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How to Build an Underground Bunker

By Emily Hutchison
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Underground bunkers became extremely popular during the Cold War Era. Today, we may still have a need to protect ourselves from unforeseen dangers. A backyard bunker may be exactly what you need to protect your family. When building an underground shelter make sure to have at least 2 feet of dirt over the top. This layer of Earth will protect your family from gamma radiation in the event of a nuclear attack. The deeper the bunker the better. Keep in mind air can get stale quickly underground. Invest in a good air exchanger and filtration system. Make sure the door opens towards the inside so you can still get out if something falls and blocks the door. Having a second emergency exit is recommended.

Shipping Container Shelter

Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes, 20ft and 40ft long for example. Many large companies sell used containers for a discounted price. Reinforcement is a must because containers were designed to take a load on the 4 corners, not on the top or sides. They won't withstand a car or tractor driving over the top. Combine several containers for a larger shelter to house more people and allow for more storage.

  1. Dig a hole a least 2 feet deeper than the height of the shipping container.
  2. Pour concrete stairs leading down to the bunker.
  3. Use I-beams to support the entryway roof.
  4. Place corrugated steel across the top of the container as a base for the concrete roof.
  5. Weld a re-bar frame around the stairs.
  6. Add blocks to the rebar and fill with concrete.
  7. Install air vents and PVC pipes for utilities.
  8. Pour a 6-inch layer of concrete over the top to insulate and strength the roof.
  9. Backfill with topsoil in order to plant grass and bushes on top of the bunker, thereby camouflaging it.
  10. Add food storage, bunk beds, and a gun rack if desired.


Tube Survival Shelter

Tube shelter won't need as much reinforcing as they are designed to take a load on on sides. It is a bit like living in a submarine. Atlas Survival Shelters has premade bunkers, just pick a site to install them. They are made out of 12-foot diameter galvanized corrugated pipe. They are 11 times stronger than a square design and they can last for 200 years underground. They can even be buried up to 42 feet below the Earth's surface. Here are some tips for building your own tube bunker. It will probably be easier to construct the bunker above ground and then simply drop in into place.

  1. Build a frame for the frame for the floor out of 2x4's, allow for 3-feet of storage.
  2. Add plywood over the frame to create a level floor.
  3. Cut holes and add doors in the plywood down the middle of the tube to allow access to the underfloor storage.
  4. Add bunk beds and the comforts of home.
  5. Dig a hole large enough to fit the pipe at the desired depth.
  6. Place the pipe in the hole.
  7. Weld a smaller pipe to the outer door area and add an access ladder to the surface.
  8. Connect water and utilities.
  9. Install a generator and air filter.
  10.  Weld an additional small pipe at the back for an emergency exit.

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1 year ago
5 years ago at 12:16 PM
5 years ago at 5:05 AM
WOW ! and that's it folks , just do these 10 things and BINGO ..... if this isn't the most basic non-sense if ever here of , I would think a 7 year old was doing a school project . who ever let this person put this crap down should find employment at a walmart
Robert Trollman
5 years ago at 3:04 PM
Shipping containers also do not have reinforced walls to distribute hydro-static pressure from the dirt backfill. The Walls WILL collapse. Consequently, shipping containers are NOT recommended for buried shelters.
Jude Mautz
4 years ago at 6:47 PM
Well... Oof. First of all, don't do a shipping container bunker look it up why you shouldn't. Second of all, utilities will likely not be running in the Apocalypse, so don't run it too your bunker unless you plan to regularly use it, for water get a rainwater collecting device and a water filter.Also you should list things you need like water/food storage, entertainment, a generator, weapons etc. Another good idea would be to add a wood gasifier. Brick is also another good material for a bunker. That's about it
Horace Komosinski
4 years ago at 8:18 AM
Our crew uses Inland products for our formwork. Haven’t had a problem to date. What do you recommend for concrete sealant?
Mr. Nutsy
3 years ago at 7:50 PM
Hi Folks. I know I am a little late to this, but I wanted to give some information to consider when looking for a bunker. First, you need to think seriously about how long you will be staying in the bunker. Think about how difficult it is to stay inside at home for a week without going out and communicating with anyone, aside those who are with you. Now consider being in your home. On the main floor only. No basement. No upstairs. Just the kitchen and living room. Now turn the living room in a bunk room, and try staying in that space for a week or two. No going outside. No going upstairs or downstairs. No talking to anyone in the outside world. That's what you have to consider when looking at a bunker to ride out whatever may happen. For natural disasters that may be fine. A week or so will not be too much of a issue, especially if you plan ways to keep yourselves busy. If you have kids, that may be harder, especially if they are active kids. But consider this: What if you are looking for something to ride out nuclear issue, and you are in a fallout area? That time of a week or two becomes a year or two. And if you are close enough to the center, it can be longer. A viral outbreak wouldn't be as bad, but it could be six months, or perhaps longer. I am not trying to scare anyone away from buying or building a bunker. I am working on one myself. What I am trying to say is that you need to carefully consider the size of the unit you are putting in. Be sure it will be big enough to give you room to roam and keep from going crazy - literally. I did some checking and calculating, and I realized that I would need an area around the size of a football field to give me room enough for my family (Kids and grandkids - 13 in total) to ride out an event of six months. If you live in an area of bedrock close to the surface, it will make it easier. You can 'tunnel' into it from you main bunker to give you the room. Just be careful of underground waterways. And keep in mind that a bunker should be around 8 feet underground to protect your family radiation... and dogs picking up you scent. There's a lot to consider here. Just dropping a bunker in and saying, 'Looks good!' isn't enough. Plan and practice! Have your family vacation in the bunker once a year! Have an occasional weekend 'trip' to the bunker, so the kids are familiar with it. Get them involved in planning activities to do while they are down there. Let them 'camp out' in the bunker on their own from time to time, especially older teens, so they can figure out how to survive on their own until help arrives, if they need to. One final thing to consider in all of this: Communication! Cell phones may not work during a disaster, or there may not be enough 'lines' available. Put a computer in the bunker, and hardwire it to a ham radio system. Train yourselves to use it. Get a license so you can use it, if you need. I know! I know! Ham radios are short distance, unless there is a repeater nearby! But the chances are pretty good you will be able to reach one, especially if you have the ability to deploy an outside antenna from underground. Think outside of the box when it comes to a bunker. Consider the most likely issue you will encounter. I live well enough away from nuclear power plants and any 'prime' military targets that I don't need to worry about nuclear fallout. I am far more likely to have a heavy snowstorm or a tornado hit my area, and that's what I am planning for. It's not a simple process, and it will take time to plan and set up. DON'T GET DISCOURAGED!! Start small and expand as you are able to. Start will one bunker and add another when you can. In the end you will have a safe place to ride out whatever comes your way.