How much does a tornado or storm shelter cost to build?
Ashburn, VA

How much does a tornado or storm shelter cost to build?

Ashburn, VA

How much does a tornado or storm shelter cost to build?

$3,500 – $15,000average total cost installed

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$3,500 – $15,000 average total cost installed


Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Tara Farmer
Written by
Tara Farmer
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tom Grupa

Storm shelter cost by size

A tornado shelter costs $3,500 to $15,000 installed on average. Prefab storm shelter prices are $3,000 to $12,000+ installed. An underground storm shelter costs $4,000 to $20,000+ for excavation and installation. The cost of a tornado shelter depends on the size, location, and if it's concrete, steel, or fiberglass.

Storm shelter cost by size
Capacity (number of people) Average cost installed
2 $2,800 – $4,500 
4 $3,500 – $7,000 
6 $3,800 – $7,800 
8 $4,500 – $8,500 
10 $5,000 – $9,000 
12 $5,500 – $15,000
14 $7,000 – $18,000
16+ $7,500 – $20,000+

Storm shelter cost by type

Underground storm shelter prices

An underground tornado shelter costs $4,000 to $20,000+, depending on the material, size, and features. In-ground shelters provide the best tornado protection and an ideal option when above-ground space is limited. However, underground shelters take more time and labor to install and are more prone to flooding.

  • A geotechnical report costs $1,000 to $5,000 to evaluate the soil conditions when installing a below-ground shelter outside of your home.

  • Excavation costs $2.50 to $15.00 per cubic yard or $100 to $300 per hour to dig the space for an underground tornado bunker. Many companies include basic excavation in the shelter price but charge extra for rocky soil or difficult installs.

Doors leading to an underground storm shelter.
Doors leading to an underground storm shelter.

Above ground storm shelter cost

An above ground storm shelter costs $3,000 to $12,000+, depending on the material, size, type, and features. Most tornado safe rooms are steel or concrete and may be installed inside a home, garage, or outdoors. Above ground shelters are cheaper and easier to install than underground bunkers.

Tornado shelter cost by location

The table below shows average storm shelter pricing by location.

Storm shelter cost by location - Chart
Storm shelter cost by location - Chart
Storm shelter cost by location
Location Average cost installed
Basement $4,000 – $10,000
Garage (above ground) $3,500 – $9,000
Garage (below ground) $6,000 – $15,000
Tornado safe room or safe shed $4,500 – $14,000
Closet safe room $4,500 – $10,000
Storm shelter bed $3,500 – $5,500+ (DIY install)

Tornado safe room cost

A tornado safe room costs $4,500 to $14,000 installed. Options range from closet-sized to multi-family sized, and the price increases with the size. A safe room can be inside the home or outside as a separate structure. Most interior safe rooms are steel panels, while outdoor safe rooms are typically concrete.

  • Building a home addition costs $90 to $210 per square foot to add an interior safe room without reducing your available living space.

  • Most safe rooms require a concrete pad for installation. Some safe room companies offer this as an add-on service.

  • Leveling the yard costs $500 to $1,000 on average when installing a saferoom that comes complete with a concrete floor and requires only a flat surface.

  • Installing a safe room inside an existing home is typically more challenging and costs 20% to 30% more than integrating one during new construction.

Garage storm shelter cost

A garage storm shelter costs $3,500 to $9,000 for an above ground safe room or $6,000 to $15,000 for an underground model. These prices include professional installation. Consider a garage storm shelter for easy and quick accessibility during a storm threat.

The cost to extend a garage is $60 to $120 per square foot to allow for an above ground garage shelter without losing car and storage space.

Cost to build a basement tornado shelter

A basement tornado shelter or storm cellar costs $4,000 to $10,000+, depending on the size and whether it's a prefab bolt-together panelized model or a fully custom build. Like garage storm shelters, a basement storm shelter allows you to get to safety without going outside in potentially dangerous weather.

Storm shelter bed cost

A storm shelter bed costs $3,500 to $5,500+ before installation. Costs increase for options like a second door for quick 2-person entry, a tornado- and bullet-proof window, or a custom color. Storm shelter beds replace your traditional box spring or platform bed with a steel shelter bolted to the floor.

