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Building A Safe Room / Vault

 
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:18 AM   #1
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Building A Safe Room / Vault


A customer originally wanted to add a basic 8'x15' room on to their house to put a gun safe in and store all their hunting related equipment. No problem.

Now they have found a place that sells vault doors http://www.sportsmansteelsafes.com/defender.htm and they are thinking of instead of making the room for a safe just make the whole room a safe. Cool idea I think.

I have never built anything like this before and am looking for ideas. Go with thick concrete for the walls and ceiling? Doing some searching it seems some people build ordinary wood framed walls then cover them with expanded metal and then 3/4" plywood, and then two layers of sheetrock. I guess the double sheetrock gives fire protection, the plywood gives kick through protection, and the metal saw through protection (at least slows them down)

The customers are not trying to build fort knox but they want the room reasonably fortified. Any of you guys ever build something like this?
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:40 AM   #2
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


Safe Room & Vault can be two vwry different things.

Why do they want a "Safe Room" as opposed to a vault/gun safe?

Is fire protection a consideration? If so for how long to what exposure?

Don't forget to allow for air intake, from what source, for how long & for how many people.

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:55 AM   #3
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


Sorry if I used the wrong terminology. They do not want people to go in it. They just want a big safe for their things. They already have a basement they use as a tornado shelter.

Since they are going to be adding a room anyway they figure about 4k for a large safe and 10k for the room. If they can spend a similar amount and make the whole room a safe then why not. It will hold a lot more stuff and it won't have to be all jammed in a safe.

They want some fire protection but it is not critical. From what research I have done the fire protection inside gun safes is basically just sheetrock.

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Old 10-22-2012, 09:59 AM   #4
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I've seen a 'hidden' room in a huge closet before. Long, thin room with shelves and built-in drawers on either side. At the end, a tall mirror. I put several lights over the mirror.

But the mirror was hinged from behind, and used a simple push catch like they use on old stereo systems of the '80s and '90s. Push the edge of the mirror and it pops out. Open it like a door, and there's a small closet behind it. Guns, cash, firs, jewelry... all just sitting there.

No locks, no barriers, no 'Fort Knox'. Just well hidden.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:11 AM   #5
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I think the more expensive gun safes use fire brick for insulation. At least the old ones did.

I looked into to building home vaults years ago. I found 2 companines not to far that made vault doors like you mentioned. I advertised all over the place and never could get a job.

I had a video from one company and they had them installing one door in a 2x4 wall. They also had super heavy duty doors for concrete rooms. I think if I had one Id build block walls. Depending how crazy you wanted to go you could probably poor a slab on the basement floor and pick it up and slide it ontop of your block walls once it cured.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:12 AM   #6
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


8X15 addition is tough to hide. Not to throw water on the parade, but if word gets out that they have one of these, there are pros that would hit it just because there must be really good stuff in it if the HOs went through all that trouble.

Bolt cutters and a battery operated sawzall will get through an awful lot of stuff.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:29 AM   #7
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


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Originally Posted by 480sparky View Post
I've seen a 'hidden' room in a huge closet before. Long, thin room with shelves and built-in drawers on either side. At the end, a tall mirror. I put several lights over the mirror.

But the mirror was hinged from behind, and used a simple push catch like they use on old stereo systems of the '80s and '90s. Push the edge of the mirror and it pops out. Open it like a door, and there's a small closet behind it. Guns, cash, firs, jewelry... all just sitting there.

No locks, no barriers, no 'Fort Knox'. Just well hidden.
I like idea of a hidden room. Problem is there is no room in their house to put it so it will have to be an addition which will be hard to conceal. Customer has pretty much decided this is what they want. All I am trying to figure out is what is the best way to build the walls/ceiling for this.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:30 AM   #8
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I worked in a house this summer that had a stairway in the back of the closet. This was a ranch style house that you would never suspect in a million years that they had storage in the attic. They hung a very large tench jacket over the opening and there it was. Pretty neat.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:33 AM   #9
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


A house with lots of rooms or walls that can give you a illustion of false sizes is needed to fool people. Simple homes are hard because of the layout. False walls behind bookcases are easier, just not very big. FH had a story on false walls and how to do it. Also Gary Katz has a website that gives some insight.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:39 AM   #10
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


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I like idea of a hidden room. Problem is there is no room in their house to put it so it will have to be an addition which will be hard to conceal. Customer has pretty much decided this is what they want. All I am trying to figure out is what is the best way to build the walls/ceiling for this.
If you're gonna stick a small box onto the side of a bigger box, hiding it is going to be...... well........... impossible.

