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Underground shelters/bunkers?

Discussion in 'Survival/Preparedness Forum' started by emt1581, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. emt1581

    emt1581 Curious Member

    Oct 17, 2002
    Penn's Woods
    I figure this is a safe enough place to talk about them since we really don't know each other. But it seems like when we have in the past, some people are not fond of them.

    Does anyone have one stocked and ready to go?

    What are their vulnerabilities/weaknesses?

    I was watching doomsday bunkers on tv and this one woman was having build her one that could sleep 10, had 2 500 gallon tanks for water/waste, power supply, etc...for only $125,000. I say only because that does seem really cheap when considering they are saying it'd be enough to take care of up to 10 people for a year. While I think that water supply is nowhere near what it'd take for survival for a year for 10 people, the layout and capability of it was attractive.

    So what are your thoughts on the issue of underground bunkers/shelters?


  2. bdcochran


    Sep 23, 2005
    Los Angeles
    There are a lot of corney, do-it-yourself novice threads on the subject matter.

    I will gve the simplest, cost-effective approach to answer your questions.

    1. go on line and obtain the federal government's free underground bomb shelter plans.
    2. speak with a local, friendly licensed contractor and obtain a bid, zoning, and building code fees information.
    3. go on line and find a commercial tornado/hurricane/underground shelter contractor and obtain a price for what you might want, delivered and installed.

    Steps 1, 2, and 3 will yield you a cost of a properly constructed, licensed shelter.

    So, unless your brother-in-law gets you the materials wholesale and you have the experience, you aren't going to do it cheaper (valuing your time at zero) and expect to take a lot longer to do it yourself. Incidentally, OP, my next door neighbor re-roofed his house by himself. It took one calendar year. He valued his time at zero. He, of course, failed to take out the termite infected headers or replace the broken spreaders (now what in the hell are those the novice will ask) and the roof passed inspection and needs replacement after two years.

    You always have the option of abandoning the dream and digging a hole and putting in a section of sewer pipe or buying a surplus cargo container, burying it, and having the sides and top collapse.

    OP - the guy across the street hired my former brother-in-law to convert his garage into rental quarters. No sooner was my BIL done, when another neighbor turned in the first neighbor and he had to rip everything out and start over to comply with code.

    Of course, you can always cross your fingers and hope that a building inspector doesn't catch you. Years ago, my former boss had his fingers crossed and the inspector not only caught him, he shut down the work for a year until things were sorted out.:rofl::wavey:

  3. ranger1968


    Mar 23, 2009
    As much as I would love to have an underground shelter for whatever- the end of the world, (not too likely, but hey, why not) hurricanes (those acutally happen here, and we aren't in a flood area, so it would be nice to have a place that the wind wouldn't matter to ride it out), another place to store junk (I can always use more junk, and more places to store it, hell, if I had an underground man cave I might actually finally get into reloading , since I would finally have the room)- the water table here hovers around 5 or 6 feet, so I don't know how well it would work out.....:supergrin:
  4. I Shooter

    I Shooter

    Dec 22, 2011
    ranger1968 you can dig down four feet then pile the dirt you dig out over the building you build. That will protect you from the storms. Around here we call them root cellars. We store potatoes, apples, onions and such to keep through the winter. If a storm comes up you can hold up in the cellar till it passes. No bath or running water. Mine has electric. We keep a table and chairs in ours so we will have a place to sit in a storm.
  5. bdcochran


    Sep 23, 2005
    Los Angeles
  6. emt1581

    emt1581 Curious Member

    Oct 17, 2002
    Penn's Woods
    I've seen those and I read what you wrote before.

    See in my area, I know how the locality works. If you do things fast, no one is the wiser. If you putz around and leave construction vehicles/equipment on the property, you have the local inspector wanting money, licenses/permits, and otherwise being a PITA.

    What I always thought would be nice is to have one of the shelters buried. Then the entrance can be concealed with a shed on top of it.

    Now could I have bury one of those 30'x20' condos? Nope. Could I organize a backhoe/dig and drop in one of the smaller units then conceal it with a a shed over a weekend...yup.

    I haven't heard anyone address the downsides yet but I don't like the water limits, need for outside air ventilation, and how easy it'd be for a pry-bar to defeat the latches on some of the smaller units. Plus there's really not a lot you can do to defend from a locked and sealed position.

    I know I saw the one unit had a flame thrower railing and some spikes...other than that it's just waiting for someone to break their way in before you can react.

  7. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    Need for outside air ventilation?? That's why you should have filters/scrubbers/whatever. Unless you have a nuclear submarine, you're going to need outside air.
  8. 93GT

    93GT The Ogre

    Jul 6, 2002
    We have a underground shelter on our house. It is a corrugated pipe (10' probably with white gravel for a floor. Toilet and cots in it along with lights (admittedly on the power grid currently). It is covered in concrete and has poured concrete blast sections at each end with a solid metal door on each end. One side goes to the basement of the house, the other comes out over a hill side that it largely concealed by vegetation. Not really sure if it would work for living in for any extended period of time, but it should work in a pinch for a short term disaster if stocked properly and it makes a great tornado shelter.
  9. bdcochran


    Sep 23, 2005
    Los Angeles
    "I haven't heard anyone address the downsides."

    Ok - here are a couple of downsides.

    1. I have seen aluminum cargo containers melted and the contents of steel cargo containers baked beyond belief. No one thought that fire could affect the containers simply because nothing more than weeds grew around them.

    In the last storm in New York City, how many homes burned? Over 100!

