How to Build an Underground Bunker

Doomsday, biological warfare, deathly zombie apocalypse – If you’ve found yourself thinking about these, then you must have wondered about your security too. How do you survive missiles of nuclear power? a crazy zombie chasing you in your own yard? the biggest storm? An underground bunker.

A hardcore survivalist dreams of having a secret underground bunker. These secret hideouts have acted a safe haven for decades. Let’s go all the way back to WW1. In those dire times, armies used bunkers to store artillery, ammunition, and supplies.

These were the first-ever tactical bunkers to be used by man. Following this in the Cold War and WW2, civilians used bunkers for shelter and protection. Both these wars saw gruesome air raids and a potential threat of a nuclear war. The easiest and safest way to survive, with the least damage was going underground.

Bunkers are underground, indelible, unbreakable and that’s what made them so reliable. They were underground and could store food and people for months, years if needed. Bunkers proved to be a true place of solace for humanity; a bunker that is stocked up with all of the needed tools of the trade, from food to guns, to the additional scopes. Every survivalist knows the importance of accessories that can make their shot better, and you wouldn’t wanna miss out on some good recommendations for scopes out there.

Fast forward to 2020, do bunkers still exist? Yes, bunkers are still very present in the fabric of our societies. You’ll find historical bunkers in the backyards of old British houses, abandoned valleys, and around army bases. That said, you will also come across bunkers on sale.

We are witnessing a pandemic, climate crisis, and failing international relations. Life has become unpredictable. You could get the virus or get hit by a tornado or bombed. These burrow-like structures have endured wars and are built for survival. They protect from natural and manmade disasters. So, think about it, getting a bunker makes more sense now than ever before, doesn’t it?

Colonies and communities of bunkers are being constructed. You could buy one of these bunkers as a precautionary measure or you could buy it for personal use. A bunker has many utilities and the best part is: it’s buried, safe and secretive.

Now, naturally, buying a preconstructed bunker is an expensive transaction. The bigger the surface area, the larger the expenditure. And most survivalists like to do their own building. Quality and efficiency are everything today. So, let me walk you through, step by step, on how to build your own bunker.


This is the first question you must ask yourself before taking any concrete steps. It’s important to determine the purpose of your bunker. This lays the foundation for your plan.

Protection from armaments and after-effects.

Although it’s been ages since the World Wars and the Cold War, the possibility of a war breaking out in the future doesn’t seem so bleak. Most countries are equipped with nuclear weapons and might not hesitate to wage a war against their adversary.

Uncertainty is at its brink. Even international laws cannot protect civilians like you and me from this mass destruction. One way to live through this and survive its after-effects is by going underground. The design and structural integrity of a bunker can withstand nuclear wars. Also, extreme damage and the chaos of war. You sit inside a bunker and you go practically untouched.

Protection from civil unrest

Most people, at the sound of a disturbance, lock stock and barrel, flee to less populated areas to protect themselves. But, in dire times, you have no choice but to make do with what you have and hide in the open.

Backyard underground bunkers usually go unobserved by the masses. They make for some incredible disguise. This not only protects you from civil unrest but also from a disease breakout and germ warfare. The desolate nature of a bunker often keeps it free of contamination and clean. You have no plausible threat of communicating those viruses.

Protection from disastrous weather

One-quarter of this world is affected by some sort of natural disaster now. Tornados are one of the most common forms of air disasters. The US alone experiences about 1,200 tornadoes in a year. You might want to consider getting an underground bunker if you’re directly in the path of a severe weather calamity. Remember to stock up with food and water resources.

Extra storage space.

Building underground cellars to store food grains and easily perishable is not new. Bunkers are brilliant storage places due to their constant humidity and controlled temperature. The absence of direct exposure to sunlight helps add to the life of the products. All you have to do is keep the place clean and neat to avoid rodent infestation, then you’re all good.


Once you’ve determined the purpose of your bunker, we move on to the most important: the location. Now, it’s crucial that you choose a suitable location. Your bunker must be close enough to have access to resources but far enough to not be noticed easily.

