A safe room is a place where you and your family can shelter during a natural disaster or other dangerous event. Having this kind of room on your property is not just a smart thing to do for protection, it can also increase the value of your home. In this article, we share smart, sound information to help you create a safe room in your garage. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- How Do You Build A DIY Safe Room In Your Garage?
- How To Build Your Own Safe Room
- Safe Room Q&A
- Will having a safe room take up my whole garage?
- Why is the garage a good choice for a safe room?
- Is it better to use an attached garage or a detached garage for a safe room?
- Why do you need a safe room?
- Is it better to DIY a safe room or engage a professional service?
- What goes in the safe room?
How Do You Build A DIY Safe Room In Your Garage?
Here are the things you’ll need to construct a good safe room:
- A sturdy, highly secure, fireproof, exterior door
Even though your safe room will be inside your garage, you need a strong (solid core steel or iron) exterior door installed tightly in the frame with no gaps. Use strong, thick bolts (not flimsy screws) to install it.
- Top notch locks and other hardware
Again, you want exterior quality locks and deadbolts made of strong metal that cannot be broken if someone is trying to kick the door in. The hinges and strike plate should also be top quality and installed with hard, thick metal screw bolts.
- Push locks
In addition to standard door hardware, add a push lock at the top of the door and another one at the bottom.
- A wooden or metal bar
Bolt a pair of brackets on either side of the door where you can place a sturdy metal or wooden bar to add even more security to the door. You can put one bar midway across the door and another one at floor level for maximum security.
- Strong window glass and locks
If you have a window in your safe room, be sure to secure it. Use triple pane, hurricane rated windows to protect yourself against breakage caused by flying debris, intruders and other dangers. Bullet proof glass is best, but it can be hard to come by. Be sure to lock your windows with sturdy child safety locks to make it hard for an intruder to open the lock from the outside if the glass is broken.
- Window bars and/or shutters
Window bars and/or shutters. Install a set of interior window bars and/or shutters on hinges so that you can unlock them, swing them open and escape if you need to. There are also roll-up metal shutters that work well to block out storm violence and keep the room secure from other threats. Just as with your door, be sure you install these elements correctly for maximum security.
- Beef up your walls
Standard walls are built with 2x4s. Build your safe room with lumber ranging in size from 2×6 to 2×12 with close spaced (e.g. 8”) framing. This will make it very difficult for someone to chop through your wall with an ax and slip between the studs! It will also make your walls super strong to withstand hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and the like.
- You need a strong finish
Finish your interior walls with 5/8 inch plywood installed with strong, sturdy screws. If aesthetics are a concern, you can install drywall over that. For fire safety, you may also want to add a layer of cement board. Tile over that would add even more fire safety and take care of any aesthetic concerns you might have.
How To Build Your Own Safe Room
Safe Room Q&A
Will having a safe room take up my whole garage?
Your safe room can be as big or as small as you want. You can make your entire garage a safe room if you don’t need to use it to park your cars, store your lawn care equipment, pursue your woodworking hobby, etc.
It’s more likely, you’ll choose to partition off a part of your garage to use as a safe room, or that you’ll decide to make a living, hobby, recreation section of your garage double as a safe room.
You can set up your safe room area inside your garage as a room-within-a-room, building an entirely separate structure that shares no exterior walls with the garage. This provides a level of added safety while leaving areas outside the safe room available for other typical garage use purposes.
Why is the garage a good choice for a safe room?
Using your garage as a safe room is a smart use of space because it leaves more of your property available for other uses. Of course, you could build a freestanding safe room, or you could create a subterranean safe room.
The downside to these choices is that you will have put a significant investment of time, energy and money into creating a structure to house your safe room.
When you use your garage, you are using an existing structure, and you are adding to the usability of that structure. Additionally, having your safe room in your garage is discreet. It will provide you the safety and security you want without advertising its existence to those around you.
Is it better to use an attached garage or a detached garage for a safe room?
There are pros and cons to both detached and attached garages as safe rooms. With an attached garage, you have easy access, but you are also putting all your eggs in one basket. If your house is flattened by a natural disaster or burned down by a fire, your attached garage is likely to suffer the same fate.
Another downside of putting your safe room in an attached garage is that intruders often gain access to homes through the attached garage. If you put your safe room there, you’ll have a hard time getting to it during a home intrusion.
For these reasons, a detached garage is generally a safer space than one that is attached to the home. Even so, accessing your safe room in a detached garage may take a bit more planning and effort than making good use of one that is set up in an attached garage.
Once you are there, though, you are probably safer than you would be in a safe room attached to your house.
Why do you need a safe room?
A safe room provides good shelter from dangerous events of all kinds, including natural disasters, national emergencies, home intrusions and more.
You can create precisely the type of safe room you are likely to need in your location based on typical weather patterns and such things as predicted social unrest.
If you live in an area that experiences high levels of crime, your safe room provides a safe, hidden space in the event of a home intrusion. You can set your safe room up in such a way as to make it impenetrable and include technology that will allow you to contact authorities with the push of a button or a voice command.
You can use your safe room for disaster safety and disaster preparedness by setting up a secure storage area for emergency food, water, medical supplies and survival gear.
Is it better to DIY a safe room or engage a professional service?
Because a safe room is ultimately a solid investment in the value of your home, and because your safety literally depends upon its effectiveness, you are probably better off engaging a professional service to help you design and construct your safe room.
When you go with a professional service, you will be able to choose from proven plans. Additionally, you will have a warranty on the room, and you can be sure of being registered with emergency services in your area for the fastest response times.
What goes in the safe room?
Once you have your safe room built, you’ll need to add provisions of several sorts. Here are the basics.
- Install a landline and keep a cell phone (along with a WiFi router) in your safe room at all times so that you’ll always be prepared.
- Set up monitoring equipment so that you can see what’s going on outside the door, in your house and around your property.
- It’s always a good idea to have a couple weeks’ supply of food and water on hand in case of emergencies. Keep that in your safe room or in a hidden cellar under the safe room.
- Install a secret door/escape route. If you’re going to make a cellar for your safe room, make its entrance hidden so that you can duck into it if you need to. Adding a tunnel as an emergency escape route is also a good idea.
- Of course, you’ll also need a couple changes of clothes, toiletries, bedding, supplies for babies, pets, etc. These are items that will vary greatly from home-to-home, so be sure to sit down and give some thought to what personal items you and your family might need in case of emergency.
If you’re looking for more garage DIY tips, check out the following guide about batting cage.