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Above ground TORNADO shelter

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Clay View Drop Down
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Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Location: Udall, Kansas
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Above ground TORNADO shelter
    Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 11:16am
Need to build an above ground concrete tornado shelter.  
The interior needs to have a 6'5" minimum ceiling height. Door width of at least 32".
Oz SafeRooms has an excellent shelter but the price is beyond the budget. 
Considering building it myself. I have the skill sets to accomplish the task. Need a blueprint and materials list before I budget for the project.
Most of the pre-fab shelters have problems.  None of the in ground pre-fab are satisfactory.

 
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Dusty MI View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dusty MI Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 11:54am
 I would make it round, like a concrete silo but only as tall as needed.
 I saw a home that a guy made from a round steel grain bin.

Dusty
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JohnColo View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JohnColo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 12:31pm
What about getting a 2000 gallon or larger concrete septic tank made with a doorway in it.  Set it upside down on a slab and cover most of it with dirt?  Might even put an entrance way a few feet long with a roof over it to protect the door.  I'm glad I live in a place where tornado's are rare!
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steve(ill) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steve(ill) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 12:47pm
How about laying up blocks... then filling the inside cavity with concrete , maybe even a stick of rebar.. You can make any design you want.. ROUND seems like a good idea.

Dont know what they use for a roof, but you can setup braces or scaffold inside, put a sheet of plywood on that, and pour a 4 inch concrete cap that has rebar and ties into the walls..... after a couple weeks, take down the scaffold and pull off the plywood.
Like them all, but love the "B"s.
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steve(ill) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steve(ill) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 12:54pm
How about a CONEX box or SEACAN ?  They are steel on 6 sides..  A small one is 20 ft long and 8 ft wide... Maybe they have even small of some sort... Set it on the ground and push dirt up 4-5 ft on the 3 walls to help stabalize.. You can cut into the steel for a vent, etc.. Big doors on one end.. Bolt one shut and modify inside/ outside latch for the other ??





Edited by steve(ill) - 09 Dec 2020 at 1:00pm
Like them all, but love the "B"s.
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nella(Pa) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nella(Pa) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 1:04pm
Next thing you know someone will suggest a fridge with a keg inside of it!Clap
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tadams(OH) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tadams(OH) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 2:20pm
I think one of them containers could be made into a nice shelter a lot cheaper than biulding one.
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festus51 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote festus51 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 5:10pm
Just to be different,  I would build it out of poured concrete and anchor it with rebar a foot or two of concrete floor in the ground and pushing dirt up on three sides is very good idea.   Been through a couple of tornados here .
We the unwilling Led by the unqualified Doing the impossible for the Ungrateful
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DMiller View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DMiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 6:13pm
Conex boxes do not do well buried, Sides cave in as not designed for Side loads just Edge loads.  Know of two purchased and set onto Concrete slab with footer, then forms and rebar added around with support braces INSIDE at two foot intervals concrete poured and allow to cure before removed bracing.  When poured Cover Top laid Styrofoam on the top and sealed edges, forms set to side walls, bracing installed top to bottom and pour completed.

Should be able to park a tank on top now.
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steve(ill) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steve(ill) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 6:33pm
I would not BURY the Conex.. Would set on gravel with good drainage, then push dirt up maybe 5 ft on the sides. Rain would run down the slope and away from the conex. Dirt would help "anchor" to the ground so could not "move" in a tornado.  Steel sides should be adequate for 5 ft dirt height... Might want to tar the outer walls for rust prevention...Leave access door on the end.. Might be a good idea to have a door on each end in case one gets blocked / damaged in storm
Like them all, but love the "B"s.
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john(MI) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote john(MI) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 9:56pm
Go here.  if you want call first and ask to speak with the ESA or an ET.  Ask the person if they still have the blue prints for the office.  The file/copy room is an above ground concrete vault with a special door.  This is the tornado shelter.  The prints should give you some help designing yours.  If they ask, or you wish to, tell them that a retired ESA from DTX, the Detroit office, referred you.  They are a little skittish with the way of the world so if you throw around some additional contacts it will calm them.

