There are at least a dozen SHTF scenarios where your life can be saved by having an underground bunker built. Therefore, creating a well-thought-out bunker is a must for every experienced survivalist.
While building a bunker isn’t easy, after it’s finished, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you and your family will be safe no matter what happens.
The article below provides a general overview of what you will need. I’ve also provided additional resources that provide more in-depth information.
Table of contents
How to Get Started?
Regardless of what you are building, you’ll need a building permit. This means that the construction process must meet your state’s codes and laws. Otherwise, you may face lawsuits and fines.
Planning is the most critical part of the construction.
Before you start any excavation, you will need to ensure that you are legally allowed to dig a big hole in your backyard. There may be gas or water pipes buried on your property, which you’ll want to avoid.
Create a Plan
As a survivalist, you know how important the planning process is going to be. This is especially the case when building a bunker. You’ll need to work out every detail before you begin.
There are going to be many questions before you begin the construction planning.
What type of soil do you have?
Will you need to break through concrete?
Where is the water table?
These are just a few questions.
The illustration above is pretty elaborate, but bunkers can be as complex or as simple as you want them to be.
When you’ve considered the numerous factors – mold, type of soil, ventilation, radiation, natural gas pockets, etc. you can determine what kind of bunker you’d like to build.
Some people work from under their homes, while others consider building a bunker separate from their house.
Advantages of Having a Bunker Built Separately
Creating your bunker under a separate building has advantages and less worry about some issues.
- You won’t have to worry about breaking through the concrete
- Gas installations, or accidentally
- Stumbling upon electrical installations
- Compromising your homes foundation
If you are not skilled in planning construction projects, you might even want to consider hiring someone to help.
Advantages of Having a Bunker Built Under Your Home
We have mentioned some disadvantages of building an underground bunker in your home, but what are the advantages?
- First, creating a bunker under your home will allow for easy access to electricity to start.
- Additionally, building a bunker under your home will allow for much easier access to the bunker itself.
The entrance should be easily accessible, and you shouldn’t need to leave your house to get there. If it’s underneath your home, you can consider using the basement as an entrance.
Keep in mind that you will want a separate entrance. You don’t want to be trapped in the bunker. Therefore, this entrance should not be easily seen and possibly even separate from your home.
If you’re legally allowed to dig and understand your local zoning laws, you’re ready to start.
As you remove soil from the hole, stage it nearby so you can use it later.
The excavation should be larger than your bunker, so you have room to work and build.
Building the bunker will require heavy machinery. You can hire someone or do it yourself, but keep in mind that others will know where your bunker is located if you use contractors.
There are several options for the bunker structure itself.
- Container – Steel Shipping containers make good bunkers. They can be purchased in multiple sizes, and combined to expand into a larger complex if needed.
- Tank – Large underground storage tanks also make good underground bunkers.
- Concrete – Concrete means you are probably building your bunker yourself. This will require more planning, although it may be less expensive in the long run
If you use wood, know that it will likely decompose. Even if the wood is treated, wooden construction is not suitable underground. Treated timber has toxins that will release gradually into the soil, which will be bad for your structure. It will also probably not be strong enough to support the system that you’ll need.
Passages from your home to the bunker are helpful for alternative access. However, the tunnels’ support needs to be well researched and very strong to support the walls and ceiling.
Scaffolding poles are a good option for the walls, as they will give the small rooms the support they need. However, avoid using these poles to support the ceiling because they may not be strong enough to prevent collapse.
When planning and building your bunker, there can be many obstacles.
- Underground water
- Gas pockets
- Electric wiring
- Rocks and debris
Underground water can be a problem, and you will probably need to move your excavation, but it can also be a significant benefit. With the proper filtration and purifying system, you can provide water for the bunker.
Gas pockets are usually either methane or natural gas. These can be very dangerous, and you should contact a professional if you suspect these exist anywhere near your excavation.
Electric wiring needs to be located before any digging begins. Therefore, having a professional do a ground survey to find any power lines is essential.
Rock and debris are not usually an issue with good heavy equipment, but excavating can become expensive if you have to break through a lot of rugged ground.
Radon is often naturally occurring and an issue in some parts of the country. In addition, some homes require Radon remediation systems in their basements, so this is something that should be checked if you expect to spend large amounts of time in your shelter.
Initial assessments, before starting to dig, will make the process simpler and less expensive.
Bad weather is one of your biggest enemies in an underground bunker. Rain can seep into almost any size crevice, and this needs to be prevented. Consider using a waterproof sheet or membrane over your bunker to help protect it from seepage.
There are a few other steps to take if you want to keep your bunker secure.
- Create a secret entrance, and a secondary entrance. Both of these entrances will need to be hidden from curious eyes.
- If you are building the bunker separate from your home, plan to camoflage the ground over the bunker.
- You will have exhaust piping for air, etc., and this should also be hidden. You can extend the piping away from the house and up into trees so it is hard to locate, but keep in mind that you will need larger pumps and generators to move the air or exhaust.
Additional Survival features
There are many features to consider for your bunker and many considerations when planning out your compound.
How long do you want to plan to live in the bunker in a worst-case scenario?
What type of weather do you have in your part of the country?
Is there naturally occurring water?
Questions are almost endless, so make a list and think through your structure.
A few additional features to consider.
- A water source or supply system – underground water or rain. You will need a filter and purification system or method. You can check out this article on the most effective gravity water filter and consider life straws as a back-up for shorter term emergency situations.
- Food will be very important, and there are MANY options, but make sure the food you purchase has a very long shelf life and provides the nutrition you need. I’ve listed some options below.
- Emergency Kits can be purchased (MyMedic offers very good options) or you can create one yourself, but this will be important to have in your bunker.
- Electricity is going to be important, and how you provide it is a big consideration. Will you use solar, propane, geothermal? There are many options, and once you decide consider a master electrician to handle the wiring and installation.
- Ventilation is a must-have since being able to breathe is important. Not only should you do quite a bit of research on ventilation systems, but you also need a back up solution if the system fails.
Long Term Food Options
|Nutrient Survival||Shop Here|
|Augason Farms||Shop Here|
|Valley Food Storage||Shop Here|
|Ready Store||Shop Here|
If you don’t want to build your bunker, there are a lot of options. Numerous companies build bunkers – elaborate and straightforward.
These companies will plan and build your bunker end to end, completing the bunker itself and all of the internal features and structures.
If you really are interested in preparing for a worst-case scenario and building your own bunker, these books are good resources.
- DIY Bomb Shelter: How to Build an Underground Shelter in Your Home and Protect Your Family
- Emergency Air: For Shelter-in-Place Preppers and Home-Built Bunkers
This depends on the size and features you want, but you can plan to spend anywhere from $500 – $3,500/sq ft. Once your plan is completed, you will have a much better idea of the cost.
Earth, especially packed earth, is a natural insulator for radiation. You don’t want to go too deep, though, as you may need to dig yourself out if tunnels collapse or doors are blocked.