For most of us who practice a lifestyle of radical self-sufficiency and preparation, one of the best preps we could possibly have is an underground bunker.
It isn’t as strange as you might think: whenever disasters have struck, humanity has long known that taking shelter underground is a good idea. The same holds true today…
If you want to be ready for natural disasters, the collapse of law and order, or even something truly unimaginable like nuclear war, a bunker is a great thing to have. They are expensive, though. The good news is that it is possible to DIY a bunker just like anything else.
If you’ve got the grit and a little bit of know-how, I’ve got 10 plans that will help you create your new underground home when the skies go dark. I’ll tell you all about them below…
1. Buried Earthen Dwelling Bunker
A surprisingly spacious, comfortable and practical space, this bunker is part survival plan and part getaway, assuming you don’t mind getting into it via a ladder!
Professionally designed and engineered for maximum strength and efficiency, this might be just the ticket if you can only justify a bunker to your significant other, or to yourself, by getting some extra use out of it in the interim.
Unlike most of the other structures on our list, this one is designed with overlapping circles, with the overall design being a pair of underground cylinders.
This maximizes the useful floor space compared to domes or Quonset style designs, and still provides plenty of strength against any conceivable hazard.
Flip-up beds, smartly designed storage, and cleverly concealed shelving complete this efficient and fully featured bunker home.
2. DIY Cheap and Quick Bunker
Sometimes you just need a cheap, quick bunker to get ready for a rapidly deteriorating situation.
That, or you just don’t need much in the way of creature comforts if you’re just concerned about survival.
These are exactly the types of bunkers that have been advocated for citizens since the Cold War, and they remain viable today.
Here’s a nice walkthrough for a simple, log top and earth-covered bunker that’s suitable for a small group or a family of four. Step-by-step instructions are included at the link.
It should be noted that this exact design has been propagated for at least 50 years now in various places, and it is still just as suitable for surviving short-term events now as then.
3. Basement Survival Shelter Conversion
For those of us who own a home with a basement, I’ll reckon that the notion of turning that basement into a proper bunker has been a routine thought.
Sometimes a basement is suitable as the starting point of a bunker, sometimes not, but in most places, it’s absolutely possible to extend the basement further down and install a legitimate bunker beneath it.
Depending on your requirements and the underlying geology, this might be one of the most viable ways to create a truly hidden, deep underground and sturdy bunker capable of supporting intermediate and long-term life.
You’ve already got a good foundation to work off of, and that makes this bunker viable for conversions or new construction.
4. DIY Concrete Block Storm Shelter
If you live in an area that’s continually ravaged by tornadoes or other destructive wind events, a storm shelter is almost mandatory.
The man in the video above lives in such a place, but was seriously turned off by the extreme cost of pre-built shelter modules.
His solution? Brush up on his concrete and construction knowledge and then do it himself. He made a sizable and really impressive 12×20 ft concrete block shelter for just a little more than $3,000.
5. Underground Cinder Block Bunker
Another classic but highly effective underground bunker design, this one using cinder blocks, this is another great option for a DIY person who has good, foundational construction and excavation skills already under their belt.
This walkthrough will show you how to make a high-quality, professionally built cinder block bunker with full details on measurements and standards, and plenty of insight on weatherproofing and reinforcing your bunker.
If you aren’t familiar with construction terminology and equipment, this might not be the option for you, but if you are, it’s a great one.
6. Backyard Underground Bunker
What could be better than having your own personal bunker right in your backyard? Not much as far as I’m concerned, and the builder of this bunker thinks just the same.
Using a variety of repurposed and improvised materials, he’s made a remarkably durable and fully featured half-dome bunker underground, using an old safe door as a strong and secure entrance that allows access to the tunnel leading down. He even has a garden space directly over the bunker!
This plan is big on concepts and less specific on measurements and materials owing to its improvised nature, but you can get the gist easily enough by watching the video.
If you want to save some money and you are an expert scrounger, this could be the best possible option.
7. Classic DOD Residential Bunker and Survival Shelter Plans
As sad as it is to consider, world governments and citizenry alike were once all but convinced that a nuclear exchange was inevitable. Maybe it still is, maybe not.
But in any case, a lot of time, effort and ink were spent pushing bunker plans out to citizens. These plans survive, and remain viable, today.
The Department of Defense produced a guidebook on family shelter designs that can suit any living arrangement, any budget and a family of any size, all of them achievable using a little bit of DIY ingenuity and commonly available materials in all cases.
You can use the designs in this handbook to produce a below-ground or semi-below-ground fallout shelter or a legitimate underground bunker built into your basement. This is still one of my favorite books of its kind.
8. Earthbag Dome Bunker
If you’re not familiar with it, earthbag construction has a whole lot going for it. It’s shockingly durable, has excellent insulation properties and is very, very cheap. Assuming of course that you do everything correctly.
Note that, while this design is for something that’s more like an above-ground hut, or you might say mostly above-ground hut, I think it’s purpose-made for adapting as a subterranean or partially-subterranean context.
It’s got the strength and the versatility to serve as a bunker with virtually no modification.
These plans are highly detailed and will show you everything you need to know to do a professional job.
9. Basic Underground Bunker with Variations
There are as many variations on underground bunker design as there are reasons for getting a bunker in the first place.
Generally, you want to be underground, sustainable, sturdy, and secure, and preferably comfortable enough to stay in for the near-term future.
How you go about achieving those objectives is up to you, or perhaps up to your budget!
This is another good budget option, or one to review if you want some flexibility – assuming you’re undecided on the exact plan.
10. Water Tank Mini Underground Bunker and Cache
Sometimes you need short-term protection or additional underground storage, and don’t want to commit to a full-size bunker.
Or, maybe you simply can’t afford to put in a larger one, even something like a cheap earthbag bunker detailed above.
If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with going small. Really small in this case!
Atlas Survival Shelters is a well-known supplier of built-to-suit survival bunkers and bunker modules, but they’ve also provided free plans for making an underground mini bunker or cache for under $1,000.
A great video, and worth a watch if you are prepping on a budget. You’ll probably see these common containers in a whole new light!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.