If you’re looking to upgrade your gun storage capacity and security by building a gun safe room, then you’ve come to the right place. With my gun vault build almost complete, I took stock of material and labor costs involved. The total construction cost to build a gun safe room is between $2500 – $20,000+ and varies by gun room size, construction material, vault door selection, and cost of labor. Below is a breakdown of gun room costs into 3 distinct categories; wall construction, vault door cost, and labor.
One of the primary reasons for the variance in cost of building a gun safe room is the choice of materials used in constructing the room itself. If you are retrofitting your home with a gun vault, like I did, some of the cost will go toward reinforcing existing structures. The remainder will go toward building new structures.
Below are several options for constructing your secure walls along with the pros and cons of each wall type.
Wood Framing and Plywood Sheets
Wood framing and plywood sheets are the simplest and least expensive options for constructing a gun safe room. Additionally, you can build them pretty much anywhere inside your home which make them an excellent option for retrofitting. However, you’ll be sacrificing security in a big way since bypassing wood is relatively easy. If you opt to use wood framing with plywood, I recommend integrating wire security mesh into your design.
Reinforced Cinder Block Gun Safe Room Walls
If you plan to retrofit your house with a gun safe room, reinforced cinder block is an excellent option. However, you’ll need to build the room on a concrete slab thick enough to support the weight of a filled cinder block wall. Usually this means the gun safe room will be at or below ground level.
Because rebar is run vertically to support the wall and concrete is used to fill the blocks, reinforced cinder block walls provide a superior level of security when compared to wood framing. Unfortunately, a cinder block wall is a significantly more expensive method of building your gun safe room. Here are a few ideas on how to save money on your construction project.
Poured Concrete Gun Vault Walls
Another solution for gun safe room construction is poured concrete. However, poured concrete is best used for new construction and generally not cost effective or logistically possible for retrofitting your house with a gun safe room. But, poured concrete is generally stronger than filled cinder block walls and also utilizes rebar for reinforcement. Therefore, it’s the most secure option available.
Poured concrete has the highest fire rating. Therefore, if fire is a primary concern, poured concrete is the best option, followed by filled cinder block units. The cost of poured concrete is comparable if not cheaper than filled cinder blocks. However, the cost savings disappear when trying to retrofit an existing structure with poured concrete.
How Much Does A Vault Door Cost?
Another reason for the cost variance when building a gun room is the selection of your vault door. Multiple factors dictate the cost of a vault door including; brand, fire-rating, door size, security features, and more. However, the cost usually begins around $2K for this SnapSafe model and can exceed $10K for higher end models. Below are several considerations when choosing the vault door for your needs.
Fire rating is effectively how long the door can withstand at a certain temperature. Generally, cost directly correlates with the fire rating of a vault door. This is because a higher fire rating usually means more or different materials. Therefore, the greater protection you want, the more you’re going to pay.
Locking pins are the steel bars that contract when a vault door is unlocked allowing the door to swing open. If your door has more pins or thicker pins, expect to pay more.
Vault Door Opening
Naturally a larger door opening means a larger door and consequently more raw materials to build the door. Ultimately a larger vault door translates to a higher cost. My recommendation is get the smallest door that meets your needs.
In-Swing vs. Out-Swing
Generally, an in-swing door is more expensive than an out-swing door. If the vault door opens into your gun safe room, it’s an in-swing door. Depending on the manufacturer, the cost difference may be nominal. For instance, my in-swing door was $200 more.
There are effectively two different types of locks, mechanical and digital. Some vault doors only come in a mechanical configuration (i.e. rotary dial). However, some manufacturers offer the same door with different lock types. If a programmable digital lock is important to you, it will cost you more.
Labor Costs For Gun Room Construction
When it comes to the labor costs of building a gun room safe, you get what you pay for. If you are a DIY person with a breadth of construction experience, have at it. But, for others I highly recommend hiring a specialist for the big jobs. For instance, I hired licensed masons to build my walls. Additionally, I hired a contractor to hang the vault door — mostly due to the weight.
Without divulging the details of my particular build, here’s a cost breakdown of labor for two projects associated with my gun safe room build. First, the two reinforced cinder block walls I needed to construct ran me $7686 for labor. Second, the vault door delivery and installation cost $2100.
Other Costs For A Gun Room Safe
Like any construction project, there are other cost considerations when building a gun safe room. I’ll touch on a few considerations, but the cost of these items will depend entirely upon your own desires and needs.
I highly recommend some form of virtual security. Typically this consists of security cameras. However, the number and type will vary. Additionally, you may want or need a security alarm system. If you are or are considering becoming an FFL, this list contains information you’ll want to further consider.
Electrical and Plumbing Needs
Chances are your gun safe room is going to have no windows. Therefore, you’ll need to consider your lighting situation. If you are planning to run any large equipment, you also need to consider your outlet situation. To be safe, I ran a separate circuit from the breaker box to power my vault. Because I will also do reloading, I opted to put a utility sink in my vault. These are just some considerations, but your choices will directly impact the cost of building a gun safe room.
Are you planning to run any kind of ventilation to your vault? After speaking with my HVAC technician, I decided not to. However, I do have a plug in dehumidifier that I can drain directly into my utility sink. As you can see one decision helped power the others. It saves to think your gun vault construction through!
Finishing and Accessories
The cost to build a gun safe room doesn’t end with four walls, a ceiling, and door. If you want to finish the interior with drywall that’s an additional cost. If you want to add a wall display system for your guns, it’s going to cost a few hundred dollars at minimum.
Building A Gun Room On A Budget (How To Save)
There are several ways to save money when building a gun safe room. However, cutting costs usually means sacrificing security to some extent. Therefore, truly evaluate your needs and risks before beginning your gun room construction. Below are three viable options for building a budget friendly gun room.
1. Save Money With A Security Door
Unlike vault doors, security doors are usually thinner, have smaller locking pins, and utilize a key rather than a combination locking system. However, security doors are sturdier than standard doors and are usually constructed of a more durable material, like steel. Additionally, security doors maintain similar security features to vault doors but on a smaller scale. Another compromise with a security doors is the fire rating, which is usually lower than a vault door. However, security doors are usually a fraction of the cost of a vault door. One example is this product from Viz-Pro.
2. Cost Savings On Materials
Above I mentioned how the cost to build a gun safe room varies by material. However, you can augment your use of materials to bring down costs. For example, lets say you want to build a reinforced cinder block wall. Switching your design from using 8 in. concrete masonry units (CMU) to 6 in. CMU will save money on the cost of blocks and the amount of concrete required to fill those blocks. Furthermore, you can do a 50% fill instead of 100% fill on your wall to further cut down on the cost of concrete.
3. Budget Friendly Alternatives
Another way to save money on building a gun room is to get creative with your solutions instead of relying on factory products. Pictured above is 1/2″ rebar run perpendicular to the floor joists above my gun room. Instead of purchasing wire mesh sheets, I opted for thicker rebar positioned at wider intervals. The cost for using wire security mesh instead was almost double what my method cost.
Unfortunately, the cost to build a gun safe room will depend largely on how you build your vault. If you are willing and able to provide the labor you can significantly cut back on costs. However, building the room yourself will likely extend the construction timeline. If you’ve found this article helpful, or have questions about my build please leave a comment and I’ll do my best to address them. Thanks for stopping by!