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The Aesthetics of Home Fortification

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5155841981_93459cca39Economic tensions, nuclear and EMP threats, and acts of terrorism, both domestic and abroad, have people concerned about their safety and survival. During the Cold War, bomb shelters or fallout shelters became very popular. Today, your own home can provide the protection you need from whatever threats about which you are most concerned. Jason Hartman is joined by Brian Camden, Principal of Hardened Structures Hardened Shelters LLC, to talk about fortified homes, underground bunkers, protection and action plans, and how many shelters are designed. Brian explains the construction designs and the level of security available. These hardened structures can be built as a nice-looking home or second home or as an addition to an existing home, most often with underground shelters, that are fully sustainable off the grid. Brian shares some of the most important reasons that more and more homeowners are requesting fortified homes or shelters. For more details, listen at: www.HolisticSurvival.com.

Hardened Structures Hardened Shelters LLC is a Construction Program Management firm (http://www.HardenedStructures.com/). The Team consists of a core group of independent, specially trained shelter design firms for structural engineering, blast engineering, EMP/HEMP shielding, CBRN, HVAC, electrical and alternative energy designs. There has been a lot of concern about how unprotected our nation is from EMP/HEMP blasts, whether from natural means like solar flares or from warring nations, and the company has been involved in a lot of military projects to protect from these threats.

All construction is performed by a special group of geographically specific licensed general contractors. These independent design firms and general contractors have had specialized shelter design and build training before they can become part of the “Hardened Structures Team”. The company provides a “one-stop shop,” including arms, alarm systems, training, security threat assessments and more.

Narrator: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show with Jason Hartman. The economic storm brewing around the world is set to spill into all aspects of our lives. Are you prepared? Where are you going to turn for the critical life skills necessary for you to survive and prosper? The Holistic Survival Show is your family’s insurance for a better life. Jason will teach you to think independently, to understand threats and how to create the ultimate action plan. Sudden change or worst case scenario, you’ll be ready. Welcome to Holistic Survival, your key resource for protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Ladies and gentlemen, your host Jason Hartman.

Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Holistic Survival Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we talk about protecting the people places and profits you care about in these uncertain times. We have a great interview for you today. And we will be back with that in less than 60 seconds on the Holistic Survival Show. And by the way, be sure to visit our website at HolisticSurvival.com. You can subscribe to our blog, which is totally free, has loads of great information, and there’s just a lot of good content for you on the site, so make sure you take advantage of that at HolisticSurvival.com. We’ll be right back.

Start of Interview with Brian Camden

Jason Hartman: Hey, it’s my pleasure to welcome Brian Camden to the show. He is the founder of Hardened Structures LLC and Hardened Shelters LLC; that’s actually the full name, is both of those together. And we’re going to talk about an interesting niche that he has in the market place of building shelters; secure and protective shelters for people. And I’m just anxious to hear more about it.

Brian, welcome. How are you?

Brian Camden: I’m doing fine and thank you for allowing us to come on the show.

Jason Hartman: Well the pleasure is all mine. This is an interesting topic. Your company is located in Virginia Beach, Virginia though, correct?

Brian Camden: That’s correct. Our main headquarters is here in Virginia Beach. We do have affiliates throughout the US and Washington State, California, Texas, Colorado, The Carolinas, and New York, New Jersey.

Jason Hartman: Okay great. So tell us a little bit about what it is you do specifically.

Brian Camden: Well hardened structures is a design build company that specializes in fortified homes, underground shelters, bomb shelters, hardened facilities of just about any kind you can imagine. We started out with a private client who wanted one built right after the first gulf war in 1991. And it kind of just took off from there. We are registered with the US State Department that allows us to work on bomb shelters overseas. So most of our military work right now is concentrated in the gulf region, in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, The Kingdom, we have worked in Jordan in the past. We do have a couple smaller projects in Australia, New Zealand, and in Europe. But it’s really whatever the client is envisioning.

