Underground housing - Posted by Lee

Posted by chi ming on August 09, 2010 at 22:28:57:


Underground housing - Posted by Lee

Posted by Lee on August 09, 2010 at 10:06:52:

Underground housing

I have no experience with underground houses and want to learn about them.

I found a strip of land 300 feet wide (North South) by 1320 feet long where the North property line is about 100 feet higher than the South property line. It would be perfect for underground structures? single or multifamily residential, commercial or storage. The North, West and East would be underground; the (glass) South wall would receive sun most of the year.

Anyone here ever bought, built or lived in an underground house or know anyone who has or does? I am really tired of insurance and electric companies raising rates. I think what I am really saying is I want choice, I?m tired of being controlled? they want to raise rates, I have to pay them!

I called my insurance agent to inquire about what they would charge for an underground house, the agent checked with corporate. Corporate said we don?t insure underground houses. I questioned the agent, why not? But didn?t receive a worthwhile answer, then thought, why would they?

No high wind risk, it can?t be blown down by a tornado or hurricane, no shingles to blow away.
Can be flooded but insurance companies don?t write policies for floods, the fed does.
Earthquake risk? Not really, structure would stay still (in the ground) and would not sway back and forth like above ground structures do.
Outside fire risk? (Would my house burn down in a wildfire?) No! Nothing on the surface to burn.
Inside fire risk? Sure! But use non-flammable interior surfaces and install a fire suppression system.
Inside fire risk? (second thought) One escape route. (unless it is built with two or more)
Inside risk of smoke due to fire? Build-in primary and backup smoke ventilation (fresh air system) system? need that anyway.
Small chance of burglary.


Termite or other insect risk? No, structure is made of steel and concrete.

Utility fluctuations (in usage)? No, the ground stays at a constant temperature year round. Temperatures vary, depending where you are in the country.

Only one exterior wall to do maintance on. North, West and East would be underground, (glass) South wall would receive sun most of the year.

Can apply lots of insulation ?an ice chest within an ice chest? for very minimum heating and air conditioning costs.

I have heard there is a mold/ mildew risk in underground houses. Is that true? Seems like a central air and or heating unit or a dehumidifier with air circulating fan would solve the problem.

Dark? Only South wall has windows. Install skylights as needed.

Are mortgages available? Do they cost more?

Do other companies sell insurance for underground houses? What would they cover?

What other words are underground houses known as?

Know any sites about underground houses you care to pass along?

Know any stories, good or bad about underground houses?

Other things to consider?

What am I overlooking?

What do you think?


Unconventional housing types - Posted by JT-IN

Posted by JT-IN on August 10, 2010 at 08:25:52:

Unconventional housing types, aka underground houses (as well as other off the wall designs) do not hold value like conventional construction. If and when you ever go to sell this style of home (and that probably isn’t your concern now) the market for someone who will consider such a structure is very slim.

As to the insurance, the answer that they wouldn’t give you is that most ppl that build or live in an underground house are eccentirc, and since there is no way to enter an eccentric rider into a policy, they simply refuse the risk associated with undgrd housing, and the eccenticities that go along with them. Claims history tells ins cos what type of ppl are more prone toward claims, and you guessed it, those who lean toward living in an undgrd house pop up high on the list. So they don’t want you as a risk, plain and simple! These would potentially be the same ppl who would resort to stealing cable TV because they want to reduce their cost of living; sorry. Again a generalization and this may be too broad of a gunshot pattern and hit you when it shouldn’t, but profiles and trends in types of ppl are far more accurate than most would think; accurial science can pigeon hole most of us into our category as to whether we will be likely to have a claim or not, and why.

Construction cost of an undgrd home is maybe 15-20% less, and yes some utilities will be cheaper, but what you give up in the long term potential of property value is probably far greater, IMO. I have seen these homes go for sale out in the country and sit and sit… eventually selling for far less. Most banks aren’t lending on any ratio against the value of improvements, because they do not view them as an improvement; simply the value of the land solely.

There are lots more angles to this, but you see where I fall on the subject. Not a good decision, IMO. I would much rather build with ICF (insulated concrete forms) or SIPS (structural insulated panels), which both cost more to build than conv construction costs; (ICF = + 20%, SIPS = + 5-8%), but when you are finished you have a super energy efficient home, much more structurally sound than conv construction and yet you have preserved value as well. Maybe added additional value in years to come as energy costs rise and green energy homes add weight to the appeal and resale price. Oh yeah, and a banker will loan you money on improved value for either of those two approaches, unlike undgrd homes.

Re: Underground housing - Posted by michaela-CA

Posted by michaela-CA on August 09, 2010 at 11:05:11:


I don’t have experience with underground housing, so take this answer for what it’s worth ;-).

I have read that initial construction is about 20% above standard construction, so that is a negative as an investor, as I’d assume that you don’t necessarily get that back in as income.

In fact, you will probably have a smaller pool of tenants that are willing to live there. Granted, those that are awed by this would probably be willing to pay more, just to be able to live there.

Since this is not a well-known construction method, I think you might have a difficult time getting people to get past their fear of getting crushed. Claustrophobia can be very real in something like this.

While I find unusual building techniques very interesting for residential homes, I’m not so sure that they would be a really great investment for rentals.

Just my thoughts