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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
when putting togerther my book that iam in the whole process on how to build and liveing in a underground tank home . i ran across a few comments by the people in the company who is helping me with the printing and other details of the drawing and photos that are going into the book this got me to thinking about this post and how and why of the socalled bunker building threads or post about them ..

the comment i got a lot was oh that a fallout bunker or that is underground survivalist bunker or a couple other things..along with them thinking that you might be a stange wacked out type of person learn to hide some of the little details when you are building the home..

my basic reply to that comment is that it a underground home or cabin that happens to be made out of a round steel tank instead of a normal looking house set up...;) along with it happens to have some extras features in it like any high end upscale home has bult into the home ..for i pointed out that some of the socalled high end features that are in the home are also in a few famous people homes out here in L.A area for a lot of them have the same features bult into there home panic rooms inside the house..

plus if something does happen between you and someone about the place and you have to go into court for something .. do you do not want to have it go on the public records that you are some typle of crazy survivalist type person ..

when i got the permits to build the tank home i talked to the county people and they said that a diff home that iam used to seeing ..i basically told i was going green and it was going to be my last home i ever bult for iam retireing here in a couple of years and i wanted a home that had very little up keep to it on the outside of the home.. ..

so when talking about building you place ..pick a term like cabin or home and leave out the b.o.l. cabin or retreat out of the sentence :hmmm:.. also use the term weekend getways cabin or family cabin to say anything about the place in one speech pattern when saying anything about the place ..along when someone ask to use it ..say it a family thing that we do not let people outside the family go up to the place ..

and when asked why underground use some of this types of phase to speak about the place

with going into the earth i can tap into the thermal effects of the earth cover by not haveing to heat and cool the place for use the earth the place will stay at the same temp year round no matter what the outside temp is..

when i retire i do not want to have to paint the house or clean out the roof gutters .

i like to be able to use more of the land for veg garden plus it helps with the small mirco farming ideas iam trying along with going off grid also to help keep our mother earth a little cleaner by useing clean engery ideas ..:flower:

i use the term hide in plainsight when it comes to people know the who want and the where of things in one side of my life when it comes to being a socalled prepper or my own words iam a futureist for i belive in haveing something put away for the future..

1,922 Posts
You definately don't want to alarm a bureaucrat, if you do their job for them, you can usually get what ever you want.

684 Posts
Actually, I've picked up some work doing 'Safe Rooms' and 'Storm Shelters' lately.
Since I weld, and I've done my own version people seem to like,
I'm making some pretty good money installing secure storage and living areas.

We don't call them 'Panic Rooms', that is only for the Movies.

They are actually called 'Safe Rooms', and for most people, they are a secure place to store valuables, and/or to protect the home owners against natural disasters or intruders in the home.

Without giving away specifics that might cut into my business locally,
They are pretty much fire proof, small arms proof, tornado proof, and unless a bugler/thief is REALLY WELL EQUIPPED AND DEDICATED,
Pretty much theft proof.

I take a VERY common sense approach instead of the high tech approach seen in the movies.

Chemical attack isn't usually a concern, but the way we do the air vents you could add controlled and filtered air pretty easily.

Small arms fire is EASILY defeated if you follow a very simple plain.

Tornadoes and burglary are the top concerns around here, so we tailor for those threats in a most practical way.

Home fires are a concern,
And our advice is to get your butt out of the home,
But we also provide for the house burning down around the safe room and the occupants surviving if that is an objective the home owner wants.

Work place safe rooms are a pretty big business now, with all the work place shootings.
Safety barriers getting to the safe room, and small arms fire resistant walls/doors are a concern, so we provide that for easy access to the safe room.

I'm not the be all and end all expert, but with fail safe devices that don't rely on grid power that can be manually operated easily,
And with a no non-sense approach, not using space age, super costly materials, and providing security isn't that hard if you think it through.

Secure document storage is a big deal right now,
You wouldn't believe how many places want high value documents to survive even if the building burns down or gets blown away!


I know a 'Tank' sounds like a good idea, and in actuality if it's large enough, not a bad idea.
I know one guy that purchased a piece of an old farm that had two grain bins on it, and he dug a hole, put the grain bin in the ground, and poured concrete around/over it, then earth sheltered it.

Actually Very roomy, two story underground storage facility.
Internal bracing had to be added to hold up the concrete/dirt for the roof, but all in all, VERY roomy at the bottom level.

I though it was a novel approach to building forms for poured concrete walls,
Metal inside form, clay dirt outside for the 'Form', but he nearly had to dig the outside of the hole by hand since back-hoes don't do 'Round' very well...

He filled the 'Bin' with sand while pouring the walls to keep the concrete from collapsing the structure while the outside concrete and roof were poured, and then excavated the sand fairly easily after everything hardened...

