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  #1  
Old 04/30/11, 06:19 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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DIY Storm Shelters

I am in the south and the latest round of tornadoes came awful close to me. In the past three months there have been three tornadoes, all within 1-2 hours of me. I am in an area that is not known for a lot of tornadoes, but I am also right on the border for hurricane strength winds.

I am in a doublewide home, no basement and no storm shelter. I have been searching for days for an affordable shelter, but they are all out of my price range. If I could afford a well built house I would have one, but for now this is my home.

I would like to know (with pictures if possible) if anyone has a shelter that they built. I would like to build a shelter that you can walk into, and have it mounded with dirt around the outside. My neighbor is elderly and would have a hard time with stairs, so I am trying to find plans for a walk-in shelter.

Ideally, I would like one that is half buried in the ground, with a ramp down to the entry door. This would give us added protection of being partially underground while still being able to avoid steps.

Any advice?

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  #2  
Old 04/30/11, 06:33 PM
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: SE tennessee
Posts: 1,709

I'm also thinking about this..maybe a van body or truck box buried in a hillside? Maybe a new septic tank or some other kind of tank?I'll be giving this some thought..

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  #3  
Old 04/30/11, 06:53 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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How much dirt would have to be on top for it to be safe from falling/flying debris? Will a vehicle roof hold up to the weight?

I was thinking of digging out a hole and having a cement pad poured. Then build walls up with cinderblocks. What type of roof can withstand the weight of the earth that would have to be on top? I am on flat land, there is no hillside for me to build into.

I have a $2,000 budget for this project. Is this possible?

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  #4  
Old 04/30/11, 07:10 PM
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I don't know about the cost, but can you get cement blocks that are meant for building silos? If you can, I would build an eight-foot-tall 'silo' of whatever diameter you can afford, roof it with rebar and ferrocement, start backfilling around it, put some pond liner over not only the 'silo' but also as much of the surrounding ground as possible (to keep as much water as possible away from the shelter), and then finish backfilling and cover the whole thing with a good layer of dirt. You'll need sod on top, and keep it watered so it grows so the roots will hold it down.

If anyone has any idea how much a shelter of this type might cost, I'd be glad to know myself.

Kathleen

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  #5  
Old 04/30/11, 07:10 PM
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Google on "earth bag dome" and "ferrocement dome". If you are willing and able to to the work, you can have one for 2k or less.

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  #6  
Old 04/30/11, 07:57 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Newfoundland, Canada
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a guy i know has a large, unused, septic tank on his property. he uses it like a root cellar, he cut a door in one end and buried it all except the door. that might have a lot going for it, it is designed to be underground and being underground should provide protection.

just a thought

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  #7  
Old 04/30/11, 08:48 PM
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I second the earth bag idea. They can be built for a little of nothing. If you dig a hole to build it in, you'd have a secure tornado shelter.

I was raised in "tornado alley" so I grew up seeing a lot of them every season. I respect them, but I've spent many years watching them in the sky, and a few on the ground so I'm not scared of them. They used to have a pattern so you would know what direction they are going to move. They've been odd lately, not following the well established pattern, that's getting a bit scary.

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  #8  
Old 04/30/11, 09:18 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: NC
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I have been working on one made of plywood. Don't laugh. It is remarkably strong. I got the idea from boat building. i am going to use 2X6 ribs on 16" centers and sheath it in 3/4 " hardwood plywood then cover it in a layer of S fiberglass. The ribs will be on the inside and the inside will be coated in epoxy resin. If I build as unitized construction it will be very strong.
My reason for doing this, Privacy,secrecy,ease of construction. it will be dry food storage, a safe dry place and it's something I know.
I also have the bags for the earthbag construction. I am am going to build the root cellar with those. (If the hole ever dries out)

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  #9  
Old 04/30/11, 09:32 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Just Cliff, is your plywood shelter an above ground shelter?

I was looking at a website for septic tanks and they sell concrete lids. I wonder if I can build a concrete shell with cinderblock and re-bar, and then anchor one of those lids to it if that would work. I can dig down and put it 4 ft into the ground, and then berm the top portion.

Thank you Cyngbaeld, I will do some googling on those types of shelters.

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  #10  
Old 04/30/11, 10:48 PM
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No. It will be below ground.

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  #11  
Old 05/01/11, 06:44 PM
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Just remember one thing when you build it. Make sure the door opens inward to prevent you from being trapped by debris piled against it. And make sure you have some tools (chainsaw, pick, etc) inside with you.

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  #12  
Old 05/01/11, 07:19 PM
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Okay, first build yourself a half-buried root cellar, which you should have already. Then use this for your shelter. Don't build a one-use shelter. Your root cellar serves a dual purpose.

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  #13  
Old 05/02/11, 12:38 PM
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Ohio
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several years ago I built a tornado shelter/root cellar fron a big piece of culvert with wooden ends. The culvert is designed to be buried and I braced the wooden ends against each other so I am confident of its strength. I got the culvert from the county when they did some road work and a friend gave me the wood when he tore out his deck ( it was my lucky day!) Anyway, I coated the edges with burlap soaked in roofing tar then coated the entire thing with that black goo you put on basement walls. Next I wraped a couple of tarps around it and plunked it in the ground. The bottom is below the water table quite often and it is completely dry inside. I am very happy with it. As someone else mentioned, the door opens in and I have some tools in there to cut my way out if I need to. Good luck with whatever you do.

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  #14  
Old 05/03/11, 06:56 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 61

This is a link to Family Handyman with a how to -http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Home-Safety/Home-Emergencies/how-to-build-a-storm-shelter

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  #15  
Old 05/03/11, 11:45 AM
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Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
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There may even be grant money (both fed & state) available for those that live in storm prone areas: http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/saferoom/resinit.shtm

In particular there are grants for mobile home parks to build community shelters.

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  #16  
Old 05/03/11, 03:23 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 214

You could find a used gas tank co.
Fiberglass tank that has been removed.
6' high 16' long and capable of buried earth loads.
Cheap 500 bucks and the cost of hauling on a rollback. (That was 5 years ago)
No fumes, fiberglass dosen't absorb.
I've been in a half buried tank with access door cut and fitted on the end.
Semi transparent for some light if you leave some of the top uncovered also has vent pipes access.
Good luck

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  #17  
Old 05/03/11, 09:55 PM
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There are tons of DIY shelter plans out there. Do a search on bomb shelters and look at the CD plans from the 50s and 60s.

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  #18  
Old 05/04/11, 12:21 AM
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: middle GA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by watcher View Post
Just remember one thing when you build it. Make sure the door opens inward to prevent you from being trapped by debris piled against it. And make sure you have some tools (chainsaw, pick, etc) inside with you.
You would also need some type of pipe or something to vent fresh air into it.
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