Lots of us get harebrained ideas that rarely pan out. Hobbies that we work on for a few weeks and then abandon, books that we hope to write that never get past the idea phase on our computer. One woman is taking a crazy scheme to a new level, though, and more than that, she’s documenting the entire process on Tiktok.

Meet Kala

Tiktok has become the place to share thoughts, feelings, and projects, where you can find an audience no matter how insane the idea might sound. This is what happened for Kala, who uses the handle @engineer.everything on the video platform.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

In November of 2022, she posted a video stating that she was going to start excavating under her home in order to build a storm shelter under her already-existing basement, and like many of the wild concept videos on Tiktok, it took off like a bomb.

What’s the Why?

While by no means the most viral video that has ever existed on Tiktok, that first video racked up nearly 100,000 views, and piqued the interest of the global audience. People wanted to know where she was, and more importantly, exactly why she had decided to dig under her home to build a tunnel.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

The answer to that question is both simpler and more complicated than you might think. Kala is an engineer, and in an interview, she stated that she liked to do ambitious home renovation projects. Previously, she single handedly built a four-story addition to her home, and this underground tunnel was merely the next step in her home renovation journey.

The Beginning of the Project

The journey started with cutting into the side wall of her basement, and then starting the excavation process into the solid bedrock beyond. For most people, this would be where they would give up; the process of drilling into bedrock is now small project even on the face of it, but Kala was determined.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

The work of digging out the bedrock was all done by hand. Kala documented her process of using hammers and chisels to work her way further into the rock, carrying out the discarded rock until it was piled in the corners of her basement, just waiting to be carried away. This would be another obstacle that would stop most people from continuing, but not Kala.

Carrying Out the Bedrock Was a Process All Its Own

Eventually, there was so much excavated bedrock that Kala had to figure out a way to take it all out before she could continue. Bedrock is heavy, which meant that taking the rock out by hand was out of the question, and while Kala could have rented a machine to expedite the process, it would have added exponentially to the cost of the project.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

Instead, she created a mechanism that she calls an “elevator” in her videos. The setup involves a “mine cart” that Kala created with her bare hands and an electric winch mechanism. She takes the bedrock and loads it into the cart, 1000 pounds at a time, and then the electric winch mechanism carries it up and out of the exposed basement, out of her way.

Challenges All Around

This was just the beginning of the challenges that Kala was going to experience on this project. As she excavated further into the bedrock, she started to notice groundwater seepage in the dirt underneath her, creating problems with tunneling further underground.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

She also encountered an underground spring that brought construction briefly to a half, but she eventually figured out a solution to that too. In the ground of the storm shelter tunnel, she built a substructure and a pump that allowed her to keep the rest of the structure dry so that progress could continue.

Building Out the Walls

Excavating the bedrock wasn’t the only step in the process of making a working storm shelter. Kala also had to figure out a way to make the walls sturdy, so that they wouldn’t collapse the further that she worked underground. In pursuit of that, she built out the tunnel with concrete blocks and hand-mixed cement.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

The amount of work that Kala has put into the tunnel over a year is truly staggering, as well as the amount of money that she’s invested. Kala estimates that she’s spent up to $50,000 on materials to make this happen for herself, though she’s definitely saved a chunk of change by doing all the labor herself.

Commentary From the Peanut Gallery

The comments on Kala’s videos range from amazed, to incredulous, to nosy. Some people wanted to know where Kala was, that she could embark on a project like this without the state getting nosy. Some were concerned that the tunnel didn’t meet safety guidelines.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

In an interview, though, Kala addressed at least the second concern. Safety is her top priority, and she’s using guidelines from FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to help her build a structurally sound and safe structure. She’s also studied principles of civil and structural engineering to ensure her tunnel won’t collapse while she’s down there working on it.

A Long Way to Go

Thinking outside the box is something that frightens a lot of people, but for Kala, it seems that it’s just another Tuesday. It’s been a year of working on her underground storm shelter, and it seems that she’s only just started.

Source: Tiktok/engineer.everything

What started out as a whim has turned into a 30 foot tunnel 20 feet underground, and Kala is only just getting started. She estimates that it’ll be another six months to finish this particular project, and in the meantime, she has the internet’s attention captured for her antics that have given her the moniker “tunnel girl.”