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Firearms Accessories: Holsters, Safes, Lights & more If it locks up, carries, fits on to or cleans up your firearms, discuss it here.

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  #1  
Old 01-14-2018, 6:25 PM
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Default Help me design a Safe Room

Hi everyone, were in the beginning phase of a remodel in which we will be adding a room to the front of our house. The house sits on a pretty good slope, with the back of the property line being much higher than the front/street, so o thought it would make sense to build a room under the addition. Without any excavation, the room would probably go from 8 in the front down to 4 in the back, so the excavation would be minimal to have about 10 front-to-back.

Okay, so there will be a room under our living room. The original idea was to simply put a workshop there, but with the excavation there can be a good sized room, about 12x18. I definitely want a workshop, but am considering adding a gun room. So Ive got a choice to make. Do I:

(A) Partition the room and make a 12x8 gun room and a 12x9.5 workshop, building the gun room as a concrete box completely enclosed, with a safe door (essentially a 12x8 safe).

Or

(B) Try to go crazy and dig down ANOTHER 10, basically building a basement under the workshop, so Ill have a 12x18 workshop AND a 12x18 gun room under.

I dont yet have any idea of cost for these two options, but we plan to do some excavation, so the incremental cost of option (B) might not be too much of an issue. Anybody have ideas on the cost?

Id love tonhere from others who have built gun rooms (or safe rooms) about various elements of the build like choosing a vault door, concrete walls, etc.

This is going to be fun!
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Old 01-14-2018, 6:44 PM
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i always wanted one as well. never did come to fruition however.

an associate i once knew built one, if i recall correctly it proved challenging because of the high humidity levels. I think he tried to make things work with appropriate drainage and running a dehumidifier.

not sure how to check or this but thought i'd mention it.

also, make sure you have a door that will let you out from the inside, like a freezer room...and a wired phone just in case.
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Old 01-14-2018, 7:09 PM
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Your biggest issue will be the local building codes and inspectors. They may just engineer your simple plans to death. Oh and escalate the budget for this to a point between here and the moon.
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:34 PM
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Try here with blueprints here.

Look around the website, lots of good info there. Your tax dollars at work.

Good luck,
Criss
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Old 01-14-2018, 10:50 PM
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Your biggest issue will be the local building codes and inspectors. They may just engineer your simple plans to death. Oh and escalate the budget for this to a point between here and the moon.
This having to deal with city codes.
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Old 01-14-2018, 11:13 PM
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This having to deal with city codes.
Good news is Im not in the city. Only have to worry about the county.
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Old 01-15-2018, 12:07 AM
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So, against what threat?

For example, being able to comfortably survive a group burning your house down around the room is a bigger challenge than to deny entry for an hour.
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Old 01-15-2018, 8:57 PM
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So, against what threat?

For example, being able to comfortably survive a group burning your house down around the room is a bigger challenge than to deny entry for an hour.
Sorry... I now see the confusion. I dont need a safe room per say, but instead a room that acts as a giant safe. Maybe its more of a walk-in safe made of concrete. I could see it having other uses, like sleeping in there after an earthquake (assuming its built as strong as expected) or denying entry for a few hours during a shtf situation, but the primary use is as a safe for guns and ammo (and maybe other preps like water and food).

Hope this clears things up a bit.
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Old 01-15-2018, 10:08 PM
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First off, if you're having issues with the county, its a wine cellar, not a gun room, RIGHT?!

I looked into doing this detached from my house with a hidden entry way down to it. My reason for wanting to do it was because of the more than likely chance my house will burn down in a wildfire while I own it. It ended up being about 12,000$ to build a 10x10x8 room, all concrete, cinderblock, rebar, safe door, labor ect. and that was with me using my own tractor to dig it out. The hardest part of the whole process I was told would be was forming the roof.

After talking to several firemen who've worked in wildfires they all told me unless its a complete concrete structure, it's not immune to wildfire. The wildfires can get hot enough to melt steel and the door would melt compromising the structure. The only way it would survive was if I had some sort of concrete door to go over the safe door. The house I own now, burnt down about a decade ago and the wildfire was so severe, there was no fire crew able to make it within 5 miles of my home. I ended up buying one of the biggest safes Sturdy makes and I keep most of my guns at a family members house during high wildfire season. There's basically no large safe on the market under $8,000 that can withstand a wildfire with no response from the fire department. Since your room will be inside your house, in the event of a burn down with no fire response, there's a chance it wouldn't make it either. The house would be on fire for several days.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:21 PM
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Yes, that's helpful.

