My Mother's House Part 1: Planning and Building Our Earth Sheltered House

Thanks to favorable clay soil, Western North Carolina turned out to be a good place to plan and build an earth sheltered house.



070 earth sheltered house 1 masonary saw
A masonry saw was used to trim blocks for special fits.
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070 earth sheltered house 3 construction site
This view from the southeast end of the earth sheltered house shows the location of the root cellar. (The window to the left was later filled in to allow further backfilling.)
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070 earth sheltered house 4 block leveling wedges
A representative of the Bonsal company demonstrates the use of the firm's convenient block-leveling wedges, which can be seen more closely in the inset photo.
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070 earth sheltered house 5 surface bonding cement
Surewall surface-bonding cement — a substance similar to stucco but with fiberglass threads that add strength — is applied to the dry-stacked block walls.
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070 earth sheltered house 2 reinforcing rod
A length of five-eighths inch reinforcing rod was placed in the V-grooves of the block as each course was laid.
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070 earth sheltered house - diagram - first floor
Plan for the main floor of the house.
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070 earth sheltered house - diagram - cross section
Cross section of the earth-sheltered house. 
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070 earth sheltered house 6 long view of construction site
The location of the future expansion joint in the earth sheltered house is visible in the middle of the rear wall.
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070 earth sheltered house - diagram - upper floor
Plan for the house's smaller upper level.
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