Imagine this: The world outside is teetering on the brink of chaos; every news update seems to play a discordant tune of impending doom. The incessant din of the ever-growing cities and the rising levels of pollution are pushing you towards a breaking point. This unbearable reality has you yearning for a secluded, tranquil escape, a space where the air is pure, and the only noise is the gentle rustling of leaves. It is in this moment of fervent desire for peace that the concept of building an underground shipping container bunker becomes a beacon of hope.
This venture is not merely about preparing for potential catastrophes; it’s about creating a serene, private realm, a sanctuary impenetrable by the worries and noises of the external world. Whether you’re looking enough space to escape the relentless sprint of contemporary existence or to have a secure retreat for more dire circumstances, constructing such a bunker emerges as a sensible, and undeniably intriguing, solution.
- 1 1. Why Build a Shipping Container Underground Bunker?
- 2 2. Choosing the Right Container
- 3 3. Preparing the Site
- 4 4. Constructing the Bunker
- 5 5. The Inside Scoop
- 6 6. Legalities and Regulations
- 7 7. Securing Your Fortress
- 8 8. Eco-Friendly Waste Management: Composting Systems
- 9 9. Challenges You Might Face When Burying a Shipping Container
- 10 10. Costs of Building DIY Shipping Container Bunker
- 11 FAQs
- 11.1 How deep should I dig for an underground bunker using shipping containers?
- 11.2 What materials are best for reinforcing a shipping container bunker?
- 11.3 Can I turn a shipping container into a storm shelter?
- 11.4 What is the cost of building an underground shipping container bunker?
- 11.5 Are there any safety considerations when building a shipping container bunker?
- 12 Source:
1. Why Build a Shipping Container Underground Bunker?
Alright, future underground dwellers, the time has come to turn those shipping containers into your cozy apocalypse retreat! Building an underground shipping container bunker is like crafting a fortress against the world’s mayhem—be it zombie outbreaks, natural disasters, or just to escape those annoying door-to-door salespeople. With the right tools, some elbow grease, and a sprinkling of humor, you can create a sturdy hideout that even the most discerning mole would envy!
Let’s dig into some techniques, shall we?
- Choose Wisely: Pick a suitable, undamaged shipping container, unless you fancy a leaky roof.
- Dig Deep, but Not Too Deep: Find that sweet spot where your container is snugly fit in, avoiding the wrath of any ancient curses.
- Reinforce Like a Pro: Use reinforced concrete and steel bars to keep things solid and secure.
- Seal it Tight: Properly sealing and insulating is the key, unless you prefer a moldy ambiance.
- Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate: Install quality air filtration and circulation systems—fresh air is a luxury in the underworld!
- Deck it Out: Make the interior comfortable and functional, because who said surviving can’t be done in style?
- Stock Up: A well-supplied bunker is a happy bunker. Don’t forget some entertainment to avoid going stir crazy!
While building your underground shelter, be mindful to keep things light and maintain your wits about you. After all, living underground doesn’t mean you have to act like a caveman!
2. Choosing the Right Container
This step is more critical than a squirrel choosing the right nut for winter. A wrong choice here, and your dream bunker might just become a subterranean disaster.
Not All Containers are Created Equal
You see, containers come in a plethora of sizes and types. It’s like a candy store but with steel boxes. You need to choose one that whispers (or screams) “I am sturdy!” and “I am your fortress!”
Types and Sizes of Shipping Containers:
|Type||Length||Width||Height||Suitable for Bunker|
|Standard 20ft||20 ft||8 ft||8.5 ft||Yes|
|Standard 40ft||40 ft||8 ft||8.5 ft||Yes|
|High Cube 40ft||40 ft||8 ft||9.5 ft||Yes|
|Reefer Container||Varies||8 ft||8.5 ft||No|
Note: Avoid Reefer Containers due to their insulation and refrigeration units.
Inspect for Rust and Damages
When choosing, inspect every inch like a detective at a crime scene. Look out for rust, dents, and holes. A rusty container is like a colander – it might look cool, but it won’t hold water, or in this case, soil.
Structural Integrity is a Must
Ensure the container has maintained its structural integrity. Check the corners and seams for any weaknesses or damages. If a container can’t stand up to a poke or a prod, it won’t handle the pressures of the earth around it.
