View Full Version : House Design

April 25, 2008, 08:11 PM
There is a good possibility that we may be building a house in the near future. Does anyone know a source of house plans (a website preferably) for folks who want to defend themselves against an intruder? I'm looking for something that doesn't scream "Paranoid Gunner Lives Here" nor be an armed fortress to stand off police, just a good layout for home defense and to deter burglars.

April 26, 2008, 04:41 AM
Are you thinking specifically about constructing a safe room in the house or the overall design? There are going to be a lot of elements to consider as to the overall construction. I have heard of no one who specializes in whole-house designs specific to home defense.

April 26, 2008, 08:09 AM
I've seen plans for safe rooms but that's not what I had in mind. I'm also familiar with the concepts of low, thorny shrubs, no glass at entry doors, etc. I was thinking of overall layout. For instance, placing the master bedroom between the likely entry points and the other bedrooms; channeling intruders into routes favorable to the defender, exit points, etc..

April 26, 2008, 08:53 AM
Well, i would go for hitting specific security elements rather than an over all design. Any design will work to your tactical favor, as long as you plan it out ahead of time. After all, it is your home turf, literally. Items like having a master light control in your master bedroom, to control house lighting from a central location, would be nice. Built-in gun storage areas in each room....maybe even to the point of sheetrocking a long gun behind a specific wall so that in an emergency the homeowner only has to smash the sheetrock to get at it ( that was covered on another board a while ago )....Top shelf locks and security components are invisible upon a casual inspection but still present. Open interior designs to help with visual tracking and fields of fire vs a compartmentalized room design can work either way, depending on the specific scenario you can come up with.

April 26, 2008, 11:01 PM
I think the late Jeff Cooper built or modified his house with gun fighting in mind. I would do a little research and see what you dig up on him. I recall he did things like place small windows that he could observe the front door of his house from another room before answering it. He also put a lockable gate or some such at the door of his bedroom to slow down intruders, set up a central hallway he could cover from one point, etc. Maybe you could get some pointers from him.

April 27, 2008, 11:30 AM
I saw Jeff Cooper's gate on American Shooter once. he had a hallway and on the outter end was the gate and a rod that ran the length of the hall that had to be operated from the other( inner) end. the idea being nobody could open the gate without breaking it wich would wake him up. and he said "if I'm awake I'm OK" talk about waking the sleeping (shooting) giant!

April 27, 2008, 12:06 PM
My wife and I are building soon and I like you, have thought about home defense in choosing our plans.
Alot of what a person can do is based on common sense.
For instance as was mentioned, no glass entrance doors like sliding doors---high quality steel doors with a little window or a peep hole.
We won't be using the full length widows that seem to be so popular now---they're huge and not necessary for a variety of reasons.
I'll have plenty of light in the house but the widows will not give easy access.
We're planning a Basement and windows will be block glass--let in light but offer way more protection than standard glass.
Low shrubbery and landscaping for sure and our home will sit up on the foundation--that is --many homes are built on slabs or crawl spaces that are right on the ground ---our windows will be out of reach without a ladder from the exterior of the house.
Inside, we have thought about the lay out too.
Front door will enter into a vestibule area and not into the main house---that area will have a door too so an intruder would have to get past the front door and then another door to get access to the house.
The stairs for upstairs access in most modern homes seems to be right near the front door in many plans we looked at--if an intruder gains access to your home, he could slip upstairs undetected if you are sleeping downstairs.
Master Bedroom will be the safe room---and built as such with a proper door and reinforced door jamb and wall---telephone of course and cell phone always kept on nightstand next to bed along with various firearms.
Outside lighting is important too and we plan on motion sensitive lights all around the house--they're pretty common.
Good locks and dead bolts.
Lastly, I own and love Rottweilers and I make sure everyone knows it---you can't believe how many people will mess with a person but not with a dog---MOST people will avoid Rotties at all costs--well, most intruders that is--to much work and risk to fight 2 Rotties well over 100 lbs.--easier to move on---and I have highly visible signs stating "Beware of Dogs" in different locations on the property---people tend to give my property a WIDE birth unless invited.
ANY dog that barks is a good early warning system---they can hear and smell someone WAY before you'll ever know they are around--my dogs can wake the dead at 3 AM if they think they hear something outside.
Just some common sense and maybe sacrifice a few design elements and you can have a pretty safe home.