Those are abbreviations not words,  You say the letters e.s.a. or e.t.  The m.i.c. is the boss of the building so you might need to get his permission.

If you have problems, let me know and I'll go into the office here and get what I can from the prints.

Actually, with the covid, they may not let you or me in.

National Weather Service
E Witchita Ave,
Colwich, Kansas, 67030

316-942-3102

I think the walls are only about 6" thick from what I remember at the door frame.  There is a poured concrete roof on top.  I'm not sure how deep it is anchored, but I know the floor is at least 4" thick.  I'm sure it had a complete cage of rebar in every surface.  The door is steel with 4 bolts that engage in the frame when the handle is turned.

We had phone, electric and internet available inside.  It is probably 8 x 12 if I remember correctly.  I believe they figured it for 16 people.

I can try to get more info if you want.
D14, D17, 5020, 612H, CASE 446
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festus51 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote festus51 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2020 at 11:08pm
John now that is what I was talking about.    300  MPH winds you want some substantial concrete around you.
We the unwilling Led by the unqualified Doing the impossible for the Ungrateful
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote modirt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 8:17am
Granted, I don't know a whole lot about tornado shelters, as every house I've lived in (except one I have now) had a basement. Plan was always to go to SW corner of basement, huddle against the wall and watch the house disappear above you.

But on these tornado shelters, I did see a news program once that featured the Texas Tech storm shelter research / testing program....and that was kinda scary. They would test fire a 2 x 4 at a wall at 200 mph. Kinda scary how many went right through the wall.

So takeaway was these things, to be effective, are highly engineered to withstand flying debris as much as to sit in place. If I was gonna buy or build one, I'd want a design that was up to snuff. Otherwise, just a false sense of security that might wind up being a death trap.
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steve(ill) View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steve(ill) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 2:42pm
The only problem with concrete wall is you need to have a CONTRACTOR setup and pour.. There are reinforced FRAMES that you setup to pour the concrete into... No forms, your out of business..... and your not going to stick a couple sheets of plywood and a 2 x 4 on each side and expect to pour a wall 8 ft high.. You will spend more on FORMS than the concrete.
Like them all, but love the "B"s.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HD6GTOM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 3:42pm
There are fellows around here that used to build cement dome houses. I was in one west of Lacona Iowa years ago. They look like 5 or 6 coffee cups turned upside down joined together by doorways. These domes were about 12' across at BBC the bottom. One of these would make a great storm shelter. I think they were called geodesic dome homes.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dakota Dave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 6:16pm
You can go to fema.gov and down load the storm shelter hand book. It has specfications and plans for designing your own shelter. The last section is drawing of construction details for building wLss doors vent systems and anchoring.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Adam Stratton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 8:22pm
Havent really had to test it but we buried a conex container. I had a deep ditch not far out the back door, so I dug one side out enough to sit it in. Put rock and drainage tile around it, put a culvert along the ditch side, covered the whole thing with roofing tar and a layer of tyvek and made a doorway. Then pushed dirt over the whole thing. 10 years ago or so and still holding up fine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote desertjoe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 8:28pm