Doors and Seals
Inspect the doors and the seals around them meticulously. They should close tightly and securely. Any compromise in the sealing could mean moisture, insects, and other unwanted guests invading your solitude.
New vs Used
While a shiny new container may sound appealing, a used one can be just as cost effective, if it’s in good condition. However, be extra vigilant when inspecting used shipping containers yourself.
- New Container: More expensive, but guaranteed condition.
- Used Container: Cheaper, but requires thorough inspection.
Once you’ve selected the perfect container, consider the modifications you’ll need, such as adding ventilation, doors, and reinforcing the structure. Remember, each modification alters the structural integrity, so plan wisely and reinforce generously!
Tip: Consult with a structural engineer before making significant modifications to ensure safety.
3. Preparing the Site
You’ve got that shiny (or perhaps a bit rusty) shipping container and you’re all pumped up, ready to get your hands dirty. Before you get too carried away with that shovel or excavator, let’s talk about site preparation. This is the bedrock of your underground fortress, and it demands a meticulous approach.
Survey the Land
Before you even think about digging, you should thoroughly survey the land. Are there any utility lines or pipes? The last thing you want is a sudden fountain of water from a broken pipeline or a surprise power outage in your neighborhood!
Tip: Check with local utility companies to ensure you won’t hit anything when you dig.
Soil Type Matters
Different soils have different properties. Sand, clay, and silt all behave differently when dug up and when put under pressure.
- Sand: Drains well, but can cave in easily.
- Clay: Less prone to shifting, but retains water.
- Silt: Fertile and dense but can become very compact.
Soil Types and Their Properties:
|Soil Type||Draining Property||Stability||Water Retention|
How Deep is Too Deep?
Yes, we want our underground container homes and shelter to be safe from prying eyes and the elements, but there’s such a thing as too deep. The deeper you go, the more potential issues you could face – think about groundwater, increasing pressure on your buried shipping containers and container walls, and the risk of running into buried surprises (like those ancient curses we mentioned).
Marking Your Territory
After determining the optimal depth, mark out the area where you’ll be placing the container. This will help you dig accurately and ensure the container fits perfectly.
Tip: Always give yourself a little extra room around the edges for adjustments and reinforcements.
Water is your underground bunker’s enemy. Pooled water can lead to rust, mold, and structural issues. Plan for a drainage system around your underground bunker to divert water away.
Consider where your main entrance and emergency exits will be. It’s essential to ensure easy access without compromising the bunker’s safety. And let’s not forget ventilation! Proper placement of vents is key to maintaining a constant supply air circulation of fresh air.
4. Constructing the Bunker
It’s time to get your hands dirty and turn that steel box into a fortress beneath the earth! Construction is where the magic happens, and your underground lair starts to take shape.
When placing your container, position is key. Think of it like placing a king in chess – it needs strategic thought. It needs to be shielded from the enemy—aka the elements, soil pressure, and potential water ingress. Ensure the container is placed in a well-drained area to avoid water collection around it.
The Roof is the Crown
Once placed, focus on the roof—it’s the crown of your container kingdom, shielding you from the earth above. It needs to be strong and resilient, able to bear the weight of the surrounding soil and any additional loads like snow or rain.
- Reinforce Rigorously: Use reinforced concrete and strong steel bars to armor the roof against cave-ins. Imagine you’re building a shield against the world above!
Walling it Right
Building walls around your bunker isn’t about keeping people out; it’s about keeping your sanctuary intact. Ensure that any material you choose is properly sealed to prevent moisture infiltration.
- Concrete Blocks or Bricks? Choose your material wisely; both can offer substantial support and security. Concrete blocks are sturdy and relatively easy to handle, whereas bricks, although more labor-intensive, can provide a more solid wall.
Consider how you’re going to access your bunker. The entryway needs to be secure yet accessible, protected against unauthorized entry and environmental elements.
- Construct a sturdy, well-sealed door.
- Install a locking mechanism that is robust and reliable.
Extra Security Measures
Beyond the structural necessities, think about additional security measures like camouflaging. You don’t want your haven to be an open invitation to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who passes by.
