How to Build Earth Sheltered Homes

How to Build Earth Sheltered Homes

Earth Sheltered Homes

When traveling the countryside, you may see odd looking homes that appear to be built nearly underground. You may also see the owner out there mowing the roof in the summer. Although this seems a bit odd, in reality earth sheltered homes are very energy efficient and earth friendly. This article discusses earth sheltered homes and available options.

Earth Sheltered Homes — Some Common Myths

A lot of people believe that an earth sheltered home is dark and claustrophobic. Because they are nestled in the earth, light cannot penetrate into the interior of the home. This is not true, because they are designed with South facing windows, and different construction types have either skylights or a domed ceiling that is co-linear, meaning that light travels across it, thus magnifying the internal light.

Another myth is that they are dank, like a cave. Proper ventilation, waterproofing, drainage and a dome ceiling are the key factors here. If these are all properly done, the myth will be proved false.

Some people think earth sheltered homes are always cold. The fact is, the earth used in constructions gives the house a mean temperature of 55-60 degrees year around, with no heat or air conditioning. Actually, these homes tend to be close to the average annual temperature in the area.

The Building Process

Construction of an earth sheltered home is practical and easy. The basic steps are:

* Site selection — you cannot build on a landfill area

* Site must be excavated to a level building site

* Concrete forms are constructed

* Plumbing and electrical wiring is roughed in and inspected

* Concrete shell is poured

* Site is waterproofed

* Site is backfilled, burying the home

* Interior is finished,

* Exposed exterior finished

Advantages Of An Earth Sheltered Home

There are tons of advantages, these are just a few:

* You can purchase undesirable land and turn it into a show place

* You will have great structural strength — safe from hurricanes, damaging hail and civil defense emergencies

* You can park on the roof, saving parking space

* You will experiance a significant reduction in utilities, insurance and energy costs

* You will receive energy tax savings and incentives

How to Build Earth Sheltered Homes

* These homes are cheaper to build than a comparable stick build above ground

Let’s look a little closer. Obviously, is a very important consideration. Building an earth sheltered home is safe because of the way it is constructed. There is nothing above ground to be damaged in storms such as hurricanes, tornados and hail storms. They are also safe in earthquakes, of particular importance for people living on the San Andreas fault, because the further into the ground a structure is, the less amplitude the vibrations have. The home cannot shake on its structure as it would on a single foundation.

Fire protection is another consideration. Because the home is built into the earth and mainly constructed of concrete, it is very fire resistant. Even if the interior furnishings should catch fire and burn, the structure itself will not burn, easing fire damage and cost of rebuild.

Am earth sheltered home is safer from vandalism because most of the home is sheltered by earth, thus eliminating many outside windows a thief might use to access your home.

The chance of pipes freezing in cold winters is eliminated because the temperature of the home will never drop below 50 degrees. This is also important to the health and welfare of your family.

The characteristics of an earth sheltered home are such that greater protection is provided from natural and man-made destruction.

What About Water Damage And Pests?

An earth sheltered home is mainly made of concrete. When you think of concrete you think of walks, drives and highways, and the evident cracking and potholes. This doesn’t happen in an earth sheltered home. Why? Because the concrete is protected by a barrier of earth. Being built at a great depth, the ground is much warmer, thus eliminating stress cracks and associated problems.

If you worry about insect infestation, it isn’t a problem in an earth sheltered home. Insects that burrow in the ground, such as termites, feed on cellulose and wood products. The exterior is mostly concrete, so this problem is eliminated.

Are There Disadvantages?

The initial cost of construction can be 20% higher than a house built of traditional materials. A lot of careful planning needs to be done before construction begins to insure that the house is fully waterproofed. Another consideration is that when it comes time to sell, you might find yourself at a disadvantage because of the unique construction of the home.

An earth sheltered home is a good thing to build if you are energy conscious and want an earth friendly home, Careful planning, care in execution and regular maintenance makes an earth sheltered home an ideal place to live. As in anything, do your own due diligence. The results will surprise and excite you.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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