Prime properties are often bristling with CCTV, sensors, alarms and safes. But what happens is someone were to break in while you're at home? Cheryl Markosky examines the increasing demand for 'panic rooms'
Properties in the multi million pound bracket tend to include a multitude of must haves.
There's the American fridge for the cook; mini hair salon for the lady of the house; private cinema and cocktail bar for him; a chauffeurs lounge for visiting drivers; Moroccan hamman for sweat devotees and a drop down wide-screen TV in the master bedroom for entertainment.
But the latest must-have for wealthy overseas buyers is the panic room.
Just like Jodie Foster hid away in her panic room in the eponymous film, security-conscious individuals including several English footballers and film stars are happy to pay as high as a six-figure sum for a secure area with triple-bolted steel doors and a direct line to the law.
Better to be safe and not sorry, says Steve Brook, sales director of the Sheffield-based Panic Room Company, who’s doing a roaring trade in Spain, the Middle East and Africa. The firm made its mark fitting pre-fabricated rooms in banks and now provides a cut-down version you can fit into a home in less than half-a-day.
“We can make a panic room to any size. The basic design costs £11,000, and an earthquake-proof double fortress that withstands magnum fire sets you back £29,000,” he says.
A panic room is good value, argues Brook, as “it doubles up as a strong-room for valuables when you’re away”.
Areas where sales are especially brisk are Andalucia and South Africa. “I’m also getting a lot of requests from the Balkans and Greece.”
Other pluses are that in the UK you don’t need planning permission to install a panic room and they can blend in seamlessly. Bathrooms, cupboards and basement utility rooms can convert into panic rooms at the touch of a button - doors and windows bolt and shutter, independent air conditioning kicks in and a hotline to a security firm or local police station goes live.
So, in the words of Dad’s Army’s Corporal Jones: don’t panic. There's a room for that.