Ultimate Secure Home

Wow:

For Sale By Owner - The Ultimate Secure Home:

Strategically located in the awesome San Juan mountains of Southwest Colorado, this patented steel-reinforced concrete earth home was built to withstand almost any natural or man-made disaster you can name. It is more secure, safe, and functional than any conventional house could ever be, yet still has a level of comfort that one might not expect to find in an underground home.

The list of features starts out reasonable, but the description of how it was built and why just kept getting more surreal.

And, of course:

The exact location of the house will only be revealed to serious, pre-screened, and financially pre-qualified prospective buyers at an appropriate time. The owner believes that keeping the exact location secret to the general public is an important part of the home's security.

What's your vote? Real or hoax?

Posted on September 12, 2006 at 7:29 AM • 64 Comments

Comments

Dom De VittoSeptember 12, 2006 8:10 AM

I read it was real - load of old (titan?) silos existed all over the place, were decommissioned in the 80s, and are finally being sold off, IIRC.

Burying or destroyng them is much more costly than just selling them "stripped out".

Every once in a while one comes on the market, but they are pretty much useless . Though they go for a $1m or so (quite cheap - considering they usually have quite a bit of land), the refit costs make the total cost comparible a design-and-build job.

It's worth noting that these sites have long underground tunnels, but only a couple of moderate-sized areas are actually designed for living in.

mpdSeptember 12, 2006 8:25 AM

Assuming it's real... There are a bunch of pictures of the house being built... by a bunch of people. I assume he either a) blindfolded the construction guys so they didn't know where they were going or b) killed them all when the job was done. Otherwise, the exact location of the house isn't much of a secret.

Mike SherwoodSeptember 12, 2006 8:27 AM

I would bet it's real. There are a surprising number of these places, but their utility value to rich survivalists (who else can afford to move somewhere because of the house?) goes down sharply the more well known the special features of the house are.

SeanSeptember 12, 2006 8:39 AM

Haa Haaaa. Another survivalist who has found that their paranoia has been overcome by reality. Here the local real estate vampires just love survivalists. They come out of the land of the south to escape the oncoming revolt of the "them", spending loads of money equipping the last stronghold to bring their family to on the last exodus at the final minute. After about five years, with the bank account depleated and the "risk du joure" having proved to be mostly smoke and mirrors, they flee back to the land of the south to rebuild their bank account and never return. There is no end to the fresh crop that keeps our real estate agents in new Mercedes and Cadillacs.

annaSeptember 12, 2006 8:52 AM

if no one knows where the home is located, and does not even know that there are any homes at all, it should be a bit safer than advertising its location openly.
then again, if you make secure homes you might want to have a showcase house that people could observe, test, analyze ...

Clive RobinsonSeptember 12, 2006 9:06 AM

If it is a Silo home, then it might be of more worth to an ISP.

In the U.K. a couple of command bunkers built for the cold war came up for sale, fairly stripped out.

One in particular went for 400,000 UKP (say 700,000USD) and was bought by a private company (Centrinet).

Guess what they refitted it as a tempest proof ISP and it became the SmartBunker. They estimate that to have built a similar building would have cost around 20Million so as far as they where concerned it was dirt cheep and purpose built. Google [smartbunker subbrit] if you want photos etc.

However there are a few downsides of a trogladite existance and the two on the top of the list are,

1, Fire (there aint no easy way out and the air disappears real quick) so you need to take special precautions (and don't think of sprinklers or Halon systems for obvious reasons).

2, Suffocation, if the air con stops or the filters stop working then you have a difficulty breathing. Also there are a lot of heavy gasses that quite happily build up in the bottom of such places (like the bilges of a boat). If built in areas of heavy rock you might find Radon gas building up quite quickly.

Finally there are problems to do with energy, to live in a place like that usually does not have much in the way of heating issues (they naturally hang around 57F), the real issues are getting the heat and moisture out. Generaly the solution has been in the past a very very large tank of water, you just put a heat exchanger / converter in and take the heat out again if the temp realy does drop, otehrwise it costs less to heat your water (about 1KW of electricity for 6KW of heat transfer is what some European systems claim).

