By Rebecca O'Connor October 23, 2013

The Competitive Bunker Business

Round, Square, or Luxurious?

More and more Americans are making the decision to build bunkers on their property to prepare for a major disaster or even what many believe is an impending apocalypse. Of course, preparing to survive in a safe and enclosed space for an undetermined amount of time has its challenges. There is a lot more that goes into building a safe haven than digging a hole in the ground. So the business of prefabricated bunkers is growing, and the competitive market is filled with many different styles and bunker options.

The battle of round versus square was in full force when host Brooklyn Bagwell had a chance to step inside both types of bunkers at the Prepare2Endure Expo in Bakersfield, California. Take a look at what sets these two styles apart.

Corrugated Pipe Bunkers

Atlas Survival Shelters, a company that builds shelters made from corrugated pipes asserts that these are the best on the market. Atlas notes that, “There are over 100,000 round corrugated pipe shelters in America and not one reported catastrophic failure.” They claim that round or dome shelters are eleven times stronger than any metal box or shipping container based on the engineering involved.

While the shelters are constructed from pipes, the addition of wood flooring and walls create rooms that also feature compartments below the floors for added storage. They can be buried up to 42 feet deep, but are typically buried at 10 feet below. They are stated to have an estimated lifespan of 200 years. The company notes that, “A metal boxed shelter typically only has 2-3' of earth cover.” Pipe bunkers can be buried much deeper for the purposes of climate control.

Square Bunkers

According to Ultimate Bunkers, a square bunker is best, but they do not recommend using a shipping container. The company states, "We strongly suggest that you do not use a shipping container for an underground survival shelter. Without a doubt at some point in time the shelter will fold sideways and possibly trap people inside. It just simply is not a good idea."

Ultimate Bunkers are made of a solid-steel square construction. These are mobile bunkers that come on a trailer frame that can be towed wherever a prepper wishes to bug out. Once at the desired location, the bunker is backed into a hole with up to four feet of ground cover above the unit, and the tires and axles can be removed from the frame.

Naturally, Ultimate Bunkers recommends square construction over pipe bunkers; stating that, "Space utilization is greatly diminished because the floor has to be raised off the bottom to accommodate enough flooring to walk on."

Build, Buy or Make a Reservation?

Since the underground bunker business is booming, potential preppers are likely to find the perfect bunker for their needs after doing some research. There are many companies out there creating modern-day luxurious community bunkers in which you can purchase time-share type ownerships. One such company, Vivos, has refurbished many underground shelters that were built by the government during the Cold War. However, a booming business means a lot of scammers as well. Atlas Survival Shelters warns that customers should be careful not to find themselves purchasing space in a bunker that doesn’t exist.

Of course, if you have the money, you could just buy a lavish home with a bunker that already exists. A Las Vegas home equipped with a 16,000 square foot basement-bunker recently went on the market for $1.7 million. The above-ground house comes with an underground "backyard," complete with a swimming pool and murals that depict an outdoor landscape full of wildlife. The home was designed in 1978 by a man named Girard "Jerry" B. Henderson who owned the company Underground World Home, Inc., which built these types of shelters.

Underground bomb shelters were popular in the 1950s and many of these shelters are being refurbished and restored. Once again, people are looking to build their family a safe place underground and options keep growing. Round, square, or luxury, the business is booming.

The Selling Survival articles, videos, links, images, and instructions (“Content”) are for entertainment purposes only. The National Geographic Channel makes no express or implied representations regarding whether the Content is up-to-date, complete, or accurate, and shall not be liable for any consequential damages, claims, losses, or demands of any kind based upon reliance of the Content. Do not rely on this Content for disaster, medical, health or safety advice.

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