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Thread: Any interest in documenting underground house build here?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master


    Tnfalconer's Avatar
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    Any interest in documenting underground house build here?

    OK guys, let me preface this with a few things. I have built and taught natural building and underground construction for quite some time. Timber framing and log building are all we do here these days.

    Would you guys like to follow along as I build our new house on the mountain? It will be a version of Mike Oehlers designs, featuring a 40x40x8 underground structure with 20x40 above ground clear story with an integrated green house.

    I am starting with digging an 8 ft deep hole in the ground 40x60'. It's challenging as this mountain is pretty much solid limestone rock. The ripper teeth on my 755 track loader crush it into gravel and I scoop it all out to use elsewhere. Digging here takes time. THis winter I put about 16 large trees on the ground for the the vertical load bearing piers of the house. That's where we start.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    I'd like to watch and ask questions.

    Part of my house is cut into the hill side, it's always cool there in the 100* summer....I think I'd take advantage of energy savings like that.
    “In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” G. Orwell

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  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    I have often thought that if it weren't for our wives, we'd all be living in underground houses. This is especially true in Oklahoma.

    I'd like to see the build.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    I want a missile silo. I think 100000sqft is enough room lol

  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    I have built three structures like this in this past but not for myself. This will be the first time taking all of the different theories of underground building and combining them into one structure, for me anyway. Here our major battle is cold in the winter. It doesn't get that hot here with the high being 80 in the summer months. In this building the underground portion will thermo regulate the large majority of the house. The clear story and greenhouse will act as a radiant heat source trapping the solar gain of the winter sun. Pulling the heat down into the house will be the only hurdle. In the summer months, venting the greenhouse and clear story will draft and pull any heat from the bottom out, cooling the house with a slight draft.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    I helped build a few in Fla. It's got to be a different animal in Montana. I want to watch.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    The beauty of building it here is that material costs are minimal. It will be timber framed with logs from my land. Rocks and gravel will be pulled from my property also. Next spring I plan to have some of my trees cut into lumber for the dimensional lumber needs for the house. For reference, the only costs involved will be diesel fuel, chainsaw gas and rebar for the main body of the structure. It will most likely cost around 8-10k completed for a 2100 sq/ft house with a loft.

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub wddodge's Avatar
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    I'd be very interested in following along with your progress. Pics would be great..

    Denny

  9. #9
    Boolit Master popper's Avatar
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    IIRC there are some silos for sale. Biggest problem with underground is water/moisture/humidity! Your location gives you a freeze depth problem also. I assume it's really a basement with small clearstory on top for the height. Warning, rock based basements LEAK. Even a rubberized coating inside doesn't stop it. People who bury steel cargo containers always amuse me. Horizontal pressure underground is pretty high. And then they put 4' of soil on top! Anyway, sounds like an interesting project.
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    Last edited by popper; 07-03-2017 at 01:47 PM.
    Whatever!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master





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    Quote Originally Posted by wddodge View Post
    I'd be very interested in following along with your progress. Pics would be great..

    Denny
    I agree with Denny pictures would be great.
    On another note you might want to look into using the green house heat,Themro is the new energy technology,Google txpepper2 I used to follow his U tube videos he uses pipe underground to regulate his greenhouse temperatures should work about the same for heating and cooling systems in your home I've been thinking about the same idea for years my health issues are stopping me from trying it.
    I started out with nothing and I still have most of it left.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Master slim1836's Avatar
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    I TOO WOULD BE MOST INTERESTED, AND FYI, I'M SHOUTING.

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  12. #12
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by popper View Post
    IIRC there are some silos for sale. Biggest problem with underground is water/moisture/humidity! Your location gives you a freeze depth problem also. I assume it's really a basement with small clearstory on top for the height. Warning, rock based basements LEAK. Even a rubberized coating inside doesn't stop it. People who bury steel cargo containers always amuse me. Horizontal pressure underground is pretty high. And then they put 4' of soil on top! Anyway, sounds like an interesting project.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    These are all considerations for sure but with proper ventilation, insulation and thermal mass. It can be effectively negated. We have done this before. In my area we have very little humidity, in fact I would like a little more humidity. Our frost line is 4 ft of depth here in my area. The funny thing is that we are on essentially solid rock so we don't have problems with frost heave here. My underground walls will be 2' thick, solid rock, rebar and fiber reinforced concrete. I seriously don't foresee a sheer problem. Especially with an 8 ft wall. The underground portion will be the main living area, with a loft above that will be the clear story that is above ground. As far as outside protection from water or moisture, foam insulation board and an epdm non permeable layer will be laid in after the wall is poured and before back filling. Since the water table here is about 1600 ft below us and we will be back filling with gravel ( naturally occurring here) any moisture transfer is going to be minimal if at all.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by SSGOldfart View Post
    I agree with Denny pictures would be great.
    On another note you might want to look into using the green house heat,Themro is the new energy technology,Google txpepper2 I used to follow his U tube videos he uses pipe underground to regulate his greenhouse temperatures should work about the same for heating and cooling systems in your home I've been thinking about the same idea for years my health issues are stopping me from trying it.
    I have seen some of those! I don't know how I will pull the heat down into the house as of yet, I have some ideas but nothing concrete. I am actually more concerned with removing heat. Convection from the bottom floor should take care of most of it. At least that is my hope. If, in the winter I can effectively store the solar gain from the greenhouse in the thermal mass of the house it will be really effective at regulating temperatures. The last house we built like this thermo regulated at about 67 degrees, that was year round. In the winter the home owners used a rocket mass stove tied into the exterior wall to heat the house but it only required firing the stove for a few hours every couple days. It was VERY efficient. That was a Montana house at a high elevation, like we are. I am hoping to duplicate and build upon those past projects. Just taking things a little further. For instance the subterranean wall on that house were only 12" thick and only 4 ft deep.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I'm claustrophobic no thanks .

  15. #15
    Boolit Master





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    If you put a round door on the front of the house...

    seriously, I'm interested as well.

    Bruce
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  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Will you use in floor heating? Interesting project and very energy efficient no doubt?

  17. #17
    Boolit Mold D-RIG's Avatar
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    This would be interesting to watch it come together
    and to see how it progress

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Plate plinker View Post
    Will you use in floor heating? Interesting project and very energy efficient no doubt?
    We don't plan to need any heating in the floor. Unless it was solar we wouldn't use it. This house will be a test bed for future builds. It just happens to be mine. If we do it right it should reduce our heating needs by about 80-90 percent. We heat solely with wood in the winter. We will still have a wood heater in the house but it should reduce our winter wood usage from 7-8 cord per winter to possibly 2-3... Maybe less. Being 8 ft in the ground thermo regulation will try to maintain earth temp once it stabilizes. That is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. All I have is data from other houses we have built. I have never lived in one for over a month or so.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce drake View Post
    If you put a round door on the front of the house...

    seriously, I'm interested as well.

    Bruce
    Want to know something funny? I have built two round doors for houses! They are incredibly hard to get right and likely need to be adjustable for tweaking the rest of their lives. Last one was 9 ft diameter. Weighed about 400 pounds. Steel frame and steel core on the door skinned with teak. It looked like a million bucks but what a pain in the butt.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Artful's Avatar
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    Very Interesting, I'm definately curious about your build

    - Please share lots of Pictures

    Do you have Artistic drawings of anything to come?
    je suis charlie

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