Instructions for Building a Storm Shelter

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Home Improvement

Storm shelters provide a safe haven during extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, storms, or tornadoes. If you reside in an area vulnerable to severe weather, you may want to consider constructing a steel storm shelter in your basement. The storm shelter should be located below ground level and should not be connected to your home from the outside. It is particularly helpful in areas where it is unsafe to stay above ground during a storm. Follow these steps to build a storm shelter and safeguard your loved ones.

Essential Materials:

  • 14 gauge steel sheets
  • Plasterboard
  • 2-by-4 studs
  • Concrete nails
  • Concrete
  • Nails
  • Steel frame with door


  1. Choose a suitable location in your basement to construct the storm shelter, preferably in a corner. The shelter’s size can be customized according to your preference.
  2. Excavate the designated area one inch (2.5 centimeters) below ground level. Mix the concrete, pour it into the hole, and allow it to dry. If your basement has a concrete floor, you may skip this step.
  3. Make a frame for the shelter using the 2-by-4s and anchor it into the concrete floor with concrete nails.
  4. Nail two 2-by-4s into the ceiling on the sides where there is no basement wall to frame the shelter.
  5. Frame all the walls by placing a 2-by-4 stud every 24 inches (61 centimeters). Use concrete nails to attach the studs directly into the basement’s concrete walls. The studs should extend from the floor to the ceiling. Attach the concrete nails to the studs from the floor frame to the ceiling, where the other walls will be.
  6. Install plasterboard on three of the walls you just framed, leaving the wall with the door for later.
  7. Cover the plasterboard with the 14 gauge steel sheets.
  8. Measure the door and frame size and decide where to place it on the wall. Remove any 2-by-4 studs that may obstruct the door’s placement.
  9. Attach the door and frame to the studs.
  10. Cut the plasterboard for the fourth wall, leaving space for the door and nail it to the frame. Cover it with steel sheets [sources: Do it Yourself, Survival Planning].


1. What is a storm shelter?

A storm shelter is a safe space designed to protect people from severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. It is a specially constructed room or structure that can withstand high winds, flying debris, and other hazards.

2. Why is it important to have a storm shelter?

Having a storm shelter is important because natural disasters can strike at any time and can cause significant damage to property and life. A storm shelter can provide a safe space to protect your family and loved ones from severe weather conditions.

3. What are the different types of storm shelters?

There are various types of storm shelters available, including in-ground shelters, above-ground shelters, safe rooms, and basement shelters. In-ground shelters are installed underground, while above-ground shelters are installed above ground level.

4. What materials are used to build a storm shelter?

The materials used to build a storm shelter depend on the type of shelter. In-ground shelters are typically made of steel or concrete, while above-ground shelters are made of reinforced concrete or steel. Safe rooms can be constructed using concrete, steel, or other materials that can withstand high winds and flying debris.

5. How much does it cost to build a storm shelter?

The cost of building a storm shelter depends on various factors, including the type of shelter, size, materials used, and location. The cost can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

6. Can I build a storm shelter myself?

It is possible to build a storm shelter yourself, but it is recommended to hire a professional contractor who is experienced in building storm shelters. A professional contractor can ensure that the shelter is built to code and can withstand severe weather conditions.

7. Where should I build a storm shelter?

The location of the storm shelter depends on various factors, including the type of shelter and the layout of your property. In-ground shelters are typically installed in the backyard, while above-ground shelters can be installed in the garage or basement. The shelter should be located in an area that is easily accessible and away from large trees or other hazards that can cause damage.

8. How big should a storm shelter be?

The size of the storm shelter depends on the number of people who will be using it. A typical storm shelter can accommodate four to six people, while larger shelters can accommodate up to 20 people.

9. How long does it take to build a storm shelter?

The time it takes to build a storm shelter depends on various factors, including the type of shelter, size, and materials used. In general, it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to build a storm shelter.

10. How often should I inspect my storm shelter?

You should inspect your storm shelter regularly to ensure that it is in good condition and can withstand severe weather conditions. Inspections should be conducted at least once a year, and after any severe weather event that may have caused damage to the shelter.

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