We could do ballistic rated house, that is completely off grid, capable, it can withstand forced entry, armed assault, and it looks just like a nice built custom home. We can build complete facilities as far as multiple units on 2,3,4 hundred acres, which we’ve done for organizations. And generally speaking, these facilities are defensible and they’re sustainable. Which means, in case something does happen, there is no electricity, there is no water, there is no power; these facilities could keep right on going.

Jason Hartman: And do you typically recommend people build them from scratch? Or should they modify a house they already own?

Brian Camden: Well we could do both. It’s obviously better to do it from scratch, to take a piece of raw land and start right there. But a lot of people if they’re going to harden their primary residence, usually they’ll look at doing either an addition onto the side, or the hardened portions of the basement. What we try to do is blend this in to make it look like part of the original construction. So that when you’re looking at it, you can’t tell that it’s actually a hardened portion of the home.

Jason Hartman: What are your clients saying to you when they call you out for a proposal or an estimate on a job? What kind of things are they saying? What are they concerned about?

Brian Camden: The current market, which is about 60% of our business being fortified homes, their main concern is a break down in civilization, a break down in law and order, that type of scenario. The overriding factor for them choosing this facility is asset protection. These clients identify their family as being their most important asset. And what they’re doing is providing an asset insurance for them. These homes, especially if they’re a secondary home like a vacation home, they can serve a dual purpose. It’s a place where the family can go horseback riding, fishing, hiking, skiing. We’ve built a number of them near ski resorts. And hopefully nothing ever happens. They have a very nice second home.

Then again, if something does happen, the family has a place they can go and meet. It’s already pre-stocked. They have a plan in place for them to sustain themselves. They have a plan in place so they’re protected in case something happens, and it gives them the asset insurance they need to protect what they identify as their most important asset, that being their family.

Jason Hartman: And tell us about, what does a typical job look like? Say, someone’s got a piece of land, they’re building something from scratch. What are they building and what about it is… how do you do it? What are some of the techniques and the construction and what are some of the features?

Brian Camden: Well what we tell our clients is this: To start out with the design of the home, have the family function drive the design. Do not have the hardening aspect of it. In other words, design the home as you would a normal home. Make sure your wife gets the bedroom and bathroom that she wants. Make sure the kids rooms are all laid out. In essence, we can harden almost any design there is.
And we have found through our experience that the first step in designing a, especially a fortified home for a family, is to design it to the family function, not to design it for the protection. Once the family function is established, they have the flow of the floor plan the way that they want it, then we will take it. Generally speaking a fortified home is rated to a ballistic rating of 5, it’s a UL rating of 5 which means it can withstand one round from an AK-47 or a 30 Odd 6, which is the preferred weapon of the looter or the person assaulting the house. The exterior of the house is also fire proof. So you can’t come up and throw a gasoline bomb on it somehow and try to burn it down. But when you look at the house from the outside, it’s going to look like just a regular nice vacation home.

We can make them out of log cabins, we can make them out of brick, we can do almost any type of exterior appearance that they like. Then they all incorporate an underground component, a bunker or shelter of one type or the other. It can be a wine cellar, it can be a fallout shelter, it could be an area where we put the mechanical and electrical rooms. Most of these shelters are protected against the effects of electromagnetic pulse, EMP, which would be generated either from a solar flare or from an EMP weapon or a nuclear burst. The reason being, is that we know that solar flares have always occurred and they are occurring again. And Hardened Structures knows from the way the market has been for the last couple of years, that the US government themselves are Hardening against solar flares and for EMP. An EMP event is what would trigger a breakdown in civilization.

Jason Hartman: Oh my gosh. If we had a solar flare or some sort of EMP blast, or I guess EMP is the result of either one, but that would knock us back into the stone age. It is incredibly scary how much our civilization depends on electricity. And really, from the reports I hear and the shows I’ve done with prior guests, how unprepared we are for this. The grid will not withstand anything, and it would take 8-12 months, maybe even more to rebuild the grid. With transformers ordered from China.

