earth sheltered livinggreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Our family is considering building an earth sheltered house on some acreage. Do you have any suggestions or sources of information on this design?
-- Paul Gooden (email@example.com), September 21, 2001
There was a couple of articles in Countryside earlier this year.
-- Joe (CactusJoe001@AOL.com), September 21, 2001.
If you have money to spend, a good book is "Your Natural House", by Malcolm Wells and David Woods, nationally known architects who specialize in earth sheltered homes. Though this book has some detail information, it has lots of concepts for having a well designed home.
If your resources are more modest, the classic book "The $50.00 Dollar and Up Underground Home" by Mike Oehler is worth the information. This has lots of detail, but the home designs seemed geared to sloping land.
The main thing on underground homes is you are living in a swimming pool in reverse. You are trying to KEEP water from entering your perimeter. Your property terrain (sloping land / type of earth / proximity to stores with supplies) will determine if earth sheltering is for you.
BTW, I am an architectural draftsman that works for an architect, so I have some knowledge of construction. Never done an underground home though; always have wanted to build one myself. Good luck and I hope this helps.
-- j.r. guerra (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2001.
Check out Earth Sheltered Technology, Inc.
-- Steve in So. WI (Alpine1@prodigy.net), September 21, 2001.
My parents built an underground house, where I lived until I married. The biggest problem we had wasn't water coming in, but condensation. We had to run a dehumidifier constantly. Another suggestion is to design your house so that every room has a window. Our house was 40 x 40 with the front half having windows and the back half (bedroom areas) having no windows. It would have been much better to have the house be 80 x 20, basically the same amount of material just a different lay-out. It was always warm in the house in the winter and cool in the summer. We could heat it with a candle up until January! When my husband and I built our house we used some of the same principals, but our house is a 3/4 underground and I personally like it much better.
-- Melissa (email@example.com), September 21, 2001.
I had a friend who had one built. She said she thought those kind of houses were to dark so she had windows put in each room at the top of the wall just big enough to let light and air in. Well thank goodness she did. Her house caught on fire from a candle left burning about 5 years later and her and her two little girls were able to escape out one of those windows she said if she weighed 20 lbs more she would not have fit. She is a small built lady. Anyway she forgot to blow out the little candles in the sconces hanging on the wall over the couch. The fire men told her those little glass holders on the sconces got hot, and it caused them to break and the hot wax driped down on the couch setting it on fire!! By the time she woke up the whole front of the house was on fire and the only way out was through those little windows.
-- Teresa (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2001.
We built one 2 years ago. 90 X 32. Almost all rooms face south, with large windows. One bedroom (seldom used), but has two doors for alternate escape routes, does not have a window. We love the home. We had radiant floor heat put in. The concrete for the slab is 12 inches above the footing/wall seam. This makes for a tight fit. We have never (knock on wood) had a water/condensation problem of anykind, and there are active springs uphill from where our home is. With ground source heat pump, it is very economical to operate. We only have the a/c a few hours a day in July and August. Ceiling fans in each room keep the air moving. Radiant heat is wonderful. No drafts, no dust, and the furniture gets warm. Best thing we did.
-- Rickstir (email@example.com), September 21, 2001.
We have lived in a large (2200sf) earth-sheltered house since 1985. Wouldn't do it again. We could have saved all the time, money and effort we put into concrete, reinforcing and earthmoving if we had done the entire house the way we did the exterior walls. We put three inches of sheet foam on the exterior surface the exposed exterior walls, covered that with expanded metal lath and put 3/4" white stucco over that. There is no difference in the thermal performance of those walls vs. the earth-sheltered walls. The exterior insulation method also make the home more conventional-looking and easier to sell if you ever want to. My kids will probably not be able to give this place away.
-- John James (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 21, 2001.