Cheap storm shelter? : LUSENET : Freedom! self reliance : One Thread

We would like to build a storm shelter (I'd really like a bomb shelter, just in case) but need to do it ourselves and do it cheap. Anyone have any good ideas? I appreciate all the help!

-- Deena in GA (, June 26, 2001


This is not something we have tried, but when we lived in Canyon, a friend of hubby's had the idea of burying on old bus for a storm shelter. Seems like it would work and be roomier than some. I don't remember what they did about the door. We have friends in Belton who built their house into the side of a cliff and made the entire dwelling very secure. Of course, that's a bigger project;)

-- mary, in colorado (, June 26, 2001.

How deep is the water table in your area?

To me, a sensible solution might be an underground root cellar. Plans are available on many homesteading books. If you build the shelving strong enough, they could also serve as bunks to sleep on. Restroom facilities could be a five gallon bucket lined with trash bags. You wouldn't have to worry about bringing food into the shelter, it's already there. Nosy neighbors wouldn't look at you sideways when you explain it's purpose. And it is a hell of a good excuse for starting to can extra amounts of food for bad times. All in all, a shelter that earns its keep as everyday useful.

-- j.r. guerra (, June 26, 2001.

Deena, before we can give you much really helpful advice, it would help to know what your house and land is like as well as what materials and building skills you have. There are a lot of things to strengthen houses as well as a million sorts of shelter. Another tip is to look at storm damage on TV and in person with a critical eye toward the exact sort of damage you see. Since I've lived here I've been through the Blizzard of 92, the Palm Sunday Tornado of 93, Hurricane Opal and a 500 year flood. Weather in the southeast is getting more violent and unpredictable; so when it comes to shelter, the strongest you can get is best.

-- Rags in Alabama (, June 26, 2001.

Deena, my folks built a shelter under their new home in MO. They have basically a half basement. They took half of that and had concrete poured walls and a concrete ceiling. Then they made a door with double stacked pressure treated 2x12's. I don't think it would be what I would consider cheap, but they have their canned goods and a bed, camping gear, all the emergency stuff there. So it does double duty for them as well. I think that's a great suggestion by jr, and one I will be thinking about, too.

-- Doreen (, June 26, 2001.

Okay, obviously I haven't thought this through as much as we need to. I don't know anything about the water table. Duh, didn't even think about it so I appreciate your asking. Several good comments are making me think more! Our house is on a slight rise, ground is basically clay. Rags, we've had all the same weather problems you have plus fire. This house has been hit by a tornado and had 2 fires. You would think nothing else can happen to it but with my luck it definitely will. LOL We don't have a basement but do have a significant crawl space under part of it, maybe we could just dig under it. I know it would be difficult but I do know someone who did it. A lot of thinking needs to be done. Thanks all!

-- Deena in GA (, June 27, 2001.

A concrete septic tank with a doorway cut in it works. A new tank can sometimes be purchased for around $500.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, June 28, 2001.

A concrete septic tank? What a clever idea!!!! How would you vent it?

-- Lesley (, June 28, 2001.

Before you all go moving into septic tanks, keep this in mind: they are meant to be buried and filled with liquid. On top of the ground or used upside down, they are not designed to carry the weight of a large live load on top of them. Many a tractor and backhoe, not to mention several concrete trucks have learned the hard way what driving over a septic tank can do.

Tornado driven objects (like guardrails, trees, signposts and stones) will go right through an unprotected septic tank.

-- Rags (, June 30, 2001.

what load are you refering to when you say "on top of it"? I assume they are refering to burying the tank just as the original tanks are. If it were not burried, it would still be effected by wind, and object blowing around. My thoughts are more toward a gas station style fuel tank. being a welder by trade and having the equipment to cut and weld doors, vents, etc.. simply placing one in the ground with it standing on its end would work nice. Iven seen them about 8' long and 10' dia. this would be ideal for 8 people to set on one metal bench that wraps around the inner wall of the tank. Havent really figured out how to design the door or hatch to allow entry yet. Im kinda thinking along the lines of buying something already built, such as a submarine style round hatch door. I know I can find one of these at a barge marina down the road from me. I use to work there and they have alot of scrap barge parts including heavy metal doors like that scattered all over the place.

-- troy (, July 06, 2004.

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