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First steps of escape room construction
(time of reading 6 min)
The construction stage might be divided in three steps:
1) preliminary planning;
2) main stage;
3) installing process.

You have to carefully proceed through each of those (usually most of them would be run simultaneously to save time if possible) to ensure that your location answers to all of the safety terms and regulations and is convenient to your customers as well as suitable for the escape room itself. You can hire a contractor for the whole process or try to divide it between different contractors, as well as doing some part of the work or even the whole of it by yourself, in case you have relevant experience.
Preliminary planning
Careful planning the use of space in your location should answer the following questions:
1) How many rooms are you going for the escape room? Where exactly?

2) Where do you put the welcome/reception zone? The administrator's/game master's room? Where do you put the WC zone?

3) Where would be the exit and entrance, if the location has multiple options for those?Capital renovation?


You have to decide if you are going to conduct any capital renovation (destroying walls or building new, for example, adding/remodeling air conditioning system etc.). If so, you have to get a permission from both property's owner (in case of a lease) as well as the local authorities.

By this point you should have an understanding how much the renovation will cost as your budget must be ready. Bear in mind that it can vary even after careful calculation depending on difficulty level of the works, so try to include some reserve funds.
Main stage
Air conditioning

This point might create some issues, as it is usually costly and difficult to repair or recreate an AC system. Moreover, mostly it counts as capital renovation, which requires the permission from both the authorities and the owner.

Water supply and electricity

If there is not any at your venue, or you plan to rearrange it somehow, the situation is mostly same with the AC system – you will at least need the permissions from the property's owner if not from authorities. Note that destroying or creating walls usually causes some changes to the lightning.

Harnessing

There are a couple of general rules for electrical harnessing: try to hide as much of it as possible, preferably inside the walls, and abide all the safety rules. Mark any possible dangerous places for players not to touch those.
Fire safety

There are two ways of interaction with the authorities regarding the fire safety regulations. The first way implies building everything according to all fire safety regulations and arranging a visit of fire safety officer before the start of the works. However, usually there are too many excessive rules, which could - and are often – discarded. Your second option means conducting the renovation bearing the most crucial laws and regulations in mind and arranging the visit of fire safety officer when the work ends. In such case, he or she will point out existing violations, if there are some, and give you some time to repair those. If the renovation was conducted well enough, you would not need to do anything capital and will pass the control next time.

Cosmetic repairs

This process includes painting walls, repairing venue's little broken details if there are any and fixing other little things. It should be concluded after all major repairs are done as well as the issues with fire safety are eliminated.
Fake-doors

Fake doors are doors, which have no room behind them.

You can use them as:
1) bait for players
Usually people see the door as something that will eventually open, but fake doors do not.

2) as scary prop
if your quest is a horror one – fake door is a perfect place to insert a ghost or a killer banging on it from outside. This is an easy to create prop, which contributes to the atmosphere and the concept of the room significantly.

3) as a part of the game design
Opening the door can trigger some action (for instance, opening of another door or secret compartment). You can also put behind it some object – a key, a seal, a letter etc.

Besides that fake doors are a convenient way to hide wires.
Props installation, furniture installation, video surveillance and so on - about this (3d stage of constraction) we will speak in our next article. Stay tuned.
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