How Much Does a Nuclear Bunker Cost?

C. Davis
By C. Davis November 18, 2015 19:46

How Much Does a Nuclear Bunker Cost?

How Much Does a Nuclear Bunker Cost?

I know that having a nuclear bunker might sound like too much even for the most dedicated preppers. But this is only because things are going well now. But in a time of war, having access to a nuclear bunker won’t sound weird at all. And in times of peace, it can be used as a tornado shelter, a hideout, or a root cellar.

As you will see below, having access to a nuclear shelter can cost anywhere from $0 up to millions depending on the option that you would like to choose.

Here are six good options, starting with the most expensive and most comfortable ones to the one that costs you absolutely nothing.

Buying an Underground Luxury Apartment in a Renovated Missile Silo

$1.5 Million up to $4.5 Million

Nuclear Bunker apartament CostA group of investors from Kansas decided to buy an Atlas missile silo and turn it into luxury survival condos with everything you can possibly think of. The project was so popular that they’ve already sold out all the apartments, and now they are renovating a second silo.

They claim to have a redundant infrastructure for power, water, air, and food as well as “shared or common” facilities for extended off-grid survival with a community swimming pool, dog walking park, rock climbing wall, theater, general store, and an aquaponic farm, among other features, all of which are underground and encompassed by walls that are 2.5–9 feet thick.

So how much does an underground luxury apartment cost?

  • Nuclear apartament costHalf-Floor Units – approximately 920 sq. ft. on one level starting at $1.5 million
  • Full-Floor Units – approximately 1,840 sq. ft. on one level starting at $3.0 million
  • Penthouse Units – approximately 3,200 sq. ft. on two levels starting at $4.5 million

That’s a lot more than I can afford, but if you’re interested, you can save a spot in the second silo.

Buying an Abandoned Missile Silo

$500,000 up to $5,000,000 + Renovation Costs

Abandoned Missile Silo CostThis can be tricky because missile silos vary from coffin-style Atlas E-type bunker to the huge Titan II-type bunker. All of these bunkers come in with a fairly decent property ranging from 10 acres up to 50 acres, and most of them have a medium-sized house just above the bunkers.

An Atlas F site, like the one in the picture, costs around $800,000 but with almost no land included. You can purchase an additional 20 acres at a reasonable price.

Prices vary a lot from site to site, ranging from $500,000 up to $5,000,000

But don’t get the wrong idea that it’s all luxurious. On the contrary, you’ll need to put in a huge amount of work and money to make it livable. And if you want to gather water, food supplies, and everything that you’ll need to live one year inside… my guess is that will cost a lot more than the initial price.

Want to buy an abandoned missile base? You can find properties for sale on 20th Century Castles or Hardened Structures.

Buying a Pre-fabricated Bunker Ready to Be Buried

$21,500 (8×12) up to $399,000 (20×80) + Installation

Pre-fabricated Bunker CostIf you decide against buying a missile silo as your own nuclear bunker, you can instead buy a pre-fabricated bunker. There are many U.S. companies offering a variety of bunker styles; prices range upward of $21,000. Many also offer financing to help you pay for the bunker.

Some examples of ready-built bunkers are bellow:

  • Risings Bunkers prices starting at $39,500
  • The Urban Foxhole, mini bunker by Smart Product Technology, prices ranging from $21,500
  • Atlas Survival Shelters, these are the real McCoy and tested to withstand a nuclear blast; prices start at $35,950
  • Vivos These have a massive global network of large, multi-tenant underground shelters. They work through a shared ownership model, where you apply to become a member (which is free); then, if accepted, you pay $35,000 per adult and $25,000 per child to have access to their bunkers.

If you are at the extreme wealthy end of the cash spectrum, you can pay a lot of money for a big, flashy deluxe bunker from Hardened Structures, which recently built a $90 million underground shelter that can house up to 100 people.

Related: Tents That Turn Into Bunkers if You Just Add Water

Once purchased, you’ll need to install the underground bunker yourself (if you have the right skills) or use a professional service. Some of the services mentioned above will offer some installation, but be sure to read the small print before you purchase to find out if there are any hidden extras, especially with installation costs. If you want to install it yourself, scroll half a page down to find out the range of your excavation costs.

Buying a Used Shipping Container and Burying It Underground

$1,450 up to $2,800 + Installation

Used Shipping Container Bunker costThere are two major types of shipping containers:

  • 20′ shipping containers – dimensions 20′(l) x 8′(w) x 8’6″(h) – weighing around 4,600 lbs(empty). The prices for these depends on how used or rusted they are, but they start at $1,450 and can go as high as $2,500
  • 40′ shipping containers – dimensions 40′(l) x 8′(w) x 8’6″(h) – weighing around 8,120 lbs(empty). Cost: $1,800 – $2,800.

