Tag Archives: Survival Shelters

“Billion Dollar Bunkers”, my butt…

13 Jun

Recently we’ve been deluged with requests from families about “survival shelter”.

Anyone who reads our blogs or books already knows that in our “day job”, we teach families, corporations, industries  and organizations to build affordable, sustainable housing. Most of that housing is “off-grid”, utilizing “Off The Shelf Tech” to allow the homes to operate without connection to the “outside world” at least where utility companies are concerned. That same tech also allows these homes and buildings to go to places that few have ever gone before.

In the meantime, cable TV has started talking about “Doomsday”, “Armageddon” and “Extremes”.

We find it hysterical that the subjects of these “freakshows” are usually the last people you want living anywhere near you when crisis arrives on your porch.

We have to wonder if there’s an agenda here:

“Let’s make this so outrageous, so controversial, so bizarre, that common folk dismiss it as nuts… and place their faith in those empty suits who have already insulated themselves from any impending crisis.”

After watching some of these show, it’s hard to take “hardship” seriously. These producers, in our view, are doing the citizens of this nation a great disservice.

But every once in a while, we get a look at a gem.

Four years ago, Larry Hall purchased an abandoned Atlas F missile silo in central Kansas. Today he is turning it into a doomsday survival condominium complex.

He’s spending millions of dollars, hoping to make even more. Okay, he’s a man on a mission.

Around here, we’re not “silo” kinda guys. Radon Gas, Toxic Clean-ups and other costs make silos impractical for most of us “common folk”.

However, there’s a lot to be learned from HOW he’s spending his cash.

For years, we’ve been building homes and buildings with ISBUs (shipping containers). An ISBU is just a solid steel box designed to get the crap kicked out of it and survive. Based on how they perform at sea, we’re figuring that an old Marine probably designed them.  LOL!

In fact, we have a staff of “old Marines”… You’ve been warned. 🙂

But before that, we were building “shockproof shelters” using prefabricated insulated concrete panels. These structures were solid as a rock and dressed up like a curvy Hawaiian hula dancer. Put a big pitched roof on top and you have one heck of a strong, spacious home.

Now, knowing all that… think about HOW you can combine both of these ideas, utilizing the really cool layouts that guys like Larry are betting their asses on, while using “Crisis Tested” steel boxes made to spit in the face of Mother nature.

See where I’m going with this?

While we hope Larry makes his goals… we’re thinking that we can do something similar for far less, at a level that will allow many families to take shelter from whatever comes in comfort, wrapped securely in a cloak of reinforced concrete and steel.

Take that “roundish” (think octagonal)  central core and then extend ISBUs off the faces, to allow extended sleeping and utility areas, in a manner that will be constructed fast, strong and energy efficient.

I’ve built several of these structures over the years. The concept is really simple;

What if I told you that you could build this entire complex in the span of a single summer?

Now, increase the scale slightly and then stack them on top of each other to form a concrete and steel tower, staring  defiantly into the face of whatever comes.

It’s not an earth sheltered bunker.

What it IS (when you stack them up on top of each other), is a concrete and steel fortress capable of cradling several families when the storm comes… for pennies compared to some of the crazy bunker schemes that we’ve seen bandied about on TV and elsewhere.

Stay tuned.


Hey buddy… Is that a box in your backyard?

6 Jan

Like everybody else, I made a few New Year’s Resolutions and I’ll probably reveal a few of them here on the blog.

For instance, here’s one;

New Years Resolution #22

Show readers of RR ways to use ISBUs in “daily life” to provide comfort and shelter for “peanuts” while they still live in “suburbia”.

I saw this a while back, while reading about the work that SEED was doing in Haiti.

(At the time, we were prepping ISBU based Medical Centers for Haiti ourselves)

Anyway, SEED threw this up on their pages;

Okay. Take that same premise and do this in your backyard and you have a gazebo, pool house, play house, crash pad, teenager exile, you name it, for almost no hard cash.

LOOK at the foundation for this monster. YOU could do this DIY.

Man, look how they used earthbags as foundation. I bet Owen Geiger would have a fit! 🙂

Would I make a few changes?

Sure. And if this gets any real interest, I’ll show you how to step this up a notch for ‘near nothing’.

Here’s some more stuff about SEED (Hey, they’re good souls doing good work):

From their own website;

SEED is an emergent housing investment that appreciates locally over time!

Utilizing an existing surplus of shipping containers and working with industry partners including Container -it, Intermodal Steel Building Units Association, Sargent Metals, and Tri-County Technical, Clemson University designers from the Department of Architecture and the Department of Landscape Architecture are researching and developing an affordable housing solution for the Caribbean Region.  Caribbean nations inherently import more goods than they export generating a steady surplus of shipping containers.  Shipping containers are designed to carry massive amounts of cargo and withstand extreme weather conditions making them a logical housing component.  Completely constructed of steel and reinforced with eight corner post moment connections and corrugated steel walls a 40′ shipping container can carry 67,200 pounds and resist overturn when exposed to winds up to 140 mph.  Without modification a 40′ shipping container has 304 square feet of floor space and eliminates problems associated with insects, fire, and hurricanes.  With modification a 40′ shipping container can be a safe, comfortable, and environmentally friendly home for numerous local inhabitants who would otherwise have less.

Designing a process and not an outcome the team has decidedly chosen the seed and its symbiotic-propagation as an analog.  Thinking time based and considering logistics the beginning design has emerged as a system of event based solutions capable of providing immediate housing after hurricanes or natural disasters.  local intervention and materials eventually developing into permanent and investment with a local identity.  Utilizing local skills, labor, and materials the final design is dynamic taking on a symbiotic relationship with the local cultures.  Eventually the ubiquitous container is embedded and made permanent providing an investment that can appreciate with time.

-Plant some SEEDs!

Um… that reminds me. Have you thought about your vegetable gardens lately? You’re running out of time and seed is just flying off the shelves of suppliers.

What if you cut the corrugated steel paneling off one end of the box, and then glazed it with plastic sheeting? Instant Greenhouse. You could play on one side and grow produce on the other!

Not to mention the fact that you could reuse that removed corrugated steel as deck cover!

And before you ask, YES, I think the ISBU cantilevers and stacking patterns displayed on their site are um.. well… risky. But I’m not the one doing it. 😉

Stay tuned.