Choose a desolate spot, not your own backyard if you have a lot of curious neighbors. Building an underground shelter is heavy work and is bound to draw attention. Consider the accessibility of the location. In times of emergency, if it’s too far, you won’t be able to make it!

The properties and characteristics of the ground is a key factor. Granular and sandy soils are ideal for underground shelter. The soil must be permeable and keep less water. This helps regulate the moisture inside the bunker. Two of the important factors to remember are the underground water table and natural gas spots. Keep in mind these things while choosing your location. You don’t want to cause any disturbance in the natural order of the ground.

Bunk Size & Layout

Your bunker size totally depends on your usage. If you want to store more things in it, you’ll probably need a bigger size. The primary dimensions of the shelter depending on the area you’ve chosen. But remember to consider the occupancy and utility of the space.

Bunkers need an efficient plan. The layout should include main doorways, living space, a storage unit, communication systems. Other essentials you must keep in mind are the water and sewage systems.

You can either choose a premade floor plan online or you can make your own to your preferences.


Everything said and done, if you don’t have a good budget, your bunker is not going to be safe. You must have a sizable budget to afford good insulation, communication, and purifying systems. A bigger budget also means that you can wrap up the construction quicker. After all, a bunker is an investment.

If you have a tight budget, opting for the premade layout could be a better option. A pre-made bunker might also be a better option for you. This way, you don’t have to spend on the basics of the shelter. You can change the details on the inside and suit your needs.


We’re finally down to the juicy bits. Now, that you have all your prerequisites sorted, you can finally get to the hard work part of it. How you lay the foundation of your underground shelter is very important. It is going to uphold the entire structure and ensure safety. Let’s get right into it.


By now, you already know that this project is no cakewalk. Building a bunker is tough and requires immaculate planning. You chose the location and the layout, what next? Now, the first most important thing is to get the required permissions.

Permissions are to ensure the safety of you and your neighborhood. You cannot just start digging a huge hole in your backyard. Especially, if you live in densely populated areas. Getting a bunker permit for your backyard in a city can be difficult. Most metropolitan areas have gas lines, water pipes, electrical wires, etc. running underground.

You don’t want to nick a pipe and pay a hefty pipe or worst-case scenario, have your project shut down. Now, the required permits may range from electrical, plumbing to grading, and building, depending on your state laws.

I strongly insist on getting all the necessary permits before proceeding with this project.


Building an underground bunker is a lot like building a house. You need a layout, a blueprint! Now, keep in mind that your blueprint must be tactical and efficient. You only have so much space and you need to make the best of it.

You will find a lot of reference plans to suit your needs. Here are some tips you could use while designing your bunker’s blueprint:

You can merge spaces and create an open place for all the people in the bunker.

Since bunkers are compact, it makes more sense to utilize the ceiling to floor distance. For storage, vertical units can be constructed. This not only increases living space but also makes use of the space in the most efficient manner.

Furniture. In this place, getting wall mounted furniture makes more sense. At all points, you must remember that though this place is for you, it’s for your safety. Wall-mounted furniture is a great way to reduce space usage.

You should look around the space you have and choose to place your furniture accordingly. Make sure you don’t feel suffocated and have enough space to move around and breathe.


A major portion of the durability of the bunker can be contributed to the material you use in its construction. A solid choice for your bunker would be concrete. It is easy to work with, strong, and can last a lifetime with relatively less upkeep. Concrete is also an affordable alternative.

You can combine the concrete with bricks. Bricks are sturdy and affordable and make for great insulators. Like I said before, insulation is important in your bunker. For extra added support, add steel to the mix. Steel makes for a sturdy and strong shelter. Some people also use metal sheets in their underground bunkers.

Although metal sheets are strong and durable, they’re costly and need insulation. I would not recommend going on metal sheets. Likewise, using wood to lay the foundation of your bunker or for the entire construction is not very wise. Wood is highly prone to moisture and can weather and rot. You don’t want your underground bunker to cave in on you.

