Earth Sheltered Links

I have collected quite a large number of links (found throughout this site) and will eventually add many of them here.  Some are links to sites about earth sheltered homes, others are for specific homes or articles about homes…

Schematic from John Hait’s website

This is a classic site.  John Hait is famous for this Umbrella idea, which we also plan to incorporate in our home…   His site will help you understand a lot of what we plan to do.  He also self published a book. His umbrella concept actually made it into Popular Science (Aug 86), which is quite an accomplishment.   One of the main differences is that my design calls for “By-passive Solar” to avoid some of the problems associated with direct heat gain into the living space.

Note: I actually got the insulation umbrella idea from an older book published by the University of Minnesota in 1979 (which John Hait may also have seen before building his home)…


Cold Rolled Steel IBeam framework is the key element of a Formworks EarthShelter

Formworks appears to be one of the best companies out there for helping you build your own Earth Sheltered Home…   Actually, I find their Facebook page to be even more interesting than their webset and well stocked with pictures.  Unfortuneatly, they would not work with me. I can’t blame them, they have a stream lined process and I wanted to deviate from it in several areas.  However, my home will use some similar concepts, such as cold rolled steel to support the rebar and shotcrete.   Interestingly, apparently there was a split in the company (I don’t know the whole story) and the brother owns Performance Building Systems, which also builds similar earth sheltered homes.


The underside of a Terradome roof form

Terradome is another way to go…  They use standard forms to create monolithic concrete units up to 28ft x 28ft.  They actually have a trailer that lifts the ceiling form into place with a hydrolic ram.  They pour the units one at a time, then move the form over and pour it again.  The company has been around a while and built many earth shelters very affordably.  I also like that you can get a good idea of the full cost, up front, on their site.  However, I didn’t want to live in a box (or series of boxes) and I thought they looked too bunker like.  I did imagine that it would be possible to build a nice earth/italiante style home with a nice square tower to access your roof lawn…

Bill Lishman built his house from Rebar sprayed with cement (shotcrete) and covered with earth. The forms are very organic.

The movie “Fly Away Home” was based on Bill Lishman (played by Jeff Daniels).  I think the movie left out the part about him living in an undergound house because they didn’t want him to appear too kooky, or maybe because it would have been a tricky set to build…   I think this is where I originally got the idea for building with shotcrete.  However, it turns out that spraying from underneath results in a lot more mess (rebound) and no one wants to deal with carting out the mess by wheelbarrow.   His house is also interesting because instead of using I beams to hold the shape of the rebar and shotcrete, he made custom trusses by welding together bits of rebar.  Anyway, our home will not be much like this, but still an interesting site.

The reciprocal roof beams in this small home are stunning


Everyone has to find this hobbit style house charming… Simon Dale built it for less than £3000. I am not sure I would want to live in it, but it sure is gorgeous.


One of many homes designed by Peter Vetsch

Architect Peter Vetsch, is one of the most famous earth shelteted home architects in Europe.  His homes are very organic looking.  My main concern is that he doesn’t seem too worried about heat loss thru the concrete.   Here in Michigan, where the climate is more severe, I need to be very careful about heat loss.  When I first started down this path, I found his buildings and plans very inspiring.


Michelle’s own home has a very traditional Mansard style roof (parapet) to help it blend into her more “normal” neighborhood.

Michelle put this website together about her earth sheltered dreams.  She ended up just buying one instead, but this site gets an A for enthusiasm, so I thought I would include it on my list.  She has a series of links to other earth sheltered projects, and I have gone thru them all.






RockHouses_England UndergroundGardenMessy Nessy Blogs about offbeat and unique things, including Earth Sheltered Homes.  Here are two articles that were shared recently on the Malcolm Wells Yahoo group.  This first one is about Englands abandoned Rock Houses.  And this second one is about a hand-dug underground home and garden (Forestiere Gardens) in California.  I think you can find more on the site if you dig around a bit.


Solar Links

Solar 101 Basics looks like a pretty comprehensive look at all things solar.



That is it for now…  More to come later.

Response to Links

  1. I truly find this a interesting subject. Never looked at this subject in this manner. If you are planning to create more articles relating to this subject, I definitely will be back in the near future!