- Camouflage the entrance: Use natural elements like plants or build a structure like a shed over the entrance.
Once the structural elements are in place, it’s time to make it livable. Consider the layout, storage, living areas, and any other facilities you want to include.
- Plan the layout efficiently.
- Install necessary facilities like plumbing and electricity.
- Designate areas for sleeping, eating, and leisure.
Inspections and Adjustments
After constructing your bunker, conduct thorough inspections regularly to identify any potential weaknesses or required adjustments in the structure.
- Regularly inspect for cracks, leaks, and other damages.
- Make necessary repairs and reinforcements promptly.
By meticulously placing, reinforcing, and constructing your bunker, you’re not just burying a container—you’re crafting a resilient, secure, and cozy subterranean abode. A place where you can kick back, relax, and maybe enjoy a cup of tea while the world above continues its symphony of chaos
5. The Inside Scoop
You’ve constructed your sturdy, hidden fortress, and now it’s time to make your underground bunker a home—a stylish and comfortable one at that! Here’s your guide to creating a cozy, secure, and functional living space beneath the ground.
Create a Comfortable Oasis
Let’s start with the basics. Your bunker should be more than just a secure space; it should be a pleasant refuge where you can truly relax.
- Wooden Flooring: Opt for high-quality, durable wood that can withstand the underground environment. Wooden floors can add warmth and a touch of homeliness to your hideout.
- Marine Plywood: Use it for walls and furniture; it’s robust and resistant to moisture, making it ideal for your underground abode.
Style It Up
Who said survival couldn’t be chic? Just because it might be the end of the world doesn’t mean you can’t do it in style!
- Choose a Theme: Whether it’s minimalist, rustic, or retro, pick a design theme that reflects your personality and make it consistent throughout the bunker.
- Add Personal Touches: Decorate with items that make you feel at home. Think about artwork, rugs, cushions, and maybe even some curtains for that homey feel!
Ventilation is Non-Negotiable
In an underground environment, maintaining air quality is paramount.
- Install High-Quality Air Filtration: Choose a system that can effectively filter out contaminants and ensure a continuous supply of fresh air. Don’t skimp on this; good air quality is crucial for your well-being underground.
- Regular Air Checks: Monitor the air quality regularly and maintain the ventilation system to avoid the build-up of harmful gases or unpleasant odors. You don’t want to be stuck smelling yesterday’s dinner!
Emergency Exits and Safety Protocols
In the underground world, safety should be your priority.
- Plan Multiple Exits: Always have an alternative way out; an escape hatch could save your life if the main entrance is blocked.
- Keep Exits Secure yet Accessible: Install robust locking mechanisms but ensure they can be opened from the inside even if the power fails.
- Regular Safety Checks: Inspect the container for corrosion, cracks, or other damages and address any issues immediately to prevent your sanctuary from becoming a trap.
Functional Living Spaces
Design your interior with functionality in mind. Efficient use of space is crucial in a compact environment.
- Designate Specific Areas: Allocate separate areas for sleeping, eating, working, and leisure. This helps maintain a sense of normalcy and routine in your underground life.
- Opt for Multipurpose Furniture: Choose furniture that can serve multiple purposes, such as a sofa bed or a dining table with storage underneath, to maximize the available space.
Have Fun with It!
Remember, your bunker is your sanctuary, so have some fun with it!
- Install Entertainment: Whether it’s books, board games, a music system, or a dartboard, make sure you have plenty of options to keep yourself entertained.
- Bring in Some Green: Consider having some plants. They not only improve air quality but also boost your mood and make the space more pleasant.
By meticulously planning the interior of your bunker, you are not just building an underground shipping container bunker but creating a cozy, stylish, and safe home away from the chaotic world above
6. Legalities and Regulations
Before jumping headfirst into your DIY construction project, check the local regulations concerning your underground shelters, bunkers and storm shelters. Remember, we’re trying to avoid any “I am Legend” scenarios; staying legal is part of the survival game.
Know Your Local Laws
First thing’s first—familiarize yourself with your local building codes, zoning ordinances, and any other relevant regulations. It’s not just about avoiding fines or legal troubles; it’s about ensuring your safety and the safety of those around you.
