European fears of nuclear war stoke the demand for fancy bunkers

Within weeks, COVID-19 fears in Europe gave way to another worry that makes nightmares come true: the possibility of Russia using a nuclear weapon.

European fears of nuclear war stoke the demand for fancy bunkers

U.S. and foreign manufacturers of residential bunkers have reported a rise in inquiries and orders since the unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine. This surge is attributed to the war in Eastern Europe, and Russian President Vladimir Putin's late last month decision to alert his country's nukes.

Rising S Company's general manager Gary Lynch said that he has received inquiries from potential customers in the U.K. as well as the U.S. and Canada.

He said, "We have a world superpower that threatens to use nuclear weapons. That alone is enough to make me scared," he stated to CBS MoneyWatch.

"Excellent man caves."

Pre-fabricated shelters are said to withstand chemical, biological, and nuclear attack. Some shelters are made of steel and have bullet-resistant doors. Models with the highest end price tags, which can be millions of dollars, may have air filtration systems and solar charging stations.

Rising S manufactures bunkers in a local plant and then ships them overseas. Lynch reported that he received 1,600 inquires from people looking for underground shelters where they could seek refuge in the case of a nuclear emergency in a 10-day span. This compares to the average of two to six calls Lynch would receive from people looking to create a panic room, or secure storage areas for weapons or valuables in that time period.

Forty-eight of these customer inquiries resulted in sales of bunkers, ranging from $60,000 to $200,000 including installation.

Lynch stated that he would normally sell five in the same timeframe and described his new customers as "hardworking individuals who are taking measures to protect their loved one."

He said that they make great man caves, extra sleeping space for extended families, and are good for safe rooms. You might not use it right away, but it will be used in the next week or year.

People from all income levels are interested in residential bunkers. Mathieu Seranne is the founder of Artemis Protection in Paris. His company sells and installs luxurious, prefabricated bunkers that can be used for many purposes.

His 1-year-old business, Seranne, worked mainly with wealthy clients before the war. But, interest from shelters is now coming in from people with different income levels in Finland and the U.S., he explained to CBS MoneyWatch. This includes inquires from doctors, entrepreneurs, postal workers, and Amazon workers, among others.

I used to cater for all high-net worth individuals, as the shelters that we built are large and fully equipped with all they need. We've heard so many people talk about the Ukraine crisis, and we needed to be able to quickly produce smaller shelters.

Million-dollar panic room

The modern generation of residential bunkers is far more comfortable that the spartan shelters many Americans built in the Cold War's early days.

A premium Artemis Protection bunker is indeed a luxurious apartment with high ceilings and recessed lighting. Basic amenities include a living area, shower, and television.

The basic model is less luxurious and measures just over 30-square feet. It costs around $166,000.

Seranne stated, "The sky is the limit for all the rest." "Some people want them more than 100 square metres [1,076 sq feet], which would cost more than 1,000,000 euros.

According to Seranne, the nicer bunkers will resemble an underground mountain chalet. We don't sell creepy bunkers. Our clients come to us looking for something they can live in year round and feel comfortable in. It is a warm, welcoming space that transforms the perception of a bunker.

Seranne received more than 700 requests for quotations since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. About 40 of these ended in sales.

It's an emotional situation. People fear. He admitted that he didn't anticipate this in his marketing strategy.

"Only expressing fears of nuclear war"

Seranne believes that some clients are overextending their budgets. This is a sign of the anxiety caused by the Ukraine conflict, the most serious land war in Europe since World War II. Another sign of times is that pharmacies in Finland and Norway have sold out of potassium iodide and iodine pills . These can be used to reduce the radiation effects.

He said that while some people can afford an RV, others will get credit lines from their banks. Others may decide not to go on a roadtrip and invest in an RV, but instead are buying a home extension or putting the money towards a home.

Minus Energie, an Italian manufacturer of "secured houses," owner Giulio Cavicchioli said that he has received more inquiries from potential buyers in the last two weeks than he had in the past 22.

Cavicchioli stated that he receives 20-30 phone calls or emails every day from people who are interested in building a bunker for the event.

Minus Energie was a previous company that specialized in the construction of safe rooms for valuables and weapons storage. Cavicchioli stated that they now only fear atomic war and are simply calling for this.

It takes approximately four months to complete the process of obtaining permits and building a bunker that can withstand a nuclear explosion.

He said, "I hope that this tragedy will end a lot sooner than it is now."