Most storm shelter beds are DIY-friendly. Hiring a professional to install it adds $250 to $400+.

Storm shelter prices by material

The material you choose also impacts the storm shelter cost. The best material for your shelter depends on the shelter type and location.

Storm shelter cost by material
Shelter material Average cost installed
Concrete  $3,700 – $7,000+ 
Fiberglass  $4,700 – $10,000+ 
Steel  $4,500 – $20,000+
Wood frame $4,300 – $5,000+ (DIY)

Concrete storm shelter prices

Concrete storm shelters cost $3,700 to $7,000+ installed, making them the most affordable option in most cases. Steel-reinforced concrete is typically precast into an in-ground or above-ground design. Some above-ground units come complete with a concrete floor, but most require a concrete slab for anchoring.

  • Concrete is strong and heavy to withstand storm-force winds, but it may leak or crack over time.

  • Concrete's weight is beneficial in terms of storm protection but makes it more difficult and costly to transport.

Fiberglass tornado shelter prices

Fiberglass tornado shelters cost $4,700 to $10,000+ installed. Fiberglass is easier and cheaper to transport than concrete or steel due to its lighter weight. However, fiberglass can only be used for an in-ground storm shelter and may crack over time due to temperature fluctuations and ground shifting.

Steel storm shelter prices

Steel storm shelters cost $4,500 to $20,000+ installed, depending on the size. Steel shelters are durable, lightweight, and come in above or below ground designs. Options include bolt-together panelized models for installation in an existing home and solid structures for new construction or exterior installation.

Like other storm shelters, a steel storm shelter anchors to a concrete slab.

Wood storm shelter costs

While wood storm shelters are not widely available to buy, the USDA's Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) developed plans for a wood shelter with metal reinforcements that meets industry safety standards. A step-by-step construction guide and companion video series is available through Home Innovation Research Labs.

The FPL-designed 8'x8' wood tornado shelter costs $4,300 to $5,000 on average for materials and typically takes two pros or savvy DIY-ers several days to build.

Prefab storm shelter cost by brand

The table below shows pricing and information for several prefab storm shelter brands. No matter what brand and model you buy, always confirm it is tested and meets or exceeds industry safety standards.

Storm shelter cost by brand
Brand Average cost Details
Atlas Survival Shelters $5,000 – $20,000+ 
  • Based in Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA
  • Many styles and customization options
Extreme Storm Shelters  $4,400 – $9,500*
  • Indoor, outdoor, above ground, and underground models
  • Available online and at Lowe's
  • Limited lifetime warranty
F5 storm shelters / Liberty Safe $4,000 – $12,000+ 
  • Based in Nixa, MO
  • Above and below ground models
  • Offers return customer and veteran discounts
Ground Zero $3,500 – $5,100 
  • Service area across the continental U.S.
  • Underground and above ground models
  • Lifetime warranty covering floating, leaking, and defects
Hausner's $3,700 – $5,000+ 
  • Based in Oklahoma
  • Sloped or flat top underground concrete shelters
  • Concrete and metal above-ground safe rooms
  • 10-year warranty
Oklahoma shelters $3,000 – $11,000+
  • Based in Oklahoma City and serves the surrounding area
  • Underground and above-ground models
  • Concrete and steel shelter options
  • 10-year warranty
SafePorch $5,200 – $6,800
  • Based in NW Arkansas; serves Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, East Tennessee, and the Florida pan handle
  • Shelter vault made with high-strength concrete poured over steel mesh screens and rebar
  • One half or more of vault buried in ground for enhanced storm resistance
Survive-a-storm $4,000 – $9,800*
  • Based in Thomasville, GA
  • Solid steel underground and above ground units
  • Available online and in many Home Depot stores
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Swisher Safety Shelters $7,100 – $11,800
  • Dealer locations across the U.S.; headquartered in Warrensburg, MO
  • Above ground steel shelters
  • Wheelchair accessibility options
  • 5-year limited warranty
Tornado Bunker $5,600 – $7,000
  • Based in Georgia, serving the southeastern U.S.
  • Underground steel bunkers
  • Lifetime transferrable warranty
Valley Storm Shelters $2,500 – $12,000
  • Based in Huntsville, AL, serving 14 states across the U.S.
  • Underground and above ground models
  • Professional or self-install options
  • Lifetime transferrable warranty

*Not including installation

Oklahoma Storm Shelters prices

Oklahoma Shelters cost $3,000 to $11,000+, with above- and below-ground options and sizes ranging from 4- to 20-person capacity. The company is based in Oklahoma City, OK, and offers custom safe rooms and shelters backed by a 10-year warranty against leaks and corrosion.

