We could be happy underground

I’m rereading The Hobbit, and in the first pages Tolkien describe’s Bilbo’s house, which is a branching hole dug into a hillside.

This seems like a nice way to live: sturdy, cozy and (it must be said), heat-efficient, with an incredible R-value.

So, does anyone live this way? And why isn’t it more common? I’d guess a hobbit-house would be more expensive to build, because of the excavation required, but after that it should be really cheap.

(This OP seems borderline between GQ and IMHO. Since I don’t expect there’s a single “right” answer to this, I’m choosing IMHO.)

I’ve seen a house on the Isle of Palms (SC) that’s built into a hillside. I think the initial expense is just prohibitive enough to stop most people from doing this.

That and you can’t have any windows.

Yeah, especially if the women from Cleopatra 2525 are there with me. :slight_smile:

We had a neighbor when I was a kid whose home was built into a hillside. Actually, they tore off the side of the hill, built the house, and then piled the dirt back on top of it, but the end result was the same.

Aside from the lack of sunlight, which could get really depressing, I would think that moisture and mildew would be an ongoing problem. Plus, if you happen to be in a high-radon area, you are sealing yourself in with the gas.

I was going to say this. If you forced me to live underground with you, you’d be pretty miserable, pretty quick. My mood is drasticallyy influenced by the weather, and if I don’t get sunlight for a while, it’s LeonaHelmsley-city for everyone around.



[Homer Simpson]Mmmm…forcing jarbaby…[/Homer Simpson]

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Bilbo Baggins’s house went into the hillside at an angle, so all the rooms on one side of the house did indeed have windows.

And besides that, you could drill shafts down from the hilltop to provide skylights if you wanted. Not that I would myself; I like dark holes. Sometimes I think I have anti-SAD, if there is such a thing.

spoke-, what was that family’s house like inside? Isn’t the radon scare just a voguish paranoia? And wouldn’t good ventilation take care of that anyway?

And here I thought this was gonna be about the Ben Folds five song Underground, in which the title of this thread is a line.

I’ve seen a few such houses as well. I always thought it would be pretty cool, and the energy efficiency alone would make it worth it.

Here are a few relevant links:





I don’t know if it was “voguish paranoia” or a real threat, but I do know that well-insulated houses have higher radon concentrations. (The gas can’t escape as easily.) And if you generously ventilate your house, then aren’t you throwing the insulating benefits of living in a mound of dirt?

Air-tight, well-insulated homes are a decidedly mixed blessing if the radon threat is real AND if you live in a high-radon era. (Which north Georgia is, IIRC.)

As for your other question, I never went inside that particular neighbor’s house, so I dunno what it was like inside. The wall facing outward had lots of glass, but I don’t think that would be enough to offset living in a hole for me. Particularly since the whole house was in a shaded glen.

I plan to build myself an earth-sheltered house eventually. I particularly like the styles offered by these people. They have some decent pictures on their site The houses aren’t nearly as dark and sunless as you may think.

I’m going to make a brass plaque with the “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit…” quote on it to put at the front door.

What about just building a hill around your house? I think that’d be easier than the excavation. I’d love it! You can certainly get high quality white lights to create artificial sunlight in your house, and with enough plants, make it less musty and undergroundish.

And with a name like Fiver, did any of us expect any less?

If your local cable has Home & Garden Television, check out Extreme Homes. Episodes have covered Hobbit House, Mine House, and Underground House. I’ve yet to see any on the show, but a few people have converted abandoned missile silos.

Found something about Missle Silo houses. Same channel, different program.

In parts of northern China the traditional dwelling is a sort of cave house cut into a hillside. The soil in the region posesses vertical stability, so it is possible to hollow out a nice space for yourself with relative ease. I have seen photos of such homes, and they seem pretty nice.

Dosen’t Denis Weaver live in (pretty nice) cave?

During the Civil War, the citizens of Vicksburg, Mississippi dug caves into the hills for shelter from incoming shells. Some of those cave dwellings were very elaborately appointed, with “carpets, furnishings and wall niches for books, candles, and flowers.” More here.

Well, early plaines settlers lived in sod houses cut in hillsides- mostly because there wasn’t enough wood to build anything else. In fact I think the first little house on the praire in “Little House On the Praire” was underground. So there might be something in there about the pros and cons. (I’d look it up but my copy is in my mother’s basement.)

So did I!

Who’s got the looks?
Who’s got the brains?
Whos’ got everything?
I’ve got this pain in my heart
and that’s all.

Yeah its called an Earthship and they’re made out of old tires, cans, and other assorted pieces of trash. The houses, from what I’ve seen, are pretty well lit (lots of skylights) and very strong. The architect once parked a fully loaded cement mixer on the roof of one to prove how strong it was.

Sort of off topic: The title of the thread, that’s a line from a song, right? This is bugging me…