Nuclear holocaust may not be the threat today that it was 50 years ago, but a well-stocked shelter is still one of the best preparations you can take against any major disaster. The sturdy construction and simple nature of these structures make them useful for a multitude of disaster situations, and while initial investment is high, a finished bunker provides peace of mind with relatively little maintenance.
Purchasing a prefabricated bunker might mean compromising on features and quality, and having someone build you one can get expensive fast. Consider undertaking a DIY bunker project — you’ll have full control over the costs and amenities, and as construction projects go, bunkers are relatively easy to build.
Choose a Location and Layout
Your bunker is a living quarter just the same as your above-ground home. If you’re building close to your home, there’s a good chance you’ll have infrastructure such as electrical lines and plumbing to compete with for space. Make sure to survey the area and choose a spot to dig where you have a good knowledge of what you’ll encounter underground. Also, make sure you’re legally permitted to begin the project. You may need to check your city ordinances or complete paperwork before beginning.
Smaller bunkers will only accommodate a bare-bones layout. However, if you have enough space, you can incorporate multiple rooms. You should create a blueprint that details the floorplan of your proposed shelter as you begin to identify the bunker’s infrastructure needs. How will you plumb the structure, provide access and even install things like cable and internet?
Now you’re ready to begin digging! You’ll want to rent an earth mover for this job unless your project is on a multi-year plan. Most people choose concrete as their bunker-building material because of its strength, molecular stability and low cost. You can use poured material — however, this can pose some challenges in an underground setting.
Concrete blocks make an excellent building material for bunkers because you can purchase them in several shapes and sizes, allowing you to construct virtually any basic structure with them. They’re also available hollow or solid, allowing you to add strength to the structure’s load-bearing walls. You should consider adding multiple passages from your home to your shelter, because in an emergency, relying on a single point of entry and exit could make a difference for you and your family.
Finishing Your Bunker
It might feel cool and comfortable now, but your bunker will quickly become stuffy and unpleasant without a steady supply of fresh air. You can’t leave the door open all the time, so most shelters use an air pump to pull fresh air down into the bunker and provide continuous circulation. The size of your shelter and number of people it needs to accommodate will determine what size air pump to use.
In addition to air, you’ll need to add water and electricity lines, internet and essential radio communications equipment. Finally, be sure to stock food and water ahead of time. In a crisis, you won’t have time to run to Costco. Make sure to supply the shelter with nonperishable items and fresh water, as well as water purification equipment. Keep a log of expiration dates so you can refresh your stores before they spoil.
It’s no small project, but in terms of being prepared, nothing will deliver more value than a well-planned shelter. It’s an investment in something you might not use, but if it gives you peace of mind, it’s well worth the spend.