Anyone who owns a home has felt that yearning to do something extra special with the place.
Some homeowners might want to add a pool in their backyard. Others might want to build an extra room for their home. But Wayne Martin had something far more ambitious in mind. Of course, as far as his neighbors were concerned, all he was doing was digging a big hole in his yard. And yet, that hole was only the beginning of his not so little DIY project.
Most people would have thought that Wayne Martin was building a pool. Why else would he have dug a hole this big in his yard? But it wasn’t a pool he was envisioning and his neighbors got really confused when they saw a 20-foot shipping container being delivered.
None of his neighbors knew what the hole in Martin’s yard was for. All they knew was that he had dug a rectangular shaped hole. Was he building a man-made lake? No. He had no intention of filling the mystery hole with water.
It turns out that Martin had gone online and ordered himself a 20-foot shipping container for his yard. Now most DIY home renovation projects are quite expensive, but the shipping container didn’t break his bank at all.
Most folks don’t realize this but shipping containers are easy to order online and they’re pretty affordable. In fact, some companies will offer customers previously used shipping containers that are in decent shape. But none of Martin’s neighbors could figure out why he needed one.
Once he had the shipping container on his property, he started sealing the enormous double doors shut. He even went as far as double checking to see that nothing could get in like rainwater or rats. And yet, he still needed a way in and out.
He installed a door that swung inward on the other side of the container, and the neighbors found this odd. Why didn’t he just keep the double doors that originally came with the container? But there was a method to his madness.
The container was always a part of Martin’s master DIY plan so he made sure that the hole he dug in his yard was big enough for the container to fit IN. And that’s not all.
He also left approximately two feet of space on each side of the container so that the door he added could swing out without getting stuck in the dirt. If he hadn’t thought ahead and done this, it would have been very difficult to get in and out of the container.
Before he could bury the container, he had to line the bottom of the hole with pea gravel. This would not only provide the container with a soft surface but also a surface capable of filtering through to the soil underneath it. But what else is pea gravel used for?
Pea gravel is often used in things like drainage and pipe bedding. It’s also considered inexpensive compared to the other materials that Martin needed to use for his project. But he had another obstacle to tackle.
Shipping containers are huge and extremely heavy. Martin couldn’t push it into the ground on his own and he didn’t have a truck that was big enough to do it either. So, he decided to call for help.
What Martin needed was a crane and the only people that had one of those at their disposal was a septic tank company. So, he reached out to one and they came over to drop the container safely into the hole in the yard.
The container was now underground and there was just enough space for the swinging door in front to open and close. Everything was coming together perfectly but there was still a lot of work to be done before Martin could enjoy the fruits of his labor.
Before proceeding, Martin double checked to see that the extra space between the container and the soil were still there. Sometimes, the soil tends to cave in on itself and he couldn’t afford for that to happen. He needed that space to complete his project’s transformation, but that’s not all.
Whenever anyone puts something or builds anything underground, they run the risk of it getting flooded by water during a rainstorm or as a result of a busted water pipe. But Martin had an idea that would ensure the container would remain nice and dry during such an eventuality.
A sump pump is a submersible device that’s installed in a sump pit. Now a sump pit is usually dug at the lowest point of a basement. And the role of the sump pump is to drain excess water out of an enclosed space like a bunker. Was that what he was building?
Martin was building himself some kind of bunker, but he was going to need a series of steps so he could climb into and out of the bunker. So, he built a set of stairs with some concrete and waited for it to dry before proceeding.
Although a container is pretty heavy, Martin worried that flooding or the ground shifting would destabilize his bunker. Sure, the pea gravel helped reduce the odds of this happening, but it didn’t guarantee it from happening. He needed a backup plan.
He purchased two powerful I-beams to provide the container with the extra support that it needed. These support beams also became the framework for some extra features for the exterior that he hadn’t built yet.
Martin’s goal was to ensure that the container blended perfectly with the rest of the yard so no one would even know that there was a bunker out here in the first place. But first he had to add some framework to the roof so it wouldn’t cave in.
Without a properly supported roof, the metal in the container would succumb to the elements and begin to rust. Eventually, the sides would then push in on themselves and leave whatever or whoever remains inside trapped forever.
Martin placed metal sheets across the outer framework he built for the bunker so that the roof could withstand any pressure like a truck driving on the surface or even a person sitting on top with their dog.
Despite building a staircase out of concrete, Martin left an opening in the roof so that he could work on an entry that was jaw dropping. This required plenty of concrete and cement. But he had to make sure that he was following the rules.
Safety was a recurring concern throughout the entire project. Martin had to double check that the entire project didn’t violate any building codes that could get him fined or worse. But how would a building inspector even know what he was up to?
The bad thing about a DIY is that there’s always that one annoying neighbor that’s looking to cause trouble. Martin knew that all anyone had to do was place a call and report his activities. And then his project would be in jeopardy.
