If you asked your average prepper what the ultimate material prep was, they will probably tell you that it’s a bunker. There’s hardly anything that could be better when major trouble is on the horizon: a virtually impregnable redoubt against danger, stocked with everything you need to survive as long as you can.
Just close the hatch behind you, dog it, and wait it out! You can’t beat that! The problem is you will have to pay for it if you want that kind of capability. So, how much does it cost to build a bunker?
A bunker can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $10 million, or more. The cost of a bunker project depends on how big it is, how much protection it offers, additional equipment and outfitting, supplies, etc. An average bunker for extended storm or fallout protection will cost around $60,000.
It turns out that there’s almost no such thing as an inexpensive bunker. Whether or not it is affordable depends entirely on your resources and lifestyle.
If you have virtually unlimited funds, you might have a completely separate underground home with every comfort imaginable and over a year’s worth of supplies.
If you’re on a really tight budget, you might have to make do with a DIY fallout shelter. It all just depends. There’s a lot to consider with any bunker installation project, so keep reading and I’ll tell you what you need to consider.
Land is the First Thing You’ll Need
Land Costs: Potentially free if your current property is suitable- may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000+
The very first thing you’ll need to buy for your bunker, if you don’t already have it, is land. It is entirely possible to install a bunker in most places assuming you have enough room and have the capability to dig into the ground.
But, problems you’ll run into include zoning and code restrictions, and much of the time, geological considerations that might make your land unsuitable.
Purchasing a parcel can cost anywhere from a $5,000 to $250,000 or more depending on location and desirability.
A full overview of land considerations and acquisition is beyond the scope of this article, but this is something you must account for assuming that you aren’t building on the same property that your home sits on.
Are You Installing a Module or Building to Spec?
- Module/Kit: $10,000 to $10,000,000 (Not including options)
- Spec-Built: $400 to $3,000 per sqft.
The next major choice when it comes to your bunker build is whether or not you’ll be building the bunker to suit, or to spec, or if you’ll be installing a pre-built bunker module.
Both have advantages and both can be very expensive, but generally speaking, you’ll spend a lot more for a spec-built bunker that has equivalent protection factor and amenities compared to a module.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of companies out there that make prefabricated bunker modules or kits for larger structures.
These can range anywhere from $10,000 for a simple, cramped storm or bomb shelter to $10 million plus per state-of-the-art networkable bunker module that can be daisy-chained into an entire subterranean community, complete with atriums and more.
If you want to go the spec-built route, assuming there are no issues with the dig and the installation process, the installation of a spec-built bunker could cost anywhere from $400 a square foot to more than $3,000 a square foot.
Quite a bit higher than most residential real estate, eh?
The huge range in price is determined by the following factors. Review these, and I can help to inform your budget.
Protection Factor Determines Overall Cost
- Storm or Fallout Shelter: $10,000 to $30,000
- Bomb Shelter: $40,000 to $250,000
- “Doomsday” Bunker/Arcology: $1 million+
Protection Factor or capability is the most important characteristic of your bunker. This is the very reason why you want one!
But not all bunkers are created equal… If you assume that a fallout shelter will protect you from massive blast, or even a powerful tornado, you might be in for a very bad time.
Likewise, a bomb shelter might not necessarily be outfitted to protect you from fallout.
Better protection and capability always costs more, and although there is considerable overlap in bunkers generally you should shop according to the following guidelines and prepare your checkbook accordingly.
Storm and Fallout Shelters are Cheapest
The most common and also most rudimentary bunkers owned and installed by citizens is in the form of a storm shelter or fallout shelter.
A storm shelter is designed to do nothing but protect occupants from the devastating effects of tornadoes and other similar weather events.
If your house got blown away, or if it got knocked down on top of you, a good storm shelter would keep the people inside safe.
Better ones have more room and amenities like alternate exits and communications equipment.
Fallout shelters are designed to keep occupants safe from radioactive fallout originating from nuclear accidents or the detonation of a nuclear weapon.
These don’t necessarily protect occupants from the blast of any bomb and especially the unbelievable power of a nuclear bomb.
That being said, fallout shelters need only be thick enough or far enough underground to prevent radioactive debris from harming occupants, and provide ventilation.
Owing to the simplicity of these designs, they will always be the cheapest no matter what size you are looking at. On average, a good, small storm shelter or fallout shelter module will set you back anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.
Bomb Shelters Cost More
Bomb shelters are designed to protect occupants from devastating blast waves and, much of the time, intense heat and shrapnel.
To do this, they are built of heavier, thicker materials and typically placed farther underground.
Otherwise, they have a lot in common with storm and fallout shelters, although considering the likelihood of being trapped in it for a long time or it simply not being safe to emerge for longer periods, nicely outfitted bomb shelters include more amenities.
Owing to the heavier construction and emphasis on more room and creature comforts, most bomb shelters will set you back anywhere from $40,000 to $250,000 or more.
True Doomsday Shelters are Incredibly Expensive
For many preppers, the real crown jewel of bunkers is a legitimate doomsday shelter. Designed it to protect the people inside from every imaginable hazard, from storms and fallout to blast waves and even biological or chemical hazards, these shelters are essentially underground and completely self-sustaining arcologies.
Many will be outfitted with huge amounts of supplies, power generation equipment, sophisticated waste recycling systems for sanitation, communications gear and creature comforts like proper showers, gyms and more.
Typically the domain of the ultra rich or government agencies, bunkers of this type will rarely cost less than a million dollars, and can cost many tens of millions.
Amenities and Features Also Increase Costs Significantly
- Outfitting: $200 to $500,000, dependent on size and complexity
What do you want inside your bunker? Everything from benches and shelving to water tanks for sinks, toilets, bunks and more will all cost money.
This is sort of a linear expense: the longer you anticipate staying in your bunker, the more and more amenities and features you’ll need to accommodate the gear and supplies for the stay and also to take care of human needs and requirements for comfort.
Sure, you and your family or group can just sit on a concrete floor and stare at each other while you wait it out, but that will quickly deteriorate.
If you really want to make your bunker a home away from home, and you want to live life accordingly, there’s no reason you cannot outfit a high-end bunker that’s large enough with theaters, media rooms, living rooms, master bedrooms and more.
Depending on all of this, outfitting your bunker can cost anywhere from $200 to $500,000 or more.
Supplies: Potentially free if you are already prepped; up to $100,000 depending on duration and size of family/group.
You’ll need supplies in any bunker, even if it’s just rudimentary stuff like food, a change of clothes, potable water, flashlights, and so forth.
Don’t neglect this stuff. Sustainment supplies might be free, if you already have them on hand and want to move them into the bunker, or could cost up to $100,000 to support a large group for half a year.
Don’t Forget Utilities, Permits and the Like
Permits, Fees, Inspections, Utilities and Hookups: $50 to $500, maybe more.
Lastly, don’t forget that your bunker build will require permits for installation, in all likelihood, and potentially requirement to be hooked up to various utilities.
This is another expensive is highly variable, you might need to spend anywhere from $50 to $500 or even a couple thousand dollars to make the appropriate connections – administratively and practically!
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.