Skylights

Tell anyone that you live in an underground house that has a lot of windows and after the initial puzzlement they suddenly beam, Oh, you must mean skylights, huh Not a chance. To our way of thinking skylights are more hassle than they are worth. They have these disadvantages (1) They bleed the heat out of your house. If a window loses fifteen times more heat than a well insulated wall then a skylight is that much worse for the heat in any given room tends to gather up towards the ceiling. (2)...

Indroduction About Underground Houses

This is a highly personal book, perhaps too much so. I can't help it. I could no more write a dry technical manual than I could dance the Swan Lake Ballet. I have strong opinions, likes and dislikes. They are bound to find their way into these pages. If at times this book sounds like the drunk bellowing at the end of the bar, it was written, after all, by the drunk who is often seen at the end of the bar, bellowing. My dislikes may offend you. Tisk tisk. So chat you may brace yourself, or so...

The Offset Room

By offsetting a second room so that it protrudes into the Uphill Patio you may get a whole section of windows which face a new direction altogether. There are a number of advantages to doing this. First, you have the same advantages of a controlled view that you have with the Uphill Patio. Nothing that your neighbors construct is likely to be visible from the windows in the Offset section. Secondly, you get the effect of a second garden for the price and effort of the first. This is to say...

Recitals

Consideration Amount _, paid by_ 6. Length of Time to be completed _ NOW THEREFORE IT IS MUTUALLY AGREED AS FOLLOWS 1. That Property Owner shall permit the demolition of the structure described above on the property described above and Wrecker-Salvager agrees to demolish the same in the length of time set forth above. 2. Wrecker-Salvager agrees to clean up the site of the building and agrees to remove all rubbish and debris except the removal of any foundations, and...

Construction Techniques

You are capable of building an underground house without prior building experience. I firmly believe this. I believe a fourteen year old boy could do it. I think a lady could do it. Someone handicapped could do it if he had help with the heavier structural timbers. It's even possible a few businessmen could do it. Now I'm not writing with a forked typewriter. With PSP the job is simplicity itself. Except for around the doors and windows there's no carpentry more difficult than notching a beam....

The Peaked Roof House

Instead of bowing the roof you might want to put a peak in it like most conventional above ground houses, though the peak need not be so pronounced. The greater the pitch the better the drainage. On the other hand the greater the pitch the harder it is to keep earth up there. It may tend to slide or wash off if the pitch is too great. A steep incline also makes it more difficult to utilize the roof as a lawn area, for example. The pitch can be minimized somewhat by mounding more earth towards...

Shed Roof Flat Land House

Here is another favorite flat land design. This shed roof house has a wall of windows facing south. From the dining and living rooms the windows look out on the greenhouse. From the kitchen the windows face the barbecue area and sunken patio. The kitchen and living room also have windows which face east and west respectively. These occur where the roof rises above natural ground level. In addition each bedroom has its own set of windows and door facing a sunken landscaped patio. Roof drainage...

Gables

For those who absolutely will not be satisfied unless they have a view directly downhill, who are threatening in their minds to build a First-Thought House despite all we have said, to these people we offer a compromise the downhill gable. Gables are peaks which jut out of roofs. They are common sights on above ground houses. Most top floors on peaked roofed houses have gables when that floor is used for habitation rather than as an attic. It can be a way of adding windows and even doors to the...

X16

Recently lengthened the expectancy to fifty years, and it may go higher. (Penta is also too new to have been field tested for a long period.) The wooden walls should last nearly as long as the polyethylene behind them. Wooden beams do well. There are wooden beams on old mill buildings in the eastern part of the country which are as sturdy after two hundred years as they were when they were installed. Some buildings in England are reported to have load-carrying beams four hundred years old. The...

The Basic Design

If not the First-Thought House, what then is a design which is suitable for hillside underground construction We offer the Basic Design, the design of the original 50 underground house and of all our subsequent hillside work. It's a design of proven success. The Basic Design consists of two things (1) a shed roof house with many windows which face (2) an excavated patio on the uphill side. It looks like this INVITES ELEVATION CHANGES WITHIN A HOUSE. Elevation changes within a room or between...

The Bowed Roof House

If you are building a square or rectangularly shaped house you might get good roof drainage and a pleasingly different ceiling effect by bowing the roof. The drainage would run off to the sides where there are French drains and solid earth. The front and back of the house would face out onto sunken patios or greenhouses or both. The roof could come above ground level if you desired the view. The total effect when seen from a distance would be that of a pleasing small landscaped mound or hill.

