$500 Fuel Storage Tank Shelter Gives Me an Idea

I’ve been a big fan of underground homes since I first picked up a copy of How To Build An Underground House by Malcolm Wells. While going completely underground is ideal for a shelter it presents some issues for a home.  An underground home works better when it can balance natural light, fresh air, and the thermal mass of the ground around it.

The little shelter pictured here was built from an old fuel storage tank that the fellow bought for $500. The total cost of the project was certainly more, and to expand the space’s functionality to serve as a home would add more cost still; but to start a tiny underground home project with a $500 used steel tank sounds like a great low cost way of getting started.

Many tiny homes are fuel storage tank sized too. This one looks like it likely measures 8-feet in diameter and 12 feet long.  A quick Google search turns up many different sizes and costs. New tanks appear to cost quite a bit of money, but as they age the cost drops significantly as they become less usable for their initial purpose.

Keep reading after the photos…

Storm Bunker made from fule tank - stairs


Storm Bunker made from fule tank - entry closed Storm Bunker made from fule tank - entry

Here’s the idea…

Now imagine taking one of these steel tanks and weld on some 3-foot diameter pipe for window openings and a door at one end. Then add the necessary interior walls, plumbing, electricity, flooring, appliances and cabinets. A natural place for the utilities would be in the floor, since it would be slightly raised due to the curved shape of the pipe.

To avoid condensation from building up on the interior walls and ceiling, closed cell spray foam could be applied to the exterior before burial. While the thermal mass of the ground around the house will keep the home’s interior temperature fairly constant, the added insulation should help even more.

I’m so inspired by these photos that my next design concept I post will drawings of the tiny underground home I just described above.


7 thoughts on “$500 Fuel Storage Tank Shelter Gives Me an Idea

  1. alice h says:

    I’m guessing this is a storm shelter of some sort. The minute I saw it I thought of making it a submarine playhouse as well ( with appropriate safeguards for exit and entry). That way if a kid had to go into it during a storm it would already be familiar and have more fun associations, rather than panic survival mode. Plus it would be kind of a cool club house. As long as you could keep water out and make sure of fresh air and not getting trapped inside.

    • grey says:

      You are damned if you do you are damned if you don’t. If you build a door that opens inward then eventually your attackers and bash their way in, if you build your door where it opens outward your attackers can block the door and keep you bottled up in there and block your air pipes until you die.

  2. tom says:

    built a similar unit with a 39’x11′ 1/2 thick aluminum tank has been buried underground and have been living in it for the last 5 years getting ready to mount one on a trailer as a tiny house tank (everything is for sale)

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