Charlie

Underground houses

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Just got a call about doing an underground house. Anybody have any experience with this?  I don't do many new houses, so not really interested, but told them I would inquire to see if anybody else may want to take on such a project. Central Kentucky area.

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Wouldn’t it be pretty similar to doing a finished basement?

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Turned one down last week. The client wanted to build the underground house first and then, somewhere down the road, add an additional floor. I asked if they knew what the next phase layout upstairs would be and they said no (naturally). I told them I couldn't assume the liability of designing basically a basement without knowing what the upper loads would eventually be. I tried to explain to her that the way they were going about it was not good and they would run into problems later when the basement floor was poured, lived in, and then had to be torn in to for new footers and pads later. She was not too happy but I have learned to just skip these. My 2-cents.

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3 minutes ago, Ridge_Runner said:

Turned one down last week.

 

Same client possibly or is this a fad.   Definitely want to be sure things are properly engineered so the dozer does not fall in while back filling.

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It is a fad around here. Some want to just build the basement portion, live in it for some time period, and then, when they get more money :), build up. A few of the builders here actually recommend this method; gets them another job and then they move on. Probably would not come back to do the next phase! Everybody wants to save a buck, even if it costs them much more later. Same way with "barndominiums" here. Frame it like a hay barn and finish it out, only they don't want to spend the money on the outside to at least make it look better. I have done several - ugly to say the least.

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7 minutes ago, Ridge_Runner said:

It is a fad around here. Some want to just build the basement portion, live in it for some time period, and then, when they get more money :), build up.

 

So they engineer it for back fill and sod, or just put a tarp over the subfloor and let it get all moldy ?

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2 minutes ago, Chopsaw said:

So they engineer it for back fill and sod, or just put a tarp over the subfloor and let it get all moldy ?

That would look better!:) They actually put a pitched roof on them with ceiling joists. All of the roofing has to be demolished in the next phase - if the next phase ever comes. Like I said, it is a crazy idea to me. There is one not far from me that was built probably 30-40 years ago; still there. But they left it a basement house (we call them) - dirt backfill on 3-sides up to within 18-24" of the roof eaves.

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Look up Malcolm Wells, he wrote book called Underground Designs circa 1981. He was a famous proponent of Underground Architecture. What you refused to build was pretty much just a bermed foundation or walk-out basement without the house. I would have suggested designing a one or two bedroom ranch layout and put attic floor trusses for the future upper floor with some strategic dormer(s) or egress skylights. Plenty of  wall in the gable ends for windows and if oriented properly could have created a passive solar design. You can't fault a person for wanting an inexpensive upfront solution for their living situation.-bb

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12 minutes ago, Archnot-Boltz said:

You can't fault a person for wanting an inexpensive upfront solution for their living situation.-bb

I agree, until I asked if they would eventually want an upper floor over it, which she said "that was the plan."

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