Luxury builders, can you keep a secret?
If your clients fit a more clandestine criterion and are willing to put their trust, and money, into a custom, integrated residential project, there’s an ultra-high-end market option that could truly set your business above the rest.
This luxury add-on once only existed in the worlds of literature, television and film—secret doors and passageways hidden behind bookshelves, fireplaces and bars. In these fictional worlds, the pull of a book or twist of a candlestick would grant residents access to unseen rooms tucked away behind the walls of their home.
Now, builders can make these scenarios a reality for luxury clients with covert cravings.
The secret door notion leapt from fantasy to reality through the eyes of Steven Humble, who began his career with a degree in mechanical engineering and a job designing surgical lasers for medical companies. Living in a large home with ten roommates, Humble and crew began contemplating the feasibility of constructing secret doors within the residence to access available space.
After some research and meetings with architects and builders, Humble discovered that the industry lacked a market for this specific idea.
Thus, Creative Home Engineering was born.
“I quit my job, broke up with my girlfriend, moved in with my parents and let it be known that I would be building secret doors for people,” says Humble, president of the company.
It didn’t take long for Creative Home Engineering to take off. Currently, the company serves a wide range of clientele in remodels, room conversions and new builds—working directly with builders, architects, designers and more to realize clients’ most creative and customized ideas.
Automation, Customization and Cost
Before installing these secret doors in homes, Creative Home Engineering executes a lengthy process to ensure the final product meets the client’s every desire.
First, Creative Home Engineering forms a relationship with the client liaison. This could be security personnel, an architect, a designer or a builder. “There’s an initial process of establishing the scope,” says Humble. “What is the secret door going to look like? Will it be a bookcase? A brick wall? A rotating fireplace?”
From this point, the company discusses security features—is this a high security situation or just for fun? This is followed by an automation conversation, where the secret door has the potential to become motorized and automated in a variety of ways.
Doors can be controlled via smart phone, voice control (i.e. Amazon Alexa) or a myriad of additional creative methods. For example, a secret door in Humble’s own home is controlled by playing a sequence of notes on a nearby piano.
“It happens to be the intro to the James Bond theme. You play it correctly and the secret door opens,” says Humble.
Over the years, these secret door projects have ranged from customized residential projects to large-scale endeavors, such as a $100 million underground bomb shelter Humble worked on with 20,000 square feet of secretive space.
As you’ve likely noticed, cost is a major component in pursuing a project with Creative Home Engineering.
“Historically, our client base has been extremely high end,” says Humble. “Luxury is actually a bit of an understatement. Obviously, I can’t name names, because of the secretive nature of what I do, but you would definitely recognize some of the names on my clients list.”
However, the company has begun to penetrate the mid-market with a sister website that offers standardized, ready-to-ship secret doors that lack customization but present a far less expensive option that other price levels of builders and clients could pursue.
Scroll through below to see before & after pictures of rooms with hidden passageways, open and closed.