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Advantages & Disadvantages

As with any type of dwelling, you'll find advantages and disadvantages in building underground homes, as well as in living in them. They offer an ecological answer to overpopulated suburban areas, and they are quite efficient.

What are the pros and cons of underground homes?

So, there are pluses and minuses to consider when you look into building one of these unique houses.

As you enter the planning stages, you'll quickly learn that not many companies build earth-sheltered homes, as compared to those that build conventional houses. Financing can also be hard to obtain, unless you find a lender who has dealt with earth homes before. They are often concerned about the resale value that an underground house might have.

Agents of Change ...

Insuring earth-sheltered homes shouldn't be a problem, since they can withstand almost anything Mother Nature - or man - can dish out. But once again, insurance agents may not have insured this kind of housing before.

Once you have your home built, you'll enjoy anywhere from 50 to 95 percent savings in energy to keep your house warm and cool, as the seasons change. The concrete used in building underground houses stores heat effectively, leading to less need for heating units inside.

The temperature inside underground houses is much steadier than that of traditional homes, and the range of temperatures is fairly comfortable, even if you don't use an extra fireplace in the winter or air conditioner in the summer.

Underground Living

Concerning Concerns ...

People who are considering building subsurface houses do have concerns about sufficient lighting, good building sites and control of moisture. Earth-sheltered houses may cost between 10 and 30-percent more to build. But in return, the house will last much longer than conventional homes. The concrete used is almost maintenance-free, with a life of nearly 1000 years.

People also worry that the home itself will be foreboding and dark. But using the proper site selection and the optimal design options for your site will allow it to be light and airy. In addition, you can create light that looks more natural by using indirect lighting.

Old cellars and basements tended to become musty and humid, and people fear that this will happen with earth sheltered homes, as well. But choosing a suitable site and taking care to use proper drainage and sealing techniques will allow the humidity to remain within comfortable levels. Musty odors can be avoided by the use of fans, pumps and ventilators, to keep the air moving.

If feeling claustrophobic, it may be important to make frequent trips outside.

The importance of many green and security issues have factored into the record number of people who are building underground housing today. Storm protection, energy efficiency, natural light and low maintenance are all important aspects of a comfortable home. It's also important to builders and buyers that green products are used, and that the landscaping is disturbed as little as possible. Or at least the home is integrated into the landscaping in a pleasing manner.

In Summary ...

Usually, when building earth-sheltered homes, it is possible to conserve the area's natural resources, including land as well as energy. Most sub-surface home buyers are concerned with the money they can save by living in a home of this type. But almost equally important are that these homes are energy efficient, ecologically friendly and offer a high amount of security. Once you weigh the advantages against the disadvantages, you may discover that living the life of a gopher isn't nearly as bad as you had previously thought.

Written by Kevin Knatloa

First Published on November 05, 2012

Updated December 09, 2014