How to Build Your Own Underground Bunker

An Underground Bunker Fallout Shelter

The persistent threat of the end of the world as we know it, popularly referred to as TEOTWAWKI, grows with each passing day. Whether it’s a global economic collapse, environmental disaster, a run on the borders, nuclear disaster or terrorism the threats have never been greater.

The only way to fully protect yourself and your family is to be prepared for anything and everything that could happen. You can’t hope that the authorities will swoop in and save the day. You can’t plan to ride out a disaster or the collapse of civilization in your house – not for long, anyway. You have to be ready, and that means you need to think about securing an impenetrable and defensible shelter. It’s time to think about underground bunkers.

Building an underground bunker at or near your house makes a lot of sense. There’s a high probability that your family will already be gathered at home when disaster strikes or soon thereafter. The family home should always be the home base and meeting place should an emergency situation arise. Having access to shelter near your house, be it below your house, in your backyard or on your property ensures that you can get to it easily and quickly when things fall apart.

An underground bunker is the most ideal location to ride out a natural disaster (aside from flooding, of course) or societal collapse. You can build it to meet your personal specifications, and since it will presumably be near your house, you can ensure that it’s always well-stocked. It’s also easy to keep hidden, as there won’t be many people who know what you’re building in our backyard. (For all they know it’s a pool and cabana)

As you start to make plans to build your underground bunker, it’s important to think about your needs. Here are some things to consider:

  • How many people will be using your shelter?
  • What is the purpose of your underground bunker? What do you want it to protect you from?
  • How long would you want to spend in your bunker?

If you’re going to build an underground bunker, you need to be sure you’re thinking about all of the angles before you get started because once it’s built it will be difficult to change.

Building A Bunker: Reasons and Considerations

An Underground Shelter

People who build underground bunkers build them for different reasons. Some people want a place to go if the government falls apart and there’s widespread panic and chaos. Other people want to be able to ride out a natural disaster. Underground bunkers can also protect from nuclear fallout. In all of these cases, the preparation and construction of the bunker is critically important and must be planned out in advance lest the bunker not serve its purpose.

Some of the basic considerations include how many people you need to protect and how long you need to stay in your bunker. If you’re planning on having a bunker that is a viable shelter for 90 days, then you need to have enough space for everyone in your party plus space to hold supplies for 90 days. It’s the space for the people inside, along with space for food storage, that will determine how big your shelter should be.

You need to think about having a water system and air filtration for your bunker. After all, you’ll be underground and won’t have doors open so the air must be filtered and you’ll need a way to access fresh water even if you have bottled water stored for drinking. You’ll need to think about sanitation, including a place to shower and a bathroom of some sort. Even if you have a camp toilet, you’ll need a way to dispose of waste.

The next level of considerations takes things one step further. What do you want protection from? Is this a nuclear fallout shelter, a storm shelter or even a panic room-type of bunker to keep people out? Obviously there are different kinds of building techniques that must be considered for each type of bunker, with a nuclear fallout shelter being at the top of the list because of all the added layers of protection needed to keep radiation from penetrating the bunker.

Prior to the build, you need to think about where your bunker is located and what kind of land you’re building in. If the soil is dry, like in a desert, you won’t have to worry about the water table and possible flooding, but if you’re in a place where rain and snow are plentiful then your bunker will have to withstand the elements so as to not flood, rot or become moldy if the soil is too damp.

Before we look at how to build your bunker, let’s talk about shipping containers as an easy and relatively inexpensive alternative to building a bunker from scratch.

The Problem with Shipping Containers

While doing research on building an underground bunker you might come across the idea of using a shipping container as the structure of your bunker. The idea is pretty straightforward – dig a massive hole, bury the container and then install all of the necessities. In theory, it’s a great idea, but there are some possible issues to be aware of.

Storage and shipping containers have become popular modular building materials. In fact, there’s a whole shopping and dining complex in Las Vegas made out of shipping containers. The mysterious character Jadis had a very nice shipping container home in the middle of a junkyard on The Walking Dead. When it comes to using shipping containers to build above ground, they’re a wonderful thing. Below ground is another issue.

Digging a massive hole isn’t a problem, and it’s easy enough to install the basic necessities no matter what kind of structure you’re using. But a shipping container has its own limitations.

There is only one way in and out, which could be a problem if you need to escape and your entrance is blocked.

Another issue comes with the weight of the dirt on top of the container. Over time the weight can cause the roof to sag or even collapse. If you’re in an area with a lot of rain the water could pool on top and cause the roof’s integrity to deteriorate even faster. Depending on your container’s placement you need to think about things like cars driving over it, or debris covering your entryway.

