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Does anyone have plans for a walk-in gun vault?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by iamkris, Oct 16, 2004.

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  1. iamkris

    iamkris Member

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    My gun collection has grown rapidly over the last few years and doesn't seem to have an end in sight (not huge compared to some of you guys -- 18 rifles, 4 shotguns, 9 handguns). I have quickly outstripped the capacity of my 2 little Homak safes (mostly for kid security -- they're 7, 5 and 3).

    I've considered a big fire-proof safe in the near future but frankly to get one big enough is expensive and there is the problem of future expansion.

    My answer? A walk-in fireproof gun vault! We have a 100 year old house that we just gutted and renovated, including a family room addition. Underneath the addition is a basement area that will eventually become my den. As long as we're finishing the space, I figure I'll insert a walk in vault.

    Now, there are plenty of vault doors out there for sale, but to date, I can't find anyone that sells plans or guidelines for the safe itself. I can certainly start designing but sure would like to have someplace to start.

    What I know I want:
    - Walk in -- at least 10'x10'
    - Fireproof vault door
    - Fireproof walls (assuming cinderblock walls and ceramic fireproofing of some type -- equal to the better gun safes)
    - Electrical service for lighting and outlets
    - Humidity control -- assuming through a dehumidifier
    - At least one of the walls and the floor I have to build on is concrete
    - Concerned with the ceiling -- above is wooden joists and underlayment

    Anyone have advise or a source of plans? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Preacherman

    Preacherman Member

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    You don't really need "gun vault" plans - just room plans. Design the room the size you want it, factoring in fire prevention, brick walls, etc. The interior fittings (e.g. rifle racks, shelves, drawers, etc.) can be done to your own taste once the room is built. However, if you want to buy standard furniture or fittings, it might be worth measuring the units before designing the room - it's no good trying to fit a 10' shelving system into a 9' room!

    (How do I know this, you ask? Trust me. I know this. :fire: )
     
  3. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

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    I have to believe someone will come along here that has a vault room and will share the details.

    Obviously the two major factors would seem to be strength of the walls so they can't be easily breached and also fire protection. Some research on building materials to cover those two area's might be of benifit.

    On the web I found a location that sells a book on this subject. I don't have a clue as to wether the book is worth the money but here is the link :

    www.joelskousen.com

    Good Luck with a great idea ! ps: go to the "secure home" section of the site.
     
  4. Snake Eyes

    Snake Eyes Member

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    BTW--The high-tech advanced material used in gunsafes for fireproofing is....

    Sheetrock. That's right: Drywall.

    Two layers of Type X 5/8" sheetrock will give your room all the fire protection, or better, of the best safe.

    Stagger all joints and fire-tape each layer. You'll have what building code refers to as a "two hour wall". Most safes fire test for 30-40 minutes. If you frame the room out with steel studs instead of wood, you'll be even farther ahead.

    Another option, if you've got a plasterer handy, is old fashion 7/8" portland cement plaster (stucco). But drywall is a lot easier.
     
  5. Gifted

    Gifted Member

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    When they were building a subdivision near my house(blast suburban sprawl), I was able to look at the houses as they were being built. Most of them, it seemed, included a seperate foundation for the porch. WHich means it may be possible, if someone has the right foundation design, to jsut cut out the basement wall right there, clean out the dirt and floor it. Instant vault. This obviously won't work for you, iamkris, but others might be able to do it, if it's architecturally sound.

    I've been planning to have my own house built, and a walk-in safe would be one feature included. I'm sure the companies that build bank vaults would be good to talk to, they can give you ideas about how to do it. I'd say at least eight inch concrete block for the walls, make sure to fill and reinforce them. There's probably some sort of insulation to put in them or something to help with the fireproofing. The ceiling is a tough one. You'll probably end up tearing out the floor above to get whatever it is installed, so you can do alot with that. Continuing with masonry, a concrete slab would probably be the best top. I don't know what to do about ventilation though.
     
  6. Blue Line

    Blue Line Member

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    when i was in the army we had a freestanding vault built in our area. It was concrete filled blocks with a slab roof,which sat on a concrete slab floor, it had the fireproof vault combo lock, was alarmed, and had electrical wired to the inside for lights and humiditiy control. Basicly a big concrete box!
     
