Hand-Build an Earth Sheltered House For $5,000

December 1, 2008


In this article, we’re focusing on a really cool niche design trend that has been gaining steam in recent years – the earth sheltered home. What basically appears as an underground house, this cool new design trend might be everything you want in sustainable architecture.

But for as cool as this structure looks, people generally have one question, why? What are the benefits of this underground home? Why is earth sheltering worthwhile? It looks cool, but is there any real benefit? This article is here to answer these questions and more.

We will start by outlining the process of building an earth sheltered structure, and then will look at a real world example of earth shelterhome design. Finally, we will give you some pros & cons of this type of building, in case you are interested in trying it yourself.

Let’s start by outlining exactly what earth sheltered building is:

What is an Earth Sheltered House?

An earth sheltered house is essentially what it sounds like. Also known as an earth house or underground house, an earth sheltered house is a house that is “sheltered” on many sides by earth. This means that the natural earth makes up the walls and roof of the home, or the entire house is dug underground. This is often attainable by digging into the side of a hill, but there are more complicated variants that exist.

So whether you build into the side of a hill, dig an underground structure, or simply cover a structure with living earth and soil, there are many ways to attain the earth sheltered house. These houses are typically constructed for their sustainability. It is an all-natural way of living, and allows you to live without disturbing nature.

Additionally, as we will explore next, these homes are quite simple and affordable. Of course, you can get as fancy as you want with them, but at their roots they are quite simple. Let’s look at a couple who achieved an earth sheltered house for only around $5000:

Real Life Story 

Cash, that most basic element of our economy, can be in abysmally short supply for new young families scraping by on marginal jobs.

Sustainable housebuilding may not be foremost in their minds.

But one young couple in Wales managing on an annual income of just $10,000 went ahead and built their own cheap home anyway, sustainably, mostly out of materials from “a rubbish pile somewhere.”

They had wanted to spend as much time as possible at home while their two children were young. Their nearby woodlands ecological management work would have been impractical if they were paying a mortgage.