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Are safe rooms the modern home’s new ‘must-have’ feature?

According to Curbed, safe or panic rooms are on the rise in New York as the cities wealthiest residents clamour to protect themselves from rising levels of crime.

According to safe room security expert Bill Rigdon, who consulted on the 2002 thriller movie Panic Room, starring Jodie Foster, New Yorkers are seeking everything from lockable closets with electrified door handles to fortified walk-in pantries that can withstand nuclear fallout.

“I’ve never been busier,” he says.

It’s not only in the US where safe rooms are on the rise.

The ultimate in security is also creeping into Australian homes, particularly newer builds.

This Saturday, May 11, the five-bedroom, seven-bathroom home at 1668 Riverdale Drive, Hope Island, will head to auction, complete with a hidden safe room. 

Amir Prestige selling agent Marc Keswell said the safe room, which is 5.9m long by 2.4m wide, is behind a concealed door in the master suite. 

“It’s in the walk-in robe and you wouldn’t know that the safe room is in there,” he said.

“You have to push a button inside one of the robe doors and then you go through that doors to an actual safe door, with a code on it, that you need to open to get into the safe room.

“It’s not an easy, accessible room. Nobody knows it’s there.”

1668 Riverdale Drive, Hope Island, has a safe room equipped with its own generator. Photo: Amir Prestige.

Mr Keswell said the safe room had access to 24-hour security in the Hope Island resort, and  also has its own generator system, to power the lights, air conditioning and intercom, if required.

“It’s designed to last seven days,” he said.

Mr Keswell said safe rooms were becoming more popular at the upper end of the market.

“I think it is a bit of a trend at the moment for some of the higher end homes,” he said.

“People have valuable items that they want to keep on the property, rather than in a lockbox or something offsite, but they can also fit the whole family in there if something goes wrong.”

But it’s not just high-end homes in Queensland’s most affluent suburbs where homes with safe rooms are popping up.

At the time of publishing, 17 properties on realestate.com.au had the keyword ‘safe room’ mentioned in the listing description.

One of which is 54 Saltram Circuit, Eglinton, in Bathurst.

Raine & Horne Bathurst Director Grant Maskill-Dowton said the four-bedroom, two-bathroom home was one of the first new builds he has seen with a custom-built safe room.

He said the room, which the vendors originally built to safely keep their guns on display, has reinforced walls, ceiling and door.

The safe room, which is on the lower level of the home, off the rumpus room, is not concealed, but does just look like a door to another area of the home.

54 Saltram Circuit, Eglinton has a saferoom with reinforced walls, floor and door. Photo: Raine & Horne.

Mr Maskill-Dowton said it was more than large enough to secure a family if required.

He said buyers viewing the property were not doing so specifically for the safe room, but he said they were impressed with the feature when they saw it.

“Initially the reaction is, ‘Wow, that’s intense’, but in saying that, people see merit in it,” he said.

“There’s a lot of cost involved in constructing something like that… but it’s something I think people are understanding is probably going to become more and more common as the world turns the way it does.”

Tradie marketplace hipages said safe rooms should be built with one access point and have fortified walls, ceiling, floor and door.

It recommends monitors linked to cameras inside the safe room wo you can monitor what is happening outside. 

“It is ideal to use a biometric lock on the safe room entry to make it much more difficult for invaders to enter,” it says.

“Your safe room should have lighting, and it should also be equipped with a mobile or landline phone, water, first aid kits, and food, so that you can comfortably await the time that it is safe to leave.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.