- Seek Information: Contact your local city or county planning department or consult online resources.
- Ask Specific Questions: It’s crucial to ask about restrictions on building underground structures, required distances from property lines, and any limitations on uses for the structure.
Building an underground shipping container bunker without the necessary permits can lead to serious consequences, including fines and mandatory removal of the structure.
- Apply Early: Obtaining permits can be time-consuming, so start the application process as soon as possible.
- Provide Detailed Plans: Submit comprehensive construction plans, including information on the materials to be used, the bunker’s dimensions, and its intended purpose.
Understand Land Usage Rights
Review the deeds and land use restrictions for your property to ensure that building an underground bunker is permissible.
- Check Zoning Restrictions: Your land might be zoned for specific uses that exclude the construction of underground structures.
- Verify Property Lines: Be certain of your property boundaries to avoid disputes with neighbors or violations of setback requirements.
Address Environmental Concerns
Evaluate the environmental impact of your construction project to avoid harming local ecosystems and to comply with environmental protection laws.
- Conduct Soil Tests: Understand the type and stability of the soil where you plan to build, as it can impact the feasibility and safety of your bunker.
- Assess Water Tables: Knowing the water table level is vital to avoid flooding in your bunker and to determine the appropriate construction methods.
Ensure Safety and Compliance
The ultimate goal is to have a secure, stable, and legally compliant underground refuge.
- Meet Building Codes: Comply with all applicable building codes to ensure the structural integrity and safety of your bunker.
- Arrange Inspections: Schedule regular inspections during construction to catch any issues early and to verify compliance with all requirements.
Venturing into the construction of an underground refuge is exciting but requires meticulous attention to legal and safety details. By respecting the law and prioritizing safety, you are ensuring that your underground haven will be a secure, durable, and peaceful retreat when you need it most.
7. Securing Your Fortress
Alright, you survivalist-in-the-making, once you’ve got your basic setup ready, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty details. This is where your bunker transforms from a mere underground box to a safe haven capable of withstanding natural disasters and, who knows, maybe even a zombie bite or two!
Crafting a Clandestine Paradise
Above Ground Camouflage: Craftiness is the name of the game. A well-disguised entrance can be the difference between a peaceful refuge and an unwelcome intrusion.
- Develop a Façade: Erect structures like a sham garden shed or a decorative fountain to conceal the entrance.
- Landscaping Camouflage: Planting thickets of bushes, sprawling vines, or tall grasses can obscure visual detection from unwanted visitors.
- Mimicry is Key: A mock tombstone can serve dual purposes – a deceptive marker and a humorous nod to our would-be undead friends. Let’s give those zombies a puzzle!
Sealing and Insulating Sanctuary Walls: Ensuring the integrity of your bunker’s envelop is crucial—any lapse can lead to corrosion, leakage, and compromise the livability.
- Seal the Deal: Use high-quality sealants to waterproof the container’s walls and roof. A leak-free bunker is a happy bunker!
- Insulate Right: Implement premium insulation materials to combat extreme temperatures and maintain a habitable environment. In a world of turmoil above, let comfort reign below!
- Check Regularly: Periodic inspections for any signs of wear and tear can prevent long-term damage and ensure prolonged safety.
Incorporating Practical Features: While ensuring safety is paramount, your bunker also needs to be functional and habitable.
- Install Ventilation Systems: A well-planned ventilation system is crucial to filter out contaminants and provide fresh air.
- Arrange Storage Efficiently: Optimize your space with smart storage solutions for food, water, and supplies.
- Create Comfort: Furnish your space with comfortable and durable furniture, ensuring a cozy stay during tumultuous times.
Reinforcing Security: In a world fraught with uncertainty, having a defense strategy is never overkill.
- Install Surveillance: Equip your hideout with security cameras and monitoring systems to keep an eye on the surrounding environment.
- Reinforce Entry Points: Strengthen doors and access points with reinforced steel and secure locking mechanisms.
- Have Defensive Gear Handy: Keep some defensive tools and equipment within reach, just in case you need to ward off unwelcome guests.
Sustain and Thrive
Plan for Long-Term Living: Preparing for prolonged stays is as important as securing the fortress.
