Author Topic: Glenn's Underground Cabin Update  (Read 1414646 times)

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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2005, 09:34:25 AM »
I was honored last night to receive a call from the guru of underground building, and author of "The $50 and Up Underground House" book, Mike Oehler.  

Mike is currently working on an earth sheltered greenhouse book and later will come out with a higher cost underground house book for those of you who are skeptical because you think his methods are too inexpensive-- the ones who tell corporate America, "Hurt me, baby, hurt me!"   ;D  Okay -okay - drop the rocks - don't throw them at me- I have a conventional house also and I let them hurt me too - it's just that my underground cabin is my favorite. :)

Mike has requested a floor plan of the cabin so I'm working on it - have to run around with a tape and see what I did as it was all in my head.  (Terrible place to be-- ).  I will try to get it here in an update as well.

Mike is now recommending EPDM for the roof for longer more trouble free life.  Another friend also recommended torch down roofing- I am looking into that and will try to provide an update on it as well.

No - I am not fantasizing-  He really did call and we talked for nearly an hour. :D
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2005, 01:11:32 PM »
Finally got a floor layout roughed out in 3DHA -6

Glenn

« Last Edit: February 27, 2005, 08:06:56 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline Demian

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2005, 06:21:33 PM »
Of all the threads in all the forums that I am a member of, I've enjoyed this thread more than any other the last few weeks.

The photos are great!

And, the entire thread is very inspiring.

Demian

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #28 on: February 27, 2005, 06:22:49 AM »
Well, what are you waiting for ???  Get your roll of plastic and tar paper and start digging ;D

Mike is recommending EPDM rubber now but I priced it and it is currently  $765 for a 30 x 50 roll of 45 mil.

For the best material this is the way to go.  If you're recycling wine bottles like me,  polyethylene will work.  Mike said he had a leak or two over the years during spring snow breakup, where the $50 Underground House was joined to the expanded $500 house mainly.  I have a couple spots that get damp where I don't have an uphill patio and occasionally where a gopher decides I need the soil loosened along the side of the cabin- they don't usually bother the plastic and dampness is noted at the floor level only.  These are minor and I justify it by noting that many of the conventional houses and stores around here have bigger leaks than I do.

Looks like I'm repeating some stuff I posted above- a little senility kicking in I guess :-/
« Last Edit: February 27, 2005, 07:58:41 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #29 on: February 27, 2005, 06:29:26 PM »
Inspector snuck up on me today while I was putting on the second coat of earth plaster.  There I was thinking she wouldn't know if I skimped a bit up in the corner on a Sunday afternoon-- what does she do ???  Climbs right up there-- red tags me, and makes me do it over.  
Luckily I got off with a stern warning after repairs were made.  I guess I won't try that again ;D

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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #30 on: February 27, 2005, 07:14:48 PM »
A head of cauliflower from the year round garden on the roof makes a few great meals.  Note:  This was one head -slightly broke when I was carrying it down- we had already eaten one meal from part of it.  


« Last Edit: February 27, 2005, 08:24:23 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2005, 07:46:35 AM »
Lovely.  

Not to mention yummy!

Did you start the cauliflower inside, or cold-framed it as it grew over the winter?

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2005, 07:59:11 PM »
That one was from last summers garden or from seed that started late- a few weeks ago it was small -then it turned great big fast-  we also have broccoli crossed with kale that is producing broccoli heads now.  On the mountain we have very few freezing days while the valley below us 1/2 mile away is 10 to  20 degrees colder regularly.  Carrots, fennel, parsnips, onions, potatoes, beets, turnips, spinach and other things are doing well right now.  All this is outside - I hope to get some hydroponics going in the greenhouse this year yet.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2005, 07:59:57 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #33 on: March 10, 2005, 08:55:46 PM »
Stabilized earth plaster wall is now finished.  Currently working on making the end of the greenhouse look better so the ugly doesn't hit you in the face as you enter the driveway. ;D  

Sometimes it just helps to stand back for a minute and look and ask myself-- What looks bad here ???  The wall was also one of them.



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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2005, 12:10:42 PM »
Garden is growing and blooming.  Things are looking better.


Inspector stopped by again today checking out the new blooms.  Said I hadn't done enough to prevent various voracious villainous vermin & varmints from viewing & violently de-Vouring vast volumes of my veggies, violas & vincas, volunteering to help show me the holes in my plan.  Her fee was only around 1/4 of the nice new growth.  I bet that is the first time you knew that goats were ground burrowing rodents. (Actually she came up from the underground woodshed).???



Here is an example of rough sawn clapboard siding added last week to the corner of the greenhouse/shop.  

