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Homesteading Talk or ask questions about homesteading in general, your homestead, or any other related topic.

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  #1  
Old 01-09-2010, 12:11 PM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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Default Root Cellar/Storm Shelter

I wanted a root cellar and needed a storm shelter. So this was one of my projects for last year.
Remember I am the guy that collects all of the left over parts. The only things I had to buy for this project was the concrete and mortar mix, but there are several yards in this project.
Also, I had never laid a block before this. It turned out okay, but the mortar work is a little sloppy.











SPIKE
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  #2  
Old 01-09-2010, 12:12 PM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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  #3  
Old 01-09-2010, 01:00 PM
patience patience is offline
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Wow, SPIKE, that is an impressive piece of work! We need a root cellar, too, but haven't figured out a good place for it. I blew my best chance at it when we added a sunporch onto the house a few years ago. It has a slab floor, and could very well have had a root cellar under it, with the entrance in the basement. Dumb, dumb me. Now I get to find another spot.
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  #4  
Old 01-09-2010, 01:31 PM
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Native87 Male Native87 is offline
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Thumbs up Wonderful Work SPIKE!!!

Very impressive indeed my friend!!! You could make a FORTUNE doing just what you accomplished for yourself. I have never laid block either ( Anyone know good sites for that topic?) but I think it looks very good. One thing for sure. I don't believe it will go anywhere soon. Thank you so much for posting this work.
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  #5  
Old 01-09-2010, 01:36 PM
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AzLoneRider Male AzLoneRider is offline
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Great work Spike!! I am thinking about something similar on my property. You have given me some great ideas. Thanks for the pic and the ideas.

Andy
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  #6  
Old 01-09-2010, 03:37 PM
Anon001 Anon001 is offline
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Add me to the list of the impressed. Got one question. Did you fill the blocks or leave them with just the rebar?

I'm wanting a cellar this year.

Paul
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  #7  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:16 PM
Andy Jones Andy Jones is offline
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That's a professional looking job,Spike.Man,that's really heavy duty!Did you waterproof the exterior of the blocks?Is there a French drain around the bottom of the slab?I have a bank just like that near my house that will lend itself perfectly to build a root cellar/storm cellar.Did you put plastic under the slab before you poured the concrete?Inquiring minds want to know!

Andy
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  #8  
Old 01-09-2010, 04:39 PM
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Cat Lover Female Cat Lover is offline
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It certainly looks nice enough; salvaging the materials alone is quite an accomplishment.

It's alway easier - too easy, IMO- to nit-pic someone elses' efforts. I've certainly seen many attempts that came out much worse! Still, I'd like to make a few general comments, for others to consider with their projects:

1- First, when you dig more than 5 ft, you need to either do it in steps, or have the walls shored. While there's some 'green' merit to not disturbing the site any more than necessery, there's a 'health' merit in not getting buried alive;

2- I saw a similar sized room that was made with the rough face of the block facing in. This gave the room a real 'hewn out of stone,' cave-like style. Just a wild thought - though I can understand why smooth walls are better for a root cellar!;

3- I do hope that a proper slab was poured, with some gravel for drainage. Another asked about waterproofing and a French drain- those are good elements to consider;

4- Small underground rooms tend to be lacking in both light and ventillation. It might have been nice to have a skylight and an exhaust vent in the ceiling. I'm not sure that the pipes I see poking up are enough. It also might have been a thought to 'stub out' pipes for future (possible) plumbing and electric;

5- The block, since it is structural, should be filled with concrete; and,

6- Any openings need to be screened to prevent critters from entering- including the bottom edge of the door. Yet another reason to have the door swing 'out.'
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  #9  
Old 01-09-2010, 05:06 PM
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Travis Male Travis is offline
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Very nice indeed. Very impressed that you salvaged all that stuff. You sound like me. I have tons of things here and there and someday I will use them for something.
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  #10  
Old 01-09-2010, 05:17 PM
AlchemyAcres AlchemyAcres is offline
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Wow!

That's the nicest root cellar I've ever seen!!!!


~Martin
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  #11  
Old 01-09-2010, 05:21 PM
AlchemyAcres AlchemyAcres is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Lover View Post
It certainly looks nice enough; salvaging the materials alone is quite an accomplishment.

