How to Build a Simple Underground Bunker on a Budget

Every prepper dreams of having their very own underground survival bunker. It’s a safe haven where we can escape in an emergency – an underground shelter where you can take refuge.

Whether you call it a survival bunker, an apocalyptic bunker, a bomb shelter, a nuclear shelter, or a fallout shelter, it doesn’t matter. What matters is: It’s a place you can survive (typically underground). A bunker with plenty of clean air, freshwater, and food in times of epic disaster.

The best way to prepare for disaster situations is to keep your supplies secure in your own underground survival bunker. Underground bunkers (sometimes called bomb shelters, fallout shelters, or survival bunkers) are fool-proof ways to survive an apocalypse or two. But they don’t come easy; in fact, it takes a lot of effort, planning, and money to build a DIY underground bunker.

When people hear “survival shelter” or “underground survival bunker,” it is usually a fallout shelter from the 1950s that comes to mind. So, no wonder people will think you are crazy if you say you are building a bunker. They’ll assume you are prepping for a nuclear war.

Our disaster prep needs are much different today than during the height of the Cold War. Nuclear fallout. The Black Death 2.0. A horde of hungry zombies clambering for your supplies. You know what can protect you from all three? An underground bunker.

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How to Build a Simple Underground Bunker on a Budget

Using a Shipping Container Shelter

One of the most popular ways to build an underground bunker on a budget is to use a shipping container shelter. Shipping containers are cheap and easy to find, and they are also very durable.

White old abandoned industrial shipping container converted into storage space with small windows and rusted broken doors in front left in suburban family house backyard next to plastic garbage can and stacked firewood surrounded with uncut grass and dense trees in background

You can use a single container or stack several to create a larger space. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to reinforce the container to make it structurally sound for underground use.

Inside Your House

If you’re looking for an even cheaper option, you can build an underground bunker inside your house. You can convert a basement or a crawl space into a survival shelter. This option is not as secure as others, but it’s better than having no shelter at all.

Above Ground Concrete Blocks

Another way to build an underground bunker on a budget is to use above-ground concrete blocks. You can stack the blocks to create a shelter and then cover it with dirt.

This option is not as secure as other options, but it’s still better than having no shelter at all.

Renovating a Fallout Shelter

If you happen to have an old fallout shelter from the 1950s, you can renovate it to make it livable. However, keep in mind that most fallout shelters are not suitable for long-term survival.

The heavy steel door of the bomb shelter during the Cold War

They don’t have a sustainable water source, and many don’t even have a sewage removal method or chemical toilet installed inside them.

The Pros and Cons of Homemade Bunkers

Cheap Underground Bunker

One of the biggest pros of building a homemade bunker is that it’s usually cheaper than buying a pre-made bunker. You can use recycled materials or repurpose existing structures to create your shelter.

However, keep in mind that if you’re not experienced in construction, your bunker might not be structurally sound.

Underground House

If you have the money and resources, you can build an entire underground house. This option provides more living space than a traditional bunker, and it’s much more livable.

A hut in the ground under the grass in Denmark.

However, keep in mind that building an underground house is a massive undertaking that requires a lot of planning and resources.

Above Ground Concrete Blocks

As mentioned earlier, using above-ground concrete blocks is a cheap way to build a shelter. However, this option is not as secure as other options, and it’s not suitable for long-term survival.

Backyard Bunker

You can also build a bunker in your backyard. This option is convenient and provides easy access to your shelter. However, keep in mind that your bunker might not be as secure as other options.

Root Cellar

If you have a large yard, you can build a root cellar and use it as a survival shelter. This option is cheap and provides ample storage space for food and supplies.

However, keep in mind that it might not be secure enough to protect you from all types of disasters.

Culvert Bunker

If you live in an area with culverts, you can convert one into a bunker. Culvert bunkers are relatively cheap, and they provide good protection from disasters.

However, keep in mind that they are not very spacious, and they might not be suitable for long-term survival.

Shipping Container Bunker

As mentioned earlier, you can use a shipping container to build a bunker. Shipping containers are cheap and durable, and they provide good protection from disasters.

However, keep in mind that you’ll need to reinforce the container to make it structurally sound.

Why You Should Build a DIY Bunker

Protection from Various Catastrophes

Building a DIY bunker provides protection from various catastrophes, such as natural disasters, pandemics, and civil unrest. You never know when a disaster might strike, so it’s best to be prepared.

Ultimate Bug-Out Location on Your Own Property

Building a DIY bunker on your own property provides the ultimate bug-out location. In case of an emergency, you don’t have to travel far to reach your shelter. This can be a significant advantage, especially in situations where travel is dangerous or restricted.

Privacy and Security

Building your own bunker gives you complete control over its location and design. You can choose a secluded spot that’s not easily visible to outsiders, and you can customize the bunker to meet your security needs. With a DIY bunker, you don’t have to worry about nosy neighbors or unwanted visitors.

Peace of Mind

Knowing that you have a safe haven in case of an emergency can give you peace of mind. It’s comforting to know that you and your loved ones have a place to go when disaster strikes. Building a DIY bunker is a proactive step towards ensuring your safety and survival in uncertain times.


Building a DIY bunker can also promote self-sufficiency. You’ll learn valuable skills such as construction, plumbing, and electrical work. Additionally, you can stock your bunker with food, water, and supplies, reducing your dependence on external resources during a crisis.

Can you make your own underground bunker?

Yes, you can build your own underground bunker by obtaining proper permits, choosing a suitable location, and following a well-designed blueprint.

How much does it cost to build an underground bunker?

The cost of building an underground bunker varies depending on factors such as size, materials, and excavation, but it can range from $10,000 to over $1 million.

How do you build a simple underground bunker?

To build a simple underground bunker, dig a hole at least 2 feet deeper than the height of a shipping container, pour concrete stairs leading down to the bunker, use I-beams to support the entryway roof, place corrugated steel across the top of the container as a base for the concrete roof, and weld a re-bar frame around the stairs.

How thick does concrete need to be for an underground bunker?

Concrete walls for an underground bunker should be at least 1-3 feet thick, with reinforcement for added protection against explosive shockwaves and radiation.

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