Build An Underground House

How to Build An Underground House information from an expert who has spent his life building more energy efficient homes.

There are different styles of underground or earth-sheltered structures and the style someone chooses has a lot to do with the type of terrain they are building on. 

There are also some huge advantages to underground houses and I'll get into that too.

I can't remember the exact year but sometime in the 1970's I had a subscription to a magazine called Mother Earth News, which is still around although it's a lot thinner now than it was back then.

I was living on a rural property at the time, not too long out of grade 12 and purchased different books from Mother Earth News including one on How to Build An Underground House. 

I still have that book although the author, who was also young at the time, went on to build many more natural type structures, not just underground ones. He also gave classes on building natural type structures and just recently retired but his books have become a sort of standard of the industry.


An Underground Home Built in The early 1970s. Beautiful feature wall and such a house can last a lifetime if built properly.

Heating cost is a fraction of the cost to heat a conventional house.

This book has essential knowledge for a DIY underground house from someone with many years of experience.

Available on Amazon!

Why Would You Want to Build
An Underground House Anyway?

Why would you want to build an underground house?

There are definite advantages to building an underground or earth-sheltered house.

There are actually two main reasons that people decide to build such a structure.

If done right, construction can be a lot cheaper than a conventional home. 

You only need one feature wall - the wall where your main entrance will be and this is usually made out of natural, attractive materials such as logs, stone, etc. but can any type of regular house building material too.

The other walls and the roof will be concealed by earth, so strength and moisture-proofing are the main requirements for these parts of the structure.

Another huge advantage is energy efficiency. It takes a lot less energy to heat or cool an underground structure and cooling (AC) isn't usually required unless you have a lot of glass in the feature wall and it's facing south.

If you heat with something natural such as wood, you can heat your home and provide hot water too for a couple hundred dollars per year. Some of that cost will be fuel to cut and haul your wood and maybe get permits to cut on gov't land, etc. More cost of course if you buy your firewood.

Even with a conventional heating system, your heating bills would still be exceptionally low.

Other advantages there can be if you build an underground house are the quiet and very little dust. You won't realize how much outside noise and inside noise there is in the average house until the noise is gone.

Things like the forced-air furnace most people have in their house which creates some noise and also a lot of the dust that always settles on your furnishings. An underground house can be almost dust free and almost as quiet as a cemetery.

The earth will absorb a lot of your internal sounds too. 

There are many advantages to a DIY underground house.

More Advantages to Earth-Sheltered Houses

You will never have to replace shingles because you won't have them, so wind and hail cannot damage your roof.

Maintenance on your house and the major components such as your heating/hot water systems will be a fraction of what a conventional house would cost over a period of years.

Your heating system will last much longer because it's used a lot less, no matter what type of system you use. If you use some sort of heat storage system like this, your heating bills will almost be a joke.

You will only have one wall to maintain - your feature wall with your main entrance and if it's built with natural materials, maintenance costs will be almost nothing.

Your electricity consumption will  be lower, whether you hook up to the grid or install your own system.

Also, the heat in your underground house will be more even - no cold corners or cold floors, etc.

Earth Sheltered Homes are super quiet and almost dust free. Only a few dollars a month to heat even in a cold climate.

Available on Amazon.

Add A Root Cellar, Other Rooms or A Garage

You can also incorporate a root cellar as another part of your structure. Store your fruits and vegetables till the next crop comes and have it accessible from your house - never step outside! 

If you set up a wind and/or solar power supply, you will not need as high of a capacity system as a conventional house.

Use natural log and/or stone to build your feature wall and you'll have a cheaper, more beautiful and lower maintenance house front than a conventional home.

One final note: The term Underground house was used to describe earth sheltered houses at the beginning of the stir in interest in the back to the earth movement in the last century.

Few houses are actually built underground so earth-sheltered house is a more accurate description.


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