We stole a page from his book when we poured our walls for our earth sheltered home...
The bracing for the forms were going to cost a fortune,
So I just filled the floor plan with sand from our river bottom,
Probably didn't cost $100 in fuel to put it in and take it out, and we have PERFECTLY straight walls which doesn't always happen when pouring walls with 'Home Made' forms.

With the sand inside, we could use the vibraters to settle the concrete and remove air from the concrete all we wanted to without bowing or buckling the forms. Worked great.

When we buried our shipping containers for root cellar and secure cold storage, I put a foundation and concrete slab under the container,
But the side walls are just gravel drainage.
Pitched concrete slab on top to run off any ground water around the ceiling, and it can drain along the sides to the french drains along the foundation.

So far, we've had some SERIOUS rains, including about 30 inches of ran in 4 days, and they have always been dry, so knock wood!

We coated the crap out of the containers before we buried them!
Used a rust killer, then used a urethane metal coating that is supposed to last forever if it's not exposed to sun light,
Then a heavy basement sealer tar like substance over that before we buried them.
Hopefully no rust since the walls weren't poured with concrete outside...

I put in ventilation, floor drains, and shelving/racking tabs with welder before we sealed the metal so I wouldn't be burning it up on the outside while I was welding on the inside creating a place for rust to get started.
And the shelving goes floor to ceiling so the uprights support the roof/concrete/dirt above it.

Probably not necessary, but since we used quite a few 4x4 posts for heavy shelving uprights, no reason to cut them short and not go to the roof.

I guess if you started with a stainless or aluminum tank, you wouldn't have to worry about rust, but I only had shipping containers at hand, that's what I used...

If you intend to heat the interior or cool the interior,
Make sure you use PLENTY OF INSULATION!
The earth will suck the heat right out of those metal walls!

Temperature regulation is entirely Dependant on how deep your storage/living space is.

The ground will react to sunlight just like everything else does, and unless you are 6 foot deep or deeper, the inside temp WILL fluctuate more than you think!
Ventilation and how many times you tromp in and out will make a pretty big difference also.

I expected a rock steady temp, and that didn't happen,
I'm about 6 feet deep with about 6 feet into the container with interlock doors so hot/cold air can't rush in,
But I still get a 20 to 25 degree difference between summer and winter.

And if you build a stair well DOWN into the space, the cold air will rush in like crazy! In the winter the floor is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the ceiling.

If you build a stair well in, then you MUST allow for drainage, even in the winter when drains normally freeze up!
The first one I put in, I dug into a hill side, so the entrance was pretty level,
And I put a crapper/shower in so I could stay out there while building.
The earth shelter was about 3' in the front, and about 8' deep in the rear, and it was UNPLEASANTLY COLD in there most times, even in the summer.
I used to sleep in the front with the door open (Screen door later to keep bugs out) to keep my teeth from chattering at night!

The second one we built was deeper, since it wasn't cold enough in the first one for our 'Root Cellar', and we stuck it further back in the hillside.
That presented another set of problems.
Although we didn't have sanitary sewer hooked up, the drains in the ramp leading down froze up in the winter.
That was a REAL problem since there was no way to jack hammer the concrete out and move the drains...

So I would up running a 'Heat Tape' in the drains to keep them working in the winter. That is a LARGE expenditure of electricity to keep things draining.

In hind sight, I shouldn't have hooked the 'French' foundation drains to the entrance floor drain.
Now we have a tube from our radiant floor heat in that drain, and no problems so far, but who knows what will happen down the road...

How do you intend to power up your 'Tank Home'?
Power lines are a Dead give away and vulnerable spot if you are 'On Grid',
And a solar array would look pretty conspicuous by it's self with no above ground structures around it...

How are you intending to heat/dry out the tank home?
Anything metal under ground is going to sweat, and any reasonably deep earth sheltered space is going to be uncomfortably cool for humans...

Underground propane tanks would hide your fuel supply, and it shouldn't be too hard to hide fresh air inlets and exhaust vents...
But I suggest you have a very good carbon monoxide detector with battery back up!
Since most gases that will kill you are heavier than 'air', it would be a good idea to have more than one and make sure they are powered up and working!

When we built our earth sheltered home, we installed a rear door and stair well (Covered! No drainage problems! I learned from the first go around!)

I insisted on a rear stair well simply for fire escape if for no other reason, but the contractor threw a fit!
(he pretty much threw a fit about everything we wanted! so it was no big deal...)

If for some reason you can't get out the front door, you are SCREWED!

I don't worry about it much since there is very little to burn in our home, and we have a rear exit, and we don't live in the underground storage spaces,
But if I were going to live in a 'Tank' or container, I WOULD WANT a rear exit!
Especially if I though there was potential for being attacked from the front by people or fire (or people WITH fire!!)

