Earthen or Burried Homes?

erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in Building Projects

My husband used to work as a contractor and is always "brainstorming" ideas about how to live what he calls "modern sustainable". Meaning we can still enjoy modern amenities without the practices of modern waste.

So, he has planns for a submerged earthen house. We know several family's who have done this and maintain a temp of 50-60° all season in eastern Utah!

This type of house would also need to be heated year round via an efficient geothermal, water, coal stove, or slow and low burning fuel.

Perks: we can also plant a garden on the roof!

I absolutely love the idea of this and want to share for others out there looking to reduce their waste, reduce living expenses, and live more efficiently than ever!

If you have an earthen or burried home please share!

If you also like this idea, let me know! I am wondering what the interest level is in this type of thing. (Who knows I might add it to my YouTube channel one day, lol).


  • Grounded
    Grounded Posts: 153 ✭✭✭

    The idea of earthen or buried homes has intrigued me for years as an alternative for what has come to pass for housing these days. The expense to build and maintain standard housing has become prohibitive, on the other hand, I have read that it cam be difficult to find a mortgage for earthen/buried homes.

    Decisions made long ago created industries that have become so ingrained in our culture and commerce, that it would be very difficult to reverse/modify on a large scale.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    Too true. Building standards, regulations, and mortgage restrictions have all made it rather difficult to find support for lesser expensive and more diverse housing.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    @seasparrow32 Wow that is so interesting! I will definitely check out the links. I am curious to know what their designs and approaches where like!

    I am sure my husband is more likely to review what they did and adopt his own design. But it is always good to see what works!

    Crusty old conger. 🤣 I will research into his work and following. I so appreciate your input and will let you know!

    Side note: since I am in the west and wanting to grow mushrooms, I am also looking at doing this for my mushroom house!

  • A little off topic, but I would love to know your opinion on the mushroom growing operation in this video. It's from What the Fungus in British Columbia.

    I'd like to get into mushroom growing, and these guys seem like they know what they are doing, but what do I know? (Nothing. I know nothing about growing mushrooms.)

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,457 admin

    I agree, I'm a big fan of Mike Oehler! I'll probably never build an underground house, but I do plan to try his greenhouse designs. Paule Wheaton has some good designs, too: If I did an alternative structure, it would probably be a smple cob cottage/hobbit house or an air-crete dome. I LOVE Buckminster Fuller's dome designs!

  • ltwickey
    ltwickey Posts: 369 ✭✭✭

    My husband dreams of an underground home. While truly energy efficient, I have to have my natural sunlight!

    Though the thought of a hobbit house would be pretty cool and I am sure there are plenty of ingenious ways to actually get the natural light I crave !

    May have to start looking at this option a little closer!

    Thank you for the ideas.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    @seasparrow32 Ah mushrooms. Definitely off topic, lol. Maybe I need to post the bulk of this elsewhere... So, when I originally was learning about muschoom cultivation, the bag inoculation method was all I knew. The production, volume, minimal space, and investment was ideal. I actually joined the TNG certification program to learn more about the detailed process and was slightly disappointed with the log innoculation method. This was in part to my own expectations being completely off and in part due to low production, slow turn around, and expense (of hardwood logs) for startup with the log innoculation method.

    Since I keep going deeper, and it is off topic I decided to do another post. I can tag you in another post I'll make on muschoom grows for profit. The method I use.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    There Are definitely ingenious ways of getting natural light inside an earthen home. This was one of my first objections, but I have toured several my husband helped to build and I do not feel they are at all sunlight deprived at all.

    Some use reflactor or felextive sky lights and others are designed with open faces towards the suns path in the sky.

    Several had an entire side of the house in glass. They truly can be beautiful designed.

    So have your cake and eat it too. ;-)

  • smik123
    smik123 Posts: 60 ✭✭✭

    My husband has wanted to do this for years and I am on board because in Alabama we could save a lot of energy in the summer. Years ago after hurricanes he noticed the price of concrete seemed to go through the roof and since then it is more of a dream than a reality. My main thing is I wanted a hobbit door for the front door. 😄

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Wonderful! Would like to know if anyone has utilized shipping containers to store items on a permanent or seasonal basis. Have been kicking around the idea that they could be covered and or built into an area on a property. Loved this information on homes. :)

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,277 ✭✭✭✭

    I was very intrigued when my mother mentioned that my great grandmother lived in a sod house with a dirt floor. I have done some reading and now know that some people used rugs on the dirt floors. They had a chimney for the stove. Our ancestors were very clever in the way they built houses. I like the idea of living underground but like most of you I do need sunshine!

  • Bryce Langebartels
    Bryce Langebartels Posts: 47 ✭✭✭

    I'm with many of you on loving the idea but also loving light. However, it's hard to argue against the insulating benefits of the underground. My basement is always the same temperature no matter the season. I'm really intrigued about the in ground greenhouses @judsoncarroll4 mentioned.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    I have in laws who use old shipping containers for a variety of things including storage. I also met a couple out near me that have entirly built them home off grid using shipping containers. They cut into them and retrofitted it to actually be a home shape, instead of just a single container. Much is to be said about their versatility, and ability to burried and built into the side of hills.

    We looked into the cost from a shipping co trainer near us at $2,000 vs. Concrete for the sware footage and decided to go with a different design. My husband's favorite is the quantset hut shapes that are dome. If you want a larger area those types are more cost effective than the shipping containers.

    Depending on the material you are building into (and what you want it for) you might not need a container either, just a stick built frame and some sheeting.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    I hear alot of you mention your reservations with underground homes due to low light. I might have to do a tour of the underground homes I have seen and allow you a pleasant look into how bright and full of life they really can be.

    Most modern designs, and some cool innovations have allowed these homes to be just as much, if not more, full of real sunshine. (I feel people's sensitivity to that subject has actually made their designs set that as a priority, and resulted in some amazing things).

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭


    for a long time I have thought about and drawn/sketched some ideas for an underground, or into a burm house of some type. Often I considered some connex cans.

    Do you have any of these on your you tube channel?

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    I watched a you tube video the willie Wonka of tiny homes. It’s quite lengthy but pretty interesting. He designed some underground hideouts and uses some kind of system (it’s been a while since viewing it) that reflects the light into the underground and I believe he actually could grow food with that lighting.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    That sounds amazing I will have to search it out. I love tiny home videos anyway, lol.

  • erikawinterton
    erikawinterton Posts: 98 ✭✭✭

    @silvertipgrizz I have yet to add any of this to my youtube channel. What is there is mostly metaphysical things. However after this thread I was considered doing a video series touring the earthen homes I have already seen locally. I feel it can really give others an idea of feasibility, liability, and sustainability. This might also offer you some personal inspiration too.

    I will update the thread with the project when it is underway.

  • silvertipgrizz
    silvertipgrizz Posts: 1,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @erikawinterton I"m looking forward to watching them so be sure and tag me when you post it..Thanks a bunch!!

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Looking forward to to watching as well. Also wondering if anyone has tried burying storage containers (to protect from wind, storms etc.) and leaving access to the doors as a hillside etc. have been thinking about that in properties am looking at for a little farm.

  • Ferg
    Ferg Posts: 285 ✭✭✭

    One of the issues that an underground home would have where my dirt is, is humidity and water table height. I did read about someone who literally buried a large boat for a shelter and foood storage solution. I keep thinking about that. I think the humidity might still be an issue, but a windmill/solar generator might circulate air and decrease the humidity...