- Stockpile Resources: Accumulate non-perishable food items, water purification systems, and medical supplies.
- Implement Sustainable Solutions: Consider integrating renewable energy sources and waste management systems for long-term sustainability.
- Organize and Manage: Regularly check, update, and manage your resources to ensure you’re always ready for extended stays.
8. Eco-Friendly Waste Management: Composting Systems
In this new underground life, proper waste management is key. Installing a composting system can take care of human waste and other biodegradables, keeping your space clean and odor-free. Plus, it’s good for the environment, and we survivalists do care about Mother Nature, even in apocalyptic times!
The Why and How of Composting
Creating an efficient composting system is an intelligent way to dispose of biodegradable waste. It not only helps in waste reduction but also produces nutrient-rich compost that can be used to enrich the soil.
- Understand the Process: Composting is the biological decomposition of organic waste by microorganisms, producing a nutrient-rich, soil-like substance.
- Balance is Key: Maintain the right balance of greens (nitrogen-rich) and browns (carbon-rich) to facilitate effective composting.
Choosing the Right Composting System
Opt for a composting system that suits your bunker’s space and your lifestyle.
- Compact Composters: Space-efficient compost bins are ideal for confined spaces, easy to manage and don’t require much maintenance.
- Tumbler Composters: These are ideal for quicker composting processes and are highly efficient in breaking down the waste.
- Worm Bins: Vermiculture, or worm composting, is a great option for processing kitchen waste and producing high-quality compost.
Managing Human Waste
A composting toilet is a sustainable alternative to traditional plumbing and can manage human waste without the need for water or chemicals.
- Waterless Operation: Composting toilets do not require water, reducing the consumption of this precious resource.
- Odor-Free Environment: Properly managed, a composting toilet will decompose waste without releasing foul odors, maintaining a fresh atmosphere in your bunker.
Maintaining an environmentally-friendly lifestyle underground is not just responsible but also beneficial in the long run.
- Reduce Carbon Footprint: Utilizing composting systems significantly reduces methane emissions from decomposing waste, mitigating your environmental impact.
- Resource Conservation: Composting conserves resources by recycling organic matter and reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and water.
Benefits to Mother Nature
Even in seclusion, we can contribute to the wellbeing of the environment.
- Soil Enhancement: The produced compost is rich in nutrients and can improve soil structure, fertility, and water retention.
- Sustainability: Promoting ecological balance and biodiversity, composting is a sustainable waste management practice, beneficial to the environment even in times of crisis.
9. Challenges You Might Face When Burying a Shipping Container
Here are some challenges you might face when burying a shipping container to build an underground bunker:
- Excavation Difficulties: You’ll need to dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the height of your shipping container, which can be challenging with rocky or particularly hard soil.
- Drainage: To protect against water damage and mold growth, you must build efficient drainage for your buried shipping container. Otherwise, standing water can build up inside the container walls – leading to expensive repairs down the road.
- Ventilation: Proper ventilation is critical to ensure a steady supply of fresh air inside the bunker. Without sufficient ventilation, you risk carbon dioxide build-up and poor air quality.
- Structural Integrity: Shipping containers are designed to withstand heavy loads and harsh weather conditions, but burying them can compromise their structural integrity. You must ensure that the container is properly supported and reinforced to prevent collapse.
- Temperature Regulation: Underground bunkers can experience extreme temperatures, so you need to implement heating and cooling systems to maintain a comfortable and safe environment.
- Security: Just because you have a shipping container bunker underground doesn’t mean it’s impenetrable. To keep you and your family safe, invest in security systems such as security cameras, motion sensors, and reinforced doors.
- Cost: You should carefully consider your budget before starting this project because burying a shipping container and creating an underground bunker can be pricey.
- Permits and Regulations: Depending on your location, you may need to obtain permits and adhere to local regulations before burying a shipping container. Failure to do so can result in legal penalties and fines.
- Accessibility: You need to ensure that the bunker is easily accessible in case of an emergency. Install multiple ways to enter and exit your bunker as well as pathways for emergency responders.
- Maintenance: Underground bunkers require regular maintenance to remain in good condition. Checking for water leaks, testing ventilation systems, and repairing any damage caused by weather or other factors are essential for keeping your shelter secure and in working order.
