Have you ever thought of living underground? It does sound fascinating, but if you would tell someone that you are planning to custom build an underground home, you would probably get strange looks. The reason is that majority of people have the misconception that earth-sheltered or underground homes are usually dark, damp cold and smell like mud. They think building them comes with lots of disadvantages. But it’s not true.
Some pre-existing underground homes from around the world are proving the less known fact that living in them has more advantages than traditional homes. They prove underground homes can be equally beautiful and comfortable as traditional homes. Don’t believe us? Have a look at these 10 insanely cool and best underground homes from around the globe. They are bold, beautiful, and comfortable to live in all year round.
10 Best Underground Homes Around the World
1. Bill Scherbauer’s Underground Home, Ohio
Bill Scherbauer from Ohio is one of those people who are living in an underground home full time. He built his home several feet below the ground with front open to the surrounding, and he is living in this since 1979. It was built by Scherbauer with the help of local high school students, which allowed him to keep the cost of construction low. The partially underground home looks like any conventional above the ground home from the entrance, but actually is more beneath the ground than above it. There are windows and doors on the front for natural light and ventilation. Also, there are multiple skylights to bring in natural light and air inside. A porch, garage, and roofline are visible from the driveway.
2. Omaha Underground Home
This thermal –efficient earth-sheltered home is in Omaha, Nebraska. When looked far from the road, it looks like a big green driveway, but as you come near you will see it is packed with a lot of surprises. The partial underground home uses geothermal energy for cooling and heating the entire space. So when it is snowing and freezing outside, the interior space will stick to a cozy temperature. The entire dwelling is constructed using three rebar-enforced concrete domes, topped with up to a 5-foot thick layer of soil. There is also a tempering chamber across the green roof, houses air vents, chimney, and all in/out connections to underground homes.
3. The Cave Home
The cave home is another interesting underground dwelling that was built by Sleeper’s family a few years ago. It is a cave house inside a sandstone cave on three acres land in Festus, Missouri. The house walls inside out are of natural sandstone, and no additional material is used to construct the walls. The interior gives the feel as if you are outside, without the discomfort of outside’s hot and cold weather.
4. Underground Survival Condos
Designed for safety, comfort, and to maintain a luxury lifestyle in extreme conditions, this underground condo in Kansas has more than 7 floors beneath the ground. There are a few more underground dwellings like this in the area. Each condo has various underground apartments, equipped with different amenities including some luxury living spaces and common spaces. Each condo can accommodate more than 75 people, and they can choose among four different living options according to space needs and their budget. The first option is to go with a half-floor, with 900 square ft of living space. There is also an option to buy an entire floor, and even add some custom features to it. The condo’s walls are 2.5 to 9 feet thick and able to withstand critical natural and manmade conditions, including nuclear attack.
5. Bermed Earth Sheltered Home in Wisconsin
The 2236-square-foot multilevel underground house is an inspiration for people looking for a different living experience. The energy-efficient private house is located in River Falls, Wisconsin. It is designed by the architect Mike McGuire, and built by Pat Clark and Emogene Nelson using two arched steel shells set in concrete connected through a hallway and a staircase. The beautiful house features two bedrooms with skylights, a kitchen, two bathrooms, two-car garages, and a living room. It is a complete house with all the important amenities to live a comfortable life.
6. Underground nuclear bunker, Georgia
Built-in 1969, this luxurious underground bunker in Georgia first was a US army base camp. It is located 45-feet below the ground and renovated in 2012 to provide people nuclear proof luxurious living beneath the ground. The property holds four 600-square feet luxury apartments, each containing a living area, a kitchen, two king-size bedrooms with bathrooms. Its 3-feet thick walls make it nuclear proof and natural disaster-proof. The climate inside is consistent and cozy all year-round.