Atriums

An atrium is a small interior courtyard in a house usually fronted on all sides by windows and sliding glass doors. It is covered in the winter with glass or corrugated plastic greenhouse roofing, or with some other material such as fiberglass. This helps to keep the heat down over the windows and sometimes makes possible a greenhouse. Our objection to atriums is that the view from any one wall of windows is of three other walls of windows. Aluminum and glass Compare that to the view of an...

Clerestory Flat Land Design

By turning the pitched roofed house into a split level and adding a clerestory, we get the Clerestory Flat Land Design. It is a home with windows and views in four directions. Each room in the house excepting the bathrooms and root cellar (which should be separated farther from the house) has floor to ceiling windows facing either the north or south sunken patios. The living room and master bedroom also have, in addition, windows to the east through the clerestory, and windows to the west...

Firstthought House

Right here, before going any further, we will eliminate what, for lack of a better name, I call the First-Thought House. I call it this because it is the design that 99 per cent of the people think of first when considering an underground house on a hillside. It is the design that I considered first myself. Fortunately, there was a six month wait between my decision to go underground and the actual start of construction and in the interim I was able to think my way clear. The First-Thought...

The Firstthought Design

We have gone into our objections to the First-Thought Design in some detail already. As you recall, the First-Thought involves a house with a facade of windows facing downhill and a solid back wall abutting the hillside. In the worst version of this design the roof is pitched back into the hill backing up the roof runoff against the drainage from the hill. The other common variation has a flat roof. As we have mentioned both of these can cause disastrous drainage problems especially with the...

Lightwells

Lightwells are hollow, usually round, shafts of concrete which come from the surface down into the interior of a house to bring in light. The interiors of the shafts are always covered with a reflective paint. There is no question that lightwells do the job they can provide a surprising amount of light. They have their place under certain difficult design conditions, particularly where the application is to be an industrial one. Who can deny that, in this era of energy shortage, it is...

The Uphill Patio

We have seen how the Uphill Patio solves the problems of drainage and lateral thrust, how it functions as an emergency exit or second entrance, how it adds to the aesthetic appeal of a given neighborhood, and why it makes the perfect greenhouse and promotes energy savings. Now we'll see how the Uphill Patio allows a good view, a balance of light, and cross ventilation. Remember first that on the designs of most underground houses today the wall against the hill is solid with no windows. A few...

What An Underground House Is

Perhaps we should start with what an underground house is not. An underground house is not dark, damp and dirty. It is not airless and gloomy. It is absolutely not a basement. An underground house has no more in common with a basement, Than a penthouse apartment has in common with a hot, dark, dusty attic. A basement is not designed for human habitat. It is a place to put the furnace and store junk. It is constructed to reach below the frost line so that the frost heaves don't crumple the...

Moving To An Area Which Has No Building Code

This upon first glance seems like the easiest, most sensible solution to the problem. It might even work. On the other hand it might not, either. If not, it will leave you embittered and frustrated beyond description. Why might it not work Because one by one the various areas are adopting the code. It is quite possible for you to buy land, and in perhaps the six months it takes you to get your project started, find that the code has been passed. Codes are being adopted in some areas over...

Subdivisions

Is there an American with a sense of beauty who doesn't hate the sight of the subdivisions which have defiled our landscape Yet here is where underground housing offers one of its greatest potentials. By putting our subdivisions underground we can have neighborhoods of unequaled aesthetic appeal. Walking down the street of an underground subdivision would be like taking a walk in a park, or in the country. The stroller would see beautifully landscaped mounds with only an occasional door or...

The Royer Foyer

The Royer Foyer is a design invention which allows us to have a good view down a hill without rechanneling the flow of drainage or interrupting the purity of design of a shed roof. The Royer Foyer sneaks into the hillside rather than protruding from it. It makes possible a downhill view from windows that are all but concealed from neighbors. The Royer Foyer is constructed by excavating a pie-shaped slice away from the house on a down side corner. This excavation is made from the side of the...

Waiver Of Liability And Hold Harmless

Underground House Damp Control

Wrecker-Salvager hereby agrees to waive any and all liability against the Property Owner for any actual or potential liability arising from accidents which occur during the demolition of the building. 6. Wrecker-Salvager further agrees that he shall hold the Property Owner harmless from any liability accrued as a result of injury to workman provided by the Wrecker-Salvager, or in the employee of the Wrecker-Salvager, or acting as his individual contractors. 7. All reference to Property Owner,...