43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
the reason why i use the term panic room when dealing with some of the people that helping in the book

they are smart people but at times when dealing with them i remind how old iam when iam trying to tell a 25 year old person about how something would work and they do have the basic understanding of how the nbc warfare gas system work on a person and it needs to be done this way for that reason..

here is some of the answers to some the question that i had to deal with when building the tank..

1-ezbreathe machine -x-2- of them tied into the shelter ventilation system helps control the mold and moisture control and keeps it bone dry inside the shelter.. it does it job so well that when i got outside from the beening inside the tank my nose start to run after beening in the place for two day of staying there for the ezbreathe machines had dried my sinus right up ..that way i chose the machines for that very reason..

2-solar stick set up with a wind turbine mounted on a pole with attched solar panel system that is mounted on a country road set up with some people think it a remote weather sensor system that a lot of the cattle ranchs in the area use for keeping track of the weather in the area where there cattle is ..

3- the outside tank and entances with line-x-coating on the inside of the shelter and with the outside of the shelter was coated first with line -x-heavy duty coatings then the final coat was the sherman willaims tar paint covering the total

the tank outside coating where applyed twice to help with the socalled rust control ..the reason why i chose line -x-i basically ask them to show me there toughest problem area with damp earth problems and they showed me a photo of a inside of a tank that is used in a gold mine mineing system that was use in a large roller drum fashion and it still looked new on the inside after there coating i figure it work on that it would work on the something that would work on the item i wanted ..

right before the tank and entance was put together and into the ground i add another layer of the sherman willaims tar paint to the outside area on top of the allready coated areas and let dry ..

around the entance areas after the tank was put togerther and the rubber seal between the entance and shelter entance was bolted togerther ..i ran another sealant around the entance area with a heavy duty sealant around the bolt heads and thin gap that happens when you bolt the togerther to pieces..i basically sealed up anything that was comeing out into the tank with sealant ..

the inside of the tank was coated in the brighest white i could find by line-x-t help light inside the home

the top floor is also line -x-coated but in a patterns that look like the standard southwest tile floor but it fake floor for it the floor is standard line-x-coated with a set of the fake socalled tile overlays in diff patterns the bathroom is white color and the kitchen is white color

the steps are white color with red and yellow safety stripes on them to allow me to see them

4-the tank sits on a 4.ft thick bed of pea gravel with a 4.ft wide on each side of the tank then the tank is cover all the way up and over the top of the tank with pea gravel ..then the earth cover is put back onto the tank

5-french drains are in a U-shape around the unit with the drains are -x-18.inchs wide-x-24.inchs deep running out to the grey water drain pit in the front of the home about 12.ft deep that goes into the following unit

part of the french drain system is a grey water pit from the rv stye washing machine set up with a pass through design that allows a attachment of a pipe that is two piece unit one part is a hard round pipe that attchs to the tank area and the other part is a flexable round pipe thats is about 1.1/2.inchs round that in own trench system that filled with the pea gravel to cover it ..

the pit is 6.ft wide-x-10.ft.long -x-6.ft deep with layed set up of fine grain sand and pea gravel in 6.inchs deep sections intill allmost the top and the rest is part of the gravel where the pipe comes into the top part to drain

6-the tank size is 15.ft round-x-15.ft. tall-x-50.ft long it was a custom bult job that someone did not pick up from a tank maker in kansas and i got it for the basic price of makeing the tank ..

it made of steel plate type

7-the inside design is the following

a-the top design is a open floor plan with the liveing area with the sleeping and kitchen and bathroom all on the top floor with a small pantry area in the top to hold basic everyday food stowage with a secured room area for some things

b-the bottom design is a two section unit
a-front area is a mech room section to hold all the mech working of the home
b-rear section is the stowage and pantry section

8-the toliets in the place are the marine manual type of flush with a black water tank system in the mech room that can be hand pumped out when it need

the toliet is flushed by a hand pumped grey water system that drains from the kitchen sink and shower and washing machine into a large 55.gallon sized stowage tank .. then though the use of a hand pump is use to flushed the toliet bowel system down into black water tank system ..

the tank can be open up to the be flushed up to the spetic system on the top side are by a small flexable pipe system that is connected and disconnected as it need ..

the tank is basic opened up and flushed out by useing a hand pump system that tank the grey water tank water and push out the waste water through a stewage grinder pump system to make it a more fluid style waster that can be passed through the pipe system and out to the spetic system ..

9-the fresh water is kept inside -x-3-55.gallon sized water barrels with bult in stands.

the water is bought into the tank by hand pumping of the bult in water pump set up through a water filtering system

the water used for a the shower and kitchen sink and the rv washing machine is design to be draw from the tanks by a rv style pressure tank setup system design to run off 12.volt dc power ..that the only area in the place that has own water pressure in the place ..

three areas is basic need for water pressure and that it ..