Just poking around, I found https://www.vaultprousa.com/modular-storm-shelters.htm; they claim to have 2300F resistant insulation - but I don't see for how long.

Not a structural engineer, or any other kind of engineer, but a little more looking talks a lot about concrete building fire resistance, and their consideration seems to stop at around 8 hours duration. 5 - 7 inches, depending on aggregate in the concrete, seems to be good for 4 hours protection.
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  #11  
Old 01-15-2018, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by 5.56 View Post
First off, if you're having issues with the county, its a wine cellar, not a gun room, RIGHT?!

I looked into doing this detached from my house with a hidden entry way down to it. My reason for wanting to do it was because of the more than likely chance my house will burn down in a wildfire while I own it. It ended up being about 12,000$ to build a 10x10x8 room, all concrete, cinderblock, rebar, safe door, labor ect. and that was with me using my own tractor to dig it out. The hardest part of the whole process I was told would be was forming the roof.

After talking to several firemen who've worked in wildfires they all told me unless its a complete concrete structure, it's not immune to wildfire. The wildfires can get hot enough to melt steel and the door would melt compromising the structure. The only way it would survive was if I had some sort of concrete door to go over the safe door. The house I own now, burnt down about a decade ago and the wildfire was so severe, there was no fire crew able to make it within 5 miles of my home. I ended up buying one of the biggest safes Sturdy makes and I keep most of my guns at a family members house during high wildfire season. There's basically no large safe on the market under $8,000 that can withstand a wildfire with no response from the fire department. Since your room will be inside your house, in the event of a burn down with no fire response, there's a chance it wouldn't make it either. The house would be on fire for several days.
Yea, I do worry about fire, but were not really in a wildfire danger zone so Im not too concerned about protecting from fire. That said, Ill make sure to keep this info in mind when designing as a few hundred dollars more on a concrete door might be worth it.
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Old 01-16-2018, 5:22 PM
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Can you incorporate a product similar to Insulwool in your plans? I'm not an engineer or anything so I don't know how/if the heat would transfer. Specs. say it is good for a max temp of 2300 degrees, with a continuous rating of 2150 degrees.
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Old 01-17-2018, 3:38 PM
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Yea, I do worry about fire, but were not really in a wildfire danger zone so Im not too concerned about protecting from fire.
I'll just leave this here, because some folks don't seem to be paying attention.
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Old 01-17-2018, 5:26 PM
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There is one major question I would ask your first: if this structure is going to be for the storage of firearms, ammo, etc; are you OK with folks knowing of its existence, or do you want to keep it quiet?.....If you want to be under the radar, consider the possibility of constructing it without the blessings of those who will increase your taxes as a result. If you plan on owning it for a long time, this may make sense. If you plan on moving within twenty to thirty years, you might be better off asking for permission. One last thought on this: any insurance on the dwelling may be affected by permits or the lack of.
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Old 01-18-2018, 8:24 AM
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There is one major question I would ask your first: if this structure is going to be for the storage of firearms, ammo, etc; are you OK with folks knowing of its existence, or do you want to keep it quiet?.....If you want to be under the radar, consider the possibility of constructing it without the blessings of those who will increase your taxes as a result. If you plan on owning it for a long time, this may make sense. If you plan on moving within twenty to thirty years, you might be better off asking for permission. One last thought on this: any insurance on the dwelling may be affected by permits or the lack of.
Yea, Ive thought of that, but decided everything will be legit with permits, etc. As someone else said, it will be my wine cellar with high security.
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Old 01-18-2018, 8:26 AM
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I'll just leave this here, because some folks don't seem to be paying attention.
Im not saying it wont happen, Im saying Im not going to build something explicitly for the purpose of protecting from fire. That said, I have a funny feeling that, when. Its all said and done, Ill be covered.
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Old 01-18-2018, 8:44 AM
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A safe room should be secret room - make it so.
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Old 01-21-2018, 12:32 AM
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A safe room should be secret room - make it so.
I agree, but it would suck to have issues selling the house down the road because it wasnt permitted. So for now we are building a wine cellar.
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Old 01-21-2018, 10:36 AM
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Along the idea of wild fires, I saw many years ago a small concrete storage structure about 15 feet from a large dinning hall used to store canned goods.
The structure its self was maybe maybe 36 sq feet with a steel door, at least 8' high. I visited the facility a couple of days after the fire went through. The dinning hall was saved the concrete storage structure was still smoking. The contents literally toast.
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Old 01-21-2018, 1:11 PM
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Default Help me design a Safe Room