But things are a little bit more complicated. Some used shipping containers begin to bend under only a few inches of soil. This is why if you really think about burying one, you should reinforce the sides with gabion baskets. Here is what can happen.

You’ll also need to build an exit and a staircase.

Excavation Costs:

Most excavation companies hire out a machine and operator on an hourly basis ($40-$150 or more an hour) for a wide variety of work. They typically bid on residential excavation for the entire project based on the number of yards of dirt to be moved ($50-$200 per yard).

Depending on local rates, the accessibility of the job site, its geology (soft soil, hard pan, boulders, etc), and whether the dirt excavated is left on site or hauled away, for a 20′ container you can expect to pay at least $400-$1,200. (Source)

Related: Earthbag Homes: The Ultimate Bullet-Proof Retreat

All in all, this might sound convenient from a financial point of view, but wouldn’t it be cheaper to build it yourself from top to bottom?

Building a Concrete Block Nuclear Bunker

$3,380 (20′ x 8′ x 8’6″) – up to the Limits of Your Wallet and Imagination 

Concrete Block Nuclear Bunker CostUnlike the narrow rectangle of shipping container bunkers, a concrete block bunker can be built just like you want/need it.

A 20 foot long x 8.6 foot high wall needs 12 blocks for the height and 15 blocks for the length. At $1.50 a block that is $270 for a wall of that size. (Source) so all four side walls would cost $1,080, with mortar and concrete maybe $1,200. A decent 160 square feet slab foundation costs between $800 and $1.600 (Source). The ceiling should be very strong with reinforced concrete so it will probably cost around $1,500.

With a total of $3,380, it cost more than a 20′ shipping container with exactly the same dimensions. But the structure is much stronger, and  it certainly won’t bend or be crushed by a few inches of earth.

Related: Interested in Nuclear Bunker Plans? Click here

And while the price of building a larger nuclear bunker from more containers is directly proportional with the surface you’ll get, with concrete blocks, the larger the bunker, the less the costs are per square foot.

The whole underground building can be reinforced if you want more structural security. The floor and walls can be tied together with bent 5/8 rebar and incorporated with grout into every core. In the ceiling, you can incorporate H beams.

Sheltering in a Natural Nuclear Bunker

$0, but not necessarily your best option

Natural Nuclear BunkersIf you think about it, there are a lot of natural nuclear shelters in the U.S. that are absolutely free.

All you need to do is identify the closest one to your home and include it in your bug out plan in case a nuclear war is looming. Natural nuclear bunkers can be very large salt mines, mines of any kind,  huge caves or other natural structures. Click here to find the closest natural nuclear bunker to your home.

Please note that these natural nuclear shelters will protect you only from the nuclear blast and the initial radiation burst. You’ll still need to get out and find food and water, so you’ll still be exposed.

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C. Davis
By C. Davis November 18, 2015 19:46
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  1. altha2008 November 20, 14:50

    Good information about the cost and different types.
    I was going to go with a cargo container. I did not know that they cannot hold much dirt thanks for that information.
    I still would prefer a block on. with 3 or 4 rooms.
    I was thinking about adding on too our house. I thinking about doing this so that we will have both more rooms plus a bomb shelter that we can get access too form our house

    Reply to this comment
    • Mad Medic November 22, 03:08

      we were looking at the Styrofoam forms for the walls and roof as once the hole is dug you can set the form and pour and the forms stay in place and provide insulation and structure to nail paneling ect to without framing it in. As I recall it was going to be about the same cost in the end but be put up faster. it had the added benefit that we could ‘hide’ the safe room and an escape tunnel. as a side note this system can be used to make a multi level parking structure so it can also be configured into a great safe area and only put a little above ground or all under ground with plenty of dirt for shielding AND you could drive over it without harm.

      Reply to this comment
    • TheProfessor April 1, 00:37

      Most people dont like this idea because they think that marauders will find them. Doing it wisely would set it deep enough to give you the 6.6 foot of concrete overhead and walls in the shelter, and an addition to the house above. entrance from the basement on several 90 degree angles (radiation doesnt bounce or turn) through a hidden entrance that hides a locked security door. For hidden rooms look up they have numerous methods on how to build the entrances

      Reply to this comment
    • npne April 17, 12:27

      where is your bathroom dear good sir

      Reply to this comment
  2. big one February 29, 18:00

    very interesting

    Reply to this comment
  3. Aquatech March 23, 15:52

    Bunkers are good, but eventually, you will need food, water, oxygen, and power. I recommend that you include a self-sustaining aquaponic systems in your bunker for exactly all those reason!

