How to Build a Safe Room (aka Panic Room), and an Update to Our Original 2011 Blog About the Topic

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 01 Jul, 2015
Recent storms in the Central Iowa area brought strong winds, tornado threats and massive rain resulting in massive flooding. It’s time to revisit the issue of safe rooms. A safe room, sometimes also called a panic room (the terms are interchangeable), is a room installed in a private residence or a business to provide safety […] The post How to Build a Safe Room (aka Panic Room), and an Update to Our Original 2011 Blog About the Topic appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
A basement is a good spot to build a safe room

A basement is a good spot to build a safe room

Recent storms in the Central Iowa area brought strong winds, tornado threats and massive rain resulting in massive flooding. It’s time to revisit the issue of safe rooms.
A safe room, sometimes also called a panic room (the terms are interchangeable), is a room installed in a private residence or a business to provide safety and shelter in the event of a break-in, home invasion, severe storm (i.e. tornado or hurricane), terrorist attack, nuclear attack or another threat.

Panic Room, the Movie

The concept of safe rooms were brought to the forefront with the 2002 thriller movie Panic Room. The film stars Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart as the mother and daughter who experience a home invasion. The criminal roles are played by Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam. The story, written by David Koepp, was purportedly inspired by 2000 news coverage about safe rooms.[2] The safe room in Panic Room is a super secure, high-tech hidden room with concrete walls, thick steel doors, a ventilation system, a surveillance system covering every corner of the house and a phone line not connected to the house’s main line.

History of Safe Rooms

But safe rooms have been around for much, much longer. Safe rooms are thought to have originated in the Middle Ages when castles had a room located deep within the building so the lord could hide if there was a siege. Safe rooms were used in the Underground Railroad system in the United States in the 1800s to house slaves, and again they were used to hide Prohibition-banned liquor in the 1920s. Fallout shelters, another form of the safe room, were built in the 1950s due to fear of a nuclear attack. [1]
Across the world safe rooms are found in Mexican housing due to the high number of kidnappings. Bullet/fire-resistant safe rooms are mandated in new construction in Israel. And every U.S. embassy has a safe room. [1]

Our Original Blog

We first published a blog about safe rooms in 2011, and we’ve referenced this blog almost every year since. Severe weather season in Iowa and throughout the country causes major damage each year and even devastation, taking lives and ruining homes. There are ways to minimize how your family is impacted during a severe storm, including building a safe room.
Here’s our original blog followed by some additional commentary:
Tornadoes, hail and wind storms: all provide a need for protection for your family and your valuable documents/possessions. While your home is built to code and should remain safe and secure under normal conditions, it is not built to withstand extreme weather conditions. A safe room is constructed to protect anything in the room from high winds and flying debris in spite of the damage caused to the rest of your home.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers safe room plans as well as information on properly building one. Provide the preferred design to your contractor or work with your contractor to design a customized plan.
Consider these areas when building a safe room:
Garage
Basement
Interior rooms
Exterior rooms, either below the ground or attached to your home

Our Additional Thoughts in 2015

Weather is the #1 reason we suggest building a safe room as it can provide protection for your family or employees during a tornado, hurricane or other dangerous weather conditions. But as you can see there are other reasons to have a safe room including for protection from a burglar or kidnapper, in case of a nuclear or terrorist attack and even for protection from an abusive spouse.
The movie Panic Room is a dramatic account of the need for a safe room, and features an array of high-tech, expensive features, but most homeowners will find a safe room much simpler in construction is sufficient for their needs.
A safe room can simply be constructed in a basement or garage where concrete walls are already present. Basic emergency items to keep in a safe room include a flashlight, first-aid kit, water, blankets, packaged food, gas mask and a portable toilet.
To get started building your safe room use these resources:
FEMA’s Safe Room Plans »
More about building safe rooms from The Natural Handyman  »
References:
1. Safe Rooms (Panic Rooms) by Nick Gromicko, International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, http://www.nachi.org/safe-rooms.htm
2. Panic Room, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_Room
Next Steps
Photo Credit:  flickr/slgckgc

J. Thompson Builders Blog

By 7052540976 15 Nov, 2017
Some of these considerations may not be in the forefront of your mind, but there is a long list of aspects you need to consider when building a new home. These should help to get you started thinking about some of the most important pieces of the home building process.
By 7052540976 15 Oct, 2017
This home is being built with our client’s specific wants and needs in mind. The homeowner
requested a single family home with a modern contemporary house design. Previously, he lived
in a townhome and desired a more private, spacious residence. A main floor living with a large
space to entertain and big volume ceilings were a must on the client’s list.

The client decided building as opposed to finding a pre-existing home was a better solution for
him because he wants something specific to his needs. He already had the perfect location in
mind and it was time for him to own his dream home.

The area is ideal for this client because it allows him to live in close proximity to his hobbies and
interests and it also allows him the ability to walk to nearby restaurants or bike to the
surrounding shops. This homeowner will be close to everything. He truly loves the location!
The design concept picked is pictured below. In sticking with a contemporary influence, the
design has clean, simple lines that will result in an extraordinary modern home. We combined
elements of residential and commercial materials and design to bring our client’s unique requests to life.
By 7052540976 15 Sep, 2017

You decide that you are ready to build a custom home for you and your family. Now it is time to figure out how to finance your dreams!

Let’s start with the basics. As with any loan process, do your research. Talk to several mortgage companies that specialize or have a strong understanding/history of working with construction loans. Ask questions and voice your concerns. Companies of course want your business, but they also want to make sure they are a good fit for you and what you are wanting to accomplish. Reviews and referrals are strongly regarded these days. They want to make sure you have the best experience possible.

There are several main differences between a construction loan and a regular existing home loan. An individual construction loan may require a longer credit history  or a higher credit score as well as more money down and along the way. It is more of a process, but it is most certainly worth it. With the right builder, the more involved process becomes a piece of cake; but, that is an article for another time.

Home loans can have a 30 year term whereas a construction loan typically has a max of 1 year. “The rates on this type of loan are higher than rates on permanent mortgage loans. To gain approval, the lender will need to see a construction timetable, detailed plans and a realistic budget, sometimes called the “story” behind the loan,” as reported by  bankrate . While your home is being built, it is typical to make interest-only payments. 

If you are thinking, “I don’t have enough money to pay off a newly built home in 1 year!” Don’t panic.

A popular option is the construction-to- permanent financing sometimes called “one-time close,” a “single close,” or an "all-in-one" loan. Upon completion of construction, the remaining loan balance is converted into a permanent mortgage with terms up to 30 years. Like most loans, “the rate and other terms of the permanent mortgage are set up-front when the entire loan package is closed” according to the  National Association of Home Builders .  Construction/permanent loans are offered by many different lenders, including banks and mortgage companies and are a great option for those of us wanting to finance their home purchase over an extended period of time.

Another option is a stand-alone construction loan. This type of loan can be beneficial if you currently own your home and want a smaller down payment option.   Read more about stand alone construction loans.

There are many different loan options. What makes sense for one person doesn’t make sense for everyone. Make sure you find the right product for you and your particular project. If you want to talk over some options, contact us! We would love to hear your ideas and figure out how we can build your dream home.

View our work , read our reviews on Houzz.com , and visit our Facebook page to get inspired!
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