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 downhill side of a Basic Design without creating drainage problems.
We are not overly enthused about gables. Of the Five Methods of Design it is the one
we recommend least. Gables jut up out of the Basic Design ruining the purity of form. They are difficult to cover with earth (it tends to slide off). They invite heat loss and are more prone to be buffeted by winds with the corresponding lower wind chill factor. Gables are more conspicuous to neighbors. If a tree falls across a gable it is likely to squash it, whereas if one falls across a Royer Foyer or a normal shed roof there is solid earth in most cases on all sides to absorb much of the blow. Finally, gables present ticklish engineering and construction problems which should not be tackled by the novice. If you are building your first underground house and are not a professional or solid amateur builder, pass up the gable for the time being. The Royer Foyer concept is more for the likes of us.
The gabled house depicted here has 700 square feet with an additional 400 square feet of attached greenhouse. It is designed for the limited income homesteader who wishes to do without—or cannot afford— electricity. Kitchen water is provided by catching runoff from the greenhouse covering. Drinking water is hauled. Built commercially, the house should probably sell for under $5,000. Even paying for new carpet, stove and greenhouse roofing, the owner-builder should be able to build for well under half that amount.
Four Eastern Methods of Design
There are four additional methods of getting light and sometimes air and views in an underground. These are favored by the eastern architects, the ones who build with concrete. They are not much used by the owner-builders out west, but in certain instances they may have merit. For this reason we will examine them briefly.
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