  7. carebear

    carebear Member

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    As had been said, fireproofing ain't rocket science.

    During the last remodel I double sheetrocked (inside and out) a 5x7 closet in the basement on a concrete slab, bought a 3070 steel fire door and frame from my place of work, smoke gasketed it and have a "fire-proof" vault that will probably survive the house burning up around it, or at least til the FD can get there.

    If you want plans for a concrete bunker type, check into the old survivalist-type books on basement bomb shelters. It is the same concept.

    Or, go to your local security company (like the one I worked for) that does bank vault work, they can do the design/build to whatever standard you want. Including ventilation and humidity control.

    Remember, if you end up using concrete blocks, you have to fill all the cells or a 12 year old with a framing hammer can get in.
     
  8. iamkris

    iamkris Member

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    Great info guys...I hadn't though about the ability to break up cinder blocks with a hammer. I like the idea of using steel studs and double wall sheet rock. I can rock with the best of them (have refinished a basement before so I have hard taught skills).

    Anyone else with personal experience doing this?
     
  9. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Member

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    Grouted cinderblock walls (or any heavy walls) could crack your concrete floor if not properly supported.

    I read of someone building saferoom walls out of 6" steel studs, screwing OSB to the studs (inside and out) and filling the cavities with concrete and rebar as he went up. After the concrete set for a couple of days, he removed the OSB and let it thoroughly cure. IIRC, when cured he put up wood paneling to cover the concrete.

    He had high ceilings in the basement so used steel pans (heavily corrugated steel that is used to support concrete floors in buildings) and pumped in lightweight cement to form a fireproof roof.

    I believe he used a Browning vault door.
     
  10. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Fella's;

    No, fireproofing is not rocket science. I do this for a living, & I'm not a rocket scientist, I'm a locksmith. No, I don't do fireproofing for a living I primarily sell safes, not tin boxes. I also consult on vaults, free if you buy the door from me.

    There are several considerations that the average guy simply does not think of when designing his gunroom/vault. If the home burns, and your room is in the basement, how are you going to handle the water? Is your ceiling going to be strong enough to resist having the rest of the home above it collapse on it? Emergency inside release on the door? Or have you got the beer fridge & a 'lifetime' supply of Dorito's factored into the equation also?

    900F
     
  11. Rimmer

    Rimmer Member

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    CB900F , good stuff to consider.

    iamkris, my information tells me that if you cover all the above basic construction guidelines you only have one thing to be concerned about. That's moisture. You mentioned a dehumidifier but you would be well advised to consider where all that water is going to drain to and please be sure that you have set aside a bi-monthly schedule to check the room for problems.

    A family member in another state left his vault unattended for about 2 months or so and when he opened the door he had mold growing on the walls. His guns were on wall racks and were a mess.

    You can keep out the kids and the burning embers but water is a whole different animal. Consider some type of alarm for high humidity that is battery operated. Remember that power outages or tripped circuit breakers can be your worst enemy.
     
  12. HankL

    HankL Member

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    FEMA Has some relevant publications. http://www.fema.gov/library/prepandprev.shtm
    A search of "vault" over on TFL will provide quite a bit of information on the subject.

    I built one bit had the luxury of doing so as a part of new construction so I can't help much with your project. One thing that I can pass on to you it to build it larger than you think you will need.

    HTH
     
  13. HankB

    HankB Member

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    I seem to remember reading somewhere that there's a Federal tax credit available if you construct a tornado shelter in your home. It would seem that something with concrete walls and spancrete roof would qualify - you might look into this.

    Plus, if it makes it into county records, "storm shelter" would raise fewer eyebrows than "vault" or "gun room."

    Be sure the door - or preferably, doors - can be opened from inside.
     
  14. ssr

    ssr Member

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    Some good ideas. I am about to build a new house and have asked the architect to place a 10x10 vault in the basement off my reloading room. We get our first set of plans back tomorrow night.

    Sealing it and moisture proofing it seem to be the big issue. Don't have much alternative except to keep adding safes. It sure sounds nice to have a big walk in room with guns lined up on racks and shelves rather than packing them in safes and banging them against each other getting them in and out.
     
