Building a new home can be the most exciting time of your life. One of the best things about building a new home is you get to decide exactly how you want everything. You choose the floor plan, the exterior design, the paint colors, the floor coverings, the counter tops, the furnishings, etc. Everything is planned meticulously according to your specifications and built to suit your wishes.
All of the decision making can become overwhelming at times. One decision you will never regret is to have a storm shelter installed in your home. Your families safety is priceless and you can never underestimate the power of peace of mind. Natural disasters are unpredictable but you can be prepared by planning for a storm shelter in the design of your home.
Probably the most common option is the above ground concrete safe room. Any laundry room, pantry, or closet can be fortified to serve a dual purpose to function as both the room it is originally intended for as well as a storm shelter.
Concrete safe rooms are usually built by either a continuous pour of reinforced concrete providing a solid structure or by using cinder blocks filled with concrete. The cost of a concrete safe room can range anywhere from $6,000-$12,000 but will vary depending on the size of the shelter and the type of materials used for construction.
Another above ground safe room option is a prefabricated steel safe room. A prefabricated steel safe room can be installed in any room of the home during the framing stage of the construction project.
An advantage to a steel safe room is it requires less empty square footage. The walls of a typical concrete safe room are 9-12 inches thick. If the safe room is 10'x10' and the walls are 12 inches thick then 44 sq ft of empty space is used just for the walls. 44sq ft may not seem like a lot of space but that is is equivalent to a small bathroom or a walk in closet. The walls of a steel safe room are only 1/4" thick so they require only a fraction of the square footage compared to a concrete safe room.
Steel safe rooms also vary in cost depending on the size and how the shelter is constructed. Some safe rooms are only rated to withstand EF3 tornadoes and their cost can be $4,000 - $6,000. You can expect to pay a little more for safe rooms rated to withstand an EF5 tornado because heavier materials are used to construct the shelter. A safe room rated to withstand and EF5 tornado can cost $5,000 - $10,500 depending on the size of the shelter.
Underground tornado shelters provide the ultimate protection against tornadoes. An underground tornado shelter is not as exposed to the high winds and debris as an above ground shelter. Underground tornado shelters can be constructed of concrete, fiberglass, plastic or steel.
An underground steel storm shelter can be installed anywhere in your new home. It is most commonly installed in a garage but can be placed in a closet, under a stair well, in a laundry room, or sun room.
One advantage to an underground tornado shelter is it requires no additional square footage in your floor plan. There is no "dead space" because the storm shelter is installed below the ground. The lid is secure so you can place a rug over the shelter and nobody will even notice the shelter.
Another advantage is the fact that it takes less time to install during the foundation phase of the construction project. An above ground concrete safe room usually takes at least one week to build. They are usually built in three phases: the slab (floor), the walls, and then the ceiling. Each phase must be completed and set before the next phase can begin. The framing of the house cannot begin until the safe room is completed.
An underground steel tornado shelter can be installed in less than two days. Forms are set before the concrete slab is poured. After the slab is completed the dirt is excavated from the formed area and the shelter is installed and bolted to the concrete slab. Framing of the home can begin as soon as the slab is completed as well. The installation of the storm shelter does not hold up the framing process therefore saving at least a week on the construction project.
A steel tornado shelter will cost $4,000 - $6,500 depending on the size of the shelter.
The process for having any type of storm shelter installed in your new home will start during the planning stage. The work will begin during the foundation preparation and the shelter should be completed once the framing stage is completed. It is one of the very first things to be constructed in the home so planning is very important.
Here a few things to consider first:
1. What type of shelter are you most comfortable with? Above ground or underground.
2. What size of shelter do you need in order to accommodate your family?
3. What type of shelter most suites your budget?
When you're making decisions on paint colors, fixtures, and flooring, don't forget to make the most important decision to protect your family with a storm shelter. It is tempting save that amount of money or to put the money towards your budget in other areas but when a tornado zero's in on your neighborhood, granite counter tops and top of the line hard wood floors will be the least of your worries. Your biggest concern will be protecting the ones you love the most.
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