Perhaps the addition can be 'normal', and the hidden room added somewhere in the original house.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:40 AM   #11
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


bdog
Couple products to look into, impact drywall, armor wall and I cannot recall the name but it is similiar to metal lathe and is used mainly on prisons. It is installed between layers of drywall type panels.

If your client is worried about explosives CMU, poured wall or ICF with rebar on the inside and blast resistant mesh on the outside.

All these products can be installed by a journeyman carpenter with the proper tools.

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Old 10-22-2012, 10:42 AM   #12
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


If I was building it for myself I would want it hidden. They can't steal what they can't find.

The customer does not want that though. They are not asking me for advice really they want me to build the vault on the side of their house for them.

I am just looking for advice on building strong walls and ceiling for this.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:50 AM   #13
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I would just used CMUs (slugged with rebar) and prestressed concrete for the top (and bottom, if you're thinking of a wood floor). That will keep out 98% of the thieves.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:01 AM   #14
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


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I would just used CMUs (slugged with rebar) and prestressed concrete for the top (and bottom, if you're thinking of a wood floor). That will keep out 98% of the thieves.
This is what I was thinking. Where the room is going is currently a patio and has a 4" slab. If I go with the blocks and fill them up that will be quite a bit of weight. One of my concerns with that is maybe needing to bust out the existing slab and put something more substantial with a footer.
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Old 10-22-2012, 11:27 AM   #15
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I talked to a guy who owns a house with a bomb shelter hid under the front yard. You access it through a small door in the basement.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:30 PM   #16
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


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I would just used CMUs (slugged with rebar) and prestressed concrete for the top (and bottom, if you're thinking of a wood floor). That will keep out 98% of the thieves.
You can't really keep people out, you can slow them down and you can make it so they're more likely to be discovered while they're breaking in. If the wrong people are convinced there's something worth going after, they'll go after it.

Sure, reinforced block walls are a good idea, but you still have to do hardscaping with boulders and similar techniques so no one can just boost a truck and back it through the wall. The HO is also at greater risk of being woken up in the middle of the night with a gun in their face and being told to open it up.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:44 PM   #17
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


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You can't really keep people out, you can slow them down and you can make it so they're more likely to be discovered while they're breaking in. If the wrong people are convinced there's something worth going after, they'll go after it.

Sure, reinforced block walls are a good idea, but you still have to do hardscaping with boulders and similar techniques so no one can just boost a truck and back it through the wall. The HO is also at greater risk of being woken up in the middle of the night with a gun in their face and being told to open it up.
The only way to keep something from being stolen is to not own it.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:56 PM   #18
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


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The only way to keep something from being stolen is to not own it.
This is true.

I think their only goal is to have something that is equivalent in burglary resistance to a ordinary gun safe.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:29 PM   #19
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I built a gun closed once, its about 6ftx8ft. It just has a heavy duty industrial steel door. The walls are 2x4 but there is tempered sheet steel nailed to the studs with 1/2 greenboard over that.

Right next to it is teh same size closet with the same doo but just random junk in there like winter clothes and foldign chairs. The burglar will have to pick which one to break into. If they pick the wrong one they wasted a lot of time.

What you need is a boobie trap where they can go into the safe but when they grab something they get locked in.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:39 PM   #20
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Re: Building A Safe Room / Vault


I once was a gun safe made out of an old water heater. The flue hid a piece of all-thread that ran into a nut welded onto the outer casing. The two copper 'water pipes' kept the case from spinning as a motor buried in a wall above it all turn the allthread. A well-hidden switch controlled the motor.

Once it was down, you'd never look at it twice.


Another trick is to take a short piece of 12" sewer pipe and epoxy it to your basement wall. Put a cleanout on the end, and you can put valuables in it. No crook is gonna think about opening up a sewer pipe!

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