According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the average cost to construct an 8- by 8- by 8-foot safe room with a wood frame and plywood and steel sheathing is $6,300. The actual construction price depends on the size and design of the shelter and the home's foundation type. Retrofitting an existing home with a storm shelter can also increase the costs. The federal government offers funding for the construction of a storm shelter through the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and FEMA.
Federal Requirements for Storm Shelters
FEMA uses the term "safe room" to include storm shelters that meet the agency's criteria in terms of design and construction. Homeowners and builders using the FEMA criteria build shelters that provide "near absolute protection" from severe wind, which FEMA defines as a high probability that those in the safe room will escape injury or death. The agency offers guidelines for constructing a safe room for a residence, business or community and includes the building materials that meet the requirements to withstand wind and projectiles. The safe room must be able to withstand 250 mph wind gusts and debris and a 15 pound 2-by-4 projectile traveling at 100 miles per hour.
Funding for Manufactured Home Parks
The Tornado Shelters Act allows communities to use grant money intended for community development to build shelters in manufactured home parks. To qualify for the funding, the park must be home to families of low and moderate income, and it must be in a state where a tornado occurred in the last three years. The community must build a shelter that can accommodate all members of the park, and it must have a warning siren.
Federal Housing Administration Financing
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allows borrowers with Federal Housing Administration-backed loans to include a storm shelter in the financing for new home construction or rehabilitation. The construction of the shelter must comply with FEMA's standards to meet the requirements of the loan.
Mitigation Grant Programs
Emergency management agencies in all 50 states may apply for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program grants after the president declares a major disaster in their area. Sub-applicants, such as local governments, state agencies and private nonprofit organizations, can apply to their state's emergency management agency for funding for a storm shelter through the grant program. Funding is also available for the construction of storm shelters through the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program.
- FEMA: Taking Shelter From the Storm -- Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business
- FEMA: FEMA P-320 -- Taking Shelter From the Storm -- Building a Safe Room for Your Home or Small Business
- FEMA: Safe Room Funding
- FEMA: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants (PDM) and Safe Rooms