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Discussion Starter #1
So I have always been really big into survival and end of the world scenarios and lately as I get older I feel the need to start to prepare. I have watched a lot of shows/movies and read plenty of books but literally my best ideas and goals seem to be, lets say, unreachable. I am buying a nice size plot of land and had planned to build a home. The "basement" of the home was to be built around steel storage containers since I have been put under the impression they can be made quite waterproff with the exception of the ventailation system. However I don't know this to be true. The containers can be purcased new to slightly used for a very resonable cost. I have a heavy steel worker in the family so working with the material shouldn't be hard if it is even possible to accomplish what I am aiming to do. I planned to also surround the containers with concrete to reinforce them for further damage however I am afraid they woudnot hold up under that amount of pressure. I am not by any means a construction person or engineer and I want to do this for as little cost as possible. Does anyone have any ideas that might be better or that would help improve the success of this endeavor?:confused:
 

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If you are going to dig a basement I would forgo the steel shipping container and just use that money to have poured concrete walls (especially since you were planning on concrete to surround it anyways). Look into the foam forms they use to pour concrete basements with, seems like it would be just as strong.

http://oikos.com/esb/33/icf.html
 

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Zombie Stomper
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If your building a new house, make a basement. Make it 1/3 size less but with a concrete ceiling. This will keep you in same budget but provide a bunker even if the bad guys set house on fire. Pipe in fresh air from 100' away and also plan some sort of escape tunnel. 3' steel culvert works well for this. I personally bring my fresh air in through the escape tunnel since you want both around 3/4 distance from tallest structure anyway. Also helps regulate air temp coming in. My supply fan is at far end of tunnel thus providing positive pressure for both tunnel and bunker. This protects from radon and and chem issues with leaks assuming NBC filtration at fan. Filters on suction side, tunnel and bunker on pressure side. In bunker is exhaust port over kitchen counter, so I can cook using coleman stove and gasses are vented out. Adjustable spring valve to set overpressure and poof, golden.
As for limited budget, i get it. Cut corners upstairs to fund the bunker, if you never need it you can upgrade cabinets and bathtub later. If you do use it, toss a thank you and enjoy post-apocalypse life in style.

shipping container: by the time you buy it, ship it, crane into hole, reinforce (steel is expensive) just pour a basement with ceiling. You won't regret it. Use as wine cellar if world stays happy.

my 2¢
 

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shipping containers

I am a builder and developer in the Pac NW. In a few months I will be digging a 14 to 16 foot hole to burry either a 50 ft by 8 ft steel culvert or shipping containers. I have run the numbers and received many quotes and they each have their advantages and disadvantages. The culvert Idea is a bit more money, (mine will be $12,000), but it's faster for nosey neighbors and it's very very safe, so long as you have proper venting. And it's very easy to install and you really can't make any mistakes if you think about what you are doing. You can burry one of these with 8 feet of dirt over top and because of thermal heating and the body heat of the occupants, you could survive the coldest winters with no need for heat.
The steel shipping containers will work and you can burry them at least 4 feet under, but they are problematic. I have spent a fair amount of time designing mine.
I do like the container idea because the price per sq foot is cheaper and the inner layout is bigger and more comfortable. I plan on putting two together, using the long sides of the banks as pillers to pour the concrete lid. I also plan of using the two inner long sides as concrete forms. Basically using the long walls of the two containers to pour a concrete bearing wall.
An 8 inch to 12 inch lid or ceiling is very critical. Anyhow there is a bit more to it than this, but it can be done and you will most definately need footings.
Rust is a big issue, but you can coat both containers before the install. I would recommend at least two escape routes. Regardless of which route I take (culvert or shipping container), I will tape my construction and put it on youtube when Im done.