10. Costs of Building DIY Shipping Container Bunker
here are some costs associated with using a shipping container to build an underground survival bunker:
- Shipping Container: Size, condition, and location all have a role in setting the price you’ll pay for a shipping container. Typically, used containers range from $1,500 to $4,500.
- Excavation: Digging a hole for the shipping container to be buried in can be a significant expense, especially if the soil is hard or rocky. Excavation costs: $1,000 to $5,000.
- Reinforcement: Shipping containers are not designed to be buried, so proper reinforcement such as support beams for the container roof, waterproofing, and ventilation are all necessary to improve safety. Reinforcement costs: $5,000 to $20,000.
- Insulation: You need proper insulation to maintain a comfortable and safe environment inside your bunker. This can include adding insulation to the walls, ceiling, and floor. Insulation costs: $1,500 to $5,000.
- Plumbing and Electrical: You’ll likely want to install plumbing and electrical systems inside your bunker. This can include adding a water supply, sewage system, lighting, and electrical outlets. Plumbing and electrical costs: $3,000 to $10,000.
- Permits and Fees: You may need to get permits and pay fees to build an underground survival bunker. Building permits, zoning permits, and inspection fees are some costs to consider. Permits and fees cost: $500 to $2,000.
- Customization: Giving your bunker more amenities, such as a kitchen or bathroom, will cost you extra. Customization costs: $ 2,000 to $20,000.
- Maintenance: Underground bunkers require regular maintenance to keep them in good condition, including checking for water leaks, testing ventilation systems, and repairing any damage caused by weather or other factors. Maintenance costs: $500 to $1,000 annually.
Building a shipping container bunker is more than a survival tactic; it’s about creating a safe space where you and your loved ones can find refuge during tumultuous times. The journey of building your bunker can be as exciting as it is rewarding. So, equip yourself with knowledge, a sense of humor, and maybe a zombie survival guide, and embark on this adventure of securing your future safety.
Remember, it’s not just about enduring; it’s about living and maybe even enjoying the simpler, underground life away from the chaos of the world above. Who knew the apocalypse could be so cozy? Happy building, and may your bunker be the sanctuary you need when the going gets tough!
How deep should I dig for an underground bunker using shipping containers?
When digging for an underground bunker using shipping containers, it’s imperative to ensure that it is deep enough to avoid the risk of subsidence and to provide protection, usually around 10+ feet deep below ground level is considered suitable, although this can depend on your specific requirements and local soil conditions.
What materials are best for reinforcing a shipping container bunker?
For reinforcing a shipping container bunker, it is recommended to use strong, durable materials such as reinforced steel bars and concrete. These materials can provide extra layer of additional structural integrity to withstand the pressures of being buried underground and protect cargo containers against potential cave-ins.
Can I turn a shipping container into a storm shelter?
Yes, a shipping container can indeed be transformed into a storm shelter. With proper modifications such as reinforcement of interior walls, ventilation, and waterproofing, it can provide a safe and secure refuge during severe weather conditions.
What is the cost of building an underground shipping container bunker?
The cost of building an underground shipping container bunker can vary widely, typically ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 or more, depending on the size, modifications, materials used, and labor costs involved. It is also affected by the cost of the underground shipping container bunkers itself and any additional features or amenities you choose to include.
Are there any safety considerations when building a shipping container bunker?
Yes, there are several safety considerations when building a shipping container bunker, including ensuring proper ventilation to avoid the build-up of harmful gases, installing adequate exit routes and emergency exits, regularly checking for corrosion, and reinforcing the structure to avoid collapse, and addressing waterproofing and drainage issues to prevent water ingress.
1. “Should You Construct a Shipping Container Bunker?” PREPAREDNESS ADVICE, 15 Sept. 2021, preparednessadvice.com/shipping-containers-bunker/.
2. Adrian, Shannon. “Shipping Container Makes an Amazing Underground Shelter/Wine Cellar.” Off Grid World, 21 May 2014, offgridworld.com/shipping-container-makes-an-amazing-underground-shelterwine-cellar/.
3. “Containerized Shelters.” Western Shelter, 2022, westernshelter.com/containerized-shelter.