Rich GibbsSeptember 12, 2006 9:38 AM

As Jon suggested earlier, I think this place has been written up before. I don't have a link to hand, but I'll see if I can find one.

As I recall, it was originally being touted as a highly energy-efficient home. If I'm right, then maybe the security angle is just an attempt to play on the "terrorist" paranoia that our government is promoting so energetically.

LongwalkerSeptember 12, 2006 9:50 AM

"ultimatesecurehome.com" has been registered since 2002. Whoever's trying to sell this thing apparently hasn't had all that much luck locating qualified buyers.

The length of the registration to date, however, is evidence against it being nothing more than a high-rolling phishing scam.

Clive RobinsonSeptember 12, 2006 9:52 AM

@egeltje

"Nice, a 'stealthy' rock to live in with those huge solar panels next to you..."

The Solar panels might not look like you expect.

In what now seams like an age ago somebody was developing a combined solar cell and battery based around a liquid (of Vitimin C). The whole thing looked like a double glasing unit.

Similarly you can get one heck of a lot of energy out of your "garden pond" if you do it right.

Likewise piping under your front garden (just under the tarmac or lawn).

So you could have a stealthy home under what looks like a natural lake or urban car park ;)

Dale SulakSeptember 12, 2006 9:52 AM

It certainly *could* be real. With enough money, there is always someone willing to go to this level. I'll vote real.

Of course, if I were building for survival, I'd do it on the Big Island of Hawaii, at 3000ft of elevation. You don't need A/C. You don't need heat. And you can't beat the surroundings...

Andrew FeldsteinSeptember 12, 2006 10:19 AM

Looks like the domain was registered in '02, and the Wayback Machine seems to have pictures of the same house going back to that time. The domain is registered to a realtor, apparently, so maybe he's just trolling for prospects.

Around my area there was a realtor who put a sign on his own front lawn "For Sale By Owner"--with no intention of selling--just to get prospective buyers.

ShuraSeptember 12, 2006 10:35 AM

Hoax. The only thing that's missing is the clause that requires you to get a lobotomy if you check out the house and decide not to buy it after all.

GakkerSeptember 12, 2006 10:46 AM

I believe this to be a hoax which gets many folks to read and view the authors message. BTW. It doesnt look to secure to me. I don't like the location of the solar pannels and the smoke stack, which when damaged would render it un-livable. I'm sure there are many other flaws to its design as well.

sidelobeSeptember 12, 2006 10:55 AM

I wonder if the very real possibility of the owner retreating from society would affect his ability to get a mortgage?

richSeptember 12, 2006 11:39 AM

First observation on the original house. Note the comment:"The lack of large windows is one of the main reasons the house is so secure. Unavoidably, there is a trade-off between lots of natural light and security." Yuck!

Also, the diatribe on paranoia is lengthy.

@CaptianNed's oneofakindhouse
That link is interesting and real. However, the underground bomb shelter requires four sump pumps. Even though they have a generator and battery backup I doubt they can last long enough to warrent the protection provided by the bomb shelter.

Petréa MitchellSeptember 12, 2006 12:31 PM

My guess is a hoax in toto, but assembled from several true sources. For instance, there really are a few concrete dome houses out there-- the fantasy author Mercedes Lackey famously lives in one.

Description here: http://www.dragonlordsnet.com/qofeb94.htm.
(Scroll down to "High Flight is the weirdest house in Oklahoma....")

he circled into circling the wild wild hunt dawn dies at duskSeptember 12, 2006 1:11 PM

"The exact location of the house will only be revealed to serious, pre-screened, and financially pre-qualified prospective buyers at an appropriate time. The owner believes that keeping the exact location secret to the general public is an important part of the home's security."

Not secure enough because there would very likely already be several prospective buyers who would've toured such a place, who knows if they would've taken photos, video, etc. and who knows who they were!

Ultimate secure home? So I should place blind trust in the original owner in this claim?

Yonatan ZungerSeptember 12, 2006 1:12 PM

My guess is that this is legit. There are people who like this sort of thing, who are willing to work very hard at it, and a lot of them live in that area. (I've known some) The stated price sounds about right. There are a lot of very different photos there, so while it would be possible to fake those, it would be rather a pain.

