Buying a Safe

I need to buy a safe for the house, I want it to keep important documents, passport etc plus some cash

Can anyone give me advice on what type to buy and where to get it from

Many thanks
Waddle you do eh?


  • Locknut
    Locknut Posts: 436 Forumite
    Firstly do you want a safe or a firebox?

    There are so many variations and options I will run through a couple and try and point you in the right direction.

    What you say documents is it just paper or data too?
    How much cash/valuables (roughly) are you going to be putting in there. Do you want it insurance rated? As a rule of thumb £1k cash = 10k valuables

    Where are you thinking of putting it wall, floor. and how large does it have to be? ( be genorous better too much space than too little)

    If you need any further help dont hesitate in giving me a PM
  • mattymoo
    mattymoo Posts: 2,417 Forumite
    If you go down the second hand route, avoid the older safes that claim to be "Burglar and Fire Resisting" and carry fancy names like Old Reliable. You will easily recognise them - typically painted green or black with gold inlays and big brass plaques and scrolly lettering.

    These safes are typically around 100 years old. The burglar resistance worked back then when a thief only had hand tools to work with. They open up like a sardine can with modern tools / basic know how.

    The fire resistance came from the cavity material. A safe is a box within a box so don't be fooled by the wall thickness. The gap between the two boxes used to be filled with plaster of paris, soil or similar. Over the years this will have settled to the base of the cavity rendering the fire protection useless. In any event, it was only ever designed to protect paper and not magnetic media which fails at a far lower temperature.

    When choosing a safe the biggest thing to consider is where you will site it. Underfloor is unobtrusive and the safes offer more protection for the money. Down side is the installation (excavate a cubic metre of concrete to install) and getting down on hands and knees to open.

    Wall safes - generally considered to be useless. Easily overcome by removing surrounding brickwork. The movies love them though.

    Freestanding safe - more costly because all the protection has to be built in to the box. Can also be quite heavy. Okay for garage floors and parts of the house with a concrete floor. Not really suitable for mounting on timber floors and can be costly / difficult to install on upper floors.
  • Locknut
    Locknut Posts: 436 Forumite
    good advice there on second hand safes, on the old fire boxes the infill also aborbs water so if it does fire it steams your paper work and it all goes soggy :o
  • mattymoo
    mattymoo Posts: 2,417 Forumite
    A few safe dealers below

    It sounds like a relatively basic domestic safe will suffice unless your brother is handy with an angle grinder. Local locksmiths may also sell suitable models and some DIY stores as well.

    With this type of safe the biggest risk is that someone will simply lift it up and walk off with it. To get around this they use an expanding bolt fixing through the base of the safe and into a concrete floor below. The top of the bolt can only be seen with the safe door open.

    You have a choice of key or combination. Keys can be misplaced / picked up by your brother so I would probably go for combination lock in this situation.

    Something like this perhaps - Not sure if size is okay but they do larger models. Carried a £4k cash / £40k valuables rating for insurance purposes.

    For budget models, - £50 with a £1k / £10k rating. It's designed for hotel rooms but should deter your brother. OnlineSafes have a minimum order of 5 for that model but it should be available from the other sources I've mentioned.
  • mattymoo
    mattymoo Posts: 2,417 Forumite
    How about this one - Yale safe with £2k / £20k rating and 4 sizes available. Should hold 24 cans of beer and only £125 excl vat. Very good price.
  • Valli
    Valli Posts: 24,840 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Sainsbury's had some recently - don't know if they still do but they were cheap...appeared to be the size that you get in hotels IYSWIM
    combi locks too
    Don't put it DOWN; put it AWAY
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  • Mojisola
    Mojisola Posts: 35,559 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary
    I would advise buying one that works with a key rather than a keypad and number. My Dad had one that failed and he had to pay to have it cut open.
  • sillygoose
    sillygoose Posts: 4,794 Forumite
    SystemOAD wrote: »
    yes I think I would personally rather have one with a key not a keypad anyway just in case of things like that going wrong :)

    We have 3 different keypad ones, they all have a backup manual key, we keep the keys for each in one of the others!

    My best one is a medium sized Yale firesafe, great security, the door on the hinge side has huge lugs that locate into the shell when its closed, they are inaccessible so grinding the external hinges would get you nowhere. Its exactly A4 paper wide and tall enough to keep a lot of folders and a portable hard drive. It weighs a ton! a thief who tries to get far with it will end up crippled. A bargain at under £100 a while back from Focus DIY.
    European for 3 weeks in August, the rest of the year only British and proud.
  • gmgmgm
    gmgmgm Posts: 511 Forumite
    Does anyone know if it's possible to get a gun-safe (for broken shotguns) which are fireproofed so I can store some documents and disks in there?

    Gun safes and normal safes look to be 100% identical. Presumably there's some legal control over which safes are approved for guns.
  • mattymoo
    mattymoo Posts: 2,417 Forumite
    Sillygoose - a fire safe is not a security safe. The two things are mutually exclusive. A fire safe has a minimum number of penetrations through the case / door so as to preserve the fire resisting barrier. This will make it easier for a thief. In addition, you need to check any claimed fire resistance is for magnetic media. This will fail at a fire lower temperature than paper documents.

    A security safe will have better locking arrangements but these will compromise any fire resistance the safe might claim to have.

    It is something you need to be aware of if the documents / data are particularly valuable.

    gmgmgm - gun safes are simply locked cabinets designed to stop intruders / children accessing the guns. They are easily removed using a bit of brute force or cut into with suitable tools.
    You would not be able to make them fire resisting because of the locking arrangements / type of steel used.

    Fireproofing does not exist because any safe, whether fire rated or not, will eventually fail if exposed to fire.
    Fire resisting is the correct terminology - this is measured in minutes for how long the contents of the safe will remain safe from the effects of fire. Basic rating is 30 mins, top rated kit is 2 hours.

    The test involves heating the safe in a furnace to simulate the fire for around 30 minutes. The safe is then craned up to around 10 metres and dropped. This simulates the building fabric collapsing beneath the safe. The safe is then placed back in the furnace to simulate being left in a burning pile of debris.

    It is then rapidly cooled to simulate the fire brigade applying water.

    Once complete the data logging equipment is recovered and internal compartment temperatures checked and the rating applied.

    Fire resistance is achieved via composite construction. Typically an internal and external metal box with an inert material, e.g. concrete, between the two. Care has to be taken in the design to ensure that expansion during heating does not cause the material layers to delaminate.
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