Low cost isn’t the only reason why underground homes and underground living rocks!
By Matt Hall – Staff Writer
Many people spend hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars building their dream homes. They design the layouts, choose which materials will be used, and agonize over every detail to make sure it meets their needs (and those of the bank loan officer). In the end, these people often have a home they love.
However, what if you could build your dream home for much less? We’re not talking about moderate savings of 10% – we mean much, much less. Underground homes are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason: it’s possible to build one yourself using reclaimed materials. In fact, you can get started for as little as $50.
But the low cost isn’t the only reason why underground homes and underground living rocks. With some creativity, you can have a truly awesome underground home that combines natural beauty, functionality and fun.
Here’s a list of the top 15 reasons why living in Underground Homes and dwelling underground isn’t just for animals!
1. You’ve Always Wanted to Be a Carpenter
Maybe you saw your parents doing woodworking projects growing up, or maybe you’ve always wanted to woodworking yourself, but building your own underground home is a simple way to learn valuable carpentry skills and discover what you are truly capable of. As you build walls, stairs, windows and doors, you’ll be amazed at how much skills you didn’t know you had! Thanks to online tutorials (you can learn how to do just about anything on YouTube), anyone can gain the knowledge necessary to build an underground home. The actual building process provides the experience.
2. Naturally Heated Homes
Heating in the ground home is very inexpensive, even in cold climates. How is this possible? Due to smart home design. If you designed your underground home to take advantage of geothermal heat sources, solar power or some other natural heating source, your heating bill will be very very low. Many underground homeowners only pay around $500 per year for heating!
3. Live In Communion with Nature
If you feel a special connection with nature, living in an underground home will help you experience that much more frequently. Since your living space will be built into the earth, nature itself will surround you and your family day and night. You will be protected and allowed to experience the beauty of earth more frequently and intimately. It is quite an experience – one that must be seen firsthand to be fully appreciated.
4. Grow Plants Year-Round
In an underground home, you can use special types of greenhouse designs to grow plants year-round. By harvesting the natural heat of the earth and the sun and some careful greenhouse design, your plants can get enough light, heat and moisture to thrive– even in winter months.
5. Protection from Tornadoes
Since your home is not above ground – it’s actually in the ground – underground homes are virtually tornado proof. Have you noticed how tornado shelters are underground? Well, having your entire home below ground is like having a big tornado shelter. When a twister comes around that has the potential to wreck the neighborhood, your underground home will be completely safe.
6. Protection from Just About Everything Else, Too
It’s not just tornadoes that your underground home will protect you from. Hurricanes, fierce thunderstorms, and even blizzards won’t phase you while you’re protected in the earth. Depending on your materials, your home will also be virtually fireproof, too.
7. Inexpensive to Heat and Cool
If you were looking for a truly “Green” home that is inexpensive to keep at a comfortable temperature, an underground home is a smart choice. Earth does not heat up or cool down nearly as much as air above it, and this acts as insulation from extreme weather. In fact, underground homes cost 80-95% less than traditional home to heat and cool – that means big savings on your bills.
8. Fantastic Conversation Piece
If you want to give your visiting friends, family and neighbors something interesting to talk about, an underground home is a great topic of conversation. Giving tours of your beautiful home – a home that combines the elegance and beauty of nature with raw functionality – you’ll be able to point out specific design features, benefits of your home, and other elements of underground living that will lead to hours of conversation. You can answer questions about how they can start building your own underground dwellings – perhaps you’ll convince a few people to build underground homes of their own!
9. Satisfaction of Building it Yourself
Many people find great satisfaction in creating, and many underground homeowners say that the sense of contentment and accomplishment they feel after building their homes is intense. If you build an underground home, you will be constantly reminded of your labor and effort and how your work has paid off in creating something truly beautiful. Every door, window and see will remind you of what you have accomplished by working with nature.
10. Complete Customization
Since most people design their own underground home, you’ll have complete customization of how your home looks, how big rooms are, the layout of the home and more. You could finally have the perfect functionable home you’ve always wanted!
Since adding on to a home like this is relatively simple, increasing the number of rooms is also very possible. You can continue adding to your home for years, making it a forever work in progress – just like the earth around it.
11. The Building Process is an Adventure
Part of the excitement of having an underground home is actually building it. Whether you’re using heavy machinery to dig out the space for your living room or carefully finishing the details of your new front door, the entire process of creating your home will be enjoyable.
One of the great things about nature is its unpredictability, and you’ll experience that (in a pleasant way) as you build your underground home. Perhaps you’ll get an idea for a great change you can make to your original plans as you’re building, or maybe you’ll see an opportunity to work a living tree into your home’s design. There are a million different things that can happen during the building process, and its fun to turn these happy accidents into great new features for your home.
12. It’s Inexpensive
One of the top benefits of an underground house is that the building materials are very inexpensive. You can use just about anything – cinder blocks, wood, and other reclaimed materials – as the building blocks of your underground home. This cuts the building cost way down. Many people have been able to begin work on their underground homes for as little as $50! If you are willing to search for the right materials and are willing to recycle, you will find building an underground home is very affordable.
13. Unobtrusive Architecture
One of the complaints many people have about many homes in the woods or away from traditional housing developments is that they are such an eyesore. Even when architects try to blend a home into the scenery, the result isn’t always something you actually want to look at. Underground homes, on the other hand, blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. In many cases, the only way you even know one of these homes is there is from a window or door peeking out of the hillside!
14. It Makes Good Use of Empty Land
There are plenty of reasons why you could have extra land: maybe you inherited it, or maybe you bought it to do something with it someday. In any case, turning an empty lot into a home is a smart use of the property. You can potentially increase the property’s value. More importantly, you can increase the value of the land to you and your family with your custom-made home.
15. You can Recycle Old Materials
Do you have old building materials just lying around from an old project? Do you know somebody with extra lumber, sidewall or other materials that are perfect for your underground home? Creating a home or living space using recycled materials is a great way to make sure nothing goes to waste and that you’re minimizing your impact on the earth.
Here’s a tip to be even greener: if you use completely natural materials like wood, if you ever decide to leave your underground home it will simply revert back to a natural state. This means your footprint on nature will be virtually nonexistent!
How to Get Started
Do these benefits of underground living sound good to you? Maybe it’s time to begin work on your own underground dwelling. Here’s what you’ll need to start:
Time, motivation and dreams
(Optional) Permits from your local government
If you’ve got access to those things, you’re ready to begin! They have plenty of websites out there to help people interested in designing and building their own underground homes, but we recommend starting with this book by Mike Oehler. It’s an excellent guide that covers the planning, building, material gathering and other stages of underground home building. It also will walk you through the process of obtaining (or finding loopholes to avoid) local building permits. Get a copy and begin planning your underground home. Who knows — may the home of your dream has been under your nose the entire time!