Tornado Bunker cost

A Tornado Bunker costs $5,600 to $7,000, which includes delivery and 4 hours of installation time. Tornado Bunker offers underground shelters made of 10-gauge steel coated with tar-epoxy to prevent leaks. Bunker sizes range from 6- to 14-person capacity.

Tornado Bunker is headquartered in Georgia and services the southeastern states of Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.

Extreme Storm Shelters cost

Extreme Storm Shelters cost $4,400 to $9,500 before installation. These 100% steel shelters come in indoor and outdoor above-ground models with capacities ranging from 4 to 16 people. They also offer a below ground garage shelter that accommodates up to 10 people.

The Extreme Storm Shelters brand has locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas, with some models also available at select Lowe's stores.

Survive-a-storm shelters cost

Survive-a-storm shelters cost $4,000 to $8,500 for above ground models fitting 4 to 16 people and $7,300 to $9,800 for residential in-ground units for 10 to 16 people. These prices don't include installation. The brand also offers larger community shelters costing $1,500 per occupant on average.

Survive-a-storm is based in Thomasville, GA, and claims the widest shelter distribution in America, with units available through their website and in 110+ Home Depot stores.

Storm shelter installation cost factors

The following factors affect the cost:

  • Size / occupancy – The more people that need to fit in the shelter, the larger the shelter and higher the materials and labor costs.

  • Material ­– Concrete is typically the most budget-friendly material but costs more to transport than steel or fiberglass.

  • Prefab vs. custom –Prefab or precast storm shelters cost less but offer fewer options than a custom-built shelter.

  • Location – Shelters are more widely available in "tornado alley" states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas and in hurricane-prone states like Florida. Delivery typically costs $2 to $10 per mile when outside of a manufacturer's service area.

  • Site accessibility ­– Installation takes longer and costs more if the space is difficult to reach with the necessary equipment.

  • Soil condition –Rocky soil is more difficult to excavate, increasing the labor costs when installing an underground shelter.

  • Anchor fees ­–Some companies charge a separate fee of $200 to $350 to install the anchors that hold the shelter in place.

  • Door – FEMA-compliant shelters come with steel doors. A tornado rated steel door costs $500 to $2,500+ when purchased alone.

  • Handicap access – Adding accessibility options for entry and maneuvering inside the shelter may increase costs.

  • Warranties –Shelters with longer warranties typically cost more.

  • Tax incentives ­– Some severe-weather-prone states offer tax credits for building a storm shelter.

Labor cost to install a storm shelter

The labor to install a storm shelter ranges from $250 to $3,000+ when not included in the shelter price, depending on the size and installation difficulty. Contractor hourly rates are $50 to $150 per hour to install a tornado shelter.

  • Pouring a concrete slab costs $5 to $10 per square foot for labor and materials. Most above-ground shelters require a concrete slab.

  • Structural engineers charge $100 to $220 per hour to design custom storm shelter plans and confirm the enclosure meets industry standards.

  • Pouring a new slab or building an underground storm shelter typically requires a permit. Most cities don't require a permit when anchoring a shelter to your existing concrete slab.

Additional storm shelter costs & features

Many upgrades and add-ons are available for storm shelters, depending on the shelter size, type, and brand. Additional costs when building or installing a storm shelter may include:

  • PlumbingInstalling plumbing pipes costs $450 to $1,800 per fixture. Consider plumbing options if you want to be able to stay in the shelter for an extended time.

  • Lighting & Electrical

  • Ventilation upgradesHVAC professionals charge $75 to $150 per hour.

  • Shelving / storage – Adding shelving to store food and essentials costs $50 to $400+ each.

  • Bench – Integrated shelter benches cost $150 to $400+ each.

  • Bedding – Folding emergency sleeping cots cost $50 to $200+ each. Blankets, pillows, and additional bedding cost $20 to $100+ each.

  • Communication ­–Emergency radios cost $20 to 60+.