April 27, 2008, 12:27 PM
You might be interested in Jeff Cooper's chapter on "NOTES ON TACTICAL RESIDENTIAL ARCHITECTURE" on page 47 of the book "TO RIDE, SHOOT STRAIGHT, AND SPEAK THE TRUTH". I think it provides just the answers you're looking for.


vox rationis
April 27, 2008, 12:35 PM
In addition to the other measures (security landscaping, alarm, trained fighting poodles, etc) how about adding some nice automatic security shutters?

April 27, 2008, 02:16 PM
I my opinion its paranoid to build a house with defense in mind. a safe room yes thats cool but the rest if paranoia

April 27, 2008, 02:22 PM
I've followed some of his suggestions. The most important to me - at least - in view of the apparent increase in "home invasions" here - is that we NEVER answer the front door directly. Our house is two level and the front entrance is at the mid point between levels and I had a bay window installed on the left side of the front door. We ALWAYS answer the doorbell at the window and, if it's someone we know, it's easy to let them in. Otherwise, all conversation takes place through the window to my wife's left.


Salesmen (and anyone "casing" the house) get discouraged soon - particularly when told "Speak up - I can't hear you over the dogs barking".:rolleyes:

Being 1/2 story up and on the left side of the person at the door - in addition to the brick wall - there's pretty good protection form anyone who might intend to shoot us with our having the good cover. Besides, I think the obvious "welcoming committee" impresses most visitors at the door.;)


"Little" sis (brindle) on the right weighs only 199# and big bro (fawn) is 202#.



April 27, 2008, 02:22 PM
Paranoid or Prepared???:D

April 27, 2008, 02:39 PM
Senior Member

Paranoid or Prepared???
Why do I buy so many firearms you ask, whose house are you running to when the revolution comes? Cause I ain't runnin!

Armed citizens, keeping America free from tyranny since 1776

My feelings exactly - being a Boy Scout (not easy in the countryside where we lived - had to be a Lone Scout and do all by mail) "BE PREPARED". Hardly a day goes by here that there isn't at least one report of someone forcing thier way into a house when the resident answers the door in "condition white". The luckiest ones get away with just being robbed - most get injured or even killed.

This is the most sensitive animal to what's going on around him that I've ever seen - he's in "condition yellow" even in his sleep.


If you're not aware of the fact there are those who are out to get you (?paranoid?), you just don't understand how things really are in today's world.

And yes - One of these is with me always except the minute or two I'm in the shower - yes, I carry at home (and everywhere else) and one resides by my bedside.



My feeling is that, if your house is designed with safety in mind and it is very difficult to break into, any consideration of having a "safe room" is secondary and a long ways behind.


April 27, 2008, 02:43 PM
I guess you haven't been keeping abreast of the terrible things that have been happening across the country--much doesn't make the news though.
Home invasions are up and a grandmother in my area recently shot an intruder that was breaking in her kitchen door while her two young grandchildren were screaming behind her.
My cousins wife was kidnapped out of their home and rapped--she'll never be the same.
A neighbor not 200 yards from me was beaten and robbed in his living room.
Two days ago we had a elderly couple that was delivering "meals on wheels" shot---the woman died and the husband is in critical condition in the hospital as I type this---the person that they were delivering the meal to was shot and killed also.
I could go on and NO, I DON'T LIVE IN A WAR ZONE --I live in a city that was deemed one of the most livable nicest cities in the USA.
It has nothing to do with being paranoid---no more paranoid than people who carry in their homes or have bathroom guns.
Society is not going to get any better and if by making a few design choices you can make your home safer and less inviting to the bad guys why not??
My home will not look like a bunker--it will look just like many brick homes with smaller windows that were built in the 50s--just like the one I grew up in.
Don't kid yourself, the good old USA has changed alot in the last 10 years and not for the good.
Whether you know it or not, home invasions are UP---although I am no longer in law enforcement, many of my friends still are and I talk with them often.


