Review: Earth-Sheltered Houses–How to Build an Affordable…

5 Star, Nature, Diet, Memetics, Design, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
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Earth HousesInspires Confidence, Crystal Clear, Makes the Option Very Attractive,

February 23, 2007

Rob Roy

I went to some trouble to survey books centered on both underground or into rock dwellings, and also earth sheltered homes, and this book is the best I could find. It has proven to be everything I had hoped for.

This book deals with earth-sheltered homes, which are homes generally built on the ground, and then covered with natural dirt and growth on the roof only, or on the roof and the berms of earth piled against at least two of the sides after the fact of building.

This is a really excellent offering. 12 chapters, 4 appendices, and an annotated bibliography. A number of really nice color photographs on eight pages in the middle of the book, many black and white photos as well as really excellent understandable diagrams.

Take-aways include the need for extremely careful but not over the top load planning, radon as a factor to take seriously, and ANYONE CAN DO THIS.

The book covers waterproofing, insulation, and drainage, to include waste drainage where gravity rather than pumping is strongly recommended. It does not cover electrical and plumbing installation. It covers energy in relation to sunlight and windows and heat retention curtains, but does not include coverage of skylights (except as an energy loss factor), interior lights and other “plumbing.

The bottom line in the book is that a solid earth-sheltered house can be built for $10K to $20K inclusive of appliances, plumbing and so on, which makes it a lot cheaper and greatly more sustainable than a double-wide trailer home, and better in most respects than your average rambler.

With Peak Oil now upon on, the energy saving features of the earth-sheltered home are not to be taken lightly. The author document going without a need for heat from wood burning for almost an entire winter, and documents getting through any winter with 2-3 cords of wood. The home is cool in the summer without airconditioning, in part because of the natural respiration and evaporation of the earth roof with grass, moss, and wildflowers.

I want to end with praise for the publisher. Five or six times now I have bought boooks based on my interest in their content, only to find that New Society Publishers is the provider. They now rank with Wharton Publishing as one of my favored publishers, and I will be keeping an eye out for anything bearing their imprint.

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