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Storm shelter?

 
pollinator
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Well, when moving to a new property with a double wide on it, and being in the Midwest (Harrison County, MO), I am looking for suggestions on a reasonable cost storm shelter. Long term, I hope to build a wofati, but for the next several years I want something quicker. Thoughts?

I’ve been thinking of maybe getting a shipping container delivered and figuring out a way to maybe pour some concrete pylons with metal brackets poured in, to weld it to. Would rather not use so much concrete, but I do want a safe place near the house for storm or tornado alerts.

The house sits on a fairly level area of maybe 2-3 acres, not too many trees of any real size are close although about half the 31 acres is wooded and half pasture. What other options can y’all think of that can be done fairly quickly and at a reasonable cost, maybe $3-5k. Have thought about a root cellar of sorts, but don’t have a lot of time to throw at this project myself, due to my work schedule.

Leif
 
Rocket Scientist
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Hi lief;
I would get a 20' shipping container.
If you have any hill of sorts to dig into, that would be ideal.
If not, then just backfilling over would be my next choice.

A twenty foot conex  sprayed over with Shotcrete for rust issues and insulation and then backfilled  would make a fine storm shelter.
If you build an entry way then it could double as a root cellar as well.

Another option is to  bury  a large  plastic water tank.
Just large enough for your family to hunker down in during a tornado (Scary... I'll take -20 and a blizzard any day)
 
pollinator
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I think I would build a concrete dome.  It would be pretty quick and relatively inexpensive.   It could be build above or below ground.  Below would make it easier to figure out the door, but underground shelters can flood, so that would have to be accounted for.
 
pollinator
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Living in Kansas I understand the need for a storm shelter. I was reading mother earth news the other day and found plans for a shelter. See link https://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/construct-a-secure-storm-shelter-zm0z20onzbut

The one issue I see is finding the wood. Good luck in your project
 
pollinator
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I would be exceedingly cautious in trying to backfill or bury a shipping container without building an exterior superstructure.

Shipping containers are designed to stack one atop another, and so have been designed to carry weight on their loaded internal floors, and to carry weight from shipping containers stacked on top, via the corners and edges, to the ground. They aren't designed to be buried, and there's no floor of an upper container to distribute that weight to the corners and edges. Burying containers risks them being crushed under the weight of soil like giant beer cans.

But keep us posted, and good luck.

-CK
 
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You say your house is on a "fairly level" spot - but does that mean that the general topography is not completely flat? I dont really get extreme wind out here in Oregon, so I do not have any experience with storm shelters, but I have built a couple of root cellars in which I would feel pretty confident in any storm. It is a fair bit of work to build an underground room, but you could easily build something for a few grand. A simple cut-and-cover approach with cinder block walls and a poured roof is pretty easy to do, even for a complete novice. Getting a cargo container would likely be a very quick solution, but a cellar has a lot of utility as a storage space when you are not hunkering down in it.

You do have to consider ground water, but if you can dig into a slope, it is easy to lay some drain pipe behind the walls that drain to daylight. Even if you dont get it completely underground, just piling up the excavated dirt is likely going to be enough to give it protection and keep the temperatures pretty stable inside.




I want to say I spent about a month working on my cellar (with only hand tools) and spent probably about a grand on it. Granted, I was in my 20s then, and prices have likely gone up!
 
pollinator
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Burying containers risks them being crushed under the weight of soil like giant beer cans.


I have seen containers buried only 3 feet and the sides have collapsed as described about such that you could not walk through.
They need steel reinforcement carefully planned to stay in shape.
 
pollinator
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See how much a box culvert would cost? Then you will not have to worry about the conex trailer rotting away and collapsing.
Make some forms for each end, one with a stair and door.  It may end up costing about the same.  There are a lot of ideas like this on the net.
 
pollinator
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Every septic tank company in the Midwest sells a storm shelter version.  Half buried, with the rest of the dirt bermed on it. Not cheap, but fast and easy. They make a decent, but small, root cellar if you pile leaves or hay on them in a cold winter.
 
pollinator
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Thomas rubino, shipping containers are not strong enough to be buried without a lot of extra reinforcing. https://crisisequipped.com/buried-shipping-container-bunker/

FEMA has free plans for concrete or concrete block shelters. Concrete block is probably the least expensive and may require less technical know-how than concrete. You just have to be able to read plans and afford all the materials.
 
denise ra
pollinator
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Oh, and I live on the Great plains and am building a shipping container tiny house welded to concrete piers. Hopefully I will never experience a tornado in it, but it's the reason I chose the conex for the tiny house structure.
The big box hardware stores sell relatively inexpensive storm shelters that you attach to a concrete pad I think.
 