If your concern is wildfires, there are whole house exterior fire suppression sprinkler systems. Some use city water power, some have generators and use your pool water if you have one. Some also have fire suppression chems injected into the water. They have long distance fire/smoke detectors that will turn the system on and off. This allows you time to safely evacuate because you will not survive in even a concrete underground panic room. If if smoke inhalation doesnt get you, fires sucks all the 02 from atmosphere. Cost seems to be around $25k, but its whole house protection.


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Old 01-22-2018, 12:46 PM
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If your concern is wildfires, there are whole house exterior fire suppression sprinkler systems. Some use city water power, some have generators and use your pool water if you have one. Some also have fire suppression chems injected into the water. They have long distance fire/smoke detectors that will turn the system on and off. This allows you time to safely evacuate because you will not survive in even a concrete underground panic room. If if smoke inhalation doesnt get you, fires sucks all the 02 from atmosphere. Cost seems to be around $25k, but its whole house protection.


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Thanks for the continued insight, but again, the goal here is not fire protection.
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Old 01-22-2018, 1:04 PM
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Best of luck Scbauer. I could write a book dealing with the parasites and jack offs of my city. Just finished a building a house here. The fees and permits where insane. Almost very inspector was a dick. Talk about power trips and double talk. Never seen such BS. I could ramble on and on.
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Old 01-22-2018, 4:52 PM
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Best of luck Scbauer. I could write a book dealing with the parasites and jack offs of my city. Just finished a building a house here. The fees and permits where insane. Almost very inspector was a dick. Talk about power trips and double talk. Never seen such BS. I could ramble on and on.
It sounds like thats a common theme. Im lucky in that I dont live in the city but instead unincorporated County, so inspectors/permits are supposedly much easier, but well see.
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Old 01-23-2018, 12:49 AM
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option A. use solid grouted CMU walls with rebar at 8 inches on center and a concrete ceiling/floor 6 inches thick with rebar at 8 inches oc. you will need some gravity fed ventilation amd install a safe quality door.
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Old 01-23-2018, 12:11 PM
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This may help with forming walls.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gh3qvSPjW48

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJB_9eVheqk
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Old 01-23-2018, 3:16 PM
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I have a gun room in my basement. 16X16. Door leading to the basement is 4 inches thick made out of treated bamboo for strength and flexibity with ball bearing hinges, double deadbolts and all tied together with 3 inch screws. The walls for the gun room itself are concrete on two sides and 3 inch planks on the other two sides. The two wood sides are cross banded with more bamboo and 3 inch screws and pressure treated. The door itself opens outwards with welded ball bearing hinges steel frame and is made of 4 inch thick planks with two double keyed deadbolts. Definitely not fire proof but Id say an intruder without tools and power equipment could not get it without some serious lock picking backround and with tools at least an hour of pounding away at the doors.
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Old 01-24-2018, 12:14 AM
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I have a gun room in my basement. 16X16. Door leading to the basement is 4 inches thick made out of treated bamboo for strength and flexibity with ball bearing hinges, double deadbolts and all tied together with 3 inch screws. The walls for the gun room itself are concrete on two sides and 3 inch planks on the other two sides. The two wood sides are cross banded with more bamboo and 3 inch screws and pressure treated. The door itself opens outwards with welded ball bearing hinges steel frame and is made of 4 inch thick planks with two double keyed deadbolts. Definitely not fire proof but Id say an intruder without tools and power equipment could not get it without some serious lock picking backround and with tools at least an hour of pounding away at the doors.
So are you saying one can't cut thru 4 inches of bamboo with a chainsaw or gas powered cop saw?
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Old 01-24-2018, 5:39 AM
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So are you saying one can't cut thru 4 inches of bamboo with a chainsaw or gas powered cop saw?
He said:[quote]
Quote:
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...but Id say an intruder without tools and power equipment could not get it without some serious lock picking backround and with tools at least an hour of pounding away at the doors
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Old 01-24-2018, 7:36 AM
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[QUOTE=Dvrjon;21194539]He said:Thank you for clarifying that for him Sir. If you can’t lockpick and don’t have power equipment then I will bet you can’t get into my basement. With equipment then I will concede you can but it will take you time and time is all I need.