cheers,
liberty
 

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If your building a new house, make a basement. Make it 1/3 size less but with a concrete ceiling. This will keep you in same budget but provide a bunker even if the bad guys set house on fire. Pipe in fresh air from 100' away and also plan some sort of escape tunnel. 3' steel culvert works well for this. I personally bring my fresh air in through the escape tunnel since you want both around 3/4 distance from tallest structure anyway. Also helps regulate air temp coming in. My supply fan is at far end of tunnel thus providing positive pressure for both tunnel and bunker. This protects from radon and and chem issues with leaks assuming NBC filtration at fan. Filters on suction side, tunnel and bunker on pressure side. In bunker is exhaust port over kitchen counter, so I can cook using coleman stove and gasses are vented out. Adjustable spring valve to set overpressure and poof, golden.
As for limited budget, i get it. Cut corners upstairs to fund the bunker, if you never need it you can upgrade cabinets and bathtub later. If you do use it, toss a thank you and enjoy post-apocalypse life in style.

shipping container: by the time you buy it, ship it, crane into hole, reinforce (steel is expensive) just pour a basement with ceiling. You won't regret it. Use as wine cellar if world stays happy.

my 2¢


You have a great idea here, and it's better than nothing, (better than most folks have),,But if you are protecting against Radiation, the key here is halving thickness. The recommended number is 10 halving thicknesses to block against nominal radiation. If I remember correctly, this converts to at least 4 feet of dirt and 2 feet of concrete. Thats alot of mud in your ceiling.
If I was going to use the basement idea, I would block out a doorway in the concrete forms and after the house was built and everyone was gone, I would come in from the outside, dig down and put a little room into the dirt bank with several feet of dirt overhead. Radiation will still get in the room unless you put an access point that is 6 times the longer than the width of your entry point. This is the standard for shelter entries.
For example, if your shelter entry point is 4 feet wide, the tunnel needs to be 12 feet long with a 90 degree turn and then another 12 feet long to the bunker. All of this is to avoid Gama Radiation entering your shelter.
If radiation is not your concerne, then forget everything I just said here.

cheers,
liberty
 

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Patient Zero of WWZ
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This is one of the most common ideas seen around here.

But it's a bad Idea. Shipping containers are not strong enough to be buried. They will collapse.

A typical underground tank is made of 5/16 steel, a shipping container's skin is 1/16 thick. That's a big difference.

You can bury them with proper structural support. But the cost of those supports added to cost of the shipping container makes it a much less attractive idea.

Concrete or steel culverts OTH are designed to be buried. And you can get concrete ones in square or rectangular shapes.

Do lots of research before you bury a shipping container.

For above ground the only benefit to them is that they are metal. To live in one you have to insulate it. You probably have to frame out the inside to support the insulation. Container plus cost of framing, you can probably build a similar size structure with 2x4s and plywood for the same cost.

http://www.containerhome.info/underground-shipping-containers.html
 

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Zombie Stomper
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10" of overhead concrete under a house is just fine. Exception being if a very near blast totally removed the house above. If not, the house itself provides a lot of protection since the roof is 12+ feet overhead. Fallout is just dust, and the radioactivity of said dust will vary depending on distance from source, wind, rain etc. Main concept is just to distance yourself from the radiation and keep things that absorb it in the way such as concrete, dirt, lead etc. Has been a while since i researched however i think the rule is in the ballpark of 2' loose dirt, 14" packed soil, 10" concrete in order to provide decent protection. Even if your house collapsed your still looking at 4' of rubble between the contamination and your 10" thick concrete. Not to mention, if things are that hosed up topside... chances are you don't have 75 years of food in the bunker. No offense taken to what gets picked apart on that, has been a while since I built mine. But assume it followed some sort of guideline at the time.
 

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Indefatigable
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Shipping containers, make great above ground structures, but as previously mentioned, are more trouble than they are worth to bury.
 