7. Underground Hobbit House, Quindalup, Australia
This underground hobbit house is a full-time home of Nigel Kirkwood from Western Australia. Located in Quindalup, around 20 km from Busselton, the hobbit home maintains consistent temperature all over the year. The sustainable earth-sheltered house is covered with nearly 1,000 tons of mud. Its walls and entire structure are made of 19 tons of high-quality steel and Polyurea water-proof coating, which makes it incredibly fire and waterproof.
8. Water tank underground home
Located on English Channel coast on the outskirts of Sidmouth, this 5 bedroom underground home before was an old water reservoir. It was renovated by Robert Hardy and his wife, Ann for the entire family with two kids, on the 603 square-meter area. All rooms of the property are built around the central open deck that features a cozy outdoor sitting area. The grass rooftop gives you the feel as if you are living in an underground dome home. There are also a lot of windows that don’t make you feel that you are actually underground.
9. Vals House by SeArch and Christian Müller Architects
Here is another interesting underground property is the Vals house, located in the Swiss village of Vals. It is a mesmerizing home amidst cluster of mountain houses. It is built by two Netherlands architect firms, SeARCH and Christian Muller. The idea behind this property was to build a house near to famous thermal baths in Vals, Switzerland. It is designed in a way with so many glass windows at front that a person living inside could view the stunning scenery especially the majestic Alpine view.
10. Flower Petals in Bolton, UK
This underground home is a dream home of the former footballer and captain of Manchester united, gray Neville. He always wanted to live in a flower-shaped underground home, so he sent a proposal to the authorities many times to build the property in Bolton UK. After being rejected by the authorities so many times, the property finally got approval. The beautiful house is extremely eco-friendly and is built on an 8000 square foot area.
We want you to know the lesser-known facts about underground homes and their benefits.
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Underground homes are houses built underground or below the earth’s surface, either partially or completely. They can be built anywhere beneath the ground by digging down the earth. They are a good alternative to above-ground dwellings or residences.
Earth-sheltered homes are usually buried below the ground surface. They are dwellings built with walls and a firm base underground, or below the first layer of earth. They are also known as underground homes.
There is no major difference between underground homes and earth sheltered homes. They both are homes built underground with a firm base and walls. When a house is not beneath a flat ground but under or inside a small hill or mountain it can be called an earth-sheltered home.
Underground homes can be built using various earth drilling and digging techniques. There are six types of building earth-sheltered and underground homes. Constructed caves – Use techniques for tunneling into the earth or mountains. This can be an expensive and dangerous process.
Cut and cover – Also called culvert home building. The technique uses precast concrete pipes, concrete sheds, or shipping containers in the desired size or shape, and then burying them in under the ground.
Earth Berm: In the technique, house is first built on ground or any hill’s surface, and then buried, leaving a wall or roof open for light.
Elevational: Elevational homes are underground homes built at the side of a hill with the front of the home left open.
Atrium: These are also known as courtyard homes. In the technique, the rooms are built below the ground around a sunken garden or courtyard that lets light in.
PSP: PSP stands for post, shoring and polyethylene. The house building technique involves dig up the ground, putting in posts, placing shoring (boards) between the posts and the earth, and placing polyethylene plastic sheets (for waterproofing) behind the shoring.
Shaft: Shaft is a technique for underground construction used in Japan for Alice City Plans. It is a construction of a wide and deep cylindrical shaft sunk into the earth with a domed skylight covering, and different levels for business and domestic use built around the shaft.
All kinds of underground constructions require well-designed ventilation systems to manage air quality and humidity. A builder can combine all these techniques to custom-built an underground home or construction according to the location requirement. Also, for all underground construction fire safety should be a priority.
Some benefits of underground homes include resistance to serve weather conditions (cyclones, hailstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters), and noise because of its soundproofing property. Also, underground constructions provide constant indoor temperature due to its natural insulating properties. Usually, underground homes have less surface area therefore fewer building materials are used; as a result maintenance cost is always lower than traditional homes.