Now back to putting up fence so the inspector won't arrive unexpectedly again! :o

« Last Edit: March 13, 2005, 01:20:14 PM by glenn-k »
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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #35 on: April 10, 2005, 10:17:09 AM »
The old place is starting to look pretty good.  Sue and I will have to get down there this Summer to see it.
I was surprised you were using strawbales.  One of my crew is in to strawbale houses .  Do you plaster over those bales?  I thought the bales were compressed and sealed.
 I have a lot of questions about how you did stuff.
I loved the front door.  Will that keep a bear out?
Seems like you have more light than I thought you would have. 8)

                                      Mark and Sue Schneider


Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #36 on: April 10, 2005, 07:30:38 PM »
The way this place is made there are a few places that stick out so where the west bedroom wall sticks up there are straw bales and where the greenhouse goes up above the uphill patio there are straw bales.  That way my greenhouse gets optimum angle for winter sun.  The bales will get a stabilized earth plaster some day - I don't want to rush into anything.  As long as rain is kept off the top of the bales with a roof and overhang the sides will shed light rain like thatch.  If the bales are kept off of the ground with a footing they won't deteriorate.  Some have successfully used plastic under them with proper drainage.  Code (in areas where they have a straw bale code) usually requires the bales being on a foundation 6 to 12 inches above ground. Some have left them unfinished inside their house.  I used them for a quick well insulated wall. :-/

Most of this place was made as an experiment to demonstrate that it is possible to build a shelter at a low cost.  Recycled, homemade, natural materials from the local area.  The  only time I bought anything extra fancy was when it was impossible to satisfy the wife any other way - Okay so I have to admit the stuff she wanted looks good (she made me say that-had me in a full Nelson).  You can come and look as long as you're not expecting to see any fine carpentry.  ;D

Will the door keep the bear out ???  If it does that, who will keep me warm at night :o

Using Mike Oehlers methods it is possible to get light  from all points of the compass -and you can even have a sunscoop on the roof.

For those of you who don't already know, Mark is my cousin, Sue is my girlfriend ;D  Glenn
« Last Edit: April 11, 2005, 05:35:03 AM by glenn-k »
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Offline Shelley

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #37 on: April 10, 2005, 08:19:26 PM »
You know Glenn, I've looked at your pics.

Mike's segment was on HGTV again today.  I've been on his web site.

What you and he did seems not the easiest.  Huge beams and a lot of dirt work.  Unlike the other owner-built methods....

It's tough, isn't it?  A lot of hard, heavy work?
It's a dry heat.  Right.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #38 on: April 10, 2005, 08:37:56 PM »
My Mom called also to say Mike was on TV.  

Maybe not the easiest for everyone- I have two remote controlled cranes to help but Mike did his the legitimate hard way.  I also have a John Deere trackhoe with a loader bucket and a Bobcat and enjoy playing with them.  Mike dug his the hard way.  Does this make me a fraud ??? ;D

Mike's original  shelter was ultra-low cost - timber and dirt on his land, and made a shelter he was happy with.  I guess its not too much work if it's what you want, and it will provide inexpensive shelter using available non-toxic materials.  Most would not go as far as I have as it is more than  basic necessity size, but then again some will do more.

I'm a bit of a lazy guy so usually find some way to do it with a machine - even if that's more work than doing it manually ;D

Actually progress is made pretty fast though. 9 posts, 3 girders @16', 9 joist beams @16' and you have a 16x16 cabin frame.  A nail gun makes quick work of nailing down roof boards.  Still it is quite a bit of work but you don't notice it if you're having fun (or don't have good sense). It's a lot quicker,easier and makes more sense than forming concrete and steel, pouring it then tearing out the forms and throwing the two form walls away- besides concrete is pretty ugly.;D

For those of us of the troglodyte persuasion, it is the most sensible thing to do. ;D
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 08:53:39 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline Shelley

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #39 on: April 10, 2005, 09:46:06 PM »
Hope you don't think I was making light of it.

I've gathered in the last the several months that you've been around big construction.

Just making an observation.  This type of construction is not for the faint-of-heart...and probably not for those who have no big yellow at their disposal ;D

We did some 6x10x18s once.  Green.  We estimated 500lbs each.  Some of those logs....which we call vigas here....in your pics are huge.  Cranes are nice.  Cranes are your friend.

Certainly more labor than stomping a little cob, or laying some car batteries (adobe bricks) or framing a small cabin.  Actually, my hat is off to you. :-*
It's a dry heat.  Right.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #40 on: April 10, 2005, 10:05:56 PM »
Thanks, Shelly.

I don't mind people making light of it if they want even though you weren't, In fact I sometimes get offended if people don't call me eccentric.

Actually though, even though it is a rough, rustic piece of work, everyone seems to love it.  We had new friends over yesterday and last night.  The first one said there are tons who talk about doing it but few who do it.  He said he would have plenty to talk to his wife about at the dinner table last night.

The second walked around the cabin for a bit last night and said he was still speechless.  