April 27, 2008, 04:33 PM
Here are some ideas that can help you. One master locks are some of the hardest locks to pick so start with that. Yes a central light control would be great. Here is what I do. Take some time and lay in bed, get up grab you gun and do a sweep of where you are living now. Think about what you like about it and what you don't. My buddy and I have been thinking about starting a class that teaches people how to single clear a house as well as the theories behind it. We trained a bunch of our friends after a break in in their neighborhood, the next time it was one of them and the as they made their way to the stairs the robber left with out a shot because they were in a good position and armed and hard to see.

Things I like in the house.
Single stairway up to the next floor.
Large window in the living room, leaving the curtains open. Shed the light on the robber.
Central light switch, even some flood lights above the stairs to mask your position coming to the top of the stairs.
Sleep with bedroom doors open. You have to figure if they are opening it, it is to late to do anything. If it is open you have the jump on them.
There are a lot of things you can do, just sit down and think about it.

April 27, 2008, 04:41 PM
I am not saying dont be prepared but this is what i am saying. I am not worried if a bad guy trying to break in. One i am not a deep sleeper and to get in he has to break a heavy door or a window. My dog would alert me as well. to get where we are at he has to go up a stairs and down a hall way. My 870 and 00 will take care of that problem in short order. DONE! i need not worry any farther than that. I have seen what 00 buck does to a person at close range and its not good. Game over. no need to worry about any more tactical building crap. My house was built that way with out any tactical planning. I do remember from my Marine Corps days how to plant claymores and the like but i really dont think i will need any of them.

April 27, 2008, 07:16 PM
I appreciate all the comments, even those suggesting I'm paranoid. To clarify, I have a bedside weapon and two large dogs (because we love dogs, not canine defensive systems, although they deter many), but I find myself in the possible position of starting a house from scratch rather than retrofitting an existing house, and it seemed to me that rather than re-inventing the wheel, there should be some defense/security focused builders or house designers out there who have refined the overall concepts into practical plans.

April 27, 2008, 07:46 PM
I wont live in fear and looking for the boogie man behind every tree. Yes bad things happen. I have a gun and know full well how to use it. I have a weapon on ground i know. That is all i need. I know if some one breaks in they will leave or be carried out. I carry when i hit a bad part of the state but i dont feel naked in my town with out it. I have it in my truck and thats good enough for me. I have been in battle before and i know i can take care of busuness if need be. If i lived in a **** hole then yes i would take a few extra precautions. but if i cant solve the problem with an 870 full of 00 buck then you cant take care of it with a machine gun. Yes i did put an exteded tube on it when i went to Alaska and carried it for bear so i am way good to go!

April 27, 2008, 08:01 PM
I too refuse to live in fear and I don't and I don't think that is what anyone here means either.
If building a new house, I don't see why one should not incorporate a few things that will make the home safer and less inviting to intruders.
I have traveled some myself and have had firearms pulled on me and have had to defend myself--I did--- and no I don't look for the boogie man.
You seem content to face an intruder after he enters your home and that is fine---I hope you are single or at least have no children---I on the other hand would just as soon have the "boogie man" decide that my home is not worth the effort and I would be just as happy not to see or engage anyone---no Rambo complex here.
My wife feels much more comfortable when I leave the house for extended periods knowing that she has the dogs and other things to protect her.
You also assume that you'll always be alert and on guard and no one will get past you--others have felt the same way and were wrong.
Anyway, like I said, I'll be very happy if I never have to engage anyone.


April 28, 2008, 01:24 AM
Awww... cute puppies...

1) Steel door, even if it looks a little ghetto, with hinges that have LONG screws into solid material, and a long deadbolt into a similar receptacle (or three...).