  • Railing –Hand rail extensions cost $50 to $100+ to aid in entering the shelter.

  • Emergency escape opening – Adding an escape hatch costs $250 to $300 extra.

  • Security lock – Enhanced security locks cost $75 to $200+ each.

Above ground vs. in-ground shelter pros & cons

There are benefits and drawbacks to both above ground and underground storm shelters. The best shelter for you depends on your property and your individual needs.

Above ground vs. in-ground shelter pros & cons
Factor Above ground In-ground / underground
Average cost $3,000 – $11,000 $4,000 – $20,000
Pros
  • Easier access; wheelchair-accessible options
  • Can be moved
  • Easier to customize
  • Doesn't take up property space
  • More size flexibility underground
  • Best choice for extreme weather prone areas
Cons
  • Takes up space on your property
  • Exposed to the elements
  • Some models are not as protective as in-ground
  • More difficult to access
  • Requires stairs
  • Higher leak and flood risk
  • Susceptible to ground shifting pressures

Storm shelter FAQs {faq}

What is the cheapest storm shelter?

The cheapest storm shelter depends on your location and occupancy requirements. Under-the-bed shelters are the most budget-friendly, but typically can only hold 2 to 3 people. Prefab concrete is often the cheapest for a larger shelter. Remember to confirm the shelter meets or exceeds FEMA and ICC safety standards.

Does a storm shelter increase home value?

A storm shelter may increase home value by 3.5% in areas prone to tornados, hurricanes, and extreme weather. The added security of a storm shelter or safe room may also be valuable to prospective buyers in milder regions.

Will FEMA pay for a storm shelter?

While FEMA does not pay homeowners directly for a storm shelter, the organization distributes funding to eligible states through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) program. Contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer for available safe room funding programs and requirements.

Is a storm shelter safer than a basement?

Yes. While the basement may be the safest room in a home without a storm shelter, most basements are not built to resist tornados and catastrophic storm systems. Storm shelters are specifically designed to provide near-absolute protection from the violent wind speeds and wind-borne debris of an EF5 tornado.

Do I need a storm shelter?

If you live in an extreme-weather-prone area, a storm shelter is a worthwhile investment to ensure yours and your loved ones' safety. If you live in a very mild climate that does not experience frequent destructive storms, you likely do not need a storm shelter.

How big should a storm shelter be?

FEMA, the National Storm Shelter Association, and the International Construction Code require 3 to 5 square feet per person for a tornado shelter. A hurricane storm shelter needs 7 to 10 square feet per person due to the longer timeframe the occupants may need to remain in the shelter during a storm.

How long does it take to install a storm shelter?

Most prefabricated storm shelters take 3 to 8 hours to install. Installing an above-ground model that does not require a concrete pad may take less time. Large, custom, underground storm shelters can take 2 to 3+ months to design, excavate, and complete construction.

Getting estimates from storm shelter builders

When searching for a storm shelter builder near you, be sure to:

  • Get recommendations from local family, friends, or co-workers.

  • Look for members of the National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) and the American Tornado Shelter Association (ATSA).

  • Compare several estimates from companies that are licensed, bonded, insured, and established for 5+ years.

  • Check out their reviews on Google and HomeGuide.

  • Get a detailed contract and warranty in writing before the project starts.

  • Only make the final payment when the installation is complete.

Questions to ask

Asking the right questions can help you find the best professional for your storm shelter installation:

  • How long have you been in business?

  • Are your shelters FEMA and ICC compliant, and do they meet local building code standards?

  • How was your shelter tested, and who did the testing?

  • What associations do you belong to, and what certifications do you hold?

  • What type of storm shelter do you recommend for my property, and why?

  • How many people will my shelter hold?

  • What type of ventilation do you use?

  • Do you have handicap accessible shelters?

  • Will there be room for food and water storage at maximum occupancy?

  • Do you have a show room where I can see the shelter options in person?

  • How much deposit do you require?

  • What does the estimate include?

  • What extra costs might come up during an installation like this one?

  • Do I need a permit, and will you handle the permitting process for me?

  • How do I need to prepare my property for the installation?

  • Do you offer a warranty, and what does it cover?

  • Do I need to do anything to maintain the shelter once it's installed?