I suppose my response is really, "it seems like the sort of thing I would find there, so someone claiming to have one for sale doesn't seem too odd." At first order, at least, it could be legit.

I'm not too fond of the owner's use of "absolutely" and similar adverbs to describe, e.g., the security of the well, and their estimates of EMP protection are probably a bit optimistic.

another_bruceSeptember 12, 2006 1:13 PM

no self-respecting paranoid survivalist is going to submit to pre-screening and pre-qualification by a real estate drone.

gregSeptember 12, 2006 1:48 PM

The story is cover for bio-war scare-mongering, broadcast at the people, with a bit of money and delusive self-importance, who might be motivated to support right-wing demagogues.

AriaSeptember 12, 2006 1:55 PM

Sounds like around here. Doesn't read like a joke, I know people like that.

--Another denizen of the San Juans

bobSeptember 12, 2006 3:01 PM

If you buy this place for a "retreat" in the event civilization falls; how do you get there? Mobs, bridges falling or being bombed, scavengers having beaten you there and lurking around til you unlock it.

Ken HaglerSeptember 12, 2006 3:01 PM

I came across that site a few years ago. Back then the "bio-war scare-mongering" wasn't present, though.

I guess they guy hasn't had much luck finding buyers.

Jon SowdenSeptember 12, 2006 3:14 PM

Context for the previous comment:
"Wood and Coal Heat

Another important aspect of the house which needs to be understood is the fact that it is heated exclusively with a wood/coal stove. ...

If there ever is a major national emergency, one would want to immediately go into a conservation mode, and try to conserve the remaining stored propane as best as possible. ... Also, instead of using the propane water heater, water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing can be easily heated by placing a large pot of water on top of the wood stove."

Placing a large pot on the stove?! This guy has a Luwa air filter, but he hasn't heard of wetbacks. n00b!!one!!1!

JohnSSeptember 12, 2006 4:11 PM

Real, I think. "A 40-minute drive southbound down Hwy. 550" (550 aka "the Million Dollar Highway", seems appropriate) says the location is north of Durango. Guess 40 miles at 60 mph; Google Earth shows the road as rather twisty, with some elevation changes, descending to 6,600 feet from over 10,000, ~40 miles north of Durango is near N37.785, W107.67 - a few miles south of Silverton, CO. Unfortunately the satellite images from GE are not very clear below their 40 thousand foot view. Google maps shows more roads but the satellite imagery is no better.

The existing marked roads at Silverton and San Juan Park are mostly on the east side, so I'd guess that's the side where this property is - he'd need real roads for most of the distance for the construction equipment. That side is a bit lower - land rises over 11,000 on the west.

Next year the pictures will be better; that solar array will stand out. Security by obscurity buys a little time.

AnonymousSeptember 12, 2006 4:41 PM

Sure looks legit to me. The technology described is stuff I remember from 1980s how to survive a nuclear war books, right down to locating the air intake in a pile of broken limestome boulders.

Course, with radioactive fallout accumulating in your Luwa filter, how does one go about replacing the filter matrix without contaminating the whole house with radioactive dust?

I'd rather be mobile enough to get out from downwind of the fallout cloud than trapped inside a bank vault with my own waste-products accumulating around me.

AnonymousSeptember 12, 2006 4:43 PM

And if the fallout is so wide-spread it can't be escaped... then who would want to survive anyway? Enjoy being one of the last human beings alive as the food chain collapses.

tinphoilSeptember 12, 2006 7:56 PM

Damn, I want a place like that. It ain't paranoia, just a healthy appreciation for realities!

BriceSeptember 12, 2006 9:13 PM

I'm torn on this one. I've been to a couple of survival residences up here in Montana. They went at auction for more like 1.5 mil. That was five years ago. The biggest reason I think this is a scam is cost. It should be way more expensive.

But having been registered for 4 years now, he might have just come down in price. Perhaps the pictures we saw are the only things actually finished in the house. If the rest of the interior is 'raw' that would seriously drive down the prices. Ever tried to sheetrock the inside of a dome?