2) Lose the tacky cute widdle windows next to the door. I know the guy who is trying to sell you on the house thinks they're the best thing since American Idol, but damn, they're easy to PUNCH through, and besides, they're just tacky. Was at a friend's place - faux stained glass and all... Yeech.

3) A cheapo security camera is a good thing. A window down the porch where you can slide out a telephone for the "poor guy with car problems" is also a good thing. If they won't make the call, reach for the rock salt.

grey sky
May 1, 2008, 01:18 AM
A good idea I've seen on these forms re-enforce door ways framing with 2x4s during construction and use exterior doors on bedrooms also with re-enforced framing creating multiple "safe" rooms through the house. This would be best done during construction or major remodleing.

May 1, 2008, 01:50 PM
Here is a decent article that briefly touches on floorplans along with a few other things related to home defense. ;)


May 1, 2008, 03:41 PM
Design the place so that the only ways in are through the doors. Then get some pressure sensitive mats and wire them to some sort of alert system in the master bedroom, maybe an audible alarm to wake you up and just an alert strobe in the other rooms. You will know the moment anyone is standing at the doors. No dog Required. You can load a few Colt SAAs in the time it takes to pick a lock or break down a decent door.

Superhouse 15
May 2, 2008, 06:26 AM
I'm sitting at work listening to a residential structure fire working in the next city. Please consider planning for your safety and egress in the event of a fire. Beware of where you place glass block windows and security bars. Have a key available near any double cylinder deadbolt locks, and please please please consider residential fire sprinklers. There is a way to secure doors and windows without making it impossible to evacuate if the smoke alarm goes off at 4AM.

The one I'm listening to had injuries but no fatalities.

May 2, 2008, 08:36 AM
Excellent point, Superhouse. ;)

Colt Delta Elite
May 3, 2008, 04:15 AM
I was thinking of overall layout. For instance, placing the master bedroom between the likely entry points and the other bedrooms; channeling intruders into routes favorable to the defender, exit points, etc..

I'm looking for something that doesn't scream "Paranoid Gunner Lives Here"

Too late.
Get real. You should be concerned with building wider doorways and installing ramps, as you have a greater likelihood of being disabled than having a home invasion.
Do you drive a Volvo too?

tcc556guy: maybe even to the point of sheetrocking a long gun behind a specific wall so that in an emergency the homeowner only has to smash the sheetrock to get at it

probably should back that up with dropping a few handguns into the forms as they pour the slab! :rolleyes:

May 3, 2008, 07:02 AM
In planning this house, do not forget to consider natural emergencies. Let me give you an example. We live in New Hampshire. We bought a house out in the woods. My situation is not one of bugging out, because I am already where I would bug out to. My sitiuation is getting snowed or iced in! Years ago one NH community lost power for two weeks due to a bad ice storm.

I did not consider this when we bought the house. I have tri-level, which is basically a small ranch attached to a small gambrel. The layout is not conducive to emergency heating. Get the best insulation and energy efficiency that you can, as this will be a factor in the future. I do not know where you live, but in some parts of the country where blizzards and ice storms are accompanied by power outages, having a pantry full of grub and a secondary heat/cooking source can be a real comfort.

Adapt your plans accordingly if you live in hurricane or tornado territory.

Make this a comfortable house to tough it out in, not just defensible. Have a good sized pantry for emergency supplies. We stock at least two weeks of winter emergency food in a haphazard fashion because we do not have a good pantry.

May 4, 2008, 09:26 AM
A few other suggestions. I know that this is the case in 99% of new construction, but have an attached garage. I have an older house with a detatched garage and transitioning from the car to garage to house is a time when I feel somewhat vulnerable. Along with that, make sure that the door from the garage into the house is just as sturdy as the exterior doors, and consider reinforcing the walls between the house and garage so that someone can't simply kick through the drywall to get into the house from the garage.