10-electrical power is from the dc batties banks that is broken down into sections to handle the basic needs of the shelter

a-plus all items are basic taken from the rv and sailboat world items to use them inside the shelter for long term use..

b-all 110.volt items runs through three high wattage inverter system to help keep the load from beening to much for one unit to handle so the electrical load is broken down into three units ..

c-i have two throw away battie bank set ups

1-is basic design to run the exbreathe machine to help control the moisture and mold and other problems that happens inside a tank along with a few extras items like the hatch alarm system with a pre-paid cell phone calling system to tell me if someone has messed with the hatch area..

2-is the basic use of the shelter lighting after the full blown nbc attack intill it safe to reconnect the main battie bank ..

if this two banks survival the emp stike then they will put into the line of the two sections of the batties bank to help with the powering of the home after the event..

11-power items inside the tank ..

a-basic it a mix of the standard 12.volt and 110.volt items for use in one daily life.that runs of the inveters as it need..

with the lighting is all 12.volt led type low power draw from the batties

12-the temp is the same year round for the tank sit down into the ground at 21.ft deep with a earth cover of 15.ft or more ..the temp is about 60.dregees year round even in summer time and winter time..

i was in the tank for Xmas time of last year and it was cold and wet and rainy eather up in the area i was at and it was warm and cozy without any problems inside the house.. ..

so a lot of the temp problems people have is not getting the shelter down far enough into the earth to get out of the temp zone of the upper frost line ..

now when i come up the area right below the entance area where i have a small space for things like the garbage bin stowage and recycle bin stowage and the outside tool rack for shovels and rakes and a few other basic tools along with push mower hanging slot on the entance wall ..i can tell the difference between the top part and the bottom part where the entance is ..

13..the air filter system is design to look like the rock cribs set up on a walkway that was never finish along with the large rock crib set up that on the walkway to the area that looks like a person was going to build a home but did not ..

the rock cribs are desing to hide the fact that there is air intakes and exhuast system for the shelter in the area..the whole thing of the rock cribs is that someone start to make a nice walkways of pea gravel with this really nice cribs along the side of the walkway and the did not finish the house by the looks of it..

so if one of the entances air intake system are damage it can be still used if need along with anyone looking for the standard classic u-shaped pipes for a shelter will not see them on the land ..

also when useing the automatic air intake system for the shelter when it beening used dureing peacetime as a weekend cabin ..the air does not go through the filtering it draw saight into the ventilation system ..once the filtering system is in place the amount of air is limited to the amount that can be draw in by the filtering of the air plus in the first 48.hours part of the plan is use hand cranking after a 12.hour shut down of the shelter ventilation system to used as it need for survival

43 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
part two of post ..for i had time to think about some more things..

1-landscapeing the area ..basically i returned the land back to the orignal look along with haveing a slight hump that going down now that the tank is settleing in the ground..

with the landscapeing of the hatch system .. the hatch was design to blend into the landscape when it in a down prostion and locked into place ..

when haveing the metal entance design and made to my specs i basic told the people what i wanted to do and how i wanted to do it and it worked out well for the way it came out ..

2-spetic system for the unit..

the spetic system is design to be single round tank size of 300.gallons with a 55.gallon overflow system out to a single line iso style multi chamber spetic lenching field set up

the field runs next to the long drive way about 24.ft long for each chamber is 4.ft long and i ran it a extra 8.ft in lenght to be able to handle the full time liveing in the place.

along with the system is been design to bypass the regular spetic system and go saight into the iso chambers if the spetic tank is broken after a attack of the full scale nbc attack.. or intill i can repair the system

the unit can be pumped out useing a single hand powered pump with a 6.ft long hose and a 60.ft long dischange hose that can be run out into a field to allow it to pumped out in the middle of winter time to help with the smell and help with the field beening turned at a later time for food production or the growing of new grass to feed the cattle grazeing on it ..

to clean the hoses out before putting them away .. we put a water into a open top 15.gallon barrel and put the hose into the barrel and pump away into the water comes out clean and then we roll the hose up and put it away..

the system was design by one of the local family that how they do it .. the rest of the time i use a local honey wagon service to clean and pump out the tank once a year ..

3-where the flex tubeing pipes comes into the entance area i have a basic two piece connecter system that is mated togerther to allow the incomeing of water into the shelter and the outgoing waste water .. when it need you can discount the two units and store the heads in a 5.gallon sized bucket to catch any of thing that might come though the hose after the value system has been closed off ..

that all for now

in the book you see a lot of the design of the system for a person to use as it need when building the tank home..
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