Preparing Your Home Shelter

3+ Steps to Follow When Applying for a Permit to Build an Underground Bunker

Underground bunkers were super popular during the Cold War because the thought was that nuclear war was near at hand.

The instability of the world has led to below-ground shelters making a comeback, but it’s a bit trickier to build one than back in the 1960s.

Let’s dig into how to apply for a permit to build an underground bunker, so you can start planning now.

Do you need a permit to build an underground bunker?

In the US, you will require permits to start the building process in nearly every jurisdiction.

Obtaining a permit isn’t just because the government needs to know. It’s for your (and future owner’s) safety while building it and ensuring that the shelter is sound once it’s constructed. 

Steps to Follow When Applying for a Permit to Build an Underground Bunker

Anytime there’s a process, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But getting a permit to build an underground shelter is relatively straightforward.

1. Decide on the type of shelter.

The permits you will need to apply for will depend on the type of shelter you decide on – pre-built or not-built-yet.

  • Steel below-ground shelters
  • Concert below-ground shelters
  • Existing basement refit

Can a basement protect me from a nuclear bomb?

By no means is the basement ideal for sheltering in place after a nuclear attack. But the basement and centrally located rooms in your house are better than nothing. 

You will want to seal any drafts or cracks with duct tape and cloth to keep radioactive materials from breaching the home.

Sometimes, you can update your basement to meet the requirements for a nuclear bomb attack.

2. Map & blueprints.

Before you contact local building officials, you will need to have your map and blueprints ready to present. Keep a few key things in mind.

  • Vertical space works for storage space.
  • Open area plans are possible for underground shelters.
  • Install wall-mounted tables or desks to free up extra space.
  • Your maps and blueprints must reflect how many people you expect to shelter inside.

You can always call an underground bunker to inquire about specs and specifics.  

3. Contact local building departments.

You will contact the building officials or departments in your jurisdiction to inquire about and obtain specific permits. 

  • Discretionary 
  • Building
  • Plumbing 
  • Grading 
  • Electrical 

From there, you will fill out and return any paperwork or information your jurisdiction needs to grant the permits to build a safe underground bunker.

Can I build an underground bunker in my backyard?

Building a background underground bunker in your backyard is the best and most convenient way to prepare for an emergency or disaster. You must go through the permit process before you start digging.

You will want at least 2 feet (but more is better) of dirt thrown over the top of the underground shelter to add a layer of protection from gamma rays in case of a thermonuclear weapon attack.

How much does it cost to build a bunker in your backyard?

A mini or tiny shelter will only run you about $20. But you may need more space for any number of reasons.

Home Advisor says the average cost of a 200-square-foot underground bunker can range from $35,000 to $75,000.

The luxury upgrades you can choose from are endless but will add to the total price tag. The Vivos Europa One is the most expensive underground shelter in the world, clocking in at over $1 billion.

Can I live inside an underground bunker?

Bunker-life is not an easy life. But, with functioning electricity, adequate plumbing, proper ventilation, and a sewage system to shelter people for long-term wartime or nuclear fallout. 

How do I get oxygen inside an underground bunker?

Air filters and ventilation clean air coming into an underground shelter. You must protect your bunker from air contaminants and provide fresh air to flow inside.

How do I get water in my bunker?

You’ll need to invest and install an underground tank or water well to ensure you have enough water to keep you hydrated for an extended period of time.

The best action plan for hydration is to store enough bottled water or sealed drinks for everyone. Survival experts recommend one gallon of water per person per day. It needs to be enough for drinking and sanitation purposes.

Do underground bunkers have bathrooms?

Below-ground shelter bathrooms are typically located towards the back of the space and include a toilet and a sink. In some cases, a full-functioning shower is tucked back there, too. A helpful tip: use the bathroom space for storage to keep the central part of the space clear.

How long can you live in an underground bunker?

Hopefully, you’ve built a nuclear fallout shelter that stands up to nukes or other emergencies. The max you want to play to live in an underground bunker is five years.

So, how long you can live in an underground bunker depends on how many supplies you’ve stocked up.

If a nuclear war does break out, you will want to stay inside your sealed shelter for a minimum of 24 hours and a max of 14 days. You want the initial radiation to drop to safe levels. 

How long does an underground bunker last?

Underground bunkers without Capillary Concrete will last approximately 5 to seven years. With it, a below-ground shelter can last decades more.

Where do I go if a nuclear war breaks out?

You will want to move as quickly as possible to your underground bunker. If you don’t have a bunker, get to your basement or the most central part of your home, away from windows and doors.

It’s vital to remove any clothing or items due to possible contamination. If possible, shower, wash your hair, and change into new clothing before leaving your shelter.

At a glance

Getting a permit to build an underground shelter is easier than it sounds. 

  1. You’ll decide on the type of shelter you want to build.
  2. Draw up the blueprints and maps to submit to local building officials.
  3. Turn in your paperwork, wait for your permit, and start building.

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

Pinterest // Email

Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.