Brian Camden: That’s true. The grid itself as it stands now is very fragile. We are working with a number of electrical utility companies throughout the US, hardening substations right now. The transformers that actually run the large utility grids, you’re right. Some are made in China, aside from that it’s either South Korea or in France. And these are not shelf items. These transformers usually take 8,9,10 months to make. And when you consider that there’s thousands of them that would probably go down, the congressional report on EMP estimated the US would be without power anywhere from 5 months to up to 5 years. And under that scenario, water runs out in about 48 hours, food runs out in about 3-4 days. And generally speaking food riots would start soon thereafter.

Jason Hartman: You said ballistic level 5 I believe. Now is that for the windows or the walls or both?

Brian Camden: It has to be for everything.

Jason Hartman: Ballistic level 5, you said that’s just one round from say an AK-47.

Brian Camden: That’s correct.

Jason Hartman: That’s not enough, is it? Any assault would include more than one round.

Brian Camden: That’s one round hitting in exactly the same spot. So that if someone was on the outside as it stands now is very fragile. We are working with a number of electrical utility companies throughout the US, hardening substations right now. The transformers that actually run the large utility grids, you’re right. Some are made in China, aside from that it’s either South Korea or in France. And these are not shelf items. These transformers usually take 8,9,10 months to make. And when you consider that there’s thousands of them that would probably go down, the congressional report on EMP estimated the US would be without power anywhere from 5 months to up to 5 years. And under that scenario, water runs out in about 48 hours, food runs out in about 3-4 days. And generally speaking food riots would start soon thereafter.

Jason Hartman: You said ballistic level 5 I believe. Now is that for the windows or the walls or both?

Brian Camden: It has to be for everything.

Jason Hartman: Ballistic level 5, you said that’s just one round from say an AK-47.

Brian Camden: That’s correct.

Jason Hartman: That’s not enough, is it? Any assault would include more than one round.

Brian Camden: That’s one round hitting in exactly the same spot. So that if someone was on the outside of the house and they were spraying the house with weapons, chances are no two bullets are going to hit exactly one behind the other. It can certainly be hardened to a different level, but what you try to achieve is a balance between the clients budget and his protection needs. And when it comes to actually designing the facility, whether it be a fortified home or a bunker or what have you, the art to it is trying to achieve a condition that is called balance survivability. And that is where the exterior envelope of the shelter or the home, the outside walls, the ceilings, the shelter systems and the shelter subsystems can all survive the same threat and threat level at the same time simultaneously.

In other words, there is no Achilles Heel. And that’s really why most of the people come to Hardened Structures. After 21 years, we have some of the top engineers in the industry doing this and we have been on a select list with the army core of engineers, and a number of insurance companies.

Jason Hartman: Let me take a brief pause. We’ll be back in just a minute.

Narrator: Have you listened to the Creating Wealth series? I mean from the beginning. If not, you can go head and get book one, that’s shows 1-20, in digital download. These are advanced strategies for wealth creation. For more information go to JasonHartman.com.

Jason Hartman: We talk about ballistic and fire threats, ballistic in terms of weapons, guns and such. But does someone for their home, do they need an actual bomb shelter? These bomb shelters, are those just the underground bunker portions of it? Talk about that a little bit.

Brian Camden: In our opinion, no they do not. The chance of an actual weapon being detonated, and when I say weapon I mean a nuclear weapon, here in the US is extremely slim. In fact the national planning scenarios say that the most likely detonation of a nuclear weapon here in the US would be the detonation of a 10 kiloton improvised nuclear device in the business district of a major metropolitan city, and delivered in a delivery van. This would be the typical dirty bomb being blown up in downtown New York or Washington.

The chance of an actual, an ICBM being launched and hitting us, especially with the current anti-missile defense shield that’s being constructed all along our borders, in our opinion is fairly nil. So the shelters we would build, the underground portion of the shelter, is rarely ever beyond what’s called one bar blast over pressure which is about 15 pounds per square inch of applied blast to the exterior wall. So we would design it mainly to take the earth loads, and the live loads, and the dead lows of the structure above and the ground surrounding it, and then beef it up a little more just in case there was some type of a seismic event, let’s say like an earth quake, along with some type of small blast of it. But you’re right, the actual bomb shelters, I think the only ones we’ve done in years have probably been located in the Middle East.

