If you’re of the Prepper persuasion, you’ve probably given quite a bit of thought to constructing your own bunker. While there are companies out there that offer to do it for you, keep in mind that not all of these are equally good, qualified, or honest. If you have connections with someone who is experienced in the field of construction or engineering, you may want to enlist their assistance in building your own. One word of caution—never use a shipping container as the basis for your bunker. Not only is it not structurally sound once buried, it poses a number of other problems. Rather, take a look at military survival guides on the subject, as well as investigating schematics posted online. This article will provide seven tips to get you started on your survival project.
Survey and Permits
First, unless you live on a large piece of property in the middle of nowhere, you’ll want to obtain the proper permits for building your bunker. No large-scale building project is ever completely secret, no matter how much stealthy you are. Just bite the bullet and register your bunker with the city or county. It will save trouble and money in the long run.
The next thing you’ll want to do is obtain a geological survey of your prospective area where you plan to build your bunker. You should construct your shelter well out of the 100 year flood plain, while ensuring that it is buried as deeply as possible. It should be clear of any debris fields, multi-story buildings, and potentially unstable geological formations.
Drawing Up Priorities with Redundancy
Because you don’t know how long you may need to stay in your bunker, it’s probably a good idea to move a bit beyond the basic four walls and a bucket model. This will take time and cost a good bit of money, but planning a functional, livable structure is what matters most in this endeavor.
When it comes to ventilation and exits, you want to design with multiple options in order to avoid an emergency resulting from blockage. Exits should always be accessible with as little distance as possible from the main structure. Air ventilation shafts should be designed to be structurally sound and easily serviced in the event of a blockage.
Water, Air, and Light
Because there aren’t any windows in a bunker, you’ll want to provide more electric light powered by a separate generator. You should also consider using UV lights in at least a few places, in case you have to stay underground longer than you originally anticipated. This will keep everyone healthy and reasonably equable.
Water filtration systems are a must for several reasons. The concept of the bucket may sound appealing, but it’s a huge problem with it comes to sanitation. Bottled water may last for a small while, but it’s harder to cook with and impossible to bathe with—which is water you’ll want to recycle if you have to stay in the bunker for a long time. Go ahead and invest in a good quality system. Air scrubbers are also expensive, but in the event of radiation, toxins, or other factors that make the air from the outside unfit to breath, you’ll want to have good ones in place.
Build with Concrete
This is tricky, but if you have patience, a poured structure can be far more secure than one built from cinderblock. Study the techniques and requirements or enlist the help of a like-minded Prepper with skills in this area.
Space for Drywall
Just as in a normal home, plan to conceal wiring and ductwork with drywall. This is as much for psychological reasons as for safety. Drywall helps to protect sensitive systems and wiring from damage while also providing an appearance of normalcy. Plus, in the event of a problem, it’s easy to cut and repair.
Plan for Privacy
When drawing up your bunker plan, incorporate space for people in your family to have some privacy. One of the quickest ways social cohesion deteriorates is when people cannot escape the presence of others. It is detrimental to the human psyche to never be alone.
Room to Grow
In the event that your stay in the bunker is longer than you might want, have space for crafts and activities. This can be as simple as adding on a bit more room to your original plan. One application that is often overlooked is the use of UV lights to grow fresh vegetables and fruits in a hydroponic garden. This can also be a part of your water and air filtration system if you so desire.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that the end won’t be long in coming, it’s best to be prepared for every contingency—socio-economic collapse, nuclear war, or biological terrorism. All these possibilities require you to plan for an extensive stay in a bunker, where you will be dependent upon your own resources and how well you’ve planned. This is more than a storm cellar, and you end product should reflect that understanding. Below are a few helpful resources for further reading.