of the house, you probably won’t need to worry about reinforcing it (probably being the key word in that sentence—we can’t promise anything).
In your panic room, you will want to include food, water, some sort of sewage system to last you at least a day, a method of communication so you can call the authorities, weapons and so on.
A note on communication: if you choose to use a cell phone, make sure that you can get cell service inside the panic room—since it is encased in thick materials it may block the signal. Also, make sure that it is plugged in at all times. So you will also want some sort of power in the panic room. If you choose to use a landline, then you will want to make sure it has a separate connection to the telephone companies system (it can be the same number, but different wiring from the rest of the house). This is because some burglars will cut the phone line before they come into the house to prevent the owners from calling the police.
Keep in mind you don’t have to pick just one
It is important to remember that you can make yourself a bunker that doubles as a panic room and as well as a hidden room. Like we said earlier, you can use your bunker as a hobby room if there isn’t a disaster, so why not make it a private getaway for you? Plus a bunker is already an elaborate panic room.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you can afford it and that it will work for you and your home. Start by asking yourself what exactly you want. Do you want a bunker or just a secret room for fun? That will lead you to what to do next.
For more information on cool things you can do with your home, check out the other articles on our website. And for more information about homes in the Boise area, call or email the Hughes Group today, our licensed agents will be happy to help you out on your real estate search.