Jason Hartman: You talk on your website about HEMP a lot. I mean, EMP, but what’s the H for?

Brian Camden: That’s high altitude.

Jason Hartman: Oh, high altitude.

Brian Camden: Yeah, HEMP results from the detonation of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere which is mainly how they’re going to do it. In Europe and in the Middle East it’s HAEMP meaning high altitude electromagnetic pulse. For DOD, department of defense acronyms here, they just call it HEMP.

Jason Hartman: So continue with the features. You talk about bullet proof glass, well level 5, metal closing shutters. What do you do inside the walls of the house itself that make it hardened? Is it just concrete or some other material?

Brian Camden: There’s a variety of sources we can use here. And a lot of it’s going to depend on the site conditions, the location of where we are geographically, what we have to draw upon. We can design a level 8 ballistic rated home out of cinderblocks. A ten inch cinderblock that is grout filled will give you the same protection. A cast in place concrete wall…

Jason Hartman: So the cinder blocks are filled with something right? So they’re not hollow?

Brian Camden: Yeah. All the cells are grout filled with a 3,000 PSI concrete. You could use a regular cast in place concrete wall about 8 inches thick, you can use what’s called a ICF, which is an insulated concrete form. I’m sure you’ve seen it on houses when it looks like the house is filled up of Styrofoam, and then they pour concrete in it. A ten inch ICF wall with achieve a ballistic rating of UL8.

Jason Hartman: Wow, that is thick. And what is 8? You talked about 5; what is 8? What is the 8 rating?

Brian Camden: An 8 is… right now UL ratings go to 8, which is multiple rounds of an AK-47 hitting in the same location. There is a new class station of 10 which is designed for the 50 caliber. We have never built one yet and I don’t think you can get the doors and windows for them yet. But the thickness of a wall to withstand a 50 caliber round would probably end up having to be probably 12 inches thick.

Jason Hartman: 12! That is unbelievable. I mean, 12 inches of solid concrete for a 50 cal, but for an ak-47, ten inches? It needs to be that thick of concrete?

Brian Camden: Well I’m sure there’s a safety factor involved in it, but right now Underwriters Laboratories, UL, those are the formulas we follow. Those are the formulas that the department of defense have adopted also. I’m sure they’ve done testing on it to establish these ballistic levels. It’s got them the same as blast, when you’re calculating an actual bomb shelter whether it be above ground or below ground, you figure the yield of the weapon. You figure 5 kiloton, 10, 20 kiloton, the height of the burst, the distance from the burst to the shelter, and then any geographical site or shielding that’s around it, and then the coverage on top of it.

Jason Hartman: Amazing. Wow. Just amazing. What’s the typical cost per square foot for the level 8 home that you’re talking about?

Brian Camden: Well, it’s a level 5.

Jason Hartman: Or level 5.

Brian Camden: Most people get a level 5. A regular custom house, if you were just to go out and build it right now yourself, it’s going to cost you anywhere from 80-120 dollars a square foot depending on the level of finishes that you pick on the inside. Paneling and carpet and stuff.

Jason Hartman: And you could even spend a lot more than that, by the way, but go ahead.

Brian Camden: You certainly can. A ballistic rated house is going to cost you anywhere from about 210 to about 350 dollars a square foot.

Jason Hartman: Okay, so it’s about 2 ½-3 ½ times the cost then, right?

Brian Camden: Yeah. Maybe not quite twice as much. And we could achieve the ballistic rating in a number of ways. It doesn’t have to be concrete; we can use a fiberglass resin panel. There’s a number of companies here in the US that make it, that you can attach right to the studs in the wall on the outside. So there’s a number of cost saving measures if the client wants to go in that direction on it. An underground bunker, a cast in place reinforced concrete bunker is going to cost anywhere from 350 to about 700 dollars a square foot.

