Consider first the advantages of the shed roof:
DRAINAGE. All the precipitation which lands on the roof has a natural run-off down the hill and away from the house. It never gets a chance to back up against the uphill wall where it would surely leak through. It doesn't even flow off to the sides of the house where it could cause mischief. Instead, it flows downhill away from the house where it can present no problems.
EASE OF CONSTRUCTION. The shed type roof is the easiest of all to construct. It is simplicity itself. Twelve-year-old boys could construct this sort of roof. Many have, in fact, on their forts and tree houses. This means that any owner-builder can do the same no matter how inexperienced or incompetent. When built by a professional crew it means less labor costs.
FOLLOWS THE NATURAL CONTOUR OF THE HILL. The shed roof can and should follow the pitch of the hill (with the possible exception of where the hill is so steep as to cause problems). This makes the house blend in with the hill as all good houses do. It is an aesthetic plus.
HELPS TO DISTRIBUTE HEAT. Many back-to-the-lander owner/built houses do not have central heat, but rely instead on one or two stoves. Elevation changes and a shed roof will distribute the heat much more effectively than is the case with a flat roof/single elevation home (assuming, of course, that the stoves are put in the lower section).
Now consider the advantages of the Uphill Patio. There are ten of them. They are:
(2) LATERAL THRUST.
(3) EMERGENCY EXIT.
(4) AESTHETIC REASONS.
(6) ENERGY SAVINGS.
(7) BARBECUE WINDOWS.
(9) BALANCE OF LIGHT.
(10) CROSS VENTILATION.
Your number one problem on underground housing is DRAINAGE. As mentioned, the shed roof on our Basic Design effortlessly disposes of all precipitation that falls on the roof. But what about the water coming down the hill? The patio takes care of that.
The Uphill Patio allows water coming down the hill to soak into the earth below floor level before reaching the house. In areas of poorly draining soils, such as those with high clay content, a "French-drain" (trench filled with gravel or crushed rock) or other special drainage provision should be used in the patio and along the side walls. On the original $50 and $500 houses this has never been necessary. Though our part of Idaho is influenced by West Coast weather patterns, and I have experienced twenty-eight days of rain in one month, the Basic Design has done its work and kept the house from flooding. Sure, there was a little difficulty in the beginning with water flowing down a stairway to the lowest point in the patio, the point just outside the door. I temporarily solved the problem by digging a hole and bailing it out several times a day. Now I've removed the stairs and have deepened the hole to hit a layer of sand which drains the water away effortlessly. No more problems whatsoever. So . . . it may be said that the Basic Design will solve most drainage problems and that trie Basic Design/French drain combination should solve all others.
LATERAL THRUST, as previously mentioned, is the pressure exerted by the earth. Hillside creep is a hill itself slowly responding to gravity. We have seen how this effect may push in a wall or even bend a whole house out of shape. But not when there is an Uphill Patio.
The Uphill Patio eliminates the lateral thrust of hillside creep by eliminating the hillside itself—at least for some feet above the house. There can be no pressure if there is no hillside to exert it. True, the hillside must be shored up, and the shoring may in time push in. but it is far easier to repair shoring outside than the wall of a house.
Then too, the uphill shoring may be integrated with the frame of the house by means of braces. This may seem to be self defeating, that it puts the pressure back on the house, but consider: whereas with the First-Thought House there is nothing to counteract the pressure from the hill, with the Basic Design there is solid earth on the downhill side. If the hillside pushes from above it must push against the hillside below and the whole house will move with the hill without complication, the way a buried log might.
The First-Thought House may possibly inch further out of the ground, bend out of shape, or just cave in at the pressure point.
An EMERGENCY EXIT, or second en- i*™* trance, is possible with the Basic Design. It opens onto the Uphill Patio. It is only a secondary entrance here because one must climb up or down when using it. Where is the main entrance? Through the Royer Foyer or the gable where one may enter at floor level without stairs at all. Remember that the Basic Design is only Basic; there are other design features to be added.
The AESTHETIC REASONS for having an Uphill Patio, besides the fact that the patio is a thing of beauty itself being mostly garden, is that the windows are invisible to anyone other than those who are standing directly above the patio. In other words, the windows are not visible by neighbors either on the same slope, in the valley below, or from a possible opposing hillside. This should be of prime consideration where there is a high density of housing.
A GREENHOUSE can and should be constructed from the Uphill Patio. Cover the patio over with corrugated plastic, clear fiberglass, or tempered glass (remember things are prone to walk over surfaces which are at ground level) and you have one of the finest greenhouses imaginable. The perhaps 50 degrees radiating from the earth, the sun's energy being trapped beneath the fiberglass, and the heat loss from the windows of the house should keep that greenhouse warm without additional heat. By covering the greenhouse at night and cracking a window the plants should survive even the coldest temperatures.
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