Two US-based bunker manufacturers told Insider they saw an increase in bunker sales in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ron Hubbard is the CEO of Texas-based Atlas Survival Shelters, a company that customizes luxury underground bunkers and safe shelters. He launched the company in 2011.
“For a shard three weeks ago, it was a call every minute,” Hubbard told Insider of the growing demand for bunkers.
Insider’s Aine Cain reported on the spike in interest in the bunkers in late February when Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, weeks after the invasion, the trend doesn’t seem to be fading.
“I typically get about 75 calls a day on average over the past month, averaging one or two sales a day, which is still about 50 sales a month,” Gary Lynch, CEO of steel bunker manufacturer Rising S Company, Insider said. He started the business in 2003 and also offers advice to buyers on how to store their shelters.
Although the threat of nuclear war has traditionally been a driver for bunker sales, it wasn’t the only reason people bought bunkers, Lynch said.
Many buyers choose to buy shelters in the event of a natural disaster, economic or social collapse, or to protect against intrusions into their homes, Lynch said.
“We built a few for people who intended to live there as their primary residence, but not many. One notable story is of a lady who lived in hers for three years as she was saving to build a house on top of it as well, like during the building process,” he said.
The bunker is currently part of the completed house, and is where the master bedroom and bathroom are now located, he added.
Lynch said not only is he seeing an increase in demand, but he’s also seeing demand from more buyers.
“What makes this recent spike in sales different is that these buyers may never have considered buying a shelter before the recent nuclear threats,” Lynch said.
Past buyers have generally made their purchases after years of research and consideration. But the recent wave of buyers, Lynch said, was completely new to the idea and on both sides of the political spectrum.
“Never before have we seen this,” he added.
This new demographic of shoppers spans all age groups and family sizes. Buyers have shown interest in urban areas such as Long Island, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle, he said.
In an essay recounted in September, Hubbard told Insider’s Jenny Powers that Democrats have historically not driven sales for him. Now he said the interest is coming from across the spectrum. “So far, 99% of Republicans are buying bunkers,” he said.
But modern survival bunkers don’t come cheap.
Survival bunkers are expensive due to their structural protection systems, including the steel and concrete used in the construction, and the airtight and blast-proof doors.
Lynch said his most popular shelters range between $150,000 and $250,000. Bunkers in this price range measure 10 feet by 50 feet and are designed to look like ordinary houses, with separate rooms for living, sleeping, and eating.
The cheapest bunker available on its site measures 8 feet by 12 feet, with prices starting at $45,500. Its most expensive shelter, which costs $9,602,500, includes luxury amenities like a sauna, shooting range and swimming pool.
Hubbard did not provide details on the type of bunkers most popular among its buyers. Base pricing for Platinum Series bunkers starts at $300 per square foot, according to its site.
Bunkers can also be customized according to buyer’s needs and preferences.
“If you want to add a feature that you don’t see, just ask because there are very few limitations to what we can do,” Lynch said.
“This medical unit was for a surgeon – the chair was chosen to save space. The plan was to have a place for suturing and even light surgeries during times when you might not have a medical services available,” he said of the bunker pictured above.
Hubbard also said the bunkers can be tailored to the buyer’s taste.
“Most people want basic protection, but elites want the same comforts as an average home: high ceilings, private bedrooms, full bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, storage,” Hubbard said.
The bunker movement isn’t new, but it seems to be gaining more and more mainstream attention.
In 2017, Insider reported on a contractor who built a luxury 15-story underground survival shelter that has individual units available for sale.
And it’s not just the war in Ukraine that has led to a surge in demand. At the start of the pandemic, some doomsday preppers hid in their bunkers.
Due to political uncertainty as well as the threat of climate change, both bunker makers said they expect buyer interest to remain steady for the near future.
“Demand for bunkers peaked in the second and third weeks of the war. I see it already slowing down, but the trend is here to stay for years to come, especially with Putin still in charge,” Hubbard said.