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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our New Storm Shelter

You know when you are cleaning the house and you have something that really doesn't fit anywhere so it is continuously shuffled around but always in the way?

Well, our storm shelter project has kind of been like that through this whole building process. It is something that is extremely important to have in Iowa. We had lots of options of things to do, various places we thought about putting it (both underground and above ground - inside and outside), and just as big of a range of price options. So we talked about it with contractors and family, kicked ideas around, made decisions and changed our minds, and avoided the final decision as long as possible.

Well, spring is here and with that was coming nightmares of tornadoes and nowhere to take the kids. So it was time to make a decision.

First we decided to not have it in the mudroom - first of all because we didn't want to give up the space and secondly because we wanted it underground.

Next came the decision of what to put underground. There were 3 choices.

Option A - Build one ourselves with my dad's volunteered help. This was very generous of my dad, but with Ethan's schedule we ruled it out since we didn't want to make him build it by himself.

Option B - A 6X8 rectangular precast concrete shelter with a metal door and seats. This one didn't call for a drain or sand underneath, and it was ready to go once installed.

Option C - A 6 foot wide, 6 1/2 foot long cylinder out of precast concrete with no doors and no seats. This one needed to have a PVC drain run and sand underneath. We would have to build 2 doors and get wood for seats. We can also get wood for shelves and it can double as a root cellar. This one installed was two-thirds the price of Option B, even with the sand and drain.

We went with Option C - the cylinder. I affectionately call it our glorified septic tank. It WAS made by a septic tank casting business.

Next was where to put it. To make a long story short, 5 minutes before it was dug in we picked our spot. We chose to put it at the end of the porch instead of behind the house by the mudroom door because of where we want our shed and winter cattle area.

So our storm shelter is in. We were happy to see that it didn't get water - even after getting 3 inches of rain with storms that passed through this weekend. We now have some doors to make and landscaping to do, but I'm glad this decision is done!

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Nance said...

Well. I never even knew it existed before but I now have Storm Cellar envy.

I had been thinking about how I could hand dig and hand build a storm cellar/root cellar the last several years.

And looky here. Someone already has it all figured out. Good job! Good decision!

McKrola Family said...

very cool. My kids and I were in an F3 tornado last may 22nd. We were a street away from total destruction. I am glad you have a safe place to go.

Willowlady said...

So glad in this post you mentioned it would be used as a root cellar. I think this what we may end up doing. Thanks for the information! Keep safe!

Nancy M. said...

That is awesome! I really want something like this. We don't have as many tornadoes here as y'all do, but it would be great to have something that would double as a root cellar.

Yeoman said...

Nice shelter.

We've had one tornado this year, and one funnel cloud that darn near turned into a tornado. I would never have considered one of these necessary here, but I was wishing we had something like that, or a deeper basement.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across your web site in search of storm shelters. I'm intrigued by yours. I have a couple of questions. I don't understand the pvc drain. Where did it go and why would you need one? Second, did the front opening that looks like where you will put the door come with the structure or did you add that on after the structure was in the ground?

Thanks, you have a magnificient web page.

JC Cooper

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

JC Cooper
Under there shelter there is sand with a pvc pipe running out and a drain in the shelter. This allows me to spray out the inside and have it drain, along with any rain or ground water that gets in. I'm guessing you might be asking about the pipe on top though. This is just a vent - it doesn't go anywhere. It's what lets the shelter act as a root cellar too, keeping a constant temp through the ground temp.

Also, the steps and opening did come with the unit. After they installed it, they patched it together with concrete for us.

For anyone in our area, the company that made ours is Liebus Concrete

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I appreciate the response.


Edwina Sybert said...

You’re so right. It’s essential to have a storm shelter out in a state where tornadoes are frequent tourists. Yours looks great and really formidable. Did you have to use it since it was first installed? And what else have you got in there aside from the PVC pipe?

The Beginning Farmer's Wife said...

Edwina, We have gone down in there at least once each year with a storm. I've felt really cozy, but have never given it a run through with a tornado. Besides the PVC vent pipe, there are a couple of lengthwise benches that can also be used for shelves (canned goods). I would like to put in a little tub for the kids - a notebook to keep of storms we are down there for, some suckers, etc.

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