And the factors that will affect the cost will be number one: blast over pressure. Mainly how thick do we have to make the walls in the ceiling? Is it a one bar, two bar, three bar blast over pressure? That’s going to be the number on cost determinate. After that it’s going to be geotechnical conditions and site conditions. When we excavate data are we going to hit rock, are we going to hit water, is there a road leading up to the building site? Do we have to run power up to it? Is there water up there? What are the site and the geotechnical conditions? the other factor’s going to be the extent of EMP shielding. Do we just shield the life safety systems? The electrical and mechanical? Or do we have to shield the entire shelter? Some of our clients wear a pace maker. So we have to shield the entire shelter. The shielding for EMP can be expensive in and of itself. And the last factor is…

Jason Hartman: Well how much is the EMP shielding? What does that add to it?

Brian Camden: That will add right at around 50-60 dollars a square foot. And that’s a square foot on the walls and the ceiling.

Jason Hartman: Okay, so now you’re up to total square footage per square foot price of, what do you say, 210 up to 300?

Brian Camden: No, a bunker is going to run about 350 to 700 dollars a square foot.

Jason Hartman: Right, but that’s a bunker. We’re just talking about the house itself, right? And there are two things we’re discussing here. One is the house, and the other is the underground shelter, right?

Brian Camden: That’s correct.

Jason Hartman: Okay, so we’re just talking about the house right now. In terms of that cost. So do you want to just change any of your numbers or reiterate them?

Brian Camden: Nope, for a house itself, a ballistic rated house, anywhere from 200-350 a square foot. And again it’s going to depend on the level of finishes on the inside. The actual ballistic rated doors, windows, and the exterior shell, those products are fairly common right now to procure and for us to purchase. If the client wants additional shielding, EMP shielding, outside of where his heat pump is, his solar system and stuff like that then that would cost more. The other factors that take it up are the offensive and defensive components incorporated into the design of the house. Some people want it where depending on what the site is, they may want the driveway coming up to have a hair turn in it, have a choke point. They may want to be able to have an offensive capability at the front door.

Jason Hartman: Tell us about the offensive capabilities.

Brian Camden: Well I don’t want to get into a lot of detail, but let’s just say there’s ways if somebody’s trying to kick in your front door, there are certainly ways of neutralizing that threat right there at that location without you exposing yourself.

Jason Hartman: Now we’re just dying to know. Is it gas? Is it electricity? Is it a built in gun turret?

Brian Camden: It’s all of that.

Jason Hartman: Anything else besides those? Or you don’t want to say?

Brian Camden: I’ve rather not comment to tell you the truth. On a personal level, I am a civil engineer and frankly, I don’t even own a gun. We have Navy Seals here on staff that handle all of that for us. They do the site assessments, the do the protection programs of threat analysis, they actually can procure weapons for the clients, train them in it. They do what’s called red teaming, which is they take the clients house and they’ll come up with 4 or 5 different ways that they’re going to attack it based on what the adversary would see when they’re coming at it, then we would come up with counter measures for that. Then you even come up with a plan in case you’re caught outside and you have to retreat. You have your post attack recovery plans, your counter attack plans…

Again, not being a military person myself I really don’t get involved in that aspect of it that much. But I can tell you most of our clients use are Navy Seals. I would say about 2/3 of them.

Jason Hartman: Well, what else should people know?

Brian Camden: The one thing that we do know for sure after 21 years in the business, is that no one knows what’s going to happen. There’s everything from the Mayan calendar, to asteroids, to terrorism. It’s what you personally perceive as a threat. As engineers and architects ourselves, it really doesn’t matter what the client wants protection from. Once we understand what the threat event scenario is, and we establish those threat levels that the facility has to mitigate, and we identify the assets to be protected: the family, the food, the weapons, the gold, the precious metals, whatever it is and the duration times in the shelters… from that point on it’s mainly engineering and physics for us.

Jason Hartman: Makes sense, makes sense. Well good stuff. Anything on the length of time it takes to do a project? For example, if it takes 6 months to build a custom home, and I know it can take a lot longer than that, how long does it take to build one of your homes?

