How To Build an Underground Bunker in 12 Easy Steps


Building an underground bunker might seem like something out of a movie, but in today's world, it's not so far-fetched. Whether it's the threat of a nuclear war, the fear of a global disaster, or just preparing for any big, unexpected event, having a safe place to go is important. In this article, we'll explore what an underground bunker is, why having one could be a good idea, and how to build your own.


building a bunker underground



What Is an Underground Bunker?


Underground bunkers or underground shelters are protective shelters located below the ground. During the Cold War, they were frequently used to store weapons and other must-have equipment. Today, they're built to keep you safe during emergencies like wars, natural disasters, or other serious threats. They are usually made of strong key living materials like concrete and steel, so they can stand up to tough conditions. Inside, you might find things like beds, food supplies, water, and medical kits. They're designed to be self-sufficient, so you can stay there for a while if you need to.


Reasons Why You Would Need an Underground Bunker


Reasons to Create a Bunker


Having an underground bunker might seem like a big step, but there are several good reasons to consider building one:


1) Natural Disasters


Our planet can be unpredictable. Earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes happen more often than we'd like. A bunker provides a safe spot where you can stay protected from these scary natural events.


2) Manmade Disasters


Unfortunately, human activities can also lead to emergencies. This includes things like industrial accidents or the scary possibility of a nuclear fallout. It doesn't take a cynical survivalist to understand that we're heading for a rough patch. In these cases, an underground bunker can shield you from harmful effects, like radiation or toxic chemicals.


3) Pandemic


As recent times have shown, global health crises like pandemics can turn our world upside down. A bunker can serve as a safe zone. If you need to isolate yourself or your family to stay healthy, this is the place to do it.


How To Build an Underground Bunker


how to build an underground bunker


To build your underground bunker, follow the steps below:


Step 1: Get Permits


permit checklist on clipboard

Credit: Fremont


To keep you and your neighbors safe, you cannot just start digging a big hole in your backyard. You need a permit to do this. Getting permission for an underground bunker in a city can be quite challenging. The reason is that most urban areas have underground gas lines, water pipes, electrical wires, and other utilities running beneath the ground. If you start digging without proper permission, you might accidentally damage one of these pipes, leading to hefty repair costs or even having your project stopped.

Depending on your state's laws, you might need permits for various aspects of your project, such as electrical work, plumbing, grading, and construction. It's highly recommended to obtain these permits before you begin building your underground bunker to avoid any legal troubles or safety issues.


Step 2: Choose the Right Locationlocation pin on map

Credit: Economictimes


Find a location with clay-free soil. If you choose rocky soil, be aware that it is more difficult to excavate, so be prepared to put in more effort. Avoid places with natural gas pockets, bedrock, electrical wires, or high water tables.

If you choose to build your underground bunker in clay-rich soil, consider installing a French drain. Stay away from spots near steep slopes and don't choose locations close to big bodies of water since they can flood and weaken your bunker. Also, stay away from fire-prone areas.

Finally, don't dig where there are trees or vegetation, and be cautious not to disturb utility wires. You can find utility locations by calling 811.


Step 3: Plan Out the Layout of Your Underground Shelter


blueprint map

Credit: Live Home 3D



Before you get started, consider how big you want your bunker to be. Is there enough room for more than one person? How much room do you require? What will you store in your underground bunker? Draw a blueprint with the length, height, and width once you've answered these questions.

Also, plan out where you'll place essential areas like the bathroom, kitchen, washroom, and common space. Think about the furniture you want to include, such as sofas, chairs, and beds. To visualize the layout, draw each item in its designated spot.


Step 4: Choose the Right Bunker Building Material


construction materials wood ladder pipes boards paint roller

Credit: World Construction Today


The material you use in the bunker's construction can have a big role in its long-term endurance. Concrete is an excellent option – it's easy to work with, durable, and can last a lifetime with minimal maintenance. It's also budget-friendly. Consider combining concrete with bricks. Bricks are sturdy, affordable, and excellent insulators.

Steel is another great choice. Some people opt for metal sheets in their underground bunkers. Metal sheets are durable and long-lasting, though they come at a higher cost and need insulation. If you prefer not to build from scratch, you can simply use shipping containers.

