Author Mike Oehler built his first underground house in 1971 for $50. He published an article on it in '72 and began the first of several winters hitchhiking around to American universities lecturing on underground housing and the back-to-the-land movement, sponsored by architecture departments and student environmental groups. In 1975, with the internship help of architecture student Chris Royer, he tripled the size of his home for $500 including wall-to-wall carpeting. It would increase to $2,000 when the $500 wood burning stove and solar electrical system were later added.
In 1978 he published "The $50 & Up Underground House Book" (illustrated by Royer) to instant acclaim including more than 45 enthusiastic print reviews. One was in the Dutch magazine, De Twaalf Ambachten, which led to a Dutch TV crew flying in to shoot a national program of his work (he was building internationally also for clients through his company Hobbit Housing). In 1982 the magazine sponsored Oehler for a lecture/workshop tour of the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, England and Scotland.
All during this period Oehler was inventing and building the highly successful earth-sheltered solar greenhouses which require no heat, plus two more small underground houses, a small root cellar and an underground sauna - all dug and built with hand tools by Oehler and volunteers on his 40 acre homestead. His international projects built for clients were all dug and constructed with machinery and power tools.
In 1992 Oehler brought out a three volume video set on underground design and building. In 1997 the BBC shot the first of two episodes about him, and in 2001 HGTV, the American Home and Garden Television Network did a segment on him, which still is occasionally shown periodically.
In 2007 Oehler published "The Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book" which has so far garnered nine enthusiastic reviews and is scheduled for a second printing. The "$50 and Up Underground House Book" (14 printings) is sold internationally on Amazon.com and undergroundhousing.com, nationally through several distributors and catalogues, in the UK by Eco-Logic Books and in the Netherlands by De Twaalf Ambachten.
Oehler has four books altogether in print, three DVD's, one video, and one CD. He at present is writing two more books, completing three more underground structures on his land and is brining out a web television site, "Hipnet.TV".
Oehler has co-published with both Van Norstrand Reinhold Company, Inc. and Keokee Co. Publishing, Inc.
Oehler has been interviewed live on numerous radio and television programs, has been written up nationally by the Associated Press, and twice by the New York Times.
Oehler has been a longshoreman, teamster union construction worker, landscaper, busboy, bartender, warehouseman, oil refinery laborer, cotton picker, apple picker, cannery worker, Alaskan commercial salmon fisherman, Alaskan gold miner, camp consular, lifeguard, soldier, dishwasher, firefighter, tree planter, mill hand, rail splitter, beach bum and ski bum.