    So anyone who thinks that he can put a cargo container in the backyard and the concept is risk less is wrong.

    2. No one has addressed access to water and disposal of human waste from the underground structure. No one has addressed a less than back breaking method of moving stuff into and out of underground.
    I will give you a solution to moving stuff in and out of something other than a government designed underground bomb shelter. You have to construct a sloping concrete apron that allows either a pickup truck or a dolly to be used. You then need lockable stanchions to put on the ramp. By the time you do this, you are spending some real dollars.
    I will give you a solution to the water problem. You have the 30 and 55 gallon drums put in and then filled. People don't comprehend that you don't have to rotate water in storage. You can simply purify it or less favorably filter it as you withdraw it.
    Human waste requires buckets with lids.
    3. "Saving" money concepts.
    Materials cost a certain amount. So does your labor unless you value it at zero and never need to sleep, take a rest or go on vacation.

    As a kid, I played in military, above the ground, bomb shelters. No they don't have water, toilets, television, radios and the like. An above the ground hurricane or tornado shelter operates on the same principles except that they have doors. You might find (when and if you are serious and come up with a budgeted approach to the concept) that buying commercial might be the way to go.

    I know the people on this forum are exceptional in that they have construction skills. That said, I have seen a lot of half baked, poorly constructed home improvements (as an operating officer of a Class A contractor). You may also come to find that your state requires that certain improvements require that a permit have been obtained (just like having a required termite inspection) or the property cannot be sold. California has had such a law for probably 10 or more years now. There is no grandfathering shoddy, non permitted work on home properties anymore!
  10. Ruble Noon

    Ruble Noon "Cracker"

    Feb 18, 2009
    Not to hijack the thread but, your post illustrates just how asinine our government has become.
  11. UneasyRider

    UneasyRider C.D.B.

    Dec 1, 2005
    I like the idea of renting a back hoe and digging your own L shaped bunker that you could reinforce with a block wall. Your idea of exiting through a shed is great since you can vent your air that way too.
  12. bdcochran


    Sep 23, 2005
    Los Angeles

    Would you believe it? Popular Mechanics has a spread on the concept!

    One realtor estimated that nationwide it cost $80 a foot to construct new housing (and doesn't include land, financing,permits, supervision). So, if you do it yourself, you can have a 10x10 square foot unit with one bunk bed for about $8000. Of course, you can't get an unlicensed, undocumented construction worker in my town to get out bed for less than $20 an hour!

    And, ok, here is a link to a guy who does it for a living and posts prices (discourages the do-it yourself novices who would pick his brain).
  13. TangoFoxtrot

    TangoFoxtrot OIF 04-05

    Sep 10, 2008
    Nowhereville, USA
    My thought is , if your gong to invest in one DON'T be stupid enough to let everyone know you have it or the location.
  14. dukeblue91


    Sep 6, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    I would love to be able to afford a underground bunker / shelter.
    The biggest problems I would see is security, air, fire and waste disposal.
    Although they all could be worked out but it would not be cheap.
    The flip side would be that I would sleep much better especially if money was not an issue to do so.
    Even if only used as a fortified shelter at night or when in danger and when really well hidden away from focus and easy detection.
  15. FullClip

    FullClip NRA Benefactor CLM


    Yeah, they've been providing advice on bomb shelters for a long time. My buddy found an old Popular Mechanics magazine in the basement of a house he bought. It had plans for a basement bar / entertainment room, that could be converted into a bomb shelter pretty quickly. Just flip the shelves around, fill them with bricks, and could get sloshed safely out of reach of those nasty gamma rays and alpha / beta particles.:supergrin:

    Just had to make sure the half life of you booze stash was greater than the half life of the zoomies.

    I tried googling for the plans, but no luck.
  16. glock_collector


    Dec 23, 2011
    If you build your "shelter" and pull a bldg permit, public record shows it. Who is able to hide this sorta construction?? I agree on being prepared but for the vast majority of the folks building a underground hideway is a joke. sanitary conditions, me putting a plastic bag over your air pipe, ect.....
  17. Bunkers are just cool, I'd love to build one out 10' diameter culvert pipe, even have a relative with a big cat excavator. Luckily I have concrete safe room in the basement for tornado's, and unless nuclear war get's higher on my worry list I think I'm good and would be better spending my money on more worthwile stuff. Can I say it again though they are COOL.
  18. bdcochran


    Sep 23, 2005
    Los Angeles
    You just call it an addition.

    Once, a professor constructed a lanai on property he knew he did not own. After the building permit inspection was done, the professor added a roof, power, water, sewerage and had a nice house that was featured in a local architecture magazine.

    After he paid attorneys fees, we used a bulldozer and pushed the remains back onto the proper property. And, that is why you do things the right way.

    Glockcollector - In my state, only the authorized agent of the owner can obtain a copy of any plans kept by Building And Safety. The general public cannot get them. Don't assume that most people can read a set of blueprints.

    You should be more concerned about the size of the hypothetical diesel fuel, gasoline fuel or propane tank that you install at your hideaway as all such tanks over a certain size are automatically reported to the Feds so that your fuel can be appropriated in an emergency.:wavey:
  19. glock_collector


    Dec 23, 2011
    Very interesting point about the fuel, never knew that thanks. I had a young customer whom used a 8k underground gas tank for a shelter...What kind of fumes/paint and all those issues can a guy expect?
  20. racerford


    Apr 22, 2003
    DFW area
    If it is a used tank? Deadly.