It is also vulnerable to infestation and will cause a big problem in your bunker. You can use wood to decorate the insides of your bunker. Hardwood floors, wooden tables, and chairs. But that too requires regular cleaning and upkeep.

 Key Living Materials

Obviously, you cannot just place a concrete box underground and call it a bunker. If you’re going to live in it, it has ought to have basic systems for your survival. You cannot survive in a closed space without water. It’s imperative to have a safe water system.

The duration of your stay will determine the amount of water you need. If you plan on staying long term, you can store gallons of water or set up a sturdier water system in your bunker. Smaller stays won’t require you to store so much water.

Regardless of your stay duration, a reliable water filtration system is something you should look into. This will help you secure a clean water source. A UV filter is ideal for underground bunkers. UV technology uses different frequencies to kill the germs and bacteria in the water, making it safe for consumption.

Air and ventilation systems are also important. They provide clean air inside the bunker. An NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) air filtration system takes the outside air, filters out impurities, germs, and other toxins. This system runs on power but can also be automated to switch to backup energy whenever you need it.

Another important system is your sewage and waste disposal system. You can choose to designate a spot for waste disposal in your bunker if you’re staying for a short period. A makeshift toilet is a cost-effective choice but make sure to cover and seal the area and lids properly. Incorrect waste disposal is detrimental to health, especially in such an enclosed space. 

I recommend designing an elaborate system, better for the long haul. A wastewater pump is a good option. They pump waste from lower levels to higher levels. Another route is a composting toilet. Albeit a little pricey, it’s an eco-friendly way of disposing of your waste while creating fertilizer. This is great if you have plants in your bunker.

Lastly, food and electricity. Getting a generator to supply electricity to your bunker is ideal. Another option is the solar power generator which is eco and pocket friendly. You can count the wattage of power used by the devices you are going to place in the bunker and choose your system accordingly.

Food is essential. You are also going to want to reserve food and stock up for your stay. Remember to get foods that are not easily perishable and store them in a clean, dry spot. Canned foods and microwavable foods are your best bet. Keep an eye on the expiration dates on your foods and don’t consume anything that doesn’t smell right. Remember to regularly restock, so that when emergency strikes you don’t have anything to worry about.

First aid, batteries, flashlights, ammunition, and communications are other things you should remember to stash.


Once you’ve got all your materials, you can begin digging for your bunker. The smarter choice would obviously be using an excavator. Using a shovel is insufficient for a project of this magnitude. Equipment designed for excavation helps you dig quickly and efficiently, even in tight, inaccessible areas.

An excavator can help you achieve the speed and accuracy you want. Excavators are machines used to move the earth. They are very versatile and are used for a variety of operations. You will come across a number of excavator options but choose the one that fits your bill.

Right off the boat, measure your plot, and chalk up your perimeter. Using your trencher, make an outline of your area. A trencher helps in cutting roots of trees, creating a pathway for drainage, cutting through rocks, and above earth concrete constructions. Then, you excavate the area and dig.

One thing you must keep in mind, abide by the local rules and your permits. Your bunker should be 10 feet under the ground and be covered by soil above.


Make sure that the construction of your underground bunker is strong, sturdy, and reliable. As I said, concrete is the best option. You can combine it with steel and bricks and make your structure stronger.

Water and moisture in the air can cause mold and fungus in your bunker and destroy structures. I suggest waterproofing your bunker with protective systems. If your location is earthquake-prone, you must reinforce your bunker with methods similar to earthquake-proof buildings. This is a little pricey but will ensure your safety and the structural integrity of your bunker.

Once you have your bunker built and systems installed, all you have to do is move in your furniture and food stockpile. You’re ready to live it out like a true survivalist!

That being said, building an underground bunker is a tough job. It requires cohesive planning and an iron will to complete this project. An underground bunker, in true survivalist fashion, will take years to finish. But with patience and perseverance, I am positive you’ll actualize your plans. You’ll have a survival bunker for you and your family! If you’ve been thinking about building one, what are you waiting for? Harness your inner survivalist and get on it!

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