Speaking of rain, the exterior of shipping containers can be prone to rust so you need to think about the moisture level of the soil and how that could impact your container over time. Arid desert dirt would be better than the damp earth of a meadow or forest if you have some acreage. Erosion is a big problem, and so too are the chemicals in the container’s paint. Many of these containers are used to transport freight across the ocean, so the exteriors have been treated with chemicals. You don’t want the chemicals to seep into the interior of your container and make your bunker toxic.

In many cases shipping containers have made wonderful bunkers, both above ground and below ground. The problem is that they’re not designed to be buried and so some people have encountered problems, and the last thing you want is to need your bunker only to find that it’s not viable because the roof is collapsing. Shipping containers are risky in that regard, but they are really better suited for use above ground.

If you do go with a shipping container style bunker, then you need to look at something that is highly reinforced like the bunkers built by Risings Bunkers.

Building Your Underground Shelter

The first step of building your bunker is to determine the size you need, and then you need to choose a location. Many people build their bunkers themselves but if you are going big then hiring a contractor could be the best route.

While many people would rather stay off the grid, you likely need to pull permits to build a backyard bunker, especially if you’re using a contractor. Even if you’re building deep in the woods, it’s a good idea to do things the right way, so people don’t get the wrong idea. (After all, how many horror movies include the guy with the torture den buried deep in the woods?) If you find you need to pull permits and you don’t want to, consider reinforcing your house’s basement and making it a secret quasi-underground bunker. It’s the best way to stay off the grid and keep attention at a minimum.

There are lots of videos and resources available to help you build your underground bunker on your own. This guy has a pretty entertaining series of videos:

Start with a set of plans that outline size, shape, entrances/exits, living space, food and supply storage space, air filtration systems, generators, and your clean water supply.

A hole must be made that’s big enough and deep enough for the planned structure. You need to pour a foundation out of cement, and then you start building your structure. Cement, bricks or blocks make the cheapest and sturdiest materials. Metal sheeting, though expensive, is the most ideal because it will last longest with the least amount of complication. Wood is not advised because any moisture in the ground will cause it to deteriorate.

Once your bunker has been built, you need to conceal it. Put plants on top, or to keep watering at a minimum consider building a gazebo, so there’s nothing indicating that a building is hiding underneath. If your bunker is in the woods, then you can use plants to cover the door, and if it’s in an area away from your line of sight make sure that no one can tamper with it. A security system is a good idea so that you know when someone is trying to get in.

Building an underground bunker will help ensure you and your family are safe when the end of the world hits. It’s just another tool in your arsenal to protect yourself when no one else will be able to get the job done.

Shirts of Liberty

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  1. I appreciate the article and there’s some good information in year however these Rising bunkers send these other companies that put out these bunkers they look to me to be nothing but death traps like big coffins if you’re going to build yourself a shelter then you need to build one that is made properly sealed from the elements the way you would with a basement but you’re going to have to put the right type of money into it to have an appropriate shelter over the top and you’re going to have to make sure that it has proper waste ability not just some chemical I toilet it’s going to have to have access to water which most likely means a very big Reservoir an aquifer well something like that you’re going to have to make sure that it is made it to where it’s going to get the appropriate type of air and it is going to be filtered against NBC appropriately not with some hand crank piece of junk I think also that you’ve got to remember you have to put food water medicine weapons communication for at least a year minimum you know people don’t seem to understand it’s not surviving the Fallout after a nuclear attack this the most difficult part it’s surviving the dislocation of services and order that would accompany this I would imagine the permit bunkers have at least a Year’s worth in are quite comfortable these 10 x 30 Death traps that Atlas and Rising want to sell her junk in my opinion I think that you also have to consider the emotional and mental wherewithal of people being kept in a very small and isolated space for any serious. Of time you have to look at the physical effects the emotional and even the spiritual effects I think I just think you can’t keep out and spend 20 30 40 thousand dollars and think that you got any reasonable shelter the best thing you can do is be out in a very isolated area make sure that you have all of these things I’ve mentioned above and make sure that you have a plan once you emerge from the shelter I think that these shelters on YouTube and stuff are primarily a joke with the exception of the varix the ones that in some cases only the very rich can afford I think if you’re not willing to put at least 250 Grand into the shelter it most likely is primarily a waste I live in a house with a walkout basement a very sturdy one you can very easily conform those in the living spaces and you can do things to make them reasonable against fall out and if you’re far enough out from any type of primary or tertiary Target you’re not going to have the blast damage issues but again you’re still going to have issues with people that are coming out after the supplies run out in a very desperate Manor building a shelters of serious and expensive

  2. A lot of these types of shelters I have seen don’t really cater for people with pets… eg dogs… if you have pet horses, ponies or similar…. unlikely to have any space for them !!

