Underground Housing

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Earth sheltered home in Big Sur, California

"In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.
Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell,
nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat:
it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

"Underground house for flat land"


Underground homes have several advantages over homes built above the ground:

  • There is no need to lay a foundation, which saves a huge amount of labour and material
  • The walls are earth, so that saves a lot more building material
  • The thermal mass effect of the earth stabilizes the temperature. Earth cools and heats more slowly than the surrounding air. If you dig 2m (6 foot 6 inches) into the ground, the temperature is always - day and night, summer and winter - steady at that climate's average. A well-designed underground home should need no energy for heating or cooling
  • They are easy to build.
  • They are unaffected by wind, hail and hurricanes
  • Pipes are not exposed to atmospheric temperature and don't freeze
  • They require little maintenance
  • They are soundproof and relatively fireproof
  • It can be complemented with a greenhouse that takes advantage of the heat already there (e.g. greenhouse-facing kitchen)

Please see the page for Malcolm Wells for one architect's underground houses.

"How not to build an underground house!"

Underground Greenhouse[edit]

Greenhouses in cold climates must retain moderate temperatures for year-round growing, therefore underground greenhouses are useful for temperature stabilization (see: Walipini).

Mike Oehler's methods[edit]

Information about Mike Oehler's methods was removed after OSE received a Cease and Desist letter from the author based on copyright. -MJ 2/17/15