Storm Shelters: The Basics

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storm over the suburbs

(image: mccun934)

Storm shelters can provide safety during severe weather, but other benefits besides that. Here are some storm shelter basics to consider.

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Whether you live in tornado alley or a hurricane-prone part of the country, building a storm shelter in your home or on your property is a wise investment. Not only will a storm shelter keep your family safe during severe weather, a shelter can also add significant value to your home. Here are just a few factors to consider when building a storm shelter.

Investing in a storm shelter

If you’re considering building a storm shelter in your home, there are some financial factors to consider. Storm shelter construction is by no means expensive as far as home improvement and renovation projects go. Likewise, depending on style and placement, a quality built storm shelter is a solid investment for your home and property.

Three to six-person shelters start in the $2,500 range. The price increases based on placement and construction-type. All-steel structures are usually more expensive than prefab concrete shelters. However, the return on investment for a storm shelter is usually double the installation price.

800px-FEMA_-_44270_-_Tornado_shelter_door_in_Oklahoma

(image: Win Henderson)

In addition, the U.S. Senate passed the Storm Shelter Affordability Act a few years ago. The affordability act offers homeowners in tornado-prone areas tax credits for building shelters. This makes investing in a storm shelter even more attractive.

In-ground shelters

Chances are your home isn’t built to withstand tornado or hurricane-force winds. When it comes to storm safety, building a storm shelter in your home or on your property will ensure your family is prepared for any weather.

The most common storm shelters are in-ground shelters constructed of prefabricated concrete or galvanized steel. This type of shelter is also more affordable because it’s constructed on the exterior of the home, which requires little to no renovating. However, this option requires occupants to exit the home in order to enter the shelter, which isn’t ideal.

storm shelter

(image: Stash Vault) 

Basement shelters

Another popular storm shelter option is the basement shelter. These shelters are built in existing basements. Many storm shelter manufacturers simply reinforce a section of basement with concrete or steel walls and roof that can withstand severe winds in the event that the home is destroyed.

Although basement shelters do require some renovating, the construction process is minimal because the structure is still independent from the actual home. If you don’t have a basement and you don’t have enough property to build an in-ground shelter, you might want to consider a hurricane safe room.

Hurricane safe rooms

Hurricane safe rooms offer protection from hurricanes and high wind events, but aren’t recommended for tornado-prone areas. In terms of versatility, this type of shelter is ideal because it can be built directly into the existing structure.

In a nutshell, a hurricane safe room is a modified bedroom or bathroom located on the first floor of a home. The room is constructed of double-thick plywood or steel reinforced walls and ceiling that are anchored to the home’s foundation. Safe rooms are completely unnoticeable once installed, but the renovation costs are higher than the other options listed.

When it comes to protecting your family in severe weather, building a storm shelter is a safe and smart investment.

 

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.