Something about using the things underfoot to build with that takes people back a bit.  They don't get to see this type of thing because most are prohibited from doing it.  Some of us just aren't smart enough to not do it. ;D

Most of my equipment is pretty old but with some coaxing and a roll of bailing wire it will do the job.  Logs could be put up with a homemade jib boom, backhoe, forklift or sometimes a few tough guys.  All of what I did can be done by hand, but would be harder and take longer.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2005, 10:11:55 PM by glenn-k »
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Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #41 on: April 11, 2005, 06:04:26 AM »
Even cob is very very slow when done by foot and one or two people.

A lot people finding themselves in that situation end up using the tiller of the tractor to mix the stuff--or deciding that going in debt for a newer single-wide is a good idea.

But it sure can be purty.

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #42 on: April 11, 2005, 06:04:41 AM »
Thinking about speed of construction, I can always have an extra room done faster using Mike's methods than I could if I did it with cob, considering that I have equipment available.

Using the bobcat I could make quite a bit of cob pretty fast but it takes time to dry before you can continue up.  It is fireproof, moldable and saves wood though.

I guess with cob or adobe there is quite a bit of work there also but it is in smaller chunks.  The cob is easier for my wife to handle.  Some of the logs were around 20" dia 21' long and should weigh about 1800 lbs dry.  These were for larger span, slightly bigger dia. than necessary and could have been cut in half if equipment was not available, but a jib crane or something would still have had to be rigged to do it by hand.

I also am impressed by your experience and knowledge Shelley.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2005, 07:27:24 AM by glenn-k »
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #43 on: April 11, 2005, 06:13:12 AM »
I think the Bobcat is the way to make cob, Amanda, if one is available.  Something about the diesel smoke, the tires spinning and sliding in the mud, the noise, and the ease of getting the finished cob to the work area that just gets a girl all excited!  ;D

In the absence of a Bobcat though just any machine is helpful and many just love to squish it through their toes if they have the time. :)  You are right about being able to make it look nice.  It is always interesting looking even if it is primitive.

I stayed in the motor home in the early stages of making the cabin - lets say it was similar to a single wide mobile home.  I couldn't wait to get into the cabin in the ground when winter hit.  The cold wraps it's hand around a mobile home and it is just like trying to stay warm in a giant freezer.  Everything all around -top -bottom and sides is cold.  At least in the ground the temperature usually never gets below 50f even when below freezing outside.  
« Last Edit: April 11, 2005, 06:18:42 AM by glenn-k »
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Offline maplicker

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #44 on: April 11, 2005, 08:34:07 PM »
Hi All,

I was one of those recent visiters to the undergound hobbit cabin.  What an inspiration!  It can be done!   :D.  For me the biggest plus was having my wife realize that a very comfortable, quality, and nice house can be had that does not look like a cookie cutter ticky tacky box.  (oh, and for a lot less than $xxx.xx per ft2)  For many this seams like an large leap.  But seeing someone do it helps relight the flame of interest that had waxed and waned with mundane chores.  Thanks Glenn, and your place will be talked about in even greater circles.  

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #45 on: April 11, 2005, 08:48:41 PM »
My pleasure- glad you enjoyed this crude hole in the ground. ;D
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Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #46 on: April 28, 2005, 05:10:59 PM »
Updated photos- Added 15 more.  Here is a link to the album

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/glennkangiser/album?.dir=/8ac1&.src=ph&.tok=phT.FdCB6IwyWCaf

so you can save time by scrolling to the bottom of the thumbnails if you only want to see the new ones. ;D

These are better than some of the older photos, as they were taken for Builder News Magazine.  

http://www.buildernewsmag.com/

There will be some kind of article coming out about The Underground Cabin and underground building with hopefully a plug for John in July.

:)
« Last Edit: April 29, 2005, 12:05:18 AM by glenn-k »
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Offline Amanda_931

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #47 on: April 28, 2005, 06:54:41 PM »
Sounds like a bit of a stretch for Builder's News.  

Even if that is what they need to do.

The other day at a potluck dinner we had some greenhouse tomatoes, from some people who had overwintered theirs, they were so good.  Just getting around to planting mine outside.

I still love your goat!


Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #48 on: April 28, 2005, 07:32:02 PM »
It looks like something will go there at least a little blurb anyway.  As with most stories tons of stuff is submitted, but little usually gets out -- but who knows-- they contacted me so there must be something coming out.

The goat is kind of like a dog - thinks she's real smart but a bit more hyper than a dog sometimes and actually too smart for her own good.
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Offline ChatBot

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Re: Underground Cabin Update
« Reply #49 on: May 03, 2005, 10:23:52 AM »
  Forgive the stupid question, but where did you get the floorplans for the home you've built?
 Did you use the book and modify your plans along the way?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2005, 10:24:22 AM by ChatBot »