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fall out shelter

Im not trying to trump you here, I just want to make sure we put out the correct info regarding Nuclear Radiation. I'm a military vet with training in Nuclear, bio & chem and the numbers have not changed over the years. It's always been about halving thickness.
2 feet of loose soil is not enough and believe me, you don't want to be short, If anything you want more than they call for. I copied and pasted what Wikipedia calls for.........
Shielding
A basic fallout shelter consists of shields that reduce gamma ray exposure by a factor of 1000. The required shielding can be accomplished with 10 times the amount of any quantity of material capable of cutting gamma ray effects in half. Shields that reduce gamma ray intensity by 50% (1/2) include 1 cm (0.4 inch) of lead, 6 cm (2.4 inches) of concrete, 9 cm (3.6 inches) of packed dirt or 150 m (500 ft) of air. When multiple thicknesses are built, the shielding multiplies. Thus, a practical fallout shield is ten halving-thicknesses of packed dirt, reducing gamma rays by 1024 times (210).


10 halving thicknesses of 3.6 inches of PACKED dirt is 3 feet, but that's packed dirt and nobody wants to pack dirt, it not good for the shelter and it's labor intensive, so the rule of thumb in the industry is indeed 4 feet.
Now granted, if you have a concrete lid, you can get by with a bit less, but why skimp. That's why folks in the bunker business use a minimum of 4 feet of loose soil.
On the concrete issue, 1 foot is not enough. They call out 2.4 inches of concrete times a halving thickness of 10, that's 2 feet of solid concrete. Gama rays will shoot right through residential roofs and walls like butter. Granted, anything will help, but the numbers are what they are. Again, if you are not worried about Radiation, then forget my post.
Hope that helps
Liberty
 

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This is one of the most common ideas seen around here.

But it's a bad Idea. Shipping containers are not strong enough to be buried. They will collapse.

A typical underground tank is made of 5/16 steel, a shipping container's skin is 1/16 thick. That's a big difference.

You can bury them with proper structural support. But the cost of those supports added to cost of the shipping container makes it a much less attractive idea.

Concrete or steel culverts OTH are designed to be buried. And you can get concrete ones in square or rectangular shapes.

Do lots of research before you bury a shipping container.

For above ground the only benefit to them is that they are metal. To live in one you have to insulate it. You probably have to frame out the inside to support the insulation. Container plus cost of framing, you can probably build a similar size structure with 2x4s and plywood for the same cost.

http://www.containerhome.info/underground-shipping-containers.html
I have run budgets on most everything you have mentioned here. I have several quotes for materials on my desk. I have looked and quoted everything from culverts, to concrete, to the more recent storage containers. In the end, solid concrete is just a tad cheaper than a steel culvert. I like the culvet idea because I believe they are a bit more stable. The storage shelter idea works, it is the least expensive and if done correctly, it will work.
You don't want to insulate, in fact insulation is the worst idea. The bunker installers do NOT recommend this. Any of the metal ones become heat sinks because of thermal heating from the earth and because of the occupants. Even in the winter they can get quite warm. Each occupant creates the heat of a 100 watt light blub and I have 7 of these.
There is no reason what so ever to frame the culverts or the storage containers because you don't want the insulation. The only framing you would want would be for bunks and shelving and counter tops.
The square tank idea is not recommended because the round arch on the culvert is what gives the strength to the steel. The top three bunker installers today that use steel cans, all use arched or round cans for strength.
Again, the square storage containers need to be reinforced as you say, but the cost is still less considering current prices of the other choices.
I'm not trying to trump you either, I've just been crunching these numbers for a few years now and Im ready to break ground just as soon as it thaws.
 

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Sic semper tyrannis.
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Concrete or steel culverts OTH are designed to be buried. And you can get concrete ones in square or rectangular shapes.

Do lots of research before you bury a shipping container.
:thumb: Indeed cylinder shaped tubes are stronger underground than having a conex structure with unreinforced right angles.

One of people featured on the first Doomsday Preppers built a underground dwelling using a 50' x 10' diameter steel culvert for his main areas.



He maximized the space by installing a floor and used the space underneath it for storage.



