Edmonton

Behind closed doors: Secret passageways big business for Alberta carpenter

Carpenter Sandy Scheiris helps Alberta homeowners keep their secrets behind closed doors.

'That room or that closet disappears and whatever you put behind it, nobody knows'

Want to hide something in your home? Sandy Scheiris' Ardrossan business makes secret rooms and passageways. 0:39

Carpenter Sandy Scheiris helps Alberta homeowners keep their secrets behind closed doors.

Scheiris is operations manager for Trade Partner, a small custom home builder and renovator based in Sherwood Park that specializes in the installation of hidden doorways.

He turns closets and bedrooms into secret rooms, concealed behind a bookcase, fireplace or entertainment centre.

"Basically our doors would take the place of any closet door or bedroom door or any room in the house that you want to disappear," Scheiris said. 

"As soon as you install one of these, that room or that closet disappears and whatever you put behind it, nobody knows."

Unlike Bruce Wayne, who accesses the underground bat cave by playing a specific sequence of keys on a piano, Scheiris' patented hinge design relies on a hidden remote.

Hit a button and whoosh — a secret lair is revealed.

"It's got a magnetic fob where you push a button and it unlocks and it opens into a closet or a room," Scheiris said.

"Our hinge can actually hold 3,200 pounds. We can almost hang a car on it."

'You'll never find them'

Scheiris began fabricating specialized, heavy-duty hinges for hidden doors after getting a flood of customer requests. His crews install nearly 100 of the passageways each year.

"We thought this would be a good thing to resurrect because it's been around for centuries. It's just not been available to the public, and it's taken off really, really well."

Scheiris said it's been a good side business for his company — and as a 34-year Red Seal journeyman, it's given him a new challenge after decades of the "same old, same old."

"Some of the requests that we get, some of the things that people want to hide and how they want to hide it, it's challenging," he said.

Once his crew is done, the hidden rooms are impossible to find.

"We've got two hidden safes in our house and you can come into the house and spend all day here and you'll never find them," Scheiris said.

It's been around for centuries. It's just not been available to the public.-  Sandy Scheiris

While some of his customers are keen on the James Bond-like novelty of his work, most of his clients genuinely have something to conceal.

They've constructed panic rooms, secure rooms for irreplaceable family heirlooms and concealed antechambers for stashes of cash or firearm collections.

Some of his other jobs will have to remain secret, Scheiris said.

"The problem with our customers are, they really don't want to disclose their hidden passageway, because they're trying to hide something," Scheiris said with a chuckle.

"It's not too much of a secret if you tell everybody."