Safe Rooms as the New ‘Must Have’
Posted by admin at September 14th, 2010
A room where you can store jewelry, guns, send your email–and survive 250 mph tornado winds? It’s called a storm shelter or “safe room” and is a surprisingly popular home renovation, even amid the current laggard real estate market.
These aren’t the dank bunkers your father hid in, and they aren’t cheap. Many of the new shelters are above-ground $4,000-$15,000 prefabricated pads that can be bolted to the garage’s concrete pad, or even installed inside the home. They boast names like “StormRoom” and “Iron Eagle II” and often lead double lives of offices, tool sheds and even wine cellars in less turbulent times. DuPont makes one reinforced with bullet-resistant Kevlar.
Builder Rhonda House, owner of Uniquely Southern Homes in Ward, Ark. says she regularly includes safe rooms in her new custom homes, calling it a “must-have item.” The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which publishes safe room construction guidelines, says that information is now the agency’s “most requested” publication. And the National Storm Shelter Association estimates U.S. storm shelters number in the low millions, most of them having been added in the last decade.
The aging 76 million Baby Boomers are a driving force. Above-ground designs are particularly popular among families with elderly members who might not be able to navigate stairs or make it across the yard into a bunker quickly. Sizes typically range from around 50 square feet to upward of 200 square feet on larger models and some can be equipped with electricity, wireless reception and keypad entry to function, among other things, as a workspace or panic room in case of intruders.
While storm-prone states are key target markets, DuPont says it’s seen a 300% sales increase in recent years in states outside Tornado Alley, a loose term for tornado-prone areas in the central United States.