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CostHelper > Home and Garden  > Safety & Services > Storm Shelter

Storm Shelter Cost

How Much Does a Storm Shelter Cost?

average costAboveground Storm Shelter: $3,000-$20,000+high costIn-Ground Storm Shelter: $2,500-$22,000+
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Officially called a "safe room," a storm shelter can be aboveground (often constructed/installed in a basement or garage, but it can also be built/installed outdoors on a separate slab) or in-ground (with just the entrance showing aboveground, and the entrance might be outdoors or inside the home, such as in a closet ). If a safe room meets FEMA P-320 standards[1] , FEMA estimates there is a high probability that the occupants of a safe room built to these guidelines will avoid injury or death. (Although residents of tornado-prone areas have traditionally been told to take refuge in a basement if a storm shelter is not available, a basement is not necessarily a good tornado shelter unless it has been designed and reinforced to survive high winds and debris.)

Typical costs:

  • For new house construction or remodeling an existing home, building a structurally-reinforced and anchored aboveground safe room (similar to a fortified bank safe) that can also be used as a master closet, bathroom or utility room typically costs $6,500-$10,600 for an 8'x8'x8' space or $12,000-$17,100 for 14'x14'x8', according to FEMA[2] .
  • A factory-built aboveground safe room (a welded steel box, a steel skeleton with steel planks or a prefabricated unit that is bolted together on site) that is anchored to the house foundation or on a separate concrete slab can cost $3,000-$12,000 or more for up to 8'x10' for just the unit, or $5,500-$20,000 or more with delivery and installation. Aboveground units can be installed inside the house (typically in the basement or somewhere on the first floor, often in a garage) or outdoors, as a stand-alone structure.)
  • A factory-built in-ground storm shelter (like a pared-down version of a bomb shelter, designed for people to take refuge for short periods of time where only the entrance is visible in a yard or inside) can cost $2,500-$18,000 or more for up to 8'x14'. Installation, delivery charges and optional features can bring the total cost to $4,000-$22,000 or more, depending on shelter materials (typically fiberglass or steel), size (the number of people expected to need shelter), delivery distance and soil conditions.
Related articles: Aboveground Storm Shelter, In-Ground Storm Shelter, Basement, Standby Generator, Flooded Basement, Roof Repair

What should be included:
  • An underground shelter typically offers the best protection from extremely high winds, but requires the use of stairs that can be difficult for the elderly or handicapped.
  • It might not be possible to install an in-ground shelter in an area with solid rock, or a high water table or unusual soil conditions (as in many parts in Texas, Oklahoma or Arkansas). In these locations , on a property where there isn't enough room to add an underground structure, or if potential shelter occupants have mobility issues, an aboveground shelter could be the best choice. As long as the safe room meets FEMA P-320 standards, its occupants should safely survive a tornado. The Federal Alliance for Safe Houses (FLASH) provides an animated video overview of safe rooms[3] .
  • FEMA explains what to do before, during and after a tornado[4] , including how to prepare a safe room.
  • The National Weather Service provides an online storm prediction center[5] .
  • Tell the local fire department or other emergency responders where the safe room is located, so they know where to look for survivors (especially if the entrance is inside the house, and could be blocked by debris). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outline how to prepare for a tornado[6] .
Additional costs:
  • Options like a bed can add to the total cost. For example, Safecastle[7] in Prior Lake, MN offers a bed frame and mattress for $280; an emergency exit for $650; and a handrail for $40.
  • FEMA lists possible safe-room funding sources[8] , which can include grants, rebates and special financing (such as FHA loans that cover storm shelter costs).
  • Many states in tornado-prone areas also offer financial assistance for safe room costs. Contact the state hazard mitigation officer[9] to find out what might be available. For example, the SoonerSafe - Safe Room Rebate program[10] in Oklahoma gives eligible homeowners 75% of the total cost, up to $2,000.
Shopping for a storm shelter:
  • FEMA provides ready-to-use safe room construction plans and specifications[11] .
  • The National Storm Shelter Association lists its members who are storm shelter manufacturers[12] and storm shelter installers[13] .
  • Oklahoma State University offers a fact sheet for selecting a storm shelter[14] .
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