Secret passageways a feature for homes

- It sounds like something you might see in a Hollywood movie: homes with hidden passageways that lead to secret rooms.

One business in the Valley is turning that fantasy, into a reality. For some, the feature is just for fun, but for others, these secret rooms offer a genuine degree of protection, from hiding valuables, to being used as an escape, in case of a home invasion.

These passageways and rooms, being secret, are hard to see, even when up close. Invisibility is exactly the point.

"Whether it's just a secret door for fun, or a really high security project, it's a lot of fun for me either way," said Steve Humble with Creative Home Engineering. His company has been designing hidden passageways for the past 12 years, and turned an idea into what has become an international business.

Humble, who is a mechanical engineer, said most of the secret passages he built were "fun, conversation pieces" at first, nearly 70% of the customers are those who want to protect valuables, or have a safe and secure place to hide.

"For people that really need a safe place to go in case of a home invasion, or people that really have a collection that is so valuable, that they just can't risk that someone will walk into the house and see a vault door and know that they have something so valuable there in their house," said Humble.

Some of the designs cost a pretty penny, but for some of those who are especially security-conscious, money is usually not an object.

"We've done secret doors that cost in excess of $200,000," said Humble.

The job may be fun, but Humble said keeping people safe is a very serious business.

"I do not complain about this job," said Humble. "I mean, it's a pretty good gig. Although it's not all fun and games as a lot of people think, it's a serious business, in that people's lives depend on us doing our job well."

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