  I remember back in the 60's 70's,,,,several of the farmers around here built half underground and half above ground "shelters with an igloo type entrance. The mounds was covered with dirt then seeded with grass which they kept cut down during the summer. I went inside one and seems like the walls were cinder block with lots of shelves for storing foodstuffs.
 My Dad started contracting to DIG holes in back yards to be used for fallout Shelters right after the Cuban Missle Chrisis,,,,and me and my older brother were the backhoes, because the owners did not want their back fence torn down . I learned pretty darned QUICK that if you don't learn how to pitch a shovel full of dirt up bout 6 foot high,,,,,you gonna have to pitch that same dirt back up outa the hole all over again and,,,and,,,maybe two,three more times,,,!!!!LOL I think we dug bout 8 holes for shelters and is why I HATE shovels now,,,,LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Coke-in-MN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 8:56pm
Might look up a video they had on This Old House - PBS - as they had a show on then and building them . One was free standing on a cleared lot - said house was gone, as much of neighborhood was now rebuilt but this structure was still standing and family was safe because of the shelter . 
 Showed a crew building one inside a garage area , all poured concrete with rebar skeleton , vibrated concrete during pour and roof or top closure  was rodded to sidewalls over a poured form . So full unit was poured over large plywood box form but also onto foundation that was designed to not yield in a direct hit . 
Faith isn't a jump in the dark. It is a walk in the light. Faith is not guessing; it is knowing something.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote shameless dude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 9:29pm
lots of info on the web about concrete homes, connex homes, cave homes, and check you tube, lots of info there too! if going to pour an above ground concrete structure, you need deep footings and lots of re-bar, walls should be a minimum of a foot thick, and you need to do it in one continuous pour.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Dec 2020 at 9:33pm
Call me crazy, but having been in three different tornadoes in my life, Above ground / tornado shelter don't belong in the same paragraph let alone the same sentence. Not me,it's either the southwest corner of the basement or a regular old storm celler.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DMiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2020 at 6:19am
Same Here Tom.  Seen Conex Boxes lofted to thirty feet up and tossed like ragdolls in a tornado in OK when lived there.  Just because large and heavy does not mean impervious.  Sides are not that thick to stop wind born missiles neither the roof.  Better off with a Concrete Steel reinforced structure.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Coke-in-MN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2020 at 12:38pm
Mobile home parks (tornado targets) here in MN are required to have storm shelters and they seems to be concrete with earthen berm as easiest and cheapest form of construction to meet code . 
Now it seems if your out in rural area a simple means would be a large oval concrete culvert section with enough dimension to be used for other purposes also . This could be sunk down into side hill or just at lower elevation so as to not look like a eyesore in the front yard .   
Faith isn't a jump in the dark. It is a walk in the light. Faith is not guessing; it is knowing something.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote festus51 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2020 at 9:04pm
desertjoe View Drop Down   I remember a similar experience when I was in my teens.  Man came out of ST Louis looking for trees to dig up.  Stop at our house and dad made a deal with him.   Me and brother spent a week digging up small trees.  When the guy from St Louis came back  he only  took about a third of the trees we had dug up .  Dad sent him packing with no trees.  Me and the brother provided more free labor.   But it is a lesson I never forgot.
We the unwilling Led by the unqualified Doing the impossible for the Ungrateful
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote felicityhu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 2:44pm
I also live in a coastal region, and I made a storm shelter last year. I opted for a prefabricated storm shelter, which is a better alternative for me because it's considerably cheap in my area. Except for the foundation, it has everything. However, a storm shelter is only as safe as its foundation, even if it has been tested and authorized for missile impact and wind pressure. Anyways, when constructing your foundation, be sure to follow ICC 500 guidelines. I ordered all the gear and scaffolding from petesuen.com, as they're the best in this area, though the prices are meager. So, you can contact them if you need.


Edited by felicityhu - 19 hours 10 minutes ago at 3:25pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote shameless dude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 8:16pm
used to be a family here that made concrete grain storage bins, the son made his house out of several of the bins connecting them with arched walkways, his dad made his 2 car garage out of one, had a walk door and a large overhead door. they hunkered down in the garage one evening when a tornado went thru, all walked out just as good as they walked in, everything outside was ripped up! he has since passed and the son sold the farm place they lived on, but the house and the garage are still there and look just like they did when constructed. i was in the garage one day, seems the walls were about 8 inches thick.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tracy Martin TN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Jul 2021 at 9:55pm
They have concrete pump trucks, I think that is what they are, that can 3D print a concrete house. Check them out. Tracy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DMiller Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2021 at 4:51am
Precast companies here have been producing septic sized shelters with a hatch style door as the old homes used to have for cellars. Require the boxes be anchored and then earth nested to keep them
In place during a event.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Tbone95 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2021 at 6:44am
I see we're eating spam for breakfast again.LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote steve(ill) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jul 2021 at 8:11am
BUTT, BUTT, BUTT... you didnt answer felici question.. What about the scaffold ?  LOL
Like them all, but love the "B"s.
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