With today’s unsettled climate, the climate is changing rapidly and it can strike with surprising power, leaving destruction in its wake. Some countries and continents are more prone to disastrous events, storms, hurricanes, flash floods, etc. and people in these areas should be much more concerned about their family’s safety (and their own safety). Many people in the US UU They build their own shelters and this trend has been increasing in recent years.
There are basically two types of shelters: on the ground level (or ground level) and underground. For any of these there are some specific conditions. For example, you should not build an underground shelter in a flooded area. On the other hand, if the area is safe from floods or ocean tides (including tsunamis), then it is good to build underground.
Of course, the best idea is to consult a professional builder or architect who knows the area, the ground, etc. Otherwise, we will give you some basic tips, advice and guidance on how to proceed and build your own storm shelter, both above and below ground level.
Build your own underground shelter for storms
As we mentioned earlier, your first steps are to evaluate the area where you plan to build the underground shelter. Again, if you live in a coastal area, prone to floods or tsunamis, you should not build an underground shelter, as it can be easily flooded. Therefore, the refuge would actually be even more dangerous if you trust it to be covered during a hurricane or other disaster.
When you have evaluated the area, then you should see if the soil is good for building a shelter. If you do not have a basement (where to build it), you will have to dig a completely new underground area. This means that you have to build the walls, the ground floor of the shelter and make sure they are strong and durable enough to sustain the pressure of the soil. This procedure can be more expensive since you will have to adapt the whole house to the new building.
On the other hand, if you already have a room in the basement below your house, it would be an excellent way to start building your own storm shelter. You can build the walls of the shelter itself and build it on the ground floor of the basement.
Once you have determined what type of underground shelter you will build, you can start making more plans.
Let’s begin by explaining how to build an underground shelter within the terrain (no basement required). First, you must make some plans and draw some plans about the size, width and height of the shelter. Depending on your family, you need approximately 10 square feet per person for hurricanes. If you expect more tornadoes, about 7 square feet should be enough (since tornadoes last less than hurricanes).
When you have determined that space, plan in an area within the shelter to accommodate some food stores, water bottles, blankets, first aid kits and other important safety items.
When planning the refuge, you will have to build a door on the ground level to be able to approach the refuge from above. The royal refuge must be separated from the food stores with a ladder, which will be used to climb up and down the shelter. Then, for that, you will need two doors, one for the shelter and another for the storage room.
Now, after calculating the size of the shelter, you will have to start digging a hole. Ideally, it should be larger than the planned size of the shelter so you can have enough space to build it and operate there while you build it. Note that you can opt for a shelter for berms, which is not completely underground, but has a door at ground level.
The difference is that the entire shelter is covered by soil and grass, so it can mix well with the environment and may seem a naturally uneven terrain. It can be considered a shelter on land but it looks like an underground shelter.
Then, as you dig the big hole in the shelter, you are ready to use the concrete to make the walls. They have to be at least 5 inches thick. Allow the concrete to fully cure before proceeding to the next step.
Later on, you have to make a dome-shaped construction as the exterior frame of the structure. Then you can add fiberglass, wood constructions and metal mesh to further strengthen the entire shelter. Add anchors to the additional frame, so you can have more stability. Then you can build another layer of concrete on top of this metal construction. This will give the refuge even more stability.
Also, plan a layer of additional metal mesh on the roof of the shelter to give it strength to resist strong winds and heavy debris, which can fall on it. Then you are ready to install the door. It must have a steel and concrete frame, and it must also have 3 dead bolts. Remember, the door must open to the outside, which means that the hinges must also be installed on the outside of the building. As a final touch, optionally, add a water resistant membrane on top of the shelter.
To improve the appearance of the construction, you can add masonry on it. It will add more protection, if you build the masonry with concrete and metal structures.
Finally, you can improve the interior of the refuge by adding some benches, including sofas (if you expect hurricanes) and more comfort in case of natural disasters and longer events. When it comes to furniture, be sure to add only the most important elements inside, and ideally they should be foldable so that they can make a lot of space when folded.
Also, do not be tempted to use the shelter as a storage place when placing unwanted objects, bicycles, etc. This room should always store only the most important elements for survival, including plenty of space for everyone to feel comfortable.
How to build a storm shelter above the ground
We already mentioned the berm refuge, but now it’s time to add more details on how to build this type of shelter. There may be shelters of half berm and full berm. Half of the berm means that half is below ground level, while the entire berm is completely above the ground.
These shelters are very useful during storms, because to build them you need bags full of dirt. You build the construction using these bags as if you were using bricks. While the bricks are brittle and can easily break (they can not withstand strong forces), the bags of dirt are much heavier and remain in place once they are placed there.
You must reinforce the construction using additional wooden or metal frames to give more support to the shelter. Ideally, the shelter is not as large as an underground shelter, as it may not be as stable (if it extends over a large area), but it may offer a safe room for a family. First you need to mark the area in which you are going to build. If you live in an area prone to flooding, do not make a shelter at half a well, or it will quickly fill with water and flood.
