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Earth-Sheltered Houses (PDF)
How to Build an Affordable Underground Home
An earth-sheltered, earth-roofed home has the least impact upon the land of all housing styles, leaving almost zero footprint on the planet.
Earth-Sheltered Houses is a practical guide for those who want to build their own underground home at moderate cost. It describes the benefits of sheltering a home with earth, including the added comfort and energy efficiency from the moderating influence of the earth on the home's temperature-keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer-low maintenance, and the protection against fire, sound, earthquake and storm afforded by the earth. Extra benefits from adding an earth or other living roof option include greater longevity of the roof substrate, fine aesthetics, and environmental harmony.
The book covers all of the various construction techniques involved including details on planning, excavation, footings, floor, walls, framing, roofing, waterproofing, insulation and drainage. Specific methods appropriate for the inexperienced owner-builder are a particular focus and include:
- pouring one's own footings and/or floor
- the use of dry-stacked (surface-bonded) concrete block walls
- post-and-beam framing
- plank-and-beam roofing, and
- drainage methods and self-adhesive waterproofing membranes.
The time-tested, easy-to-learn construction techniques described in Earth-Sheltered Houses will enable readers to embark upon their own building projects with confidence, backed up by a comprehensive resources section that lists all the latest products such as waterproofing membranes, types of rigid insulation and drainage products that will protect the building against water damage and heat loss.
Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series
Author/editor Rob Roy has been building, researching and teaching about cordwood masonry for 25 years and, with his wife, started Earthwood Building School in 1981. He has written ten books on alternative building, presented four videos-including two about cordwood masonry-and has taught cordwood masonry all over the world.
"If there were a Pulitzer prize for building books, Rob Roy would surely have won it by now. His books are always a pleasure to read — witty, entertaining, and informative. This latest volume provides crucial and hard-to-find details about a sticky subject — how to design, build, and waterproof the parts of a house that are in direct contact with the earth. For lack of some of the information in this book, one of my first living roofs has sprung multiple recurring leaks. I'm about to tear it off and replace it the right way — using Earth-Sheltered Houses as my guide."
Michael G. Smith, co-editor of The Art of Natural Building and co-author of The Hand-Sculpted House
"Rob Roy is the guru the of the earth sheltered home movement. Earth-Sheltered Houses is based on years of practical experience building and living in earth sheltered homes. The diagrams, photos, and charts make it a must have resource for anyone considering building with this medium. And better yet, the humor and wisdom of the writing make it a fun read."
Tehri Parker, Executive Director, Midwest Renewable Energy Association
"If it's "conventional" advice you are seeking — on home design, construction, or financing — Rob Roy is not your man. But if you are receptive to new solutions, Rob Roy is a fountain of new ideas. He is one of the truly original thinkers of our time."
Stephen Morris, founder of The Public Press and publisher, Green Living Journal
"Finally, a detailed yet user-friendly book on earth sheltered houses. As always, cordwood-masonry master Rob Roy offers a hands-on, accessible read on the advantages (comfort and savings from thermal mass, living roofs, affordability and dependability) and challenges (insulation and waterproofing) of one of man's earliest and simplest forms of housing."
Andre Fauteux, publisher/editor, La Maison du 21e siecle magazine
"At last a comprehensive, authoritative book on earth-sheltered home building. This valuable book contains a wealth of accurate and clearly presented information on one of the most important ways to build environmentally friendly, energy-efficient homes."
Dan Chiras, author of The Solar House ; The Natural House ; The New Ecological Home ; and The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy
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