Underground homes typically have more advantages than traditional homes or above the ground homes. As they are built under earth at ground temperature, they are not prone to rapid change in temperature. The temperature inside them never goes down to a certain level. As a result, in winters they remain warm and cozy, and in summers they provide a cool and comfortable environment to live in.
Building an underground home is a sustainable home building practice. A well-designed underground home can be a beautiful, comfortable, chic, secure bright and inspiring place to live in. Other than that they are an excellent example of green or eco-home building; promote energy efficiency by saving cooling and heating cost, and using less construction material to lower the carbon footprint on the earth. They are resistance to harsh weather conditions and natural disasters.
Underground homes are legal to build, but there are some restrictions placed on their building according to the area or location you choose. It is completely inappropriate or illegal to build an underground home between a busy city where the rests of the other constructions are modern and conventional. In addition, there will be some setback lines on how far you can build your underground construction from your neighbor’s property. Also, you will have to apply for and receive a few other planning and building permissions from your state government. The government will check mineral rights in your land held by others and local authority policy for the construction of underground dwellings.
The major disbelieves or misconceptions about underground homes that they are dark, damp, claustrophobic and inappropriate to live in. People have lack of knowledge about their potential as a sustainable and low-cost building practice.
While building an underground home one should always pay special attention to cross ventilation. Ventilation to an underground home can be provided using an electric fan or by blowing air from outside.
Reduced area under the ground can become a problem for installing windows but with excellent planning of architectural structure, you can get natural lighting inside your underground home. Installing skylights and front windows both are great ways to provide sunlight and air circulation in underground homes.
Because of the reduced surface area, the maintenance cost of an underground home is less than a conventional home. Since the temperature inside an underground home is always constant; you also save the cost of installing air conditioners and heaters. However, initially in planning, cutting of ground or earth, and setting up electricity, water, and ventilation inside an underground home costs 20-30% more than a traditional over the ground home.
Homes under the grounds are proven safe against earthquakes. Structures under the ground are less vulnerable to shaking than conventional homes over the ground structures.
Underground homes or earth-sheltered homes provide extra protection against hailstorms, high winds, hurricanes, and tornado. Underground home building is one of the best home building techniques for hurricane-prone areas and coastal areas.
If built with proper planning, underground homes are as safe as conventional homes from snakes and insects. For complete protection from reptiles, you can place mothballs in cracks, holes, crevices, and any other areas around the property where reptiles can be a problem.
Humidity levels are generally high in underground homes or earth-sheltered homes, and which can cause condensation (mold and mildew) within walls and other areas of the home. To prevent that you will have to take extra preventive measures than traditional homes. Also, since water flows downward, constructing a complete waterproof or moisture-proof underground home is a big challenge. To solve that a structural engineer will have to strategically place various drainage systems in and around your home to avoid potential damage. Since underground homes do not get the best air quality flow below the surface; it is a big challenge to ensure good indoor air quality inside. Many underground homes use ventilators to exchange indoor air with fresh outdoor air.
As water flows downwards, underground homes are more prone to have moisture problems. You will have to take preventive measures to make your underground dwelling moisture-proof by installing various types of drainage system inside and around the home.
It takes a lot to ensure electricity, water, ventilation, and manage humidity levels inside an underground home; therefore, the after building cost for an underground home can go up to 20-30% more than a traditional home. However, due to reduced surface area, construction cost and maintenance cost of an underground home can be less than a traditional or conventional home.
There are so many fascinating underground cities around the world. Thousands of people in Europe and America live underground. In Russia, there is move development underground than over it. Derinkuyu, Cappadocia, Turkey is the deepest underground city, approx at the depth of 85m. It was discovered in 1963 and opened for visitors in 1965. It is so large that it could have possibly held more than 20,000 people.Montreal, Quebec is the largest underground city or network in the world. It is 32 km (20 m) of tunnel cover more than 41 city blocks (about 12 km2 (5 sq m).