It's alway easier - too easy, IMO- to nit-pic someone elses' efforts. I've certainly seen many attempts that came out much worse! Still, I'd like to make a few general comments, for others to consider with their projects:

1- First, when you dig more than 5 ft, you need to either do it in steps, or have the walls shored. While there's some 'green' merit to not disturbing the site any more than necessery, there's a 'health' merit in not getting buried alive;

2- I saw a similar sized room that was made with the rough face of the block facing in. This gave the room a real 'hewn out of stone,' cave-like style. Just a wild thought - though I can understand why smooth walls are better for a root cellar!;

3- I do hope that a proper slab was poured, with some gravel for drainage. Another asked about waterproofing and a French drain- those are good elements to consider;

4- Small underground rooms tend to be lacking in both light and ventillation. It might have been nice to have a skylight and an exhaust vent in the ceiling. I'm not sure that the pipes I see poking up are enough. It also might have been a thought to 'stub out' pipes for future (possible) plumbing and electric;

5- The block, since it is structural, should be filled with concrete; and,

6- Any openings need to be screened to prevent critters from entering- including the bottom edge of the door. Yet another reason to have the door swing 'out.'
Yep!!! Seems it's very easy for you!



~Martin

Last edited by AlchemyAcres; 01-09-2010 at 05:27 PM.
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  #12  
Old 01-09-2010, 07:56 PM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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Add me to the list of those who are impressed with your work.

And I'm with envy over what you've accomplished. You sure deserve a big pat on the back. If you hadn't told us, I wouldn't have known that you hadn't laid block before. I've seen some "pro's" work that didn't look that good.

Thank you for sharing your steps with us through pictures. I enjoyed drooling over them.

I want one just like that, dad burn it. Don't have the landscape to do it. (sigh)

Lee
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  #13  
Old 01-09-2010, 08:36 PM
Deberosa Deberosa is offline
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That's amazing! Thank you for sharing! Are you taking orders yet? ;-)
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  #14  
Old 01-09-2010, 09:32 PM
Southerngirl Female Southerngirl is offline
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Amazing work Spike, had my jaw dropping with each picture as I scrolled down... nice work!
We were fortunate enough to have a storm cellar on the property when we bought the land, and we brought one with us on a flat bed trailer from my parent's previous property so we have one for our safety use up close to the house and one behind the house a ways which I plan on turning into a root cellar this spring. We have a few other couples interested in storing items together with ours, so the work will be divided, that always helps. It's a solid storm cellar, just needs a new door, just has a piece of wood laying over the entrance, put in a new window that is broken, a new light bulb and some cleaning, then add the shelves... we feel lucky it was here. One of those times in life you feel you found the right place at the right time! For once!
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  #15  
Old 01-09-2010, 09:36 PM
Phil_Oz Male Phil_Oz is offline
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Very impressive piece of work.

In the SE of Oz, we don't have a problem with storms (cyclones/hurricanes) like you do in the gulf states.
In our tropical north we do (Darwin was levelled by Cyclone Tracey on Christmas Day 1974 eg).

What we do need is bushfire shelters - and the construction would not be too different from what you made.

For suspended concrete slabs, we have a couple of products available. I'd be surprised if you guys don't have something similar, and it would be a lot easier and probably cheaper than welding up those supporting spans for the roof/ceiling area like you did (maybe it was a labour-only cost?).

http://www.fielders.com.au/aspx/RF55.aspx

http://www.lysaght.com/go/product/lysaght-bondek

Fire shelter;
http://www.firesheltersaustralia.com.au/

Because of things like this;
http://www.news.com.au/gallery-0-1111120741999
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  #16  
Old 01-10-2010, 10:14 AM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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First let me say thanks to most of you for your replys. I come to this forum to share knowledge and experiences to possibly help in everyone's endevors to get through life as best as possible. And hopefully to gain some of the things I need also.

BUT, I can see that there is at least one short term poster here that I need no ASSistance from. I have gone to there profile and read enough of their post to be sure of this.

Now on to important stuff. I will be happy to give more details on my project.

The big ditch I dug into is not for drainage. It starts about 200' from the north property line and is at about the highest elevation in the area. The ditch was dug in the 1800s with the intentions of laying a railroad between a couple of the small towns in this area, but one of the towns moved and the tracks were never installed. The banks are built in a manner that carry water away from the ditch, not into it.

