Underground Houses

The final style house that we are considering is also my favorite.  I stayed away from this idea for a long time because it just didn’t sound good.  My idea of an underground house was a cave or a cellar.  Not somewhere I wanted to live.  Then I decided to suck it up and give these houses a chance.  I’m so glad I did.

Let me go on by saying that the specific kind of underground house I looked at was this one.  Not all are created equal.  Many of the underground houses are made with concrete and aren’t really all that nice.  This type of house is basically a post and beam structure buried underground with wood “paneling” all the way around.  It is built with as much wood from your own lot as possible.  These houses can be hugely inexpensive as well.  It just depends on what you can find laying around, what you can cut down, and how much of the work you can do yourself.

The building part of the house seems basic enough.  Dig a big hole.  Then, you sink posts into the ground at specified distances apart.  You connect them with beams and sit a roof on top.  You stack shoring against the posts and then wrap the whole thing in polyethylene plastic.  Then bury it.  It seems like the designing of the house is the hardest part of the whole process.  You want to get in a lot of light and be very careful that you don’t encourage leaks at the same time.

Again, I have greatly simplified this whole house.  However, since this is my favorite, I will be working on it much more and so I will have much more to share with you in future posts.  Be sure and check out that website I mentioned above.  I bought the book and the videos and they are great!

I forgot to mention this website when I originally posted this, but here is the link from the biggest permaculture website I know.  It is specifically a forum on underground houses.  Be prepared for a ton of reading!


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I’m curious — does this mean you found your property in an area where building codes are non-existent or flexible? Or are such houses according to code? Is this blog going to continue to be called a New England Permaculture Homestead — i.e. is NE where you found your new home site? Thanks — and congratulations!

Thanks! We were lucky enough to find property in an area where the “permit” is only a statement of intent to build and a plumbing permit. Hopefully that won’t be too much to get, I’m not entirely sure about that yet though. There seem to be many towns or townships near us that don’t require much for permitting. As for permitting on the house if you were to need one, you can get permits on these structures as post and beam buildings, supposedly. It likely depends very much on the area though. We are still in New England, Maine to be exact. I will probably change the name once we come up with a god name for the new homestead, but that may take a while :).

Hello again, I see that you have moved away from building underground to tiny and now cordwood. Can you share what motivated the change of plans?
Kind thanks, Marika

At this point in time, we had been exploring all the options so that we had lots of ideas to work with. The tiny house that we built was to live in while we decided what to build as a forever home. We wanted to get to know the land and find the perfect spot for our house. Once we picked the spot, then we decided cordwood. Our land has all the rocks, clay, sand, and lumber we need to build a house for very little materials cost.
What we have now is a tiny house with a cob/can wall outdoor kitchen that I will extend in the Spring to be a bermed cordwood with an earthship greenhouse. This all based on us living here and working the land.
We change plans while we build based on what we have to work with at that time. The foundation digging of the cordwood has nearly defeated us, so that plan had to be totally reworked. Since we had explored endless options, we could pick from a huge idea bank and figure out how we could make it work.
And it’s fun to search through natural building sites and picture how beautiful your own house wil be.


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