Underground housing

Does anyone have any relevant advice or experience that he or she could share on DIY underground houses? I’m in the process of making a cave to squat in, and could use any input on some of the issues I’m likely to run in to as I move forward with this. thanks.

I built an underground “scout pit” in my backyard last fall… and it immediately filled with water… I have yet to sleep in it. The ground where I dug it out was a clay-like dirt, not really the best drainage for a raining climate.

So, I don’t really know about underground houses, but I know drainage and moisture are huge.

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Once I found a place to make a sheltering spot to build a partly under and over ground one. The place: a cedar tree at the end of a field of reeds and grasses. I dug a two foot deep hole with gloves and a random digging stick 3.5 wide by 8 feet. After that I built an A-frame tripod shelter over the top of it that stood 4 feet high with a 12 foot long center/spine/ridge pole. I made it into a debris hut over a whole. It worked nicely and I felt the whole with soft fragrant fir boughs and climbed in and covered myself with a pile of boughs and a tarp.
I ended up abandoned the place because I had a tripping experience out there once on mushrooms and came to a realization that i’d built it to close to the path and that it retained to much water because of its location next to a swamp and partly underground. Yeah, but, on the bright side, the design worked, the location just failed me. Does that help?

Just to keep you all posted, I went ahead with the underground place… it’s big enough to sleep in (barely), but still needs some work. Kind of a tunnel, really, and it’s doing a damn good job of not caving in and keeping the elements away. AND, while not exactly warm, its warmer than being just straight outdoors, there’s definitely no wind chill, or even breeze chill. so far, i’d call it a success.

I think one of the best way’s is to dig in the side of a hill.
Arrange the support beams so that it wont cave in from above or from the sides.
If you want to use plastic sheeting to keep water from soaking in,
you can nail or staple it to the outside of your frame,then fill in your hole.
A hill can provide better drainage. Build preferably on the south/south east side.
If you have some glass you could even have a window.

Awesome! Congrates on making the shelter, transmodern.

Transmodern, here is a site you may find interesting:http://www.galfromdownunder.com/dan-price/
For those who may not know him, Dan Price is an interesting fellow.

Admin note: changed web address to a clickable link

Check out Mike Oehler’s book, The $50 and Up Underground House Book. That should be helpful for anyone wanting to build an underground house on the cheap.


This idea of living underground was a passion of mine for many years. But, all the books I could find about (so-called) “underground houses” described nothing except conventional, stick-framed houses with a bit of dirt over the top. This approach is NOT “underground housing”.

The advantage of living “underground” is heat-sinking into the earth. A foot of wet mud over the roof of a house is NOT a heat sink! (For that matter, a tunnel a foot under the surface isn’t a heat sink either.) If you don’t want to modify a natural cave, then mine one. (Wild caves were formed by water and water may be a recurrent problem, as well as the danger of radon gas and collapse.)

I decided on a South-facing marble or granite vein. I could sell what was in the “hole” to pay for construction, and what a lovely home it would be. Just think of the “storm shelter” aspect, as well as the “bomb shelter” advantage. As I pondered it further, a zig-zagged, alcove entrance with overhead defense ports became mandatory to fend off the frenzied horde in the event of a nuclear event. (The zig-zag keeps an RPG from ending up in your living room! The blast door is beyond the stone zig-zag tunnel.)

One of my ideas was to dig a well from above the bluff, right through the future mine. When the mine caught up, this yields fresh water inside the cave (without venturing outside) and a ventilation chimney (to be disguised above).

A waste settling pond just below the cave would have a tiny, drilled tunnel leading into the cave. Catfish have a 90% food to meat conversion ratio. Food scraps and other waste dumped into the pond via the tunnel would yield an emergency protein source inside the cave. Scraps and waste are flushed out to the pond by water from the inside well and fish can be lured right into the cave.

I was (obviously) designing for the long haul in very bad circumstances.

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