What would have happened if Martin’s project failed an inspection? In a lot of cases, a building inspector can force someone to tear an entire project down if they find that something isn’t up to code. This is why Martin was so detailed with his work.
Martin had a checklist that he used to make sure that he hadn’t missed a single step because a missing screw here or a missing I-beam there would have been disastrous. He also added features in the bunker that were vital for supporting life.
One thing he knew his bunker would need is access to fresh oxygen from the outside world because no human or animal can survive without air. So, he added two 12-inch air vents to the front and the back of the bunker.
Martin wasn’t the kind of guy that ever did a sloppy job so he wasn’t worried about a building inspector. He knew he was building a bunker capable of withstanding just about any natural or manmade disaster. But is this the reason he was working on this project underground?
Fallout shelters were pretty popular in the 1950s and the 1960s primarily because of concern of a nuclear attack. These shelters were in everyone’s mind because of the cold war between Russia and the United States as fear of a nuclear fallout became a legit possibility.
These shelters were designed to keep people safe from the initial radiation blast as well as the radioactive levels that would remain in the area. The idea was that families would hide in these fallout shelters until the radiation levels were no longer harmful to human tissue. But the Russians weren’t the only threat.
In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. The island was 90 miles off the coast of Florida and the Soviet commanders in Cuba were willing to unleash their nuclear missiles against the United States.
For 13 days, the United States lived in fear of a nuclear attack from Cuba. Luckily, those missiles were never launched. But people continued to build fallout shelters just in case the threat of a nuclear attack reared its ugly head again. But that’s not the reason Martin was building his shelter.
Martin was eager to put his bunker to good use, but he wasn’t finished with its construction. He had to make sure that the container remained in place, especially during the cold winter months when the soil tends to shift. How did he do this?
I-beams and pea gravel were great, but Martin needed a more solid solution to his stabilization problem. So, he did some brainstorming and research online and eventually discovered what he needed to permanently stabilize the underground container.
He mixed a lot of concrete and poured it carefully on the sides of the container as well as the rooftop. This would ensure that the bunker didn’t move which would potentially damage the structure.
Martin didn’t simply add a thin layer of concrete on top. He added six inches of concrete over the structure and then smoothed it out so that it would look even with the rest of his yard. But there was still one more thing he had to do before moving on to the interior.
Martin added additional cinder blocks through the reinforcing bars by the entryway. These blocks would ensure that the steel bars would remain safe from the elements. And now that the exterior was done, he was ready to tackle the interior.
Before heading into the bunker, Martin had to remove the support beams that kept the roof from caving in. Don’t worry, the cinderblocks he put in place earlier will continue to do the beams’ job.
Most bunkers or fallout shelters have all the bare necessities required to survive a disaster. This includes items like medical supplies, food, clothing, and in some cases, even weapons. But what did Martin plan to store in his bunker?
The first thing he did was grab some hammers, some nails and a lot of wood to build himself a couple of shelves. Once they were put in place, the bunker would begin to serve the purpose that Martin had intended it to from the beginning.
The environment inside the bunker was cold and moist-free, which made it the perfect place to store liquor and wine. But was this the only purpose Martin had in mind when he built this cellar?
In addition to wine, Martin also intended to use the bunker to store other things like holiday decorations and non-perishable food items. But this space could also serve the same purpose as the bunkers built in the 1950s and 1960s and provide shelter from a natural or nuclear disaster for Martin and his loved ones.
Martin could have kept the secrets of how he built his bunker to himself. But he wasn’t a selfish man and decided that it was in everyone’s best interest if he shared the existence of his bunker and how he built it.
Martin shared the specifications of his container and a list of the materials people needed to focus on when building their own underground bunker. He also added some useful tips that he learned while working on his DIY project.
He suggested that people add handrails to their staircases so they have something to hold on to when they’re heading down into the bunker. In areas where it snows, the ice can make the steps very slippery. The handrails would reduce the risk of someone falling and injuring themselves. But how likely are Americans to build bunkers like this one?
With the instability in the Middle East, some Americans felt it necessary to prepare for the worst. So, a notable increase in bunker building was detected in 2017, which was good news for one Texas company.
According to Independent, Clyde Scott, the owner of Rising Bunkers in Texas reported an increase of 400 percent in sales between 2016 and 2017. This demand in bunker building has granted Rising Bunkers an annual revenue of $10 million. But how much did it cost Martin to build his bunker?
Over all, Martin spent $12,500 on his bunker. This is pretty reasonable considering he needed to hire someone with a crane to drop it into the hole and spend a ton on building materials. But there was one final touch he needed to add before he was done.
There was one last thing that Martin had to do to the outside and that was to add soil to the area around the entrance. Then he added a couple of plants so that anyone who glanced at his yard wouldn’t be able to tell that there was a bunker there.