Considering Adding a Safe Room to Your Home?

Hogue Insurance Agency’s Featured Expert: Laura Davis, Registered Architect and Interior Designer with hpd architecture + interiors

If you’ve lived in North Texas for at least a year, chances are you have seen at least one tornado season. Even though tornados typically occur in late spring and early summer, it’s important to be prepared to keep your family safe in your home year-round. Do you have a safe place for your family to go in the event of a fast approaching storm?

New or Existing Home? You Have Options

The safest place to be during a tornado is an in-ground shelter or tornado cellar. However, we don’t see many of those in the Dallas area because of the challenging clay soils and high water tables.

Fortunately, a residential safe room in your home can be another option if you do not have a basement. A safe room can be designed into a new home or be accommodated into most existing homes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has given us specific structural requirements for safe room design that will provide protection from severe storms. Safe rooms must meet specific safety standards and be constructed according to federal laws, and they need to be able to withstand 250 mph winds and over 3,000 pounds of force, more than an EF-5 tornado.

Where to Build Your Safe Room?

Residential safe rooms can be added to the design of a new home build or built as a stand-alone above or below ground shelter.

There are companies that focus solely on manufacturing storm shelters that can be ordered and installed in your home. These shelters are available in a variety of sizes and can be custom built to fit your family and space available. For example, you can add a steel shelter to fit under your stairs.

Alternatively, if you plan to build a new home or remodel your current one, you can upgrade a room such as an interior pantry or closet to become your safe room. This option allows you to continue using your safe room every day and not just in an emergency.

If you plan to modify a room or retrofit an existing room, you must plan for the safe room to be anchored to the foundation, but the walls and ceiling framing must not be connected to the house framing. Imagine if a tornado tore off the roof of your house, you would want your safe room to still be standing independently and not be compromised by damaged house ceiling or roof framing.

Be sure to consult with a registered design professional such as an architect or engineer who is familiar with the construction of safe rooms. They can make recommendations for reputable builders and can also guide you so that your safe room will meet or exceed current FEMA criteria.

For additional considerations such as what size your safe room should be, what materials to use, or what supplies you should stock for emergencies, please visit our site:

hpd architecture + interiors is experienced in adding safe rooms in the homes of our Dallas clients. We are happy to answer questions and assist you in your next remodel or new home design project.


About Laura Davis

Laura Davis is a Registered Architect and Interior Designer, as well as Vice President and Principal at hpd architecture + interiors. She has guided homeowners in the Dallas area through remodels and custom home design for over 20 years. Laura is a graduate of Texas A&M University. While a student, she focused on historic preservation and now enjoys working with existing homes to bring new life to older properties.

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About Jennifer Hogue

Jennifer Hogue is a fully licensed insurance agent in the state of Texas and the President and Founder of Hogue Insurance Agency. She is proud to support like-minded businesses by giving leaders around Dallas a platform to shout from with the Featured Expert Series. Every few weeks, we’ll have an industry expert share their insights on a trending topic.

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