Are you interested in what living underground is like? Underground homes are technically one of two types of earth-sheltered dwellings where at least one of the sides is covered by dirt. These structures require a combination of professional excavation and construction to ensure the home is stable and waterproof.
People looking for innovative ways to conserve energy often turn to underground homes. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy promotes the benefits of these structures: “An earth-sheltered home is less susceptible to the impact of extreme outdoor air temperatures, so you won’t feel the effects of adverse weather as much as in a conventional house. Temperatures inside the house are more stable than in conventional homes, and with less temperature variability, interior rooms seem more comfortable.”
Types of Earth-Sheltered Homes:
There are two primary types of earth-sheltered homes: underground and bermed. The type best suited for your needs will be based on the characteristics of your property and your comfort with living below the ground.
- Underground homes are built entirely under the earth’s surface. These are ideal for very flat ground or where there is no beautiful view to capture through windows. A section of land is excavated to provide an atrium or courtyard, exposing a wall of the home where windows and doors provide access and light. Often, the atrium is cut into the earth, so it is private from above-ground viewing. Keeping the exposed wall and courtyard underground level provides the most protection from winds; however, there is far less light to warm the interior of the home.
- Bermed homes are built into the earth but are not completely covered by it. Instead, the design exposes one or more sides of the house while the ground covers others and sometimes the roof for protection and insulation. Often the south side will be the open, exposed front to allow sun and light to heat the home’s interior. This design can be more cost-effective to build as the ground can be excavated and built up around the sides the owner wishes to be covered.
Considerations for Underground Homes and Bermed Homes:
- Climate. Underground homes and bermed homes provide optimal benefit in climates with significant temperature variations and low humidity. In these conditions, the ground’s temperature doesn’t change as much as the air’s temperature, so it will absorb heat from the house during the summer and insulate the structure during the winter.
- Topography. The slope and structure of the land will impact which type of earth-sheltered home design will work best. A steep slope works well for a bermed home, while flat land will likely require an underground home. Typically the requirements for excavation will increase the flatter the land is. A south-facing slope will provide the best opportunity to capture light and maintain a comfortable interior temperature.
- Soil. Permeable soils that promote good drainage are best for underground homes and bermed homes. This soil will compact well and keep water from settling around or seeping into the structure. Cohesive soils like clay will expand when wet and cause damage, preventing water from draining well.
- Groundwater. High levels of groundwater will limit your options for earth-sheltered homes. If the groundwater level is high, it will likely be best to construct a bermed home and excavate soil up and around the structure versus digging deep into the earth.
If you’re interested in learning more about underground homes, contact Excavation Oregon.
When your dream home requires excavation, call our experts at Excavation Oregon. We’re a small family business based in the Applegate Valley committed to excellence in our work. We’ve got the experience you need to handle any kind of job in our rugged Southern Oregon terrain. Our teams have all the right tools and equipment for the job. Once you develop your vision for your property, our team will do all the hard work for you. Call us today, and schedule a free estimate for the work.