For above ground the only benefit to them is that they are metal. To live in one you have to insulate it. You probably have to frame out the inside to support the insulation. Container plus cost of framing, you can probably build a similar size structure with 2x4s and plywood for the same cost.

http://www.containerhome.info/underground-shipping-containers.html
Closed cell Spray foam is apparently an effective insulting option for container home living, this does not require additional framing. Insulation is essential because of condensation issues conex homes are bound to have. I'm sure it could just as easily be applied to a steel culvert.
http://bit.ly/AEeGTI

Links on culvert shelters:
http://www.culvertshelters.com/
http://utahsheltersystems.com/
http://www.green-trust.org/bombshelter.htm
http://home.earthlink.net/~dectiri/OuterSpace/CulvrtHs.htm

SurvivalBlog has an entry on burying conex units:
http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/03/burying_a_shipping_container_o.html
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If your building a new house, make a basement. Make it 1/3 size less but with a concrete ceiling. This will keep you in same budget but provide a bunker even if the bad guys set house on fire. Pipe in fresh air from 100' away and also plan some sort of escape tunnel. 3' steel culvert works well for this. I personally bring my fresh air in through the escape tunnel since you want both around 3/4 distance from tallest structure anyway. Also helps regulate air temp coming in. My supply fan is at far end of tunnel thus providing positive pressure for both tunnel and bunker. This protects from radon and and chem issues with leaks assuming NBC filtration at fan. Filters on suction side, tunnel and bunker on pressure side. In bunker is exhaust port over kitchen counter, so I can cook using coleman stove and gasses are vented out. Adjustable spring valve to set overpressure and poof, golden.
As for limited budget, i get it. Cut corners upstairs to fund the bunker, if you never need it you can upgrade cabinets and bathtub later. If you do use it, toss a thank you and enjoy post-apocalypse life in style.

shipping container: by the time you buy it, ship it, crane into hole, reinforce (steel is expensive) just pour a basement with ceiling. You won't regret it. Use as wine cellar if world stays happy.

my 2¢
Well I am curious how hard it would be to both make the shelter out of concrete AND make it deep enough to withstand radiation. I know ventalation is key so with that in mind do you have the precise numbers. Everyone else seems to be guesstimating and if I am actually going to build it I need a for sure number. Also with all this in mind I wonder how much it would be to just buy an old bunker that is already up to specs. do you think that it would even be liveable?
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
@ EscapefromNY Wow! thank you so much this actually does seem like a very reasonable alternative and I am definitely going to look into it. I guess being a new prepper means I will have to withdraw some of my personal feelings on asthetics. "It's not meant to look petty it's meant to be effective" is what I have to keep telling myself. Thank you so much!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Im not trying to trump you here, I just want to make sure we put out the correct info regarding Nuclear Radiation. I'm a military vet with training in Nuclear, bio & chem and the numbers have not changed over the years. It's always been about halving thickness.
2 feet of loose soil is not enough and believe me, you don't want to be short, If anything you want more than they call for. I copied and pasted what Wikipedia calls for.........
Shielding
A basic fallout shelter consists of shields that reduce gamma ray exposure by a factor of 1000. The required shielding can be accomplished with 10 times the amount of any quantity of material capable of cutting gamma ray effects in half. Shields that reduce gamma ray intensity by 50% (1/2) include 1 cm (0.4 inch) of lead, 6 cm (2.4 inches) of concrete, 9 cm (3.6 inches) of packed dirt or 150 m (500 ft) of air. When multiple thicknesses are built, the shielding multiplies. Thus, a practical fallout shield is ten halving-thicknesses of packed dirt, reducing gamma rays by 1024 times (210).