Brian Camden: The construction time phase is basically the same as a normal house. We’ve done it so long and so many times, that we’ve got it basically down to a science. If it’s a larger house it’s going to take longer, if it’s a house up on top of a mountain and we’ve got to truck everything out, whether you’re building a hardened home or regular home, the construction time is basically the same. Again, we’ve been in the construction business 35 years. We’ve built hardened structures for 21 years. We also build regular buildings also. We do large commercial construction also. So the time frame, just because it’s hardened, really doesn’t impact that much. Unless of course we’re having to dig down a hundred feet or something.

Jason Hartman: Wow. Fantastic. Good stuff. Well, give out your website if you would and let people know where they can learn more about hardened structures.

Brian Camden: Thank you. I certainly will. Our website is HardenedStructures.com. And of course our toll free number here is 877-486-0084.

Jason Hartman: Hey Brian, I’ve got another question for you. You have on your website the mobile shelters. It looks like those are just EMP shelters. Are those simply EMP or are those hardened as well for other things besides EMP?

Brian Camden: These are the prefabricated steel shelters?

Jason Hartman: Yeah. These look like containers, like shipping containers.

Brian Camden: Yeah. They’re not. We’ve tried shipping containers over the years and they just do not work. These are fabricated out of a 5/16th inch plate steel, the fallout shelters are. They’re one of our biggest sellers just because we can manufacture them at such a low cost. A 6 person shelter with an NBC protected air filtration and the blast doors and blast valves about 40 grand.

The other shelters you may see on there are the Genesis. The Genesis shelter system is the strongest pre-manufactured shelter system in the world today. It’s our biggest seller in the Middle East, especially with the military. It’s designed for taking a direct hit of an artillery shell. It has a roll 3 quarter inch steel shell on it. It’s fully EMP protected, it has a 3 bar blast over pressure rating, which is 45 pounds per square inch. It is extremely robust. And whereas we have put it in residential applications, it’s been primarily used for the military.

Jason Hartman: What are the prices of those?

Brian Camden: That will run right at around 500 thousand dollars for the basic living pod, not counting the connectors and stairs.

Jason Hartman: Right. And so either of those shelters can be just put on a semi-truck and moved around?

Brian Camden: Exactly.

Jason Hartman: So if someone isn’t sure where they’re staying, for example, they might want to consider something like that. Do people do that? Do they put something like that near their home, where they can get out to it if they need to? Sort of attached to the home, or kind of like maybe attached to the side of a garage? And of course it depends.

Brian Camden: Most of them, if they’re attached to an existing house, it’s usually from the basement wall. We’ll put a connector from the shelter into the wall and then cut a hole in the existing wall. A lot of people want them detached from the house, put usually in a nondescript location out on the site somewhere. It’s client preference. Whatever the client wants. With these types of products there is no one size fits all obviously. And even after 20 some years when we think we’ve heard it all, it’s surprising how all of the sudden you hear something new one day.

Jason Hartman: Sure. Absolutely.

Brian Camden: We were hearing stuff we hadn’t already thought of a year or so ago.

Jason Hartman: That’s for sure. Well, hey Brian, thanks so much for joining us today. This has been an interesting education on Hardened Structures.

Brian Camden: Well thanks so much for having me. This is a great show you’ve got and we’re certainly excited to participate with you.

Narrator: Thank you for joining us today for the Holistic Survival Show. Protecting the people, places and profits you care about in uncertain times. Be sure to listen to our Creating Wealth Show, which focuses on exploiting the financial and wealth creation opportunities in today’s economy. Learn more at www.JasonHartman.com or search “Jason Hartman” on iTunes.

This show is produced by the Hartman Media Company, offering very general guidelines and information. Opinions of guests are their own, and none of the content should be considered individual advice. If you require personalized advice, please consult an appropriate professional. Information deemed reliable, but not guaranteed. (Image: Flickr | break.things)

Transcribed by Ralph 

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