Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Storm Shelter Installation

New storm shelter set into floor of the garage.

Storm shelter set in garage

I had a storm cellar installed in my garage.
All of us who live in southwest Oklahoma have a healthy respect for storms. Although I have lived in my home for many years, I’ve never had a storm cellar there. I’ve considered having one built in the past, but don’t really have a good place in the yard to set a traditional cellar or a place to build a safe room.
I’d heard about storm shelters that can be set into a garage floor and last spring, after the Moore tornado, I decided that it was time to do something. I called Smart Shelters in Oklahoma City (www.smartsheltersinc.com). They install the shelters throughout the state of Oklahoma.
Their shelters can be set into an existing garage floor and a car can be parked above the shelter.
I chose their basic in-garage shelter – 3’ wide, 6’ long, 4.5’ deep.
I signed a contract, paid a deposit, and they scheduled an installation date for September.
I was curious about the installation process, so when the Smart Shelter installation crew came I watched carefully and took a lot of pictures. Many other people have told me that they are curious about the process, too, so I have posted the pictures here.
The installation crew, Robert, Gabriel and Dan, were great. They worked fast and they cleaned the garage and driveway as they worked. The whole installation process only took about three hours.
NOTE: I am not endorsing or promoting the shelters or the company, but am sharing the fascinating installation process.

The three-man installation crew arrived in this rig. The black box behind the cab is the shelter. The trailer is carrying the Bobcat that will be used to move the shelter and dig the hole. The trailer will also be used to haul away the dirt.

First order of business... bringing in sacks of dry concrete.

Robert Ozment unloaded the Bobcat. That's an interesting process. Step One...

Step Two...

Step Three...

Step Four...

Step Five... On the ground!

Robert unloaded the storm shelter and set it to the side. These heavy metal shelters are manufactured by the company and are made in Oklahoma.

Robert and Gabriel uses a wet-saw to cut an exact-size rectangle in the garage floor.

The pieces of concrete slab came out. Notice the tree roots that were growing underneath.

Robert dug the hole.

Dan got the concrete sacks into position while Gabriel carved the hole to exact dimensions.

The storm shelter was brought in...

...and set into place.

How much dirt comes out of a 3' x 6' x 4.5' hole? About six yards.

The storm shelter was concreted in place.

The shelter is positioned about one foot inside the outer edge of the garage.

Gabriel positioned the heavy steel cover and sliding door in place.

Gabriel and Dan installed steel edging around the outside of the shelter. Gabriel (left) drilled holes into the concrete and Dan (right) inserted bolts. Robert (background) washed down the driveway.

The car is back in place. The concrete takes about five days to cure, but a car can be parked above immediately after the installation.

A metal handrail/handle can be used to open the hatch and to provide stability for the steep descent. Yes... there IS room to climb into the shelter with the car in place. The shelter comes with a battery-operated light and ventilation fan.


  1. Not long ago I could not appreciate the importance of storm shelters, but believe you me my perception has changed. In fact, I am planning to build one in the foreseeable future, and your info will surely come in handy. Thanks for sharing. See more: http://survival-mastery.com/diy/construct/how-to-build-a-tornado-shelter.html