how to install a storm shelter in the garage
Tips & Tricks

Can You Install a Storm Shelter in Your Garage?

If you live in an area prone to hurricanes or storms, building a storm shelter can help protect your family during bad weather. And with the current state of impeding storms now and then, it has become a necessity.

Adding storm shelter to an existing home can be costly if you intend to build a certifiable one. But if you are only looking to prepare for an impending storm, then a storm shelter will do just fine. And one of the most common places people installs their storm shelter is in their garages.

Before building a storm shelter in the garage, here are some things to consider.

Do garage storm shelters work?

It depends on the stability of the garage itself. Because of numerous issues with safety regarding a garage in a storm, garages should not be considered an adequate storm shelter.

The lack of interior walls and a large garage door make a garage unsuitable as a storm shelter. However, a garage storm shelter can be the difference between life and death if you do not have any other storm shelter.

Having your storm shelter outside can expose you to lightning, hail, extreme winds, and dangerous debris, which may prohibit you from quickly getting you and your family to safety. The garage, if adequately built, will add an extra layer of security around your storm shelter.

Are under garage shelters safe?

Yes. Underground shelters are designed with reinforced steel or concrete. Because they are underground, the shelter is safe from dangerous winds and flying debris. However, modern research shows there are a number of risks associated with an underground shelter.

The main one is flooding which is a fatal risk as there is a likelihood of drowning when heavy rain or flash flooding accompanies a storm. Alternatively, debris may block the shelter doors and prevent them from opening. In some cases, people can be trapped underground.

How much does it cost to install a storm shelter in a garage?

The cost of building a storm shelter ranges from $2,565 to $10,150, averaging $6,306. With a typical range of $3,000 to $11,000, the brand makes a big difference in the price. An above-ground unit for 4 to 6 people starts at around $3,000. And an underground model for 12 or more can run up to $30,000.

Prefab Storm Shelter Prices

Pre-fabricated units give you the most options, including concrete, corrugated steel, steel plates, fiberglass, and high-density polyethylene. Generally, custom-built structures feature reinforced concrete.

Pre-manufactured storm shelters can cost as little as $3,000, including installation. The average cost of an 8 foot by 10-foot above-ground structure is between $5,500 and $12,000. The price includes delivery, installation, and a range of features, such as a welded steel box and steel planks.

A 5 foot by 5 foot by 8 foot in-ground shelter costs $3,000 to $8,000, with an additional $1,000 to $3,000 for delivery and installation. You can expect to pay more if you want a larger size or additional features like electricity.

Above-Ground Storm Shelter vs. Underground Cellar Prices

An above-ground storm shelter costs $3,000 to $15,000, compared to $4,000 to $30,000 for an underground unit.

An above-ground unit or safe room typically goes in a garage or basement. You can also install it on a concrete foundation separate from the home. It’s ideal for properties with a high water table or homeowners who don’t want to upset the landscaping.

In-ground storm shelters are usually more secure but harder to install. They are better at resisting falling debris and strong winds. They also free up space within the home or yard but can be prone to flooding.

Cost of Storm Shelter in a Garage Floor

A storm shelter on a garage floor is $3,000 to $9,000. Of course, you’ll pay more for options with a staircase or one that will hold more than eight people. Garage floor shelters are great for homeowners who want underground protection without leaving the house. They tend to be smaller than other in-ground units.

Storm Shelter Costs by Material

Storm shelter costs vary by type of material. Concrete and fiberglass tend to be the cheapest, while Kevlar-lined steel runs the highest.

Steel Shelter

Steel shelters cost $4,000 to $30,000. This is the most common material since it is generally lightweight but durable. You’ll find lots of options for above-ground and underground installations.

Fiberglass Storm Shelters

Fiberglass storm shelter prices range from $3,000 to $10,000. The unit itself may be one of the cheapest options, but you can only install it underground.

If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly alternative, polyethylene shelters cost $3,000 to $7,000.

Concrete Shelters

At $3,000 to $7,000, concrete shelters are often the most affordable. The material is cheap but extremely heavy, which makes it able to handle high winds or flying debris.

You can have it poured custom or buy pre-cast options. Given an average weight of 15,000 to 25,000 pounds, you’ll need to install a pad for above-ground units.

Kevlar Storm Cellar Cost

Kevlar storm cellars cost $5,000 to $10,000 per room. This material gives you the strongest structure available that also resists intruders. Pre-fabricated units are usually made of steel lined with Kevlar. You can also convert a room in your home using the material.

Cost based on number of occupants

Occupancy    Price

6          $3,000 – $8,000

8          $4,000 – $10,000

12        $6,000 – $20,000

15+     $10,000 – $30,000

As a general rule, you should plan 6 square feet per person for storms and 10 square feet for hurricanes.

Check this too: How to Repair Cracks in a Concrete Garage Floor

Storm Shelter Cost Factors

Building a Storm shelter in the garage may run up to $5,000 to $7,000 more if you need these additional products or services.

  • Beds with Mattresses: $300-$400 each
  • Handrail: $50-$100
  • Emergency Exit: $500-$2,000, may only be available on custom units
  • Enhanced air ventilation or filtration systems: $100-$3,000
  • Plumbing (water supply, wastewater, etc.): $100-$5,000
  • Electricity or Internet: $100-$1,500

Concrete Pouring

The cost to pour concrete averages $6 per square foot. Manufacturers recommend installing it around most in-ground shelters. Doing this while building a storm shelter on your garage floor is advisable. Should the surrounding soil become saturated with moisture, this will keep it from floating out.