Over the last few years, there has been a pretty big resurgence in interest in hidden rooms in homes. They fell out of style, if you will, for a while but have resurfaced in the past few years. There are many reasons to want one of these specialty rooms and whether you want it for a doomsday shelter, a place to retreat to in case of an intruder, or just for the fun of it, they are actually pretty simple to have put into your home. Now, obviously it would be easier to put one in from the start, so if you are building a home then you may want to think about adding one into the plans, however, there are plenty of ways to retrofit one into an existing home. Today, however, we will talk mainly about the chief differences between these kinds of rooms, what they can be used for, and so on. This is to be viewed as an educational article, and not an instructional one.
The Hidden Room
Hidden rooms are quite popular nowadays, but chances are you haven’t seen one. That is because, well, they are hidden. There are a lot of people nowadays that are opting to have them built in their homes both as a retrofit and from the start with new construction homes. But why do people want hidden rooms in their homes and what are they used for?
Let’s start by talking about the most common uses for a hidden room. Behind the doors of a hidden room, you are likely to find storage spaces, hobby areas, or places of protection like panic rooms and bunkers.
These are popular because they give a homeowner a place to store valuables from prying eyes. However, it is also a place where they can store unsightly furniture, boxes, or bins.
These are also popular because there are plenty of people who want a safe place for their hobbies. Whether you use it for collecting things, building things, or just as a getaway with a couch and a few books, a hidden room can be a great option for your hobby. Not to mention, if you have to leave long term projects up while you work on them the hidden room can come in handy by keeping it out of sight and out of mind from visitors and unwelcome guests. Games and hobby rooms are great if you are really dedicated to something. They give you a place to enjoy your hobby without worrying about something else needing that space. The beauty of the hidden room, however, is that your hobby area is hidden from the rest of the world. This is an awesome feature if you wanted your hidden room to be a private reading nook. You can’t get more private than hidden from view.
The Panic Room
So, what is a panic room? A panic room, whether hidden or not, is a space that is dedicated for you to retreat to in case of an emergency— in some instances they are called ‘safe rooms’. For most people, a panic room is meant to be a place of safety when there is an intruder, however, they can be used for more than just that. If properly constructed they can be a place of refuge during a tornado, a terror attack, and so on and so forth. If you want your panic room to protect you from more than in intruder though you really should look for some professional help as there are many specifications that need to be meet to make it safe.
The most vital part of any panic room is the door. Any respectable panic room will have, at the very least, a sturdy door. However, it can’t just be any old door. You need to make sure that it is made of solid wood or metal and is hung with strong hinges and screws. On this door, though it is imperative that you have at least 2 strong deadbolt locks. You shouldn’t need more than that, but you can install more if you really want to. Install these deadbolt locks with 4-inch screws and be sure to never store the key to these locks near the panic room.
(A quick note on locks: when you are looking for locks, try to find what is called a ‘bump proof’ lock. It isn’t mandatory, but if you can find a bump proof lock it will be a bit more secure.)
Once the door is up you will want to reinforce the walls. This is vital for a panic room because it will make it hard for someone to break through the wall to hurt you and will also protect you from flying debris in the case of a tornado. To reinforce the walls of your panic room you can either use wood or metal. If your panic room is in the basement and it shares a wall with the foundation of the house, don’t worry about reinforcing that side as it is already covered in concrete and dirt.
Once the skeleton of your panic room is done you can start working on the inside. The main things you are going to want to have are a phone to call for help, food, and water for 3 days, some way to sanitarily store or dispose of sewage, and, if you feel confident in using one, a weapon for protection.
Now, before we go any further we need to make a quick note on phones. Phones are vital to the functionality of your panic room. If you can’t call for help you are a sitting duck in there. However, it is important to plan out how your phone system will work in your panic room.
The first option you have is a cell phone. If you plan to use a cell phone though you need to keep two things in mind: reception and battery life. The first thing, reception, is vital because, if your panic room’s walls are too thick you may not be able to place a call. So, if you are considering a cell phone, take it into the panic room, close the door, and try to make a call. If it works then you are golden. If it doesn’t however, you will need to either get a different phone or switch to a landline. Once you have reception, though, you will need to consider battery life. The first step is to charge this phone fully and stow it away in your panic room with the power switched off— this will give you more mileage out of the battery. Then you will want to buy a phone charger that runs on AA or AAA batteries. This will allow you to charge it up if the original battery fails. Make sure, however, to keep some extra batteries in there as well.
The second option you have for communication is a landline. These kinds of phones are a bit more reliable when it comes to power because they run off of a separate power supply than the rest of the house. The only thing to remember is that you should try to have a separate line for the phone in this room. It was once common practice for intruders to cut the phone lines of a home before breaking in so that the occupants couldn’t phone the police. If it is a separate line from the rest, however, you will have the advantage. The only disadvantage to a landline is that they can be rendered useless if someone down the street happens to breaks the phone line.
Lastly, we have bunkers. These are also commonly put behind hidden doors to keep them hidden in case of a widespread disaster. These bunkers are usually designed to act as a bomb shelter as well as a place of refuge in the case of that massive disaster we just mentioned. They are not super common in new homes unless you specifically request it. However, if your builder doesn’t want to do it or you live in a home that is already complete, don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to get yourself a bunker. There are numerous companies, online tutorials, and so on that can help you put a nice bunker in your home. We do recommend that you get the help of a professional before trying anything as building a bunker can include a lot of complex and dangerous construction.
When you compare the bunker and panic room the biggest difference between the two is the intended duration of stay. You see, a panic room is meant to only be used for a few days tops while a bunker is intended to be used for weeks or months. For the most part, you see bunkers built for an end-of-days situation, but they can actually be used, if built to code, be a place of safety from a tornado.
Because it is meant to withstand a lot of abuse from outside forces, you will find that most bunkers are made of concrete and steel. On occasion, you may see or hear about one being lined with lead as a barrier to radiation. We can’t give you the specifics on how much lead, concrete, or steel you would need to build a sufficient bunker, so if you are serious about building a bunker it is best to contact a professional.
If we are to compare the bunker and the panic room again it becomes obvious that you will need a few more supplies. For instance, you are still going to want food, water, and some sort of sewage system, however, you are going to need a lot more of it. You will also want to get an air filtration system, a phone, and radio, as well as books, games, and other fun things to do to pass the time.
Before we let you go we have another idea for you. What if you were to combine all these ideas into one? What we mean by that is making a bunker that can double as a panic room and a hobby area. All that hidden behind a camouflaged entrance will give you everything that we have talked about thus far. Just think of it, though. If you have a bunker that is meant to keep you safe for a long period of time it could easily be an effective panic room. Even if you only have the budget and space for a panic room, though, with a little extra work it could be a mini bunker. However, no matter how you build it, you can always use it to store things for your hobbies. This way, when you aren’t using the hidden room for protection, you can always go in there and enjoy your book nook or your sewing room, or whatever it may be.
Thank you so much for reading. We hope you got some great ideas for your next home project. Remember to always contact a professional and follow all safety and legal guidelines when doing any projects like this. If you want to learn more about houses, want to buy a house, or want to learn more about real estate in general, contact us at the Hughes Group today. We would love to help you out!