Wealthy homeowners are getting high-tech with home security

The rich are continually finding ways to safeguard their homes from intruders, no matter what the price. Short of building a mote around their properties, tony home owners have taken to putting in panic rooms — complete with bullet proof walls — elaborate high-tech security systems, and ventilation systems to protect against chemical attack.

Gaffco Ballistics, a Londonderry, Vt.-based security firm, reports that its residential projects grew by 60 percent from the year before.

“There is a higher level of perceived threat out there, and it’s growing every year,” says the firm’s CEO Tom Gaffney.

Real estate pros agree that home security is indeed a big selling point for properties these days. Smart homes — ones with keypads to control a wide variety of functions, including lighting, climate, alarms and video surveillance — are highly desirable. And property owners are increasingly spending top dollar to renovate their domiciles to include pricey safety features.

ADT, a prominent security services firm, notes the cost of installing its Pulse wireless home-security system varies with complexity, installations costs for a 4,000-square-foot home are between $1,800 and $4,500. And don’t forget the additional monthly fees of $60 to $80 for monitoring.

Even panic rooms are becoming more intricate and integrated into the home. Instead of being separate rooms with a sole purpose, property owners are opting to reinforce existing spaces with concrete walls and doors and add on elaborate communications systems, while seamlessly blending in these features with their decor to avoid detection. One Arizona couple recently paid $15,000 to have a secret switch installed on their mantel that, when touched with a magnet opens a safe room hidden behind their fireplace. Others opt for sliding bookcases or cabinets, Nancy Drew-style.

Better safe than sorry seems to be the mantra of late. “Every client should have several places in their home that are going to protect them for the length of time that it takes for the police to get there,” explains Christopher Falkenberg, president of New York firm Insite Security. [WSJ]