Do not use wood to build your bunker's foundation or the entire structure. Wood is porous, vulnerable to moisture, and can rot and deteriorate. You certainly don't want your bunker's ceiling collapsing on you. Plus, it's prone to infestations, which can become a major issue in your bunker.


Step 5: Start Excavating


excavator digging up land to build  underground



Once you have all your materials ready, it's time to start digging for your backyard bunker. Using an excavator is the way to go – a shovel won't cut it for a job this big. Excavation equipment helps you dig quickly and efficiently, even in tight spots.


Step 6: Hide Your Underground Bunker’s Roof From View


camouflage bunker in woods

Credit: The Post-Star


Cover your bunker with soil and surrounding flora to keep anyone from discovering it. Make every effort to ensure that it merges in as much as possible with the surrounding environment.

To avoid water buildup and rodent habitat creation, use tire sidewalls instead of tires whenever possible. You can conceal your bunker's entrance by building a shed on top of it or by placing an outhouse on top of it. Make sure you install air vents so that it doesn't get too suffocating.


Step 7: Strengthen the Shelter


strong concrete foundation bunker

Credit: BanksPhotos/Getty Images


In order to construct an underground bunker, you must first reinforce your shelter. When you dig deep, the weight of the soil, water, plants, and other external factors presses down on top of your bunker.

To prevent your bunker from collapsing, place metal beams across the trench. For added security, you can use reinforced concrete to create an additional outer layer.

To prevent water damage, which can lead to mold growth and structural harm, use waterproof materials like rubberized asphalt or waterproof coating to cover your bunker and protective systems. This will help keep your bunker safe and dry.


Step 8: Power Your Bunkerportable red power generator with cables

Credit: Wegner


Batteries, solar panels, and generators will keep your bunker running. At all times, keep at least eight 6-volt gel-cell batteries in your bunker. For long-term power, think about using solar panels and electrical generators.

When you need to use your electricity generator, make sure to operate it outdoors for safety. For maximum efficiency, use batteries to power lights and radio transmission. Diesel generators are more reliable to propane or gasoline generators.


Step 9: Tanks, Filters, and Heaters Are All Good Investments


underground bunker in dirt

Credit: Rising S Bunkers


You'll want to install a toilet in your backyard bunker. To have a continuous supply of clean water, think about getting a water tank and place it in the vertical space of your bunker. Don't forget to include a good water filter and a heater to make sure the water you use is safe and comfortable for all your needs.


Step 10: Stock Up on Supplies


emergency closet supplies food drink

Credit: Economic Times


During the initial incident, like a radioactive disaster or an apocalyptic event, you'll spend some time in your bunker. Each individual should have enough food and water to last at least two weeks. Make sure you're refilling and changing your foods regularly; you don't want to eat spoiled food in an emergency.


Step 11: Make Your Bathroom Area More Functional by Adding Portable Camping or Composting Toilet


composting white toilet

Credit: Rising S Bunkers


Composting toilets turn waste into fertilizer, but portable camping toilets require you to dispose of it yourself. The latter is better for long-term stays and situations where you can't leave your bunker. Be sure to stock up on toilet paper and cleaning supplies.


Step 12: Make It Warm and Inviting


decorated underground bunker

Credit: Atlas Survival Shelters


Your underground bunker doesn't have to be dull and gloomy. Isolation can cause negative feelings so it's important to do everything to prevent this. It's important to avoid any negative feelings caused by isolation. Hang up pictures, put up wall-mounted furniture, set up a speaker system for music, or create a small workout area to keep yourself occupied. Try to make your living area as cozy as you can. If you want a luxury bunker, you can even install hardwood floors. Remember, your mental well-being is just as important as your physical health, so take good care of it.




It takes a lot of effort to construct a survival bunker. To complete this job, you'll need to work together with your family and have a strong will. However, once you're finished, you'll have a secure environment for you, your loved ones, and your valuables. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your underground bunker today. If you prefer a premade underground bunker, you can also consider hiring someone to build it for you.

And to ensure you're fully prepared for any emergency situation, don't forget to stock up on essential emergency supplies from Emergency USA. We offer a range of items like first aid kits, insulated sleeping bags, and insulated blankets to help you stay safe and prepared. Shop with us today.