JojoSeptember 13, 2006 1:41 AM

I always liked that house in Forbidden Planet where the metal shutters all came down and sealed in the house. Didn't protect the owner form the power of his own ID though.

Vilmos SotiSeptember 14, 2006 12:56 AM

> Strategically located in the awesome
> San Juan mountains of Southwest
> Colorado, this patented steel-reinforced
> concrete earth home was built to withstand
> almost any natural or man-made disaster
> you can name.

So let's look what natural disaster happened in the San Juan mountains in SW Colorado. The most violent known volcanic eruption on the whole earth, for starters. Wondering if that superhouse would survive that! Granted, the volcano is extinct, but it is still funny.

The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens ejected around 1 cubic km of material. The supervolcano in the San Juans ejected something like 5000 cubic km 27 million years ago. For comparison, the Yellowstone ejected half of that 2.2 million years ago.

The interested reader should search for the following terms:

La Garita Caldera
Fish Canyon Tuff
Supervolcano

Vilmos Soti


cogarchSeptember 15, 2006 7:15 AM

Interesting -- if it's so secure why would anyone want to sell this house, to return to the insecure world the rest of us inhabit?

Does the seller know something that we don't -- perhaps that the world is safer than we think?

thisglimpseSeptember 19, 2006 11:45 PM

It's real. It was in the Durango Herald today, and the reporter, called the Building Inspector's office, and they've been out there. They say there are three or four places like this around Durango.
The owner, alas, declined to comment.

And the link is now dead. Must've been a security risk.

AsteriskOctober 23, 2006 8:53 PM

The place is real. I know the builder. It may have sold not long ago, but it's been on the market for several years. The listed price has been declining . . . a lot.

Places like this are members of the category made famous by the Maginot Line.

Joey DurangoDecember 29, 2006 1:48 PM

A few friends and I made several observations and came up with several questions and comments.

1. Why has it been on the market so long?

The answer? Because it is not a legitimate real estate offering!

a. It probably is an advertising tool to sell the books "Ultimate Secure Home" and "Strategic Relocation."

b. It is an income generator of "forfeited earnest monies," e.g. "pre-qualified, pre-approved" prospective buyers would have to put up cash up-front which, if this is a scam, would be "non-refundable."

2. How "secret" is it...now?

Having been in the market for so long, presumably many, many prospective buyers must have toured it, therefore, the "secrecy" of the location has been fatally compromised.

3. We jokingly theorize that all the construction workers (lots of pics of tradesmen and artesans working) were killed and their bodies burried in a secret mass-grave, the same way that pirate captains would kill the sailors after they burried the treasure. Dead men don't talk.

BeenThereDoneThatNovember 13, 2007 12:54 PM

Yes, this place is real. My wife and I looked at it, twice, and, despite a few (minor) flaws, were seriously interested in it.

We made an offer, but it was later than the seller wanted to hear from us, and seemed to be upset that we hadn't responded earlier.

If it were still on the market, we'd still be interested in buying it (once we sell another investment property).

But as "Homeowner" posted, he bought it last November. If that's true, then it's our loss.

The seller was selling to move to lower altitude, and to eventually build another "secure home."

And no, the rest of you would not be able to find it. (The seller is smarter than you are giving him/her credit for.)

All-in-all, a rather nice place.

RabenfelsNovember 23, 2007 6:11 PM

Sold to "Homeowner" on November 6,2006 ? It's back on the net:
"survivalproperty.com/secure_home" Same details as before! Maybe the builder / construction company and real estate agent are floating this as a different marketingtool? Seems to be working. And the links to the local area of Durango ... Would be intersted in how many hits this listing gets....

GeorgeNovember 4, 2009 10:02 AM

Hi,
I am the guy that did the artifical rockwork on this home. It is for real. The owner is a little nutty but for real. It is now a popular area to live and the home has lots of nieghbors in a lovely part of Dorango co.

HeartbrokenJanuary 10, 2010 8:52 PM

I would have bought this but contacted the seller a few days too late. It has since closed and the sites are gone.

I know where it is and have already spoken to Dale at formworks and do not rule out building a similar home.

George: would you be willing to post the URL of your rockwork company?

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Co3 Systems, Inc..