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Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable... (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) Paperback – March 1, 2006

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Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable... (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) + The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book + The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book
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Product Details

  • Series: Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: New Society Publishers; 1st Printing Stated edition (March 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865715211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865715219
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rob Roy is a former contractor with twelve previous books to his credit, including Cordwood Building and Timber Framing for the Rest of Us. An expert on underground building, he founded the Earthwood Building School in 1981 with his wife, Jaki, and is frequently a speaker at events throughout North America.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 54 customer reviews
Very good reference book.
minnette blake smith
They now rank with Wharton Publishing as one of my favored publishers, and I will be keeping an eye out for anything bearing their imprint.
Robert David STEELE Vivas
This book has great instructions on building an earth sheltered dwelling, but it has a lot of construction specifics.
Tina Ward

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I went to some trouble to survey books centered on both underground or into rock dwellings, and also earth sheltered homes, and this book is the best I could find. It has proven to be everything I had hoped for.

This book deals with earth-sheltered homes, which are homes generally built on the ground, and then covered with natural dirt and growth on the roof only, or on the roof and the berms of earth piled against at least two of the sides after the fact of building.

This is a really excellent offering. 12 chapters, 4 appendices, and an annotated bibliography. A number of really nice color photographs on eight pages in the middle of the book, many black and white photos as well as really excellent understandable diagrams.

Take-aways include the need for extremely careful but not over the top load planning, radon as a factor to take seriously, and ANYONE CAN DO THIS.

The book covers waterproofing, insulation, and drainage, to include waste drainage where gravity rather than pumping is strongly recommended. It does not cover electrical and plumbing installation. It covers energy in relation to sunlight and windows and heat retention curtains, but does not include coverage of skylights (except as an energy loss factor), interior lights and other "plumbing.

The bottom line in the book is that a solid earth-sheltered house can be built for $10K to $20K inclusive of appliances, plumbing and so on, which makes it a lot cheaper and greatly more sustainable than a double-wide trailer home, and better in most respects than your average rambler.

With Peak Oil now upon on, the energy saving features of the earth-sheltered home are not to be taken lightly.
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114 of 114 people found the following review helpful By J. Wagner on August 31, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great book! If you really wanted to build your own earth-sheltered home you could certainly do it using the information presented here (though a wiser course would be to pick up more sources). Thanks to this book and "The New Ecological Home", building our own home with environmentally conscious materials and possibly earth bermed or sheltered is high on our list of priorities. There is only one complaint I have about many books of this variety. They tend to cover difficulties with things like building code and location very lightly.

Building code and location are going to be huge factors in building an earth sheltered structure, especially one made with fewer traditional modern building materials. Difficulties with local regulations or inflexible inspectors/building comissions may prevent you from being able to build in the area you want. This may drive an individual to build in locations further away from urban centers where they might work. Commuting is no fun; and if you wanted to look at it from an environmental standpoint commuting a greater distance to work, grocery market or schools has just raised your carbon footprint and negated some of the savings your earth sheltered home has created.

I would highly recommend that individuals check local code thoroughly and choose a location suitable to their daily needs such as work or other social necessities before building. One need not build out of logs and plaster to have an earth sheltered home, though I understand that the point of this book is to have an affordable home and avoiding expensive modern materials. Take a bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish; if you are purchasing this book it is somewhat safe to assume you are concerned about the environment.
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88 of 88 people found the following review helpful By Sean J. Gildea on March 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
An excellent reference for those who are interested in Earth Bermed and Earth Sheltered houses. His attention to detail in the excavation and foundation chapters is worth the price of the book alone. Especially when there is a lack of in depth internet resources available for those wishing to build their own earth sheltered house. Although this book deserves the 5 stars for fulfilling its basic promise, I wish he had devoted some time to discussing plumbing for a simple structure. But overall, he gives this reader 90% of the information necessary to start a small sized earth bermed house.

If you are looking to have an earth roof, you will need to purchase his other book "Timber Framing" where he goes into rich detail the structural engineering requirements of load and tension and compression. With these 2 books, you should be able to complete rough plans for a structural engineer to review and stamp with little or none modifications.

Also, for those searching for energy efficient stoves, I recommend's institutional rocket stove or Ianto Evans Rocket Stove which are both 300% more efficient than traditional wood stoves.

On a conclusionary note. I priced out timber framing members for the roof section of a square 30'x30' roof and it came out to over $9000 in timber alone ( not including the tongue & groove planking). Compare that to a traditional 8/12 pitch roof somewhere in the $3000 price range for rafters, ridge, and plywood. Put a metal roof on that and you should be good for over 30 years atleast. Sure the earth roof is better for the ecosystem and eye but a regular roof allows placement of rainwater collection, solartubes and solar heaters/panels as well. For the cost conscious, I have come to the conclusion that a traditional roof that is superinsulated along with the earth berming techniques in this book will allow people to have their own energy efficient house for less than they think.
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