Last edited by mach; 01-24-2018 at 7:48 AM..
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Old 01-24-2018, 7:54 AM
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And heres my door suggestion OP. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AnslSas5ZOQ sure it will cost you more then the guns inside but hey at least you know theyll have to pull a Tom Cruise and drop thru your air vent after disconnecting all your lasers.
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Old 01-24-2018, 8:29 AM
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Done right you should have vapor barrier under the floor, and on the outside of the walls. Other wise you will end up with some extent of moisture/vapor transmission. There are coatings and products that will stop/hold moisture on the inside, but its easier to plan for vapor from the start.
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Old 01-24-2018, 9:43 AM
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You could also claim it's a cheese cave... you've always had an interest in home-brew, cheesemaking, salumi, mead... and you need part of your house underground to stay cool in the summer. :-)
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Old 01-25-2018, 9:42 AM
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[QUOTE=Dvrjon;21194539]He said:Do you have any tools in your house? Because if I broke in and wanted into your safe room and I didn't have tools I would use yours
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Old 01-25-2018, 9:57 AM
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Quote:
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He said:

Do you have any tools in your house?
Because if I broke in and wanted into your safe room and I didn't have tools I would use yours
I keep my tools in my safe room.
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Old 01-21-2019, 1:15 PM
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OP, it's been a year - did you ever build the safe room?

I have been considering one myself and recently found this post on another forum from 2011 that has some pretty good detail and pics of a concrete block room with a concrete roof and a vault door from Study Safe. He mentions he paid $1,450 for a vault door. Stury's site lists their standard size vault door now at $2,590.

http://airgunsinc.forumotion.com/t20...-safe-or-vault

This was built inside an existing garage.



He made the interior pretty nice as well.
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Old 01-21-2019, 1:36 PM
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The two big issues will be air handling and moisture control (ground and vapor)- so it's likely you'll need perimeter barrier(s) on every surface- freakin mushrooms are going to grow in that giant Petri dish otherwise. I imagine you also want the room liveable, so data, light, comfort are important or you won't spend time there anyway. Whenever egress is but one way in/out, think about a plan B- what is there is fire on the other side of that one door? Blocked by debris? Not to mention Zombies...
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Old 01-21-2019, 4:24 PM
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Originally Posted by rdfact View Post
OP, it's been a year - did you ever build the safe room?

I have been considering one myself and recently found this post on another forum from 2011 that has some pretty good detail and pics of a concrete block room with a concrete roof and a vault door from Study Safe. He mentions he paid $1,450 for a vault door. Stury's site lists their standard size vault door now at $2,590.

http://airgunsinc.forumotion.com/t20...-safe-or-vault

This was built inside an existing garage.



He made the interior pretty nice as well.
This is awesome! Thanks for the link.

I have not built the room yet. Still trying to decide how to make it work. We put the overall project on hold for a few months but have started back up again this past week. Architect is working on designs for an addition, and I continue to believe we can excavate under the addition for WAY LESS than what he says it will cost.

Any contractors in the east bay have some extra time and a big excavator? Ill pay you in beer and ammo!
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  #38  
Old 01-21-2019, 7:44 PM
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sfarchitect sfarchitect is offline
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I'm an architect by vocation. I've spent my professional career building housing in the Bay Area. Is there anything other than a 'how much?!' reaction and sheer stubborn determination that makes you 'continue to believe' it is going to cost way less than what your architect is telling you? Because you're probably wrong about that.

