Permaculture Home Concept: Detailing a Storm Shelter

permaculture home sketch for framing of wall for storm shelter and roof

What do you need to consider when designing for a storm shelter inside a house? It’s not as simple as building in an interior room.

Inside the permaculture home concept plan I have been working on, I’ve planned for a pantry that can be upgraded to a storm shelter in the main section of the house. Today as I was developing the roof I realized I was very close to connecting the roof supports to one of the storm shelter walls. This raised a red flag in my head.

I realized that this wall should be isolated from the exterior wall above-simply for structural reasons. The storm shelter wall cannot be compromised in the event that the exterior roof above it gets damaged. The stresses on that windward exterior wall must not get transferred to the storm shelter at all. The storm shelter will have it’s own roof and is designed to be an independent core structure. The connection of the roof wall to the storm shelter in plan made sense, but in truth if it was missed it would compromise the storm shelter. It’s one of those details that need to be defined early, detailed thoroughly and inspected during construction.

From past experience, the framer in the field has a lot of flexibility how he will frame the structure. To make this work, the building details have to specifically say that the framer must not connect the roof structure to that storm shelter wall. More than that, the framer must realize that if he tries to connect these 2 elements together to support each other-which may be his instinctive reaction-that it does not work and something must be wrong.

The framer must realize that something is wrong if he tries to follow his instinct to connect these 2 elements together-this is a way for the designer to convey his intents to the builder.

The design process has a lot of steps, currently I am only in the front of the process. I’ve been working on this design for months now, and in most schedules this would have been a luxurious schedule for any designer. However since this is a concept home that I am doing for myself, it is taking much much longer than any sane owner may allow his designer to have. From this uncovering of this detail, I will need to design in a solution. The details to execute that solution will need to be drawn up and worded out – in my case I will complete the detail later in what we call the Construction Documents phase. Internally I like to start up a sketch of that detail and leave it in the drawing set so that I remind myself later. I do this because a lot of other needed details will come up and a sketch is easier to continue working on than a list.

At some point, I intend to post the design of the home to crowdsource comments from other homesteaders. After getting comments I would redo my design and then continue onto the Construction Documents phase.