Building panic rooms, bunkers: The 1% are anxious as 2024 election approaches

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Bill Rigdon, CEO of Building Consensus Inc., a company specializing in building security, has always been in high demand among elite clients, namely celebrities and those of considerable wealth and power. 

But over the past few months, business has been particularly booming, Rigdon told FOX Business. The uptick in business is being attributed to growing apprehensions around the civil unrest unfolding across the country as well as uncertainty over the upcoming election, Rigdon explained.

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The most common thing he is being asked today is: “How can I protect myself with the upcoming election and the civil unrest that I’m watching on the news every day,” Rigdon told FOX Business. “People are scared to death.”

In fact, Rigdon said many of his current clients have a big caveat: projects need to get done before Nov. 5, when President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump face each other in the U.S. presidential election yet again. 

“It’s just gotten crazy the last, I’d say, three to six months. It’s really gotten crazy because I have clients right now where I am doing extensive security work, which includes panic rooms [and] bunkers in high rises in New York,” he said. 

Rigdon specializes in state-of-the-art steel reinforced concrete structures that are equipped with high-tech mechanical and electric installations, according to his website. 

He serves clients around the world, though some of his highest demand areas include the United Kingdom, Los Angeles and New York City. He can’t name any of them due to very strict non-disclosure agreements. 

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Rigdon said the doors alone, which come equipped with a ballistic frame and are 600 to 700 pounds each, start out at $50,000. 

For material that’s applied to the studs of an average unfinished small room, it will cost you anywhere between $100,000 to $200,000. The cost varies depending on the level of protection requested and if all walls, floor and ceiling are included, according to Rigdon, who noted that the aforementioned figure does not include things such as access controls, technology and other equipment.

Building consensus

His projects can range into the millions. One project Rigdon said he is currently working on is estimated to cost around $3.5 million when it’s all completed. 

Thanks to the advancement in technology in recent years, the tools deployed to catch criminals are also more advanced. Rigdon said his clients can have door handles that will shock a potential intruder. It can also spray colored pepper spray so that law enforcement will be able to track down the intruder. In some cases, Ridgon said they have deployed drones that will drop a net on someone.

Jon H., the chief security officer at Fortified Estate, which specializes in high-end home fortification such as bespoke armored doors, bulletproof wall panels, blastproof windows and discreet panic rooms, has observed a connection between geopolitical events and an increase in business.

While his clients haven’t specified why they are reaching out, Jon told FOX Business that he has noticed an “influx of people reaching out” after particular events.

Fortified Estate

For one, he noticed an uptick in requests when COVID-19 first gripped the world and people were concerned about supplies running out.

Meanwhile, following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the company said it had politicians from both sides of the aisle reaching out to create safe rooms in their homes. 

Fortified Estate

After Hamas terrorists stormed Israel in a surprise attack in early October, killing more than 1,100 Israelis and kidnapping over 200, some who remain hostages, the company had “a large number” of Jewish homeowners creating panic rooms in their home, according to Jon.

Today, he noted, clients aren’t creating “a dedicated cold-looking panic room.” Rather, they are turning their master closets, bedrooms and even home offices into a panic room. This way, it can be used as a normal room, but they are also “secure,” he added.

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