Once you have determined the construction site, start by placing bags of dirt in a circle (this form provides the most support and strength for the structure). Start layering the bags of dirt as if you were building brick walls. Then, build a strong metal frame inside and out, in addition to the strong wooden frames to further strengthen the shelter. If you wish, you can reinforce the metal structure by using concrete around it and protect the metal structure so it does not break, thus protecting the inside cover of the ground bag.
Find a strong steel door with safety latches and strong hinges. The door must be certified by FEMA to be storm or tornado proof and can withstand high winds of over 200 mph. The door should also have been successfully tested and passed these tests. In general, testing such doors means that the missiles are thrown towards the doors at high speed. If the missile pokes the door, then it is not strong enough.
Another type of shelter on the surface is similar to the one shown in the previous section. You will need all the materials of concrete, metal, etc. to build this shelter inside your house, attached to your house or near the house (no more than 150 feet from your home).
Again, determine the size of the shelter, calculating how much space will be needed for each member of your family (no more than 10 square feet per person). Next you have to prepare the construction material and the necessary tools. If you want to incorporate the shelter into your home, you will have to make some modifications of the house. That, as we mentioned, can be more expensive.
If you want to build the shelter inside the house buildings while you are in the process of building your house, then that shelter will be much cheaper. If this is possible, we recommend this option. If not, building the shelter as an annex to your house may be cheaper economically than modernizing the house and building it inside the house construction.
Then, start by joining concrete. You have to start by putting the flood of soil. Use metal frame for this and place concrete on the frame. Let the concrete cure completely before continuing. If you wish, you can first place a layer of concrete, then use a drill to make holes in the concrete and then place metal frame anchors in the holes. Wait for the concrete to fully cure.
Then paint glue on the entire concrete surface and you will be ready to place one more layer of concrete on the metal frame. The glue will stick perfectly to the two pieces of concrete. You will have to wait until the entire block of earth you made is completely healed. A trick used by professional builders is to soak the concrete with water, while it heals. This prevents the concrete from cracking.
Then, you are ready to begin laying layers of bricks and begin to build the walls. Metal frames have always been used, which gives it greater stability and resistance to construction. Drill holes through the bricks and let the metal frame go through the holes. When you have finished with a layer of bricks, always pour concrete into the area of the brick cell. This will give enormous strength to the shelter. Also, soaking the concrete with water while it cures is always a good practice, so keep doing that from time to time.
In the initial process, the metal frame will look like prison frames. As you continue to build bricks around the frame, construction will begin to look more and more like a shelter.
When you reach the edge of the shelter, you must make a special brick layer, which you must build separately. Take the bricks you need. Place them on a wooden surface and drill holes along each brick. You need to pass metal rods through all the bricks, so that everyone can act as a layer and have the rods / wooden frame for more support.
Then, you can add that last layer of border on top of the shelter you are building. This will give a good finish. Basically, the edge must reach the top of the room in which it is being built. Or if you are building the shelter as an accessory, measure the height of the construction so that people can feel comfortable inside.
Next, you should begin to place a roof on the shelter. You have to fold the metal frames stuck to be horizontal. As the metal frames are folded, you can continue to add more metal frames and attach them to an existing one, making a complete metal mesh. For the next steps, use a wooden frame for a while, until the process is complete. Use the concrete one more time and start pouring it into the ceiling. It should have a wooden frame under the roof, so that, when pouring the concrete, it can dry in the shape of a roof. The wooden frame is crucial for this step.
Then, you will have to drill holes in the wooden frame, so that you can have a little ventilation, otherwise you can suffocate in this room if you stay there for a long time. You can also pass some electricity (wires) through the room, if you want to wire the shelter. You can have lamps or any other type of light inside. Make sure that the cables are insulated inside the pipes along the walls or the ceiling, so they are not exposed.
For air conditioning, you can leave a small area inside one of the walls unlocked. Then, you can buy a very thick and resistant metal frame, to place it in that place. Use heavy bolts and secure it to the wall. If you wish, you can place a real air conditioner in that area, but that is optional. Isolate any other open area, so that they lock securely.
Finally, again the doors are important and we will not say anything that you do not know. The door must be made of steel or metallic concrete and can withstand high winds of up to 200 mph. They must bear the seal of FEMA that they are certified to offer good reliable protection. They must be tested with missiles and have a certificate for that too.
You are more or less prepared to improve the interior of the shelter by providing more comfort. You can place a soft carpet or any other soft layer for the floor. You can prepare folding chairs, tables or benches. Always keep safety items and the first aid kit inside the shelter at all times. They have to be close at hand if someone needs it. Keep warm blankets and even sleeping bags in case you need to rest. If there are people in your family with special needs, also consider your comfort and take the appropriate measures.
Also, be sure to leave the shelter to eliminate all odors of paint, chemicals and other products that are used during the construction process. Leave the shelter like this for at least a week and test it by keeping it closed for 24 hours and then go in and see if there are any odors left.
Of course, keep plenty of water and food in the shelter. You may also want to have a toilet if you plan to spend more than one day at the shelter. Of course, this is highly possible for storm shelters, so prepare a small chemical toilet, but make sure it is safe and that there is no risk of chemical spills.
After you have finished with everything, check with a professional builder or architect so they can give you their opinion on the construction. You can consult them during the whole process of the course (and it is highly recommended). This will give you much more confidence in the final result.