    • The amount of people who have pet horses and ponies, in the grand scheme of things, are slim and the people who are in that situation are likely to have a lot of land and therefore space AND will likely be more remote and not in a crowded city, so they have a lot of advantages when it comes to disaster striking.

      Plus if they do build a bunker they’ll have the space for it.

  3. sad. but true.
    most all the “pre built” bunkers are really junk to dump a lot of cash into, then cover with dirt.
    sure might do the job, for the first couple of months. ( think basic storm shelter here).

    but for a true live in to survive place. it must be a good 1000sq at a min for one person.
    as you will be there for up to five years. ( thinking total loss above ground on this).
    food and clean water takes up lots of space. ( how to replace as needed when it runs out?). then you must have things to do. so you do not go crazy and kill each other.
    there is more to it than just trying to hunker down is a steel/other coffin in the ground.

    if worried about thugs looking for anything. last you want to do is be out and about much.
    great make a well beaten path right to your front door.

  4. Maybe stop wars, look after the planet and plan on a good future instead of planning doom and gloom because we think greed and power is more important

    • Do you think Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, et al will go along with the liberal leftists pacification and wealth re-distribution plans. Sure they will because it weakens the U.S. Most everyone in the U.S. are total advocates for peace but countries like China that literally murdered millions of their own people implementing the Communist Party programs probably care if Sanders / Biden peaceniks support climate change.

  5. Sure, you can stop all the wars, look after the planet, plan on a good future. Does that mean you STOP planning for that tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, ice storm, earth quake, or angry mob looking to kill something. Because for what I know, everything except hurricane and ice storm is unpredictable. All of them will kill you if you have not thought and taken appropriate measures. You have to plan for these things! As for “we think greed and power is more important”, that is something we plan to protect ourselves from as well. Those people who crave greed and power will destroy everything you know to get it, even your future. If they get the power you won’t ever have to think because they won’t allow you too. You will be told what to say think and do. Ahhh the perfect utopia, a world full of people that is no smarter the a bag of hammers.

  6. any suggestions for building underground shelter on a shoestring that would be safe..there have to be people do this…certainly do not want to go the “death coffin” route

  7. You’re the greedy one … why are you here commenting
    If you dont like the topic you dont have to read it.
    The world will be a btter place with out you. We dont even have to worrie and read about ‘How to Build Your Own Underground Bunker’ if people like doesnt exist

  8. After doing research for a month I have noticed a big issue that Noone seems to consider. Every place I look for information keeps telling me that you have to have permits! A little background is in order at this point. My dad and I have built 12 homes. Some with wood walls and earlier ones with block walls. We know how to build from start to finish with no help. I want to build a slab floor about 8″ thick. Then build the walls with 12″ block poured. This is a very simple and fairly cheap way to build. Oh, the ceiling would also be concrete. Anyway, I am as worried about the government as I am other disasters. If anyone has permits then they know exactly where you are! The government may be the one we are hiding from. We live several miles from the city now but we would like to sell the 3 houses we have on this property and move way out. I think we could build our bunker then and Noone would know. Anyone that has an underground bunker with permits is a sitting duck and the Government will come get you out or drop a bomb on your head. I wouldn’t buy one of those pre made junks either! Build using concrete and block if you do it! It is the cheapest way to do it that I know of!

    • I have been looking at properties that are zoned as “low density residential”. So vacant properties that are remote and more like a cabin out in nature that don’t require permitting or inspections. If it is the government that we are avoiding, they will know the land is owned but shouldn’t be aware of the building on the property. My impression is that the peak in fallout/survival bunkers market over the last year, I bet your 12 builds would be easily sold.

  9. Dumb Question: Is it possible to build a bunker underneath your home if the house is already built? Like only way to get in and out of the bunker is in your house.
    If yes, how would you build it without making the house collapse on top of you?

    • You would first need to see what kind of foundation the house sits on.
      If its a slab, you will have to cut through it and excavate the dirt.
      You will also need to build up supports with concrete blocks as you remove the dirt.
      If your home is sitting on “piers” then you can dig between them but not too much as they will cave in and the house could collapse.

  10. I think I would prefer digging into a hillside and building basically a “hobbit” style home, with a sturdy door and dirt all around and on top you should be fairly safe.

  11. The challenge isn’t the building, it is the surviving.
    The water, food, WASTE, Carbon Dioxide, etc.; those are the real challenge.
    Never forget the over-pressure of a blast, similar to a hurricane wind loading.
    Then, there are the people, the ones that will be forced to prey on you.
    The best solution I ever saw was a fake house, with separate full bunker below.
    Don’t forget to hide the air intake in a very special way, along with the exhaust.
    On a cold night or morning, if there is a steam condensation cloud out of the vent…
    Game over…

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