    Reply to this comment
    • Patriot Lady October 20, 15:24

      Aquatech, are you a company or an individual? I’m going to be setting up a small one (12′ 24′)the end of this month. I’m doing the hoop style with the cattle panels and non-condensation type greenhouse plastic.. Do you think that a sm. 400 gallon tank for the tilapia and a 150 sump (w/ a few cat fish) in the recommended water to fish will supply enough nutrients to 10 – 1/2 barrel beds of plants?

      Reply to this comment
  4. mustang6984 March 25, 05:16

    And of course the elephant in the room…if you hire so much as one person, (let alone a company) to help you construct one of these shelters…then you will have no secret…because if the day comes it IS needed…they and a bunch of their friends…will be on the way to pay you a visit.
    On other words…do it your self!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Nete September 30, 14:17

    How to convert old cistern into bunker

    Reply to this comment
  6. TheProfessor April 1, 00:28

    How many of you are aware that you need a minimum of six and a half feet of concrete to stop gamma radiation? This isnt cheap “mix’n go” pour yourself or standard garage slab grade, this is forge base grade mix, very high density industrial grade concrete. this means it is approximately 3 times as dense as what is used to build structures such as hospitals. So these “base costs” are going to shoot up very fast.
    Also, the shipping containers need massive reinforcing in order to support the weight on top of them. A round culvert pipe spreads the pressure of the weight on top of it all around it. a flat top doesnt. you would be better suited burying several large culverts side by side, and joining them together, putting a flat floor in them and using the space under the floor for storage.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Adultfreds June 4, 01:44

    Hi there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and
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    Reply to this comment
  8. meme survivor June 5, 07:37

    Umm for a natural bunker, just use it for the initial blast, once it hits, you have a about a 30 min timer to get supplies and a shield from the radiation. It would be a good idea to live in a big town next to a mine so you can cover up your hole quickly

    Reply to this comment
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  10. Birthday girl August 25, 09:57

    I wonder if vault-tec has anything going? 😉

    Reply to this comment
  11. login October 19, 08:22

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  12. Al September 27, 17:17

    I purchased 3x 40′ shipping containers and buried them under 1′ of topsoil. I reinforced them inside with 4″x4″ posts and crossmembers that propped up the ceilings. I joined them together with heavy bolts and cut out 6′ openings between them for easy access to different rooms. I have 3 bedrooms, two food storage rooms and a social area in the middle for TV, ham radio, and recreation. I added a 12×24′ block and concrete room onto the ends for a kitchen, restroom, shower, and heating facility. Altogether I have about $50,000 in the project and feel it would serve me very well. The only access is two heavy steel doors to the outside, which are easily protected, with security cameras, and (other) protective devices..

    Reply to this comment
    • Al September 28, 01:49

      I forgot to mention that I put 12″ of reinforced concrete on top of all shipping containers in one pour before putting the foot of topsoil over it all. The solid reinforced concrete top over the bunkers distributes the weight evenly over the whole bunker and helps strengthen the roofs of the shipping containers. the weight of the concrete roof is supported by the sides of the containers which contain heavier metal supports.

      Reply to this comment
  13. Al September 27, 17:29

    P> S. I have also have several heavy duty solar generators for power, and my bunker is built around a well for water and I don’t have any need to go outside for anything except sunlight occasionally. I don’t fear radiation and blast forces as much as others do because of my location, (shielding by high hills). My greatest fear would be either fallout and sky radiation, or ash fallout from Yellowstone. My food would sustain me and the family for 2 years.

    Reply to this comment
  14. lainer December 22, 17:10

    Only the super rich can do any of this.

    Reply to this comment
  15. barbuto January 31, 21:54

    what is seldom discussed is the danger of buying used shipping containers….u don’t know what was hauled in them…what was sprayed in them so they can be toxic timebombs……my suggestion is if you want to go shipping container buy new…..or be prepared to completely sanitize the inside of a used container…

    Reply to this comment
  16. red December 17, 12:48

    we have caves and mines in the area, but they’re on private property. Unless someone lives in an area of very deep soil, they won’t be going deep without adding a lot of cost to the structures. another problem is these places are usually structurally unsound. Anything underground needs steel support. The deeper, the more steel. the majority of deaths in caves and mines is caused by a collapse of the roof.
    And, of course, the fun one. In the event of a nuclear attack, you do not have a great deal of time to get into a shelter or a bugout site. the most likely time of attack would be Sunday morning or a holiday. niio

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