As the skyrocketing crime rate ravages Los Angeles, more often have the wealthy homeowners have rushed forward in the need to build “safe rooms” in order to try and protect themselves from any potential home invaders.
The vice-president of international operations at Building Consensus/Panic Room Builders, Dean Cryer, stated to The Hollywood Reporter, “Our influx of inquiries has increased more than 1,000 percent over the past three months. … It’s gone insane.” He added, “Hidden rooms are definitely trending right now.”
“Building Consensus/Panic Room (which consulted on the 2002 movie Panic Room) builds various safe spaces ranging in security levels from one through eight. Safe rooms at level three may be protected with Kevlar, while a level eight is encased in thick steel,” highlighted The Hollywood Reporter. Cryer went on to explain, “Just the doors can be 2,000 to 3,000 pounds. And then we’re installing steel within the room. So, we’re generating up to 10,000 pounds in a room. … You could kit out a small closet for about $100,000, $150,000. And then it’s north of there. We’ve done one in London that had two rooms, full suites … and that was over a million dollars.”
In order to enter the rooms, extensive biometrics, in the vein of a fingerprint scan or a retina scan, are utilized for the lock. They can be hidden behind hidden walls or a bookcase and all sport a panic button that is set to automatically notify emergency services.
As stated by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:
In Mexico, where kidnappings are relatively common, some people use safe rooms as an alternative (or a supplement) to bodyguards. … Since the 1980s, every U.S. embassy has had a safe room with bullet-resistant glass. Perhaps the largest safe room will belong to the Sultan of Brunei. The planned 100,000-square foot room will be installed beneath his 1,788-room, 2,152,782-square foot residence.
Greg Holcomb, a Douglas Elliman real estate agent, stated to The Hollywood Reporter, “I think they are not something that, in an immediate sense, increases value. … But when a buyer is interested in the house anyway, I think it does help [boost interest].”
However, various potential buyers of homes that include “safe rooms” are not informed of their existence until after the sale contract has been signed, and for a seemingly good reason, as explained by Jon Grauman of The Agency, “You never know who’s potentially casing a house. The last thing you want to do is show them, ‘Here’s the panic room, and here’s how you access it.” Holcomb continued, “We once had a property and an appraiser come and was measuring the home, and they could not figure out why there was this kind of dead space. … And we weren’t allowed to tell them what it was. They just had to assume it was dead space, when in fact behind a secret panel was a safe room.”
Cryer went on to state, “Within the room itself, you could be in there for up to 24 hours. I mean, it depends where you are in the world. And in most of L.A., you could be waiting a couple of hours before the police get to you. … We’ve even done bunkers and tunnels. We’ve done a project out in Malibu. They wanted a secret tunnel out to the beach. So they could escape, like a secret bunker.”
Grauman stated in conclusion, “Panic rooms are just going to be one of those amenities that gets tacked on to every list of, ‘OK, every new home moving forward above x price point must have this.’”