10 halving thicknesses of 3.6 inches of PACKED dirt is 3 feet, but that's packed dirt and nobody wants to pack dirt, it not good for the shelter and it's labor intensive, so the rule of thumb in the industry is indeed 4 feet.
Now granted, if you have a concrete lid, you can get by with a bit less, but why skimp. That's why folks in the bunker business use a minimum of 4 feet of loose soil.
On the concrete issue, 1 foot is not enough. They call out 2.4 inches of concrete times a halving thickness of 10, that's 2 feet of solid concrete. Gama rays will shoot right through residential roofs and walls like butter. Granted, anything will help, but the numbers are what they are. Again, if you are not worried about Radiation, then forget my post.
Hope that helps
Liberty
Ok so I have the numbers now however another major concern is settling and cracking. Will that compromise the structure? I know at one point I lived with my ex boyfriend in the basement of his mothers house (this was some 10 years or so ago so cnstruction standards may have changed) and it was a brand new house. the basement settled and she had huge cracks down the concrete. It wasn't even a great distance under ground as I am assuming in order to be very safe th bunker will need to be and half of it in the back was open. Is there a way to prevent this and are there companies that are discrete enoughto accomplish this without "blabbing" or making me feel crazy? I am sure there are bunker designers and such but I am not a millionaire and I have little to work with.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I have run budgets on most everything you have mentioned here. I have several quotes for materials on my desk. I have looked and quoted everything from culverts, to concrete, to the more recent storage containers. In the end, solid concrete is just a tad cheaper than a steel culvert. I like the culvet idea because I believe they are a bit more stable. The storage shelter idea works, it is the least expensive and if done correctly, it will work.
You don't want to insulate, in fact insulation is the worst idea. The bunker installers do NOT recommend this. Any of the metal ones become heat sinks because of thermal heating from the earth and because of the occupants. Even in the winter they can get quite warm. Each occupant creates the heat of a 100 watt light blub and I have 7 of these.
There is no reason what so ever to frame the culverts or the storage containers because you don't want the insulation. The only framing you would want would be for bunks and shelving and counter tops.
The square tank idea is not recommended because the round arch on the culvert is what gives the strength to the steel. The top three bunker installers today that use steel cans, all use arched or round cans for strength.
Again, the square storage containers need to be reinforced as you say, but the cost is still less considering current prices of the other choices.
I'm not trying to trump you either, I've just been crunching these numbers for a few years now and Im ready to break ground just as soon as it thaws.
Wow well you seem to be ahead of the game where I am concerned. However when you do indeed break ground I would love to see videos of the construction and progression. I only have the means to go at this once and then when it is finished there is no do-overs or going back.
 

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Patient Zero of WWZ
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You don't want to insulate, in fact insulation is the worst idea. The bunker installers do NOT recommend this.
When talking about insulation I was only referring to above ground uses of shipping containers. If you have to frame the whole thing to insulate you have basically built the same framework you would have built to build a stick building.

And on underground shelters, actually I think what we said is pretty much the same thing. In the end there are better ways to build an under ground shelter than a shipping container.

I haven't crunched the numbers done to the penny, just rough estimates.
 

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Wannabe Mountain Hermit
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Patient Zero of WWZ
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Closed cell Spray foam is apparently an effective insulting option for container home living, this does not require additional framing. Insulation is essential because of condensation issues conex homes are bound to have. I'm sure it could just as easily be applied to a steel culvert.
The insulation is to make it livable. Imagine how hot it would get inside a big metal box on Texas August day. In winter the walls become a huger radiator for your heat to pour out through.

Closed cell foam would work. But would be ugly. Fine for a BOL or cabin.

I'm pretty sure my wife would veto the idea for a home. Maybe it could be smoothed and stuccoed.

The numbers would also change drastically if you put several together. You would only have to insulate the outside walls.

I've been rolling the idea of putting three side by side and cutting out the dividing wall. Now you have a 40 by 24 space to work with.

I haven't determined if I would need support for the roof after the walls are cut out. I bet I would. I think there's a thread here where someone has done this, but he only cut out about a 20 foot hole between his.

I'm no expert on this. I've never built a home from one. But I have been looking at options for cheap housing for a while. This is one of the things I have looked at and considered. Been trying to work out all the positives and negatives in my head.

For me I think the negatives outweigh the positives. And I think I could build a building out of 2x4 and plywood for not much more.
 
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