When traveling the countryside, you may see odd-looking homes that appear to be built nearly underground. It’s also possible that you could see the owner mowing the roof in the summer. Although they are fairly rare, earth-sheltered homes, or earth homes, are energy-efficient and eco-friendly. Read on about some of these home's debunked myths, advantages, and disadvantages before you purchase or build your own.
Debunking Common Myths
Some people believe that an earth-sheltered home is dark and claustrophobic because they are nestled in the earth. This is untrue. Because they are designed with south-facing windows, and different construction types have either skylights or a domed ceiling that is co-linear, they receive plenty of light.
Another myth is that they are dank, like a cave. Proper ventilation, waterproofing, drainage, and a dome ceiling are key factors in keeping these homes clean and dry.
Some people think earth-sheltered homes are always cold. However, the earth used in construction gives these homes a mean temperature of 55-60°F year round, without heat or air-conditioning. Therefore, these homes tend to be close to the average annual temperature in the area.
Home insect infestations shouldn’t be any more of a problem in an earth-sheltered home than in a regular one. Insects that burrow in the ground, such as termites, feed on cellulose and wood products. The exterior of an earth home is mostly concrete, so this problem is eliminated.
The Basic Building Process
Earth-sheltered homes can be easy to build. First, a site must be selected and then excavated to be level. Then, concrete forms are constructed, and after, plumbing and electrical wiring is roughed in and inspected. Afterward, a concrete shell is poured. Then, the site is waterproofed and backfilled to bury the home.
Earth-Sheltered Home Advantages
There are tons of advantages for having an earth-sheltered home. They have great structural strength, rendering them mostly safe from hurricanes and damaging hail; you can park on the roof, saving parking space; and you could receive energy tax savings and incentives.
Weather and Safety
In addition, these homes are often safer because of the way they are constructed. There is nothing above ground to be damaged in storms such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and hail storms. They are also safe during earthquakes. This is of particular importance for people living on the San Andreas fault because the further into the ground a structure is, the less amplitude the vibrations have. The home cannot shake on its structure as it would on a single foundation.
Earth-Sheltered Home Disadvantages
The initial cost of construction can be 20 percent higher than a house built from traditional materials. Also, a lot of careful planning goes into building one of these homes to make sure it's properly waterproofed.
Selling the Home
Although some homeowners would jump at buying an earth-sheltered home, these types of buyers can be hard to find. One of these homes can be a tough sell, and it can take a while to find the right person. However, by choosing a style of earth home that suits the area, you will have a greater chance of finding the right buyer.
Alden Smith is an award-winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects and excels in research.