Author Topic: A Tiny Underground House  (Read 5205 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Scott Fike

  • Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
A Tiny Underground House
« on: April 13, 2005, 12:01:13 AM »
Hi,
Has anyone built or does anyone know of someone who has ACTUALLY built Malcolm Wells "A Tiny Underground House" as seen on his website?

http://malcolmwells.com/graphics/covers/tinyughousebig.gif

http://malcolmwells.com/books.html

I would love to build a house like this for myself. Somewhat slightly modified just to suite me.

Many Thanks,
kc0bus
Smaller is better!

Offline Amanda_931

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,066
  • Glamorous Middle Tennessee
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2005, 06:44:56 AM »
I don't, but I do know (via internet) someone who built a Mike Oehler syle house.

See the "underground cabin update" topic on the General Forum page.  The old forum has a bunch of stuff from its development, IIRC.

Even with 300 sf I think you need way out from the bedroom if the main door is blocked by fire or a downed tree.  Either an easy-to-step-through window or another door.  Not sure if that Wells house is completely bermed on three sides, or if there is a back door there somewhere.

Oehler's workshop exercises include putting windows on every side of the house.  

Offline DavidLeBlanc

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Seattle, WA - the Emerald City
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2005, 10:22:38 AM »
There are any number of people inhabiting small underground houses of about 18 (3'x6') square feet. Most have about a 2 metre berm and generally do not have exterior access. This is generally not found to be a problem by the inhabitants though. For those who do find egress a problem, the issue rapidly passes... ;)

Offline Scott Fike

  • Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2005, 12:33:15 PM »
I have the plans for this house. In a house of this size, emergency egress is never a problem as your never more than a few feet away from the nearest window or door. The house is indeed bermed on all three sides. I also have Mike Oehler's book "The $50 up underground house book" and it's all theory. At least Malcolm Wells offers actually working plans....
Smaller is better!

Offline JRR

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 891
  • 1000', Southeast, USA.
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2005, 01:15:52 PM »
DavidLe,
That's clever!  Had a good laugh .... thanks.

Offline DavidLeBlanc

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 275
  • Seattle, WA - the Emerald City
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2005, 06:52:03 PM »
;)

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,686
  • Gender: Male
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2005, 07:50:51 PM »
Please explain Mike Oehler's $50 Underground House Book being "all theory".
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Scott Fike

  • Apprentice
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2005, 08:41:41 PM »
Easy. Lots of text on underground house building theory. Lots of hand drawn illustrations. No measured scale drawings or blueprints to speak of. The rule of thumb table in the back of the book. Even still, this is one of my favorite books on earth sheltered houses- mainly because there are so precious few availible and even fewer that are still in print. Malcolm Wells is the only designer I know of that still offers working drawings.  :(
Since we seem to be heading into a second energy crisis, maybe some arcitects out there will get the message and once again start designing and offering earth shelted house plans (I still call them "earth contact" houses but apparently that's not the popular nomenclature nowadays.). I've always been a big proponent of earth contact houses and I'm disturbed by how the house buying public historically seems to just summarily dismiss them out of hand.  :'(
Smaller is better!

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,686
  • Gender: Male
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2005, 09:13:07 PM »
I guess if you put it that way, it could be considered all theory, but with that theory comes the knowledge that you need to be unlimited by plans.  As you mentioned the tables give you rule of thumb values for a structure capable of supporting the loads it was designed for.  With that knowledge you can build nearly any structure you can dream up.  With a set of plans you can build only the structure drawn in the plans, possibly with a few minor modifications unless you want to start from scratch with the help of an engineer.  Mike's plans are made to design a structure that is easily modified, repaired, and will grow as you do for a very low cost.

Mikes theories are backed up by many examples of cabins built by his methods.

Also , could you tell me where to find Malcom's plans?   I wanted to check them out, but was only able to find a few descriptions of his work.  I tried to find his plans and saw this notice.
_______________________
As of June 2004,
Malcolm Wells is no longer available for architectural services, including conceptual designs, custom drawings, lectures, articles, or professional opinions.

Thank you for your cooperation and consideration in this matter.
_______________________

As to Mike's reasons for teaching theory, I think Confucius said it well,

"Give a man a fish, He'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish- He'll eat for the rest of his life."

Mike's books are still available here.
http://www.undergroundhousing.com/
« Last Edit: April 13, 2005, 09:19:00 PM by glenn-k »
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline glenn kangiser

  • The Troglodyte
  • Administrator
  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 24,686
  • Gender: Male
  • Central California Sierras- Home of Yosemite NP
    • Underground Cabin
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2005, 03:43:45 AM »
kcObus, I forgot to say, welcome.   :)

Working out of town and got attacked by McDonald's food.  Gotta remember that that much of a bad thing isn't good for me. :-/

Tell us about the planned construction of your cabin.  I assume concrete, so I was wondering if you had looked into ICF blocks.  ??? It makes easy work of forming insulated concrete walls.

I am currently beginning assisting an owner builder with a concrete basement under a proposed house with 2 foot thick rock walls.  It looks like I have him talked into ICF rather than building two wood form walls and then tearing them out and throwing them away.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

Please put your area in your sig line so we can assist with location specific answers.

Offline Amanda_931

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,066
  • Glamorous Middle Tennessee
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2005, 04:21:25 PM »
I was thinking about ICF for one of the buildings I've always planned to put here.   Aside from some practical problems--where do I move the trailer, how do I build a right serious retaining wall out from here, the big thing I encountered looking at IFC's is that you're not finished after the concrete is in.  (on the other hand you have a lovely tight shell that's already insulated)

(The people I know who have done slip-formed concrete have recycled one set of boards through their own building, and then later on somebody else's.)

Offline Amanda_931

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,066
  • Glamorous Middle Tennessee
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2005, 05:11:37 PM »
I'd highly recommend looking at a periodical or book of house plans, vacation house plans are good for small house builders.  For each plan, whether you like its looks or not, visualize walking in, putting away groceries, cooking something with more than three ingredients.  Where is the morning sun, if you wake up with the flu, how impossibly complicated is the house, and so on.

It's amazing how many dreadful kitchens there are out there--some otherwise nice places have the same 6" of counter space that travel trailers are notorious for.

What suits you may end up being a stock plan.  More likely it will be something you've done for yourself.

In that case, something like Mike Oehler's  describing what to think about to make a design a reality, complete with exercises on how to think about putting light into your space, will be more valuable than store-boughten plans.

John's (our leader's!) plans are certainly flexible.

Here's Christopher Alexander's small house design exercise.  I recommend it especially after you've looked at plan books and magazines until you cannot stand the sight of another one. (also read the design sections from Ianto Evans' Hand Sculpted House, for how to get more out of teensy spaces--I believe that he's still--at least mostly--in 150 SF Heart House, saw pictures from Christmas).  Here's the Alexander page:

http://www.patternlanguage.com/smallhouse/smallhouseframe.htm?/leveltwo/../smallhouse/smallhousetable.htm

jraabe

  • Guest
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2005, 09:51:40 AM »
Nice link Amanda!

You're a good teacher... Maybe we should start an unaccredited school for unlicensed architects.

It would have a short but practical series of mini-lessons and at the end the student would get a certificate and stamp for their drawings. The stamp would prove to the building inspector and anyone else that our "College of Unarchitecture" had certified them as an unlicensed architect approved to practice in all 50 states.

There are several other folks on the forum to whom we could grant professorships. I already told Glenn I was going to get him an official sash to wear while he sauntered around here spouting wisdom.  :)

jonseyhay

  • Guest
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2005, 12:59:10 PM »
Nice one John,
I think a sash would make a great fashion statement, it should go well with his shovel and handbag toolbelt. I think we could make Amanda and her cat official researchers. Of course on higher pay.

(and thanks for the welcome back tingle twinkle toes)
jonesy
;)
« Last Edit: April 16, 2005, 01:08:32 PM by jonseyhay »

Amanda_931

  • Guest
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2005, 04:16:52 PM »
Thank you John.

Thanks (I think) Jonsey.  Miss Bounces Off Walls (now promoted to chief mouser) thanks you too.  

Official unarchitects stamp sounds good!

glenn-k

  • Guest
Re: A Tiny Underground House
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2005, 04:35:39 PM »
Scary thought - me wandering around here in a sash and a smile spouting wisdom-- kinda like the thinker :o  Better not cartoon that, Jonesy ;D
« Last Edit: April 16, 2005, 04:36:16 PM by glenn-k »