Anyone who is awake can clearly see the social and economic turmoil all around us. The need to prepare has never been more clear. The three DIY survival projects described in this article could be part of a ‘Plan C’ survival strategy. Plan A might be to shelter in place. Plan B might be to bug out to a cabin. But what if Plan B doesn’t work out? What if the cabin gets overrun by combatants? Or, what if you can’t make it to the cabin for some reason? This is why it’s prudent to have at least one additional backup plan.
All of the DIY survival projects explained here are built with woven polypropylene sandbags filled with local soil, sand and/or gravel. When filled with moist subsoil and solidly compacted they are called earthbags. Gravel bags are sandbags filled with gravel. These are often used on lower course to prevent wicking of moisture up into the earthen wall.
Sandbags or earthbags have been used for hundreds of years for military bunkers and other fortifications, and flood control. Sandbags are low cost, easy to transport, simple to fill and require only a few simple tools such as a shovel. They are extremely bullet and blast resistant. (Check YouTube for some interesting bullet tests on sandbags.) The original jute burlap bags have been replaced by much stronger polypropylene bags. The same material is also available in rolls, which is often used to build earthbag tube walls. Tubes are faster and easier to work with than bags since you don’t have to stop and tie the ends of bags.
In addition to the DIY survival projects outlined here, another good possibility is military style sandbag fortifications such as bunkers for protection if shooting breaks out. Empty sandbags don’t take up much space, so the bags can be stockpiled and the fortifications built after the collapse as needed. Building the fortifications in advance might draw unwanted attention.
Kelly Hart and I have been providing earthbag training materials for about 15 years. We have thousands of pages of free material on various websites. For beginners, be sure to check out this Step-by-Step Earthbag Building tutorial. http://www.instructables.com/id/Step-by-Step-Earthbag-Building/
Top 3 DIY Survival Projects That Could Save Your Life in the Coming Collapse:
1. Bomb Resistant Earthbag Dome Fallout Shelter
This multi-purpose shelter can be used for many different purposes such as a root cellar, storm cellar, tool shed or fallout shelter in case of a nuclear event. These shelters can be built for as little as $300 dollars. Domes are extremely resistant to wind and so are particularly well suited for storm shelters in tornado or hurricane country. Adding soil and grass on top makes the dome more blast and fallout resistant, but is optional. You can bury the dome partially or completely underground.
Tools and materials (listed left to right): woven polypropylene bags (about 18” x 30”), bucket chute (4-gallon bucket with bottom cut off), 4 or 5 heavy duty 2-gallon cement buckets, stringline, metal chisel and scrap steel for cutting barbed wire (or bolt cutters), hammer, sheetmetal slider (about 13” x 16”), 15 gauge galvanized wire, knife, wire cutters, tape measure, 4-point barbed wire, corner guide, grub hoe or grape hoe, level, tampers, bundle 500 bags, shovel.
This video shows the main steps of construction. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ODplmnpSts
Complete building details: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Build-an-Earthbag-Dome/
2. Underground Earthbag Survival Shelter
This round earthbag shelter for up to 4-5 individuals is designed for survival through disaster, plague, etc. It is low cost, durable and practical. This shelter is designed for DIYers on a tight budget who will do most everything by hand. Complete instructions available from Dream Green Homes http://dreamgreenhomes.com/plans/survival.htm include numerous key details not evident on the plan: venting, roof framing, how to reduce excavation by 50%, drainage, water supply, etc. I have not seen a better, more practical survival shelter plan.
When I designed this survival shelter, I had four key concepts in mind: practicality, simplicity, safety and cost. Each concept is discussed in more detail below.
Round structures enclose more space for a given amount of materials. There are no dead corners or wasted space. Round earthbag structures are the easiest shape to build. Poly tubes (the easiest and fastest method) or poly bags (lower cost if recycled and suitable for someone working alone) are easily shaped into curved or round shapes. A tube filling machine is very efficient and highly recommended. http://www.naturalbuildingblog.com/hyperadobe-quick-wall-machine/
Another main advantage is simplicity of construction. What could be simpler than filling and stacking bags of earth? Almost everything you need to know is freely available on the Internet. The main skills can be learned in a few minutes simply by being shown or watching a video. My Naturalhouse YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/naturalhouses shows all steps of construction. And most people already have the basic tools around the house – shovels, buckets, garden hose, ladder. The other few tools required can be easily made or purchased inexpensively.
Round structures are inherently stronger than rectilinear structures. This means the enormous forces of soil against walls below grade (many tons of pressure) will be transferred around the structure. This concept is often stated “round is sound.”
3. Hidey Hole Survival Shelter
The Hidey Hole can be adapted to most any environment including mountains, forests and deserts.
The Hidey Hole provides a defensible, affordable and relatively fast survival shelter suitable for year-round use. It can be adapted to most any environment including mountains, forests and deserts. In addition to providing emergency shelter, the Hidey Hole could also be used to provide storage space for survival supplies in case of a SHTF scenario. The scale of the project is small enough that several shelters could be built to spread the risk of your supplies being stolen or damaged. Use whatever materials are available locally as much as possible. For instance, this shelter could be completely concealed in forested/mountainous terrain using stone, logs, soil and vegetation. A carefully concealed Hidey Hole would nearly undetectable if built correctly. The closest thing I’ve seen to the Hidey Hole is a shelter built by minimalist Ran Prieur. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odg8IqoogTE
Hidey Hole shelter details:
– 79 square feet interior
– circular shape resists thrust of surrounding soil
– earth-sheltering helps keep living space comfortable
– excavated sand or soil can be used to fill the earthbags
– use 6 mil plastic sheeting on all sides, floor and roof as a moisture barrier
– curved roof provides additional headroom inside and helps shed water
– the dry stacked stone wall (no mortar) doesn’t have to be perfectly constructed stone masonry (make it look as natural as possible)
– you could build in a rocky area and use the existing stone to maintain a natural appearance
– tiny twig stove for heating and cooking can be handmade from salvaged materials
– the door could be made of slab wood or recycled wood at no cost and simply wedged into place without hinges or door frame (a door just large enough to crawl through would provide additional concealment)
– easy to adapt the basic concept to make something that suits your needs