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Old 10-16-08, 09:00 AM   #1
Daox
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Default Reasons to build an earth sheltered home

I found this pretty impressive list of reason to build an earth sheltered home. I really love the idea of 80% lower heating/cooling costs and super low maintenance.

There has to be some downsides though, anyone know anything about these?

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Old 11-25-08, 11:53 AM   #2
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I think the main downside, is that it's pretty easy to design an earth-sheltered home wrong.

If poorly designed, you have to live with the dark, the mold, lack of ventilation, or whatever the problem is for the life of the building.

Properly designed, earth-sheltered buildings are fantastic! Just make sure to design it right in the first place!
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Old 11-25-08, 01:14 PM   #3
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In certain parts of the country, Radon is a problem, too. In a normal home, it's mainly in the basement, but in an earth home, YOU are in the basement, too.
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Old 11-25-08, 06:37 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daox View Post
There has to be some downsides though, anyone know anything about these?
The biggest drawback I see is isolation. You simply can't build these anywhere except out in the middle of nowhere. Sure, your housing energy costs are reduced but transportation costs (and transportation time) are greatly increased.

Last edited by knowbodies; 11-25-08 at 06:38 PM.. Reason: speeling, grammer
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Old 12-07-09, 10:53 AM   #5
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I'm really interested in this type of home. I found a book about earth sheltered homes written in the early 1980s @ goodwill and have just read thru it. I would like to find a home like this in my area to check out and see how time has treated the structure. Maybe see what the homeowners think of it. See what kind of heating costs they deal with.
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Old 12-08-09, 03:26 PM   #6
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I also read a book on envelope houses. Basically it's a house built inside an earth sheltered structure, with a solarium for heat gain and a basement area for heat storage. They did a huge study of homes that were built in the 70's, and their positives and negatives. Most of the homes used LOTS of glass, which meant large temperature swings and lots of heat loss at night. It seems like a good idea, but my conclusion is that it is not as good as a super insulated earth buffered home with properly sized windows.
I toured an earth sheltered house in Platteville, Wisconsin. It was really neat. It used the fireplace for primary heat, and when coupled with the large south facing windows, it did very well. The problem with all the windows was lots of sun year round, looking back, they wish they would have built an awning over the windows. The house had "heat exchanger/heat pump" for ventilation. It was two 300' sections of black tube , one inside the other. The tube was snaked under ground where there had been excavation, and ventilated near the house. Air was pulled into the house through one tube (and released through the other). Air temps entering the house were the same temperature as the house, and temps leaving were at the same temp as the outdoors. I will have to read the article that was done on it, and see if I can sight a source where people could get the article on it.
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Old 12-08-09, 05:51 PM   #7
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draw backs are you need a south facing hill to build your house in and even then you are stuck with windows only on one side of the house, if you use sky lights then you have the cost of those and the draw back of sky lights (moister problems, leaks, high heat loss), If you can keep the water out, fresh air in, let light in and find a location that has a hill facing the right direction then yes, they are great, really, it's part of choosing a good site for your house.
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Old 12-09-09, 07:36 AM   #8
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My friend Don inherited a basement, all that had been built for a shrinking farm family. He milled some lovely wood for a heavy duty 1st floor, covered it with rat-proof plastic film from the Co-Op, added two regular double-pane windows as skylights, and moved 3' of soil on top. He had a small leak from a bit of poor workmanship on the plastic, and almost lost a skylight because they were not fenced from animals, but overall, it was a delightful space. He had abundant wood heat, but the south windows were helpful, and in the back, 6 sq ft of skylight was quite adequate; better than twice as much window in the walls. He gave it up for a better offer, not wanting to move the soil off to re-do some details that had been rushed.
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Old 07-18-10, 01:40 PM   #9
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Thanks to you guys I began digging into this post and the link provided. I have since sent them an email with some questions including specific questions about building on flat land.

From my research of their site, they can build anywhere, face the home in any direction and have a variety of home designs, plus a design your own home option.

On flat land it seems like you simply purchase or truck in enough earth to cover the home once built.

I am curious to inquire how protected a home like this could be against hurricanes as I live in S. Florida.

I know this is an old dead thread, but whatever I learn I will share with you guys.
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Old 07-31-10, 04:57 PM   #10
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Well I got an answer back from them and it included a dvd and a bunch of home configurations.

In a nutshell;

For those living on flat land, you simply need to get a lot large enough for the home project. The home would be built above ground and then burried with Earth. The designs are modular and expandable as large as your pocket book can handle.

The 70's style DVD they sent with the one foot in the grave couple from wisconsin only showed the interior of the house which looked like a cracker barrel thanks to their decor. All that aside the house was impressive and so well lit the beta max camera they used to film it needed no external light to help with lighting.

The largest obstacle is mental, people think you're trapped and live in a cave. My wife keeps tell me she needs more windows, yet we have solar blocking curtains on all the windows in the house including blocking out all the windows in our bedroom to have a completely dark room to sleep in.

The home designs are beautiful and spacious and we are now heavily considering this as an option. Finding property to construct the new home is our biggest challenge, so I will keep you posted ..

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