Why TikTok’s ‘tunnel girl’ is building a shelter beneath her home

Name: Kala (also known as “Tunnel Girl”)

Age: 37 years old

Best known for: Her TikTok account, @engineer.everything, which chronicles her unique home renovation project: building a tunnel under her house.

Socials: TikTok | YouTube

About Tunnel Girl:

“Tunnel Girl” refers to a woman named Kala (@engineer.everything), who earned the nickname in Oct. 2022 when she first began digging a tunnel under her suburban home and sharing the process on TikTok.

According to NBC News, Kala does not share her full name or location for safety reasons but has confirmed that she is not a licensed engineer like her username suggests. She studied business and finance, and the tunnel has been a DIY project she’s taken on mostly by herself and is learning as she goes.

Kala said she prepared for the project by studying an emergency response manual from the Federal Emergency Management Agency known as the FEMA 453, “Design Guidance for Shelters and Safe Rooms: Providing Protection to People and Buildings Against Terrorist Attacks” and another titled “Safe Rooms for Tornadoes and Hurricanes: Guidance for Community and Residential Safe Rooms.” Neither document contains guidance for building tunnels.

The goal is to create a storm shelter in case of emergencies, though Kala has said she conceived the project as a personal challenge.

“I wouldn’t say doomsday bunker, because I’m not really a prepper or concerned about that kind of thing at all, but I just thought it would be neat to have like a little protective shelter area,” Kala told NBC. “And so I started working on that. And also it’s a challenge and I live for challenges. It keeps me preoccupied and keeps me entertained.”

Before starting the tunnel, the TikToker mastered other complex renovations in her home, like building a four-story addition. But for over a year, Kala has dedicated her free time to working on the shelter by slowly excavating the ground beneath her existing basement. Along the way, she learned everything from how to preserve the foundation’s structural integrity to how to run electricity into the darkened space.

The painstaking process has earned Kala more than 384,000 followers on TikTok and drawn a lot of curiosity from viewers who seem to find her “Tunnel Girl” persona endlessly fascinating.

Many have left genuine questions and witty commentary on her videos.

“Are we… are we allowed to build tunnels,” asked the user @governorpickle on one recent video.

“I’ve always felt like my home is missing a dangerous mine shaft,” joked @banjo_dyed.

Tunnel Girl is now one of many self-taught DIYers taking over TikTok. Other similar accounts include The Sorry Girls (@thesorrygirls) and Weston Road Renovation (@westonroadrenovation), to name a few. She is also among a growing niche of TikTokers entertaining thousands by documenting their obscure hobbies.

In 2022, TikToker Nick Tobler (@cowturtle) also gained popularity while building an eel pit under his garage. During the project, Tobler’s videos attracted thousands of viewers who were riveted by the process and by Tobler himself, who was so excited that he eventually became known as “the eel pit guy.”

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