Is Owning An Underground Home For The Masses?
by Tom Husby | on May 27, 2012
I ran accross a picture of an underground home the other day and thought that maybe this could be something for everyone in the future. With rising energy costs maybe we should look into this on a larger scale.
Living in an Underground Home
Living underground sounds spooky – cavernous designs, claustrophobic images of cramped quarters and fuzzy pictures with low light levels come to mind. A well-planned underground home, however, can be designed precisely around these problems to have all of the advantages of a cozy and conventional above-ground house as well as the sustainable and structural benefits of an fully-enclosed living space – entirely under the surface of the Earth.
Advantages Of Owning An Underground Home
There are many advantages to owning an underground home. With the earth as insulation, heating and cooling energy requirements are significantly reduced, especially in windy areas. An underground home offers protection from storms, never has to be painted, shingled or have the eaves troughs cleaned out! An underground home is unobtrusive, leaving clear views, and can be covered with gardens and lawns.
Despite the advantages of living in an underground home we caution potential builders that the costs can be high upfront even though there are energy and other savings that help to offset that initial expense over time. Also, it is of course incredibly difficult to fit square appliances and hang rectangular frames in spherical rooms and on rounded walls.
How Does One Build An Underground Home?
An underground home is energy efficient and great for the environment. Whether it is built fully or partially underground, the home has little impact upon the land and is perfect for “green” homeowners. With plenty of skylights to bring in the sun, heating and cooling systems that use natural elements and an escape from routine home maintenance such as painting and re-roofing, the underground home is a good option in long term sustainable housing.
Planning Your Underground Home
Research underground home before you decide to build. This is a big decision, so get all the facts before committing to the construction project. Visit an underground home and talk to other underground home owners in your area if you can find one. The American Underground Construction Association is your best resource for finding an undergound home to tour. Read books about underground home living. Visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website to get more information.
Decide what type of underground home you will want to build. A completely underground home is usually built around a sunken atrium or courtyard. You enter the home by a stairway that takes you underground. A partially underground home has three sides banked with dirt, called a berm. The south-facing walls are left free in order to use solar heating. A third type of underground home is a bermed home, which has dirt banked on all sides up to the level of the windows. So choosing an underground home for you you must consider all options before committing to the build.
Next you will want to find a location for your underground home. You can build a partially underground home into a hillside. For a completely underground home, you need a flat site with soil that drains well. According to the D of E, pourus soil, such as gravel and sand, are best for underground homes. I recommend you avoid clay soil and permafrost areas.
One Underground Home Idea
These are just a few things to look out for when planning and building your first underground home.