Leif Ing
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Carl Nystrom wrote:You say your house is on a "fairly level" spot - but does that mean that the general topography is not completely flat? I dont really get extreme wind out here in Oregon, so I do not have any experience with storm shelters, but I have built a couple of root cellars in which I would feel pretty confident in any storm. It is a fair bit of work to build an underground room, but you could easily build something for a few grand. A simple cut-and-cover approach with cinder block walls and a poured roof is pretty easy to do, even for a complete novice. Getting a cargo container would likely be a very quick solution, but a cellar has a lot of utility as a storage space when you are not hunkering down in it.

You do have to consider ground water, but if you can dig into a slope, it is easy to lay some drain pipe behind the walls that drain to daylight. Even if you dont get it completely underground, just piling up the excavated dirt is likely going to be enough to give it protection and keep the temperatures pretty stable inside.




I want to say I spent about a month working on my cellar (with only hand tools) and spent probably about a grand on it. Granted, I was in my 20s then, and prices have likely gone up!



I appreciate all the suggestions! Carl, I think your’s makes the most sense for our situation, from what I know right now. We’ll have to decide carefully where to cut into a hillside, as my goal long term is for a wofati or Oehler house in retirement! Concrete block and a poured roof sounds doable to me, I wonder if Sepp’s berm shelters might also be feasible?

Hopefully we’ll be able to start the move in about two weeks and then I can really explore our new place and look better at possibilities. When we do, I’ll post some pics and ask for thoughts and ideas, on what potentials y’all see. Hmm, might even need to get a hold of Paul for a video consultation… :wheels churn faster in my mind:

Leif
 
T Blankinship
pollinator
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Leif Ing wrote:
Concrete block and a poured roof sounds doable to me, I wonder if Sepp’s berm shelters might also be feasible?



I have wonder the same thing. A berm shelter could be the answer. It would be good practice for building a wofati.  When I think about how a shelter is to be used. I think about how fast could I get to the shelter, how do I get out of the shelter if something is blocking the door and what uses could it provide me.
 
pollinator
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Chris Kott wrote:I would be exceedingly cautious in trying to backfill or bury a shipping container without building an exterior superstructure.

Shipping containers are designed to stack one atop another, and so have been designed to carry weight on their loaded internal floors, and to carry weight from shipping containers stacked on top, via the corners and edges, to the ground. They aren't designed to be buried, and there's no floor of an upper container to distribute that weight to the corners and edges. Burying containers risks them being crushed under the weight of soil like giant beer cans.

But keep us posted, and good luck.

-CK



Not only that, but they can "float" to the surface if they are not thoroughly anchored and the soil gets waterlogged.
 
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I agree with Carl's shelter.  That looks like the way I would go if I were to build one.

Considering the cost of having a storm shelter built by one of the companies that will build them versis the cost of buying and burying a shipping container.  I feel the Storm Shelter build would be much cheaper.

I have bought a storm shelter and a shipping container that were about the same cost.  That doesn't include the cost of burying the container which of course I have not done.

If you live where it is really rocky like where I live then the cost is included with the storm shelter though it is not included with the shipping container.

 
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For a "right now" kind of shelter, all you need is a hole in the ground. Go get yourself a 5' long piece of plastic culvert, about 36-48" diameter. Dig a hole and drop it in vertically. Backfill it, using the extra soil as a berm. It should resemble a military foxhole. Toss in some large gravel or wood chips to cover the muddy bottom, and inspect for critters regularly. Not fancy, but quite effective.
 
Leif Ing
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As a single guy I could see that as what it is, but having a wife and two school age kids and a mother in law at home, somehow I don’t think that would fly too far… even if I offered to install several close to each other! ;-)
 
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