If you're considering an alarm system, it is a lot easier to have it installed when the house is being built, rather than waiting until afterwards! To that end, I have seen suggestions about making it a zoned system, so that you can activate the system in different ways - exterior only (for when you are home and inside); exterior plus yard (so that you can use the house and yard with the system still on, but with monitoring for the back door turned off); and fully alarmed (for when nobody is home).

Going to the issue raised by Superhouse, if it's within your budget, I'd seriously consider the sprinkler idea. Also, have a smoke alarm installed in EACH BEDROOM, wired into the main alarm system. Unfortunately, kids are not always awakened by alarms, so you need to plan out how to get to them if the alarm goes off. For this reason (and for getting them to cover if someone does break in) I would also recommend having all of the bedrooms together in one area in the house. Again, my house is older, and the bedrooms are split between two floors, which would make this a much more difficult prospect here. Also try to avoid having any bedrooms be in the line of fire if you should ever need to shoot from the master bedroom area - have the other bedrooms either be behind the master, or to the sides so that the approach is clear.

Finally, in light of the way that energy prices are going (!), I would definitely consider various "green" building techniques, such as using 2x6 exterior walls (to increase the amount of insulation that can be installed), higher quality windows, a tight building envelope, and high-efficiency appliances (such as furnaces, refridgerator, and a tankless hot water heater). Most of these additional costs will pay for themselves in just a few years (my brother's new high-efficiency furnace and a/c should pay themselves off in about 5 years, just from the savings on their utility bills).

Best of luck!

May 16, 2008, 08:11 PM
Google "Monolithic Dome Home"...

May 29, 2008, 08:28 AM
Do not forget firearms security when you are building. I built a small walk-in vault in my home. I purchased a used fire vault door for $1500 and the contractor charged me an extra $1000 to add the two walls and roof to my vault room. I wound up with a 4'X8' vault with a 36"X80" combination lock fire door. I wish now I would have gone 6'X20' but I am still way a head of the game. I did get the chance to examine the same brand and style door I have that had burned. The structure was a total loss, but the interior of the vault suffered only very minor smoke damage. Papers on the counter were still in good shape. It is a rather pricey addition to a new home, but it is almost impossible to add after initial construction.

May 29, 2008, 06:08 PM
I don't think it's paranoid at all to think about the construction of your new home with defense in mind.

I liked my old house better for that purpose. It was smaller. All of the bedroom windows were up high and difficult to access. An intruder would have been more likely to enter through a livingroom or kitchen window or a door. My bedroom opened out into the living room, my kids' room to my left, and anything coming for either of us would have to come through the livingroom. I could lie down in my bed and see anyone coming for our room. God forbid, if I ever had to shoot an intruder my kids' bedroom was well out of the line of fire and I had a concrete wall for a backstop.

I have a split plan now and there is almost no way I could shoot from my bedroom without endangering my kids. Maybe into the kitchen, but not the rest of the house. The windows sit lower and though they're better for fire safety they're easy to crawl into. I can't see out into the front yard except through a peephole in the front door and I have no way to move laterally from the door in an emergency, except into the garage if I have the garage door open.

Someone suggested that you should also consider natural disasters when building. After weathering three hurricanes in my new (2004) home, I can attest that is good advice. First I am glad my home is block, with a hip roof. The roof didn't even let out a creak, even in the strongest part of the storm. No leaks either, except at the doors, and my front door didn't leak after I clamped it shut.

After living a few weeks without power there are a couple of things I might do differently. I'd have a gas stove, a gas water heater, and maybe even a propane generator. I do keep a portable generator big enough to run my well pump, refrigerator and lights. I keep a small A/C wall unit in my bedroom window, and my gas grill with a couple of extra cylinders, and three or four gas cans.

May 29, 2008, 10:12 PM
Heres an article about what your looking for by Jeff Cooper....


May 30, 2008, 11:43 AM
Thanks for the responses. After OJ's post, I picked up Cooper's book, which was on my wish-list already. I've also checked out the dome homes. I live in a rural area and have lost power due to storms on several occasions (no power, no well-water) and agree with those who suggest disaster planning as part of the design process. Again, thanks to all who responded.