Guide to Understanding Underground Homes

Underground Homes

Have you ever though about living underground? In underground homes?

Well, there are some really good reasons to do so and it’s not as hard as you might think to build an underground home.

In fact, there are at least 8 cities that we know of throughout the ages that were built underground!

Underground or Earth Sheltered Homes

Underground (Earth Sheltered) Homes

Most people who live underground call their homes “earth sheltered”.

They mean that most but not all of their home exists underground.

By using an atrium or a courtyard, such houses offer a less claustrophobic way of life whilst still reaping the advantages of underground living.

Why Would You Want To Live Underground?

Live Underground

You will find that a well-constructed underground home is much better at resisting the ravages of the weather than a standard home.

They go through much less temperature variation even in the extremes of the seasons.

They blend in superbly well with the natural environment too, there’s nothing greener than a home which that looks like part of the landscape is there?

They may also get you a discount from your insurer because they are much less likely to be trashed by a tornado or passing storm than a regular home.

What’s The Downside Of Living Underground?

Living Underground

The big problem with living underground is that it costs more to build this kind of dwelling in the first place.

It needs to be built effectively to isolate it from the moisture of the soil and it may need regular maintenance to keep it dry.

It may also be a bit more difficult to sell an earth sheltered home, mainly because lenders aren’t used to dealing with them and they may require a few extra steps in the mortgage lending process for them.

What To Consider When Choosing A Place To Build?

Choosing A Place To Build An Underground Home

There are four main considerations for building an underground home.

  • the climate of the area
  • the topography of the area
  • the soil type in the area
  • groundwater table levels.

Climate For Underground Homes

Climate For Underground Homes

You want to build an underground home in a place that has low humidity but extreme temperature variations.

Thus, you might consider the Rocky Mountains, for example.

Your house will easily absorb any heat in the summer and in the winter, it will shrug off the cold weather too.



The topography which is the lay of the land is important because the steeper the slope you build on, the harder it is to excavate.

You may also want to look at the compass point alignment of the front face of your home to try and keep it warm in the winter.

Soil Type

Soil Type

Some soils are better to build in than others.

Clay is not a good material to sink a home into. It expands when it’s wet and can be very hard to manage. But gravel or sand? They’re great because water drains super-fast from them.

You should also get a Radon test done on any proposed site for your underground home. You don’t want to end up glowing in the dark, do you?

The Level Of The Groundwater Table

Groundwater Table

You ideally want to position your home with natural drainage where the table lays below it.

If this isn’t possible you may be able to install drainage to offset the issue and force water away from your home but this will cost more.

Building Materials For An Underground Home

Building Materials

Then once you’ve chosen a site, it’s time to build and you want to use concrete because it lasts forever, it’s easy to shore up and it won’t catch fire.

You can use rebar concrete for most underground homes which is pretty cheap too.

Then interior construction can main rely on wood frames with some steel where exposure to the damp is necessary.

You will also need to take appropriate measures to waterproof, to manage any humidity within the dwelling (and we recommend talking to a designer who knows underground dwellings on this), that is well insulated where necessary and that takes into account the need for air exchange. You don’t want to be stifled in your living room.

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