How to Build a Safe Room on a Budget

It's possible to create a safe room without breaking the bank

Home invasions are on the rise in the United States, often resulting in extreme violence. One way to prevent the possibility of being a victim of violence in your own home is to prepare a space to which you can retreat if someone breaches your door. However, times are tight. So how do you build a safe room on a budget? And is it really that important?

Statistically speaking, yes, having a safe room is that important.

Why Do You Need a Safe Room?

Predictive analytics compiled by warn us that over the next 20 years, a mindblowing 75% of the homes in America will be subject to a break-in. And if you happen to be at home when that happens, it becomes far more likely that you’ll be the victim of not only property crime, but a violent crime.

Violent crime has been surging in the USViolent crime is on the uptick in the United States. According to this article, 2020 saw a 30 % surge in homicides, and the numbers are still rolling in for 2021. According to the Department of Justice statistics for home invasions, they are the scene of 38% of aggravated assaults and 60% of rapes.

One way to mitigate this threat is by having a room in your home that you have made more secure.


Can You Build a Safe Room on a Budget?

When you think about safe rooms, your mind probably heads straight for Hollywood. In movies, safe rooms are depicted as high-tech rooms with a bank of video screens and enough supplies to ride out the apocalypse. While that would be awesome, spending four years of your kid’s college tuition money to fortify a room is not necessary.

The following things are essential for a safe room. We’ll go into each one in more detail in a minute.

  • A solid door in a solid frame
  • Shatter-resistant and bullet-resistant windows
  • Communication
  • Fortified walls
  • Essential supplies
  • A way to go to the bathroom

When you look at that list, it probably seems pretty expensive. But never fear! We’re here to tell you how to build a safe room on a budget. We’re going to go bare-bones, non-glam, and Spartan.

Where to Put Your Safe Room

You are far better off if you can use a room you already have for your safe room. Consider modifying an existing room like the following:

  • A walk-in closet
  • A large master bathroom
  • A spare bedroom
  • A storage room
  • A room in the basement

The room should be easy to access from different parts of the house if at all possible. If the bad guy is blocking the only route to the basement, then your safe room won’t do you any good.

How to Fortify the Room Without Spending a Fortune

While a professionally built safe room can cost a hundred thousand dollars or more, you can modify an existing room for a fraction of the price.

The Door

Your safe room will need a secure, lockable door

First things first, your door must be solid and set in a good frame. Those flimsy hollow-core doors in fragile frames will not save you from anything.

Go to your local home improvement store and get the best quality steel slab door you can afford. Replace the frame around it with a steel frame and long bolts. Then hang the door so that it opens inward to the safe room. That way, you can also barricade it for extra security.

Don’t make this door stand out. Paint it to match the other interior doors in your house so that it’s more discreet.

The Walls

Next are your walls. They need to be able to stop a bullet, something regular drywall will not do.

You’re probably not going to be able to afford to pour concrete or add kevlar panels. Your next best option is to think about ways to add cover. Armored steel panels are approximately $500 for a 4×8 sheet. The entire room doesn’t necessarily have to be armored. If you can create a protected corner, that’s a place your family members can take shelter.

You can also use everyday household items that are strong enough to withstand gunfire. It may not be pretty, but appliances like old refrigerators or freezers can offer some protection. Sandbags and concrete blocks can also fortify part of the room, but these can be very heavy. If your safe room is upstairs, it could cause structural problems if you add too much weight to a wall of the house.

The Windows

Opinions are mixed on whether or not your safe room should have a window. Some think that without a window, you’ve built yourself a trap from which there is no escape except for right into the hands of the bad guys. Others believe that a window is another weak point you have to defend.

In the end, when you want to build a safe room on a budget, you will end up working with what you have.

If you have windows, there is a film that you can apply to them to make them shatterproof and bullet resistant. (Of course, bullet resistance depends upon the caliber of the weapon the attacker is using.) Adding this film provides an extra layer of security.

Supplies to Stock When You Build a Safe Room on a Budget

You may end up being in your safe room for quite a while, waiting for help. It’s important to have a few supplies.

  • Food that doesn’t require cooking
  • Water
  • A way to use the bathroom
  • Something to do to pass the time (especially important if you have children)
  • Medical supplies and essential medications
  • Blankets and comfort items

How you stock your safe room depends upon the needs of your family members.

Communication for Your Safe Room

The entire point of a safe room is that it’s a retreat you go to while waiting for help, or a place you send family members while you are dealing with the intruders. Having a way to communicate with the outside world is essential.

A safe room is an excellent place to have a landline. This way, family members can dial 911 for assistance. Other communication options are:

  • Cell phones (these can easily be jammed with an inexpensive device that can be ordered online, so don’t make it your only option)
  • Device connected to the internet
  • Two-way radio
  • Ham Radio

Remember, you do not want to leave your safe room until your home has been cleared of danger.

When you build a safe room on a budget, you may not have money for all the bells and whistles. If you can just afford one camera, place it on the outside of your safe room. This way, you can watch what’s going on in the hallway just outside the door. It will give you an early warning if the room is about to be breached and can help you confirm when a police officer arrives outside the safe room door.

Defending the Safe Room

When you build a safe room on a budget, your goal is to retreat to that room and stay there until it is safe to come out. The minute you open that door, you’ve weakened your defenses to the point of non-existence.

But what if you aren’t the one who opens the door?

No safe room is completely unbreachable, and this is even more true when you’ve built a safe room on a budget. For that reason, you must keep some weapons inside to deal with the threat if they get through the door. Keeping a gun safe in that room is a good idea, as is having some other types of weapons. Make sure all family members of a reasonable age know how to handle the weapons safely.

Additional Resources:

Find DIY window security film HERE
Find even more ideas for interior door security HERE
Check out additional suggestions for keeping your home secure HERE
Wondering why you need a safe room? Find out HERE

Have You Built a Safe Room on a Budget?

Have you added a safe room to your home? Can you share any budget-friendly ideas with the rest of us? Add your thoughts to the comments.

How to Build a Safe Room on a Budget

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Ash Duncan

Ash Duncan and family live on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they enjoy hiking with their dogs, spending time outdoors, and watching apocalyptic movies.

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