Dec 01

Shipping container for an underground bunker, every Prepper’s fantasy.

If you haven’t thought about buying a shipping container and burying it in your backyard you probably haven’t been prepping for very long. Think about how convenient it would be to have your own personal bunker, outfitted with enough supplies to sustain your family for weeks or more in the event of some major catastrophe. Shipping containers make great platforms to build your bunker around because they are readily available for purchase, very sturdy and resilient to the elements. When properly outfitted they can sustain life quite easily and provide a great save haven for families in distress. You might be looking for basic information regarding the types of shipping containers, how much they cost, where to source them and additional bunker building tips. Hopefully this post will be able to shed some light on all of those topics and steer you in the right direction so that someday soon you’ll be able to raise a canteen cup to toast the success of your new shipping container bunker.

The first thing you need to understand is that there are two basic types of containers, ocean going and domestic. Typically ocean going containers are made of a very high quality steel and come in 20′ and 40′ lengths. Domestic containers are used only within the continental US and are constructed utilizing steel or aluminum, they typically come in lengths of 45′ to 53′. Used containers are graded on based on various factors, and can range in price from $1,000 to $5,000. Some of the factors which influence the price of storage containers include (but are not limited to) condition, size, options, delivery and quantity.  Companies that sell containers often have explanations listed on their website which help to clarify things.

Condition.  A used shipping container that needs to be fixed or refurbished can go for as low as $1200 for a new 20′ Shipping Container, while a container that is considered ”like new” will usually go for around $3000 for a new 20′ shipping container.

Size.  The larger ones like the, 40ft and 48 ft extra wide units often cost the most and are usually 20-30% more pricey than a standard 8×20 ft unit.

Options.  When purchasing a used container that has been modified with additional options such as refrigeration, vents, door locking systems, or you need any other features installed, then you can expect to pay a premium.

Delivery.  Shipping companies range of delivery is usually around 200 miles distance, but for larger orders the company may travel further. Delivery fees can be priced into the purchase so it’s always a good idea to ask all these questions before you pull the trigger buying a container. As you can imagine the further you are from a port location, the container will cost more money. Transportation is expensive.

Quantity.  Making larger orders lowers your over costs significantly. if you are buying a bunch of used shipping containers, often storage container company suppliers will offer bulk discount rates so the cost per unit will be less.

So you’ve got the basics nailed down with respect to used shipping containers, the next step is figuring out where to purchase one in your local area.  You could simply google used shipping containers for sale, or check out these websites for starters;

In addition to selling used containers many companies also offer custom services such as retrofitting flooring, venting, additional doors, skylights, interior walls, shelving, lighting and much more. My advice would be to shop around and once you settle on a container, figure out how to get it underground near your homestead before worrying about nice to have amenities.

I’ve saved the best part for last, an actual video of someone who bought a shipping container and recorded the entire process of getting it into the ground (step by step). Total cost for the project was $12,500 but you’ll be able to see in the video that the guy saved a bunch of money by doing much of the project himself.  I hope this post was able to outline some basic information related to shipping containers, and I wish you the best of luck in pursuing your underground bunker strategy!


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  1. Very nice shelter. Another idea you could do is have your air stacks go up about 8 to 10 feet above ground level and put basketball hoops on each end to make it look like a basketball court. You could leave the cement visible this way and it would be less noticable to those passing by. I would have also installed two LP tanks under ground on either side for gas and water usage. Also could have generator outside the shipping container that runs off of LP. Anyway its a great idea and if I had the extra cash I would have one myself.

    For those who plan on building a home having one of these off the side of your home with basement access would not be a bad idea either.

      • PJ on December 2, 2012 at 8:26 AM
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      I always wondered about the air stacks, would be a dead giveaway as to the existence of the underground shelter.

    • Tom on January 28, 2013 at 12:13 AM
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    Hmmm….. Video starts out talking about a 20′ shipping container, but the container shown in that shot is either a 40′ or 45′ container, definately NOT a 20

    • Dixie on July 24, 2014 at 4:26 PM
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    I was wondering about ventilation and if they could be modified with running water and possibly solar power. How would you fortify the entrance? With steel plate doors? I find it interesting because my parents had a very small concrete storm shelter..

  2. I haven’t had the privilege of making a container bunker for any of our customers but it just shows you how versatile shipping containers are and it’s endless what you can do.
    Interesting article!

  3. This is right up alley as well.

    • keebler on November 15, 2015 at 7:57 AM
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    air stacks are a easy cover up, plant a cedar tree beside it let the tree, what a friend did. he did the same for his underground shelter.

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