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Home Forums General Discussion just bought 8 acres want to build underground house

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    From what I’ve studied, fully underground housing is more

    expensive because of extra engineering requirements and

    excavation expenses and possibly materials. According to one

    study I read, if you have 6″ of concrete on top of house,

    plus 8″ of styrofoam a few inches of small gravel and 6″ of soil, this is equivalent to 20′ of earth.

    at in my recommended books section I list

    some underground house books that I have read.

    at my blog I have an article on

    green building and one on earthen construction. Both of those

    should be interesting for you to read.

    I am more in favor of above grade house, with berms on 3 sides

    and earthen roof with heavy insulation and 6 to 8″ of earth and


    Rob Roy has a some good books along these lines.


    Anyone have any experience with building an underground house? Any advice, words of wisdom, or ideas are welcome


    I have read both of these books and they looks quite interesting, it’s not something I have personally done though… it’s a slightly different version of the underground house that looks like it make sense. It’s called The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book, you can find it on Amazon

    If I were to do an underground house, this is something I would seriously look into doing. There is also a book by the same author about how to build an earth sheltered greenhouse.

    The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book

    Has anyone else here read these or tried these methods?



    There are a few factors to consider.

    Size of the house, how deep you want the structure to be and Soil/Rock type.

    I’m not an engineer, but I have been involved in underground civil construction and underground mining for around 20 years. I also have a particular interest in underground concrete homes and shelters.

    If I was to build it, I would excavate the shape and size of the house, support the walls with rock bolts and 200mm of 40Mpa fibrecrete. Pour the ground slab then form and pour the roof. Drainage will be required as well as a good ventilation system.

    Take your plans to an engineer, he can design the wall support and general construction requirments to suit the ground conditions.

    Hope this has been helpful.



    Craig: do you think the books on are any good? I was interested in reading up on some mining, out of curiosity.


    If you are heaping soil on the top of your house, the roof needs to be very, very sturdy. I own an all concrete underground house and it uses prestressed two foot wide panels for the roof, with concrete poured over top of that. You can find them on the web. Look up Spancrete.


    Location of the water table & soil moisture is a heavy concern I’m going with a warmer climate for this very reason.


    The easiest way is to build above grade and berm it. If you want to go fully underground, you can go 4′ deep and berm the rest over your home creating a hill with a southern exposed face for windows and doors.

    The reasons for the importance of this, is you can avoid water table/leech field issues building above grade and berming it. It can very much work the same as building below grade with the exception that you do still need to insulate one exposed wall and the roof.

    When me and the wife build our “retirement” home, we will be going 4′ deep and berming the rest leaving one exposed face and a partial exposed face in the back, insulating the roof fairly heavily and only covering the roof with 8 to 10″ of soil. Leaving a small exposed face in the rear allows us to easily ventilate it from front to back.

    This type of underground building lends itself to reducing MANY of the issues with subterrainian construction while still accomplishing the same things.

    Something like the bottom one on this page, but a TON less modern, and blending much better into the surroundings.


    6″ of concrete, 8″ of syrofoam or similar insulation and 6″ to 2 feet of dirt is equivalent to being 20′ underground.

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