The ground here is awful for gardening. It is a compacted/hard red sand/clay mixture. Digging the hole was a big chore. If I had only wanted a root cellar and not a storm shelter, I would have not even built any walls. I could have just put a roof over the hole. There was a lot of hard pick work involved as the walls were like working with soft stone to begin with.

The finished floor elevation is about 2' above the bottom of the ditch. When I decided the structure was going to be a storm shelter, I knew it would be a total different type structure, as far as construction techniques go.
The footing and floor were poured in one pour. The footing is 16" all around the perimeter with a 4" floor. There is plenty of rebar in the footing.
Learning to lay blocks efficiently still eludes me, but I think a long wall would be easier to to.

There is rebar install horizontally at the 4th and 8th course and plenty around the door frame to secure it to the blocks. I picked up the barjoist from a demolition project about 2 years ago. Cut to proper length, they worked well to hold the concrete roof. The ceiling material is a 5/8 thick marine grade plastic that will never degrade.
The rebar in the roof goes all the way back to the slab at the bottom of the blocks. There is about 4 1/2 yards of concrete in the blocks and roof. All block cells were filled and the roof is 3" at the edge and 6" near the middle.
Scrap 3" pvc was used for ventilation through the roof and at 2 places in the front wall. 3/4 pvc was installed for lights, but in a storm condition there probably will no be power so I will be using small solar lights.

Must take a break, I type slowly.

SPIKE
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  #17  
Old 01-10-2010, 11:04 AM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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I did some of my designing as I went from this point to get to the finished product. To retain the dirt on the roof I added the 3 runs of block across the front. They were tied to the main structure with rebar and filled with cocrete.

At this point I did think about water proofing the exterior of the block, but decided that it was not needed for this project for a couple of reasons. Due to the soil type and the fact that the way I backfilled water will not stand near the structure and a root cellar should have a high humidity level for most food that I will store. Hopefully some moisture will work through the block and concrete. In the first picture you can see a blocked out area in the floor. I filled this area with pavers so if the humidity is too low, I can pour some water into this area. I will post a picture of the floor later. The metal used to retain dirt on the sides was just too ugly for a finished project, so that is when the wing walls were added with the covered entrance. Rebar was drilled into the walls to tie the wing walls to the first walls and these blocks are also completely fill with concrete. In one of the wing walls, I did put in some conduit for a recepticle that will be on the outside of the structure, but I have not run the wire yet.

I had to buy the treated material for the steps, but the side rails are salvaged steel "Z" metal.

There is about 2' of fill over the shelter that will get some kind ground cover growing on it come spring.
There is enough mass in this shelter that if I can get into it when needed, I shall fear no storm!! I hope to build a house, but if I do not I will not fear living in my present trailer.

I hope I have address everyone's questions. If not let me know.

SPIKE
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  #18  
Old 01-10-2010, 11:33 AM
rehabman rehabman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Lover View Post

Yet another reason to have the door swing 'out.'

The door of a storm celler should NEVER swing out! In a storm, trees and buildings come down and debris flies everywhere. If anything falls against the door, you will be trapped inside until someone finds you.
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  #19  
Old 01-10-2010, 11:34 AM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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patience,
Possible use part of your basement?

Native87,
If it goes ahywhere, I guess it must have been my time! LOL

AzLoneRider,
I like helping people with ideas.

Pual,
ALL blocks are filles with concrete. May have been a bit of overkill. LOL

Andy Jones,
I hope I address your questions.
I'm originally from Mississippi. Sounds like you may be near Meridian.

Travis,
Keep collecting them parts. I take home almost anything that I think I may use in the future. I became unemployed at the end of 2008 and have not gone back to full time work. So I am getting good use of my parts stash.

AlchemyAcres,
Thanks my friend. I think you will know what I mean.

NCLee,
Wipe your chin! LOL
If you look close you can see the mortar work is not the best. Just need to learn the trick of the trade.

Deberosa,
Taking orders? HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM May could hire myself out. For the right price. LOL

Southerngirl,
Looks like you have a good start. Hope you know the people well that want to share your area. knowwhatimean


Phil_Oz,
Thanks for the links. Bar joist were premade salvage. WOW those are some bad fires.


SPIKE
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  #20  
Old 01-10-2010, 11:37 AM
SPIKE Male SPIKE is offline
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Rehabman,

You are so right. I would have felt real stupid if it turned into a burial tomb!

SPIKE
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