Andy Davis: Earth-Sheltered House Builder

A Plowboy Interview with Andy Davis, of Davis Caves, on building earth-sheltered houses.

| July/August 1977

Well, the boys in Washington have finally figured out that the world will soon face a shortage of easy-to-plunder petroleum. Unfortunately, politicians being politicians the way they are, it's already beginning to look as if we'd have been better off with no petroleum at all ... instead of the confusing welter of bureaucratic red tape, laws, directives, taxes, reports, hearings, rebates, agencies, and other abominations of government with which said politicians now propose to "solve" the "problem". 

Gentlemen, gentlemen. We know you mean well ... but, frankly, this particular situation is just too important to put into the hands of politicians. So why don't you fellows just go speak to the Chamber of Commerce or play with your military appropriations or do something else innocuous while the Real Men roll up their sleeves and fix what ails us? 

Real Men. Men like Andy Davis of Armington, Ill. ... who — together with his wife, an 18-year-old son and three daughters (14, 12, and 11) — recently designed and built a beautiful, 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom house for $15,000, which costs only $1.29 a year to heat! And, guys, Andy did it all without your red tape, laws, directives, taxes, reports, hearings, rebates, agencies, and other abominations of government ... as Travis Brock recently learned during a visit to the Davis home. 

Andy, this is really a great house ... far nicer than I thought it'd be. 

That seems to be the general reaction. People come in here expecting ... well, I don't know what they expect to see ... one of the old frontier dugouts, maybe. And our visitors always wind up using the same words over and over again: great, beautiful, remarkable, unbelievable, fantastic. I guess that "unbelievable" and "fantastic" are the two words used the most. A lot of people have just never thought about covering the walls and ceilings of their homes with something simple like rocks, and they're genuinely amazed at how beautiful it can be.

What gave you the idea of building a place like this? 

Pat Miketinac
9/19/2009 8:49:10 PM

I have lived in a simple earth sheltered house for 22 years and am still amazed how well it works. I built it myself with $10,000 (in 1987 dollars) for materials and about 3300 hours labor including logging, sawmill work, excavating, backfill and septic. Heating and cooling is optional because the interior is always near the 72 degree ground temp. here in FL. (Passive heating and cooling costs nothing.) It is based on Rob Roy's 1st design in his updated book "Earth Sheltered Houses" at

9/19/2009 1:49:03 PM

Ok, I went to the site and asked how the house has held up. Andy Davis died in 1995, but his son says that his mother still lives in the house and it is standing the test of time. I guess that means you don't have to be Frank Lloyd Wright to build something great. Then again, I suppose we already knew that.

9/17/2009 11:30:38 AM

This was built in 1976. How is the house now? Can we get a follow up to see how 33 years has treated the house and it's occupants?

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: September 14-16, 2018
Seven Springs, PA

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard