Future Underground Cabin Builder

Started by glenn-k, November 24, 2004, 06:34:05 PM

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 ;D  I'm not alone -

Received this e-mail from Chuck who is interested in the underground cabin - my reply follows.

----- Original Message -----
From: glenn kangiser
To: Chuck & Jenny Lamb
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2004 1:36 PM
Subject: Re: Questions about underground housing


I hope you don't mind my asking you a few questions about your home. I found your e-mail through a link on a web site showing pictures of your home, by the way it's looking good. I'm not trying to be snoopy, just trying to learn all I can about underground homes.
Is this your first undergound? How do you and your wife like it? What about moisture is it a potential problem? Heating we use wood for cooking and heating How about lighting, most of ours will be oil or gas lights.  DoesThe $50 and up Underground House give the kind of details needed for someone who has never built underground? I am a carpenter by trade so the building won't be a problem. We live in the Alaskan bush,every thing has to be flown out or acquired locally. Most of the work will have to be done by hand including the dirt work. Most of our land is hillside so the house will likely be built into a hill with the front open.
Any thing you could tell me about would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your time,
Chuck Lamb


No problem - I will give you all the detail I can.  Do you mind if I post this to the group forum so others at Countryplans can benefit? (permission granted)  I recommend ordering Mike Oehler's videos if you want to go ahead and build this way.  I have information from experience I can add to his information and recommendations that I hope will help.  This is the fastest way to get this amount of shelter and Mike had an engineer design the log sizing for safety.  Now he recommends only 18" of soil for cover and says to stay away from treated timber so you don't kill yourself in there from toxins.
This is my first underground house.  My wife and everyone who comes here loves it.  In your area I would recommend more precautions against moisture than I have taken as my area is relatively dry.  We get about 25" per year.  Moisture in the cabin ranges from 30 to 45% RH so is in the recommended range.
We use wood also.  Since the ambient temperature of the ground is much warmer than the air you use much less wood to heat the house.  We have a wind generator and solar panels so have nearly all the electricity we need for lights, computers, water pumping, refrigerator and freezer.  I am going to build a wood gas generator some day to run a gas engine electric generator and am getting ready to set up a monotube boiler to run my old steam engine some day to make electricity and heat also (farther to the future).
The book gives the info you need and the videos fill in much more information.  I can help with more information also.  Even though you are leaving the front open you will want to use Mikes uphill patio method to help keep down moisture problems, give you a back exit and light on the high side.  I recommend that you read the book at least before you start.  It will save you tons of time in the long run and prevent many serious mistakes.  You don't want your cabin to be a dam to hold back water.  Logs are held together with rebar pins driven in predrilled holes the same size as the rebar.  I usually use 16" x 1/2" rebar.  Mike did his cabin digging by hand.  You cans easily start small and add on as you go.  Mine is continually growing.  More photo's
With this type of building I do the rough rustic stuff first then get to the finer points of trim- etc later although the rustic look keeps me from having to work to hard on the fine points.  
I am a pilot also so can understand your problems with flying things in and possibly suggest things that will work also.