Here's the deal with excavation:
  1. Even if you 'pothole' (test bores) all over, you don't really know what down there until you start excavating. And once you do you're committed because you've now changed the bearing capacity of soil. You foundation is designed based on the bearing capacity of that soil.
  2. The east bay is littered with odd soil conditions that vary wildly. It can change completely ten feet from one of your test bores
  3. You can also find a stone, an old tank of some sort, or a cube of concrete under there. Again, until you start digging, you just won't know.
  4. There's also a lot of both sandy, and dense clay soil in the Bay Area. The former requires extensive shoring and in the Bay Area with other structures right nearby can be very tricky. The latter is incredibly dense and a total ***** to excavate. I've worked in soil of such dense clay you have to beat the back of a shovel multiple times with a hammer just to get the sticky clay to come off of the shovel. Every single shovel full.
  5. I've not even begun to discuss utilities. They may be under the soil. There may be nearby wires overhead. All of which can require careful planning and tricky logistics to do excavation
  6. Getting large earth moving equipment and trucks into and out of the area can be complicated.
  7. You cannot simply dup soil just anywhere in the Bay Area. You're paying someone to haul and dump it somewhere relatively far away. That's assuming you have non-toxic soils.
  8. All of the above is exacerbated if you're on any sort of hilly terrain.
  9. I could go on, and on, but hopefully you're getting the idea.

Your paranoid fantasy 'safe room' weighs an effin' ton and is going to require some pretty substantial footings, sealants, mechanical system etc. etc.. The CMU walls of the toy 'safe room' above unless every call of every piece of that CMU was completely filled with some high density grout I can shoot through with one round from a 12g using a Brenneke Slug. All you're done is create a CMU barrel into which I can shoot and you cannot see to shoot back.

I can defeat the 'safe room' above without a firearm for about four bucks. All you need is a squeeze ketchup bottle full of gas/kerosene and a bic lighter. You spray gasoline under the overcut of the door that is plainly visible in the photo and use a bic lighter to torch and or asphyxiate the occupants.

Follow the advice of the professional you're paying.
If, you do not trust that advice, find a different architect.

If you want a 'safe room', not the 'pretend/toy' version above, but one with cast in place concrete walls, a serious door and separately powered ventilation system it will cost you. Thereabouts six figures BAM (bare a** minimum)

I've done a couple of them. PM me.

Last edited by sfarchitect; 01-21-2019 at 8:12 PM.. Reason: I can neither spell nor punctuate correctly in less than five edits. Probably not even then.
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  #39  
Old 01-22-2019, 10:09 AM
bug_eyedmonster bug_eyedmonster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rdfact View Post

http://airgunsinc.forumotion.com/t20...-safe-or-vault

This was built inside an existing garage.



He made the interior pretty nice as well.


I always wonder about these kinds of add-ons to the foundation in terms of support. Will there be any long term issues with this holding up? We planned to do this in our next home, regardless or where we move to, but as an extension to the house, not within the garage.
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  #40  
Old 01-22-2019, 10:43 AM
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rdfact rdfact is offline
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Default Help me design a Safe Room

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfarchitect View Post
Your paranoid fantasy 'safe room' weighs an effin' ton and is going to require some pretty substantial footings, sealants, mechanical system etc. etc.. The CMU walls of the toy 'safe room' above unless every call of every piece of that CMU was completely filled with some high density grout I can shoot through with one round from a 12g using a Brenneke Slug. All you're done is create a CMU barrel into which I can shoot and you cannot see to shoot back.

SF, you're confusing the OP's intent, and the intent of the "toy" safe room I posted. Those are secure rooms meant to take the place of a gun safe. They are primarily to secure firearms, not act as a place for people to hide in a home invasion or SHTF situation.

And it's obvious you did not read the link I posted. That "toy" room is in fact reinforced with rebar and the block voids filled with concrete.


Now I am sure cast in place concrete walls would be better but these concrete block structures seem like a good alternative that a DIYer can do or have built. The above structure, a cast in place concrete wall, and the best metal safes can eventually be defeated with the proper tools and time.

A valid concern is if the concrete floor in the above situation is sufficient to support all the weight. As an architect perhaps you could provide some insight?

Last edited by rdfact; 01-22-2019 at 11:00 PM..
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