  15. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Why not make it large enough to INCLUDE your reloading room? And maybe you can hide the whole thing with a false wall and a hinged bookcase or something?

    And don't tell the architect it's a vault - you really don't want "vault" on your blueprints where any construction worker can read it. Call it a "storm shelter" instead and be sure the guy knows the walls ought to be solid, not cinderblock. (Although filling cinderblocks with concrete and dropping rebar down the holes will make things pretty strong.)
     
  16. Trigger

    Trigger Member

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    Kris,

    Couple of ways you can go. First is cinder block works great but you have to reinforce the cells with rebar. Now your dealing with an 8" wall. Don't forget that you have to do the floors and ceilings.

    Second way to go is the USG Structocore system. http://investor.usg.com/news/20001019-26251.cfm

    This is a steel lath system screwed to metal studs. Diamond veneer plaster is used over the surface to provide a durable smooth surface. This system is used in embassies, jails, etc. It has a machine gun as well as gorilla factor (how fast does it take a few big guys with any tool they want to penetrate the structure.) This is by far the best system available.

    While drywall as described in a previous post will work for fire prevention and depending on the system that you use can be a 1-2 hour system, it offers little in the way of protection. It's easily defeated. No sense putting a vault door on it.

    If you interested in more detail contact me off line and I might be able to scrounge up a picture of what it looks like as well as some more detailed installation tips.
     
  17. HankL

    HankL Member

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    ssr, I did a 16'x16' and have room for racks, loading bench, work bench and computer. If you are doing central air and heat in the house put a register and return air in your room. I did mine on grade using concrete block reinforced with rebar and pea gravel cement for the walls and a poured cement slab roof. As built, it provides storm protection as well as a pretty good time delay against break in.

    Extra large footings in the foundation are a must if you are building on a slab. The FEMA link provides some useful construction details and may give information on the tax credits that HankB mentioned.
     
  18. Smoke

    Smoke Member

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    You need more shotguns.

    Smoke
     
  19. ssr

    ssr Member

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    Thanks for the input. I had asked initially for a 10x10' vault off of a 15'x20' reloading/gun cleaning/stuff storage room. I though it would work better to have my reloading room with all of the storage, ventilation, work sink, cable TV, etc more accessible (maybe one of those heavy doors with the punch key lock, and then the vault off of it, with the racks on top of cabinets, and shelves for handguns and knives. I'll see what I think after I look at the initial plans tomorrow night.

    Can't wait!! :)
     
  20. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Hint: Do not store items such as cutting torches, bolt cutters, cutoff wheels, etc., right next door to your safe or safe room.
     
  21. iamkris

    iamkris Member

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    HankL -- great link. Thanks, I'll read up.

    HankB -- Thanks for the tip...I pay enough taxes, would be nice to get something back from them for a change.

    Trigger -- COOL! That Structocore looks like the way to go. Plus (beleve it or not) my brother-in-law is the CEO of USG. Now I gotta work on that family discount. ;)

    Smoke -- you ain't kiddin'. Then again, I need more rifles and handguns, too.
     
  22. Trigger

    Trigger Member

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    Well, I snapped a few pictures to give the group an idea what this Structocore system is like:

    [​IMG]

    The general building specs for contactors can be found here.

    Hope it helps!

    How about some pictures of existing rooms if you have one! :D
     
  23. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Fella's;

    If you want a semi-secure room without fire protection, by all means put heating ducts & air returns in it.

    If you want it done right, get a pro to help you plan. Doesn't have to be me. But, this is sorta like Fram's old commercial. Pay now, or pay later. Neither fire nor burlglars respect good intentions.

    900F
     
  24. Trigger

    Trigger Member

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    Any suggestions?
     
  25. pauli

    pauli Member

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    you know, i've been thinking about this for the past several weeks. we've been considering putting in a full bathroom and a walkout exit in the basement, and it occured to me that some sort of vault would be most conveniently added at the same time.

    thing is, the first two clearly add several times more than their cost to the value of the home, whereas a vault... doesn't. a storm shelter, maybe, but it's not a real concern here.

    which all makes it a hard cost to justify.
     
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