Underground House

Here’s an interesting house inspired by a book at DVD set, The $50 and up Underground House, by Mike Oehler. It’s a cob, log, and mostly natural material house being built by Glenn and Kathy Kangiser in central California. You can follow the construction process on this online forum.

The most interesting part of the project to me is the unusual building technique. Unlike a portable tiny house this is a very permanent green building, built right into the land. Underground houses have a lot of advantages, thermal mass being the most obvious, but they also raise a lot of questions and issues, like water infiltration, insect infestations, and code compliance. Using cob and timber below grade seem to invite more trouble which makes this project even more interesting. How in the world are they going to account for all these issues? Anyway I thought I’d share this recent finding in case anyone thought it was worth investigation as I did. Photo credit Glenn and Kathy Kangiser.

8 thoughts on “Underground House

  1. Spencer says:

    You could also build into the rock and ground in up to code ways, but use plaster and the same techniques they use at zoos when making fake areas for animals in order to simulate rocks and terrain inside the house?

  2. Ed Horton says:

    Am planing on purchiseing 10 acres in Utah with
    lots of outcrops and boulders and was planing
    on doing smothing similer.If any body has any
    ideas please advise.
    Thanks Ed.

  3. Red Elk says:

    Im but days away from finishing my miny partuly underground “Hobbit Hut.” (?)/ “Gnome Home” (?).
    At the mommont its Tarp Toped..intend to PaperCreate n earth cover later. The roof is rite to the ground n FAR past the liveing space. The ground used of Dumped Dirt pile (County Ditch clean-up). Thus, tho below ground, that ABOVE the naturel (sloped) ground it was dumped on. I KEEP THE FLOOR WELL ABOVE THE SLOPED EARTH. Tilted slightly to an inner “trench” n graveled. Heavy vaper plastic omn that, then rug. The trench to a 3 ft hole into sloped ground. So far rain water (HEAVY)/ snow melt run-off hasen’t invaded.
    “Critters” stoped by puting garlic powder in…closeing off with stones deep within. I use the holes (2) as natuerl “storage” hideing places. Ive learned to BEND WITH NATURE…not make IT bend with ME.
    This “dome” is ovol n top is VERY LOW above the dig in space….allowing a small HILLOCK instead of a big BUMP. Allowing natures winds to flow more naturly over it. (Like a polished by current pebbel in a creek). Smooth “run”. Aho?
    Because this is “gnome” design…Ive learned to ADAPT my PLAND place to NATURE…(4instence: 2 Huge Bolders were NOT moved, instead r now the doorway sides IN. WithOUT removeing). Aho?
    In short; start with a Plan…then let NATURE Change it. U’ll end up as surprised n awed as those who see ur abode! Aho?
    Mine sleeps/lives 2, comfortably. Can add a baby n small child.
    Cost? TO THE “PENNY”; $350.00!!! Good Luck re

  4. Red Elk says:

    By The Way; built as a “ROOT CELLER”. Code n Permit free. Ck ur County. Here ; Root Celler / Tent Top / On Stilts / No Stairs inside / No Closests / Certin Roof Size / On Skids = CODE FREE (n at times TAXLESS)! (One Enormous house here IN TOWN..n ON STILTS ; NO TAX))!

    There R ways to get around “rules”.

    We paid $75.00 for n Out House permit. Bought an “Invalid” PortaPot, used ($300.00). Cost $35.00 to get emptyed / cleand by PortaPot Rentel Cop.. Once every 2 1/2 mouunts…”on call”. Invalide size VERY big…SHOWER INSIDE room! re

  5. Red Elk says:

    “Hobbit Hut” ? “Gnome Home” NOW COMPLEATE. IN USE! Got pictures BUT NEED TO SEND BY REG. MAIL. Need n ADDRESS to send um so ? can put it on site (IF WANTED).
    Ive MINER Touch Ups to yet do…but now can AT MY LEASURE. re

  6. Red Elk says:

    Had 2 visiters all wk.nd in hut…fireplace heated well. Elect cord to dome…light / raidio n Lap Top going. Many pic.s taken in n out by them. While waiting 4 them 2 OTHERS (strangers) stoped. Curious. Showed…MORE pic.s. “UNBELEIVABEL” “WOW” etc.. Ditto on the 2 exspected.
    Many “drop-ins” in the last few wks.. BUILT TO BE SEEN…to show what CAN be done CHEAPLY (n buy liveing “small”). Another allmost done…not fancy but liveabel. This at a request to teach “how”. I supervised as 44 yr old man n 14 yr old boy did…in 4 HOURS! Price? ALL Salvage matreail… NOT ONE CENT TO BUILD. Sleeps 2 but real nice as a One occupent dwelling.
    This one will NOT Last beyound 2 1/2 yrs.. Easy to redo then.
    Its ALL on ground…not in. Can be bermed. Aho? re

  7. Thresa Matthews says:

    I can see why wood might be a problem, but what’s the issue with cob?

    Wood posts can be replaced though, even if they are attacked by termites or rot.

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