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

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.

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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.

FAQs about Building an 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.

Can you build your own underground bunker?

You can indeed build your own underground bunker. It may seem like a daunting task, but with proper planning and the right tools, you can create a hidden underground shelter that will provide safety during challenging times.

What is the temperature in the underground bunker?

The temperature in the underground bunker remains constant at around 55 degrees (F) once you reach a depth of approximately 10 feet. It may feel a bit chilly, but you won’t experience freezing temperatures or extreme heat. It would be wise to pack some sweaters in the storage space.

Does a nuclear bunker have to be underground?

A nuclear bunker does not necessarily have to be underground. A fallout shelter can be located in various places, as long as certain conditions are met. While bomb shelters are commonly built underground, the design of a fallout shelter is similar to that of protection against the sun, which is another form of radiation.

What is doomsday bunker?

The doomsday bunker is a structure built underground with thick and reinforced concrete walls, designed to provide survival and luxury in the event of a virus outbreak, nuclear war, or any other catastrophic event. The wealthy individuals are actively preparing for such scenarios by investing in these secure and well-equipped shelters.

Can you have a bunker under your house?

You can have a bunker under your house, but it is advisable to reconsider building an underground bunker as it may pose risks and potentially endanger your life. Instead, having a basement or cellar in your house can offer greater safety during emergencies.

Can I use my basement as a fallout shelter?

You can use your basement as a fallout shelter because it is mostly belowground, providing a natural shield against fallout. This booklet provides information on the level of protection your basement offers and suggests ways to enhance it for the safety of your family.

How long does it take to build a underground bunker?

The time required to construct an underground bunker can be as short as two days or less when two individuals work manually in a backyard or wooded area, as stated in “Nuclear War Survival Skills.”

How long can you stay in a bunker for?

The duration of time one can remain in a bunker varies, but it is generally recommended to stay for a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 14 days. This timeframe allows for the initial radiation levels to decrease to a relatively safe level before considering emerging from the shelter.

How long does an underground bunker last?

An underground bunker can last for geological periods of time due to its construction with geologically created materials such as stone. However, modern structures made from artificial materials typically begin to crumble a few decades after maintenance stops.

Can an underground bunker survive a flood?

An underground bunker cannot survive a flood if the water table is above its depth, regardless of the materials used such as concrete or steel. The bunker needs to be buried deep enough to protect it from surface impact, but if the water table surpasses its depth, it will inevitably flood.

How do you ventilate an underground bunker?

To ventilate an underground bunker, it is essential to have both an intake vent and an exhaust vent, along with an active pump. Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the vents are safeguarded against common disturbances such as insects, rodents, weather, and water.

Can you bury a shipping container?

Burying a shipping container without adding support members to its design is unsafe due to its monocoque construction. The weight is primarily supported by the corner frames, making the walls relatively weaker.

What is the cheapest way to build an underground bunker?

The cheapest way to build an underground bunker is by utilizing a shipping container shelter. A shipping container shelter is a highly favored option for those on a budget. These containers are readily available at affordable prices and boast exceptional durability. Whether you opt for a single container or choose to stack multiple ones, you can easily create a more spacious underground bunker.

How to build a safe room underground?

To build a safe room underground, start by cutting out and removing the concrete slab from the garage floor. Then, dig down 28 inches. Next, construct a wooden form around the excavated hole to create the walls and ceiling of the concrete storm shelter. Finally, reinforce the form by installing metal rebar throughout to strengthen the concrete.

How far underground can you build a bunker?

The maximum depth for building a bunker underground is 10 feet, as going deeper may pose risks if the exits become blocked during a blast. It is important to have at least two exits in case you need to dig yourself out. Packed earth provides insulation against radiation and blast waves.

How thick does a wall need to be for a bunker?

The thickness required for a bunker wall depends on various factors. Generally, it is recommended that the walls of a bunker be at least 1-3 feet thick. If metal sheets are being used, it is advisable to include a layer of brick or concrete on the inside. In the case of concrete walls, they should be thick and reinforced to provide additional protection against explosive shockwaves and radiation.

What makes a bunker nuclear proof?

A bunker is made nuclear proof by constructing its exteriors with tightly sealed thick concrete, preventing the entry of gas or water. Vivos’ concrete bunkers in South Dakota are specifically designed to endure a 20-megaton blast occurring a few miles away. Bunkers constructed from fiberglass or corrugated metal might not possess the necessary strength to withstand a nuclear attack or climate catastrophe.

How deep does a bunker have to be to survive radiation?

The bunker needs to be at least 3 feet deep underground, or have an equivalent shielding, in order to survive radiation. To achieve a reasonable level of protection, it is recommended to have 10 “halving thicknesses” of mass between you and any source of gamma radiation.

Can you use a container as an underground bunker?

Using a container as an underground bunker is possible when appropriate safety measures, reinforcement, and ventilation are implemented, making it an incredibly secure option.

How much is it to build a underground bunker?

The cost of building an underground bunker can vary depending on the level of amenities and size. A basic bunker can start at around $38,000, while a larger reinforced concrete bunker with kitchen gear and other amenities can cost approximately $60,000. Additionally, it is important to consider the shipping costs associated with receiving a bunker.

How can I build my own bunker?

To build your own bunker, it is crucial to obtain the necessary permits. After securing permission, carefully select the ideal location and create a detailed blueprint. Next, choose the appropriate materials for constructing the bunker and acquire essential living supplies. Additionally, ensure you have the right excavating equipment to begin digging. Lastly, reinforce the shelter to enhance its strength and durability.

What is the cheapest way to build an underground bunker?

The cheapest way to build an underground bunker is by utilizing a shipping container shelter. A shipping container shelter is a highly favored option for those on a budget. These containers are readily available at a low cost and boast exceptional durability. Whether you opt for a single container or stack multiple ones, you can easily create a more spacious underground bunker.

How deep underground do you have to be to survive a nuclear bomb?

To survive a nuclear bomb, one needs to be at a depth of approximately ten feet underground. This depth offers sufficient protection from radioactive particles and blast impact, as compacted dirt is highly effective in providing such defense. However, going deeper than ten feet may pose challenges in terms of excavation in case of a collapse.

Where is the best place to build a bunker?

The best place to build a bunker is preferably in a deep location within a solid and spacious rock formation, such as granite, rather than inside a large boulder. Alternatively, it can be constructed in an absorbent soil basin, like sand or gravel, at a significant depth, with the wall thickness adjusted to compensate for the lack of rock protection.

What are the best underground bunkers?

The best underground bunkers include Trident Lake, the Las Vegas underground shelter, the Doomsday bunkers known as The Aristocrat and The Safe House, Vivos Indiana, Vivos xPoint, the Greenbrier bunker, and the Global seed vault.

Where are the doomsday bunkers?

The doomsday bunkers are located at various facilities, including the Raven Rock Mountain Complex near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania; the site at Peters Mountain in Virginia’s Appalachians; the Mount Weather bunker in Bluemont, Virginia; and the Cheyenne Mountain Complex in El Paso County, Colorado.

What is the most expensive underground bunker?

The most expensive underground bunker is the L’Heritage model by Oppidum, which costs approximately $100 million (£91m), as stated by Tom Grmela, the Head of Communications for the company.

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.

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