Earth Sheltered Home with Prefabricated Fiberglass

Ralph Bullock's prefabricated fiberglass house panels make it easier than ever to "go underground!"

| May/June 1979

  • 057 fiberglass house2 01.jpg
    Even for someone with average construction skills, the panels of America Solartron Corporation's prefabricated plywood house are easy to assemble. Note the drainage system set outside the perimeter of the foundation.
  • 057 fiberglass house 03 living room.jpg
    The living room has a natural light source.
  • 057 fiberlass house 04 master bedroom.jpg
    The master bedroom.
  • 057 fiberglass house 02 wrap and river rock.jpg
    A waterproof plastic "wrapping" and a layer of river rock surround surround the entire structure, which is eventually covered with 2-3 feet of earth. This house was built on level ground, then bermed.
  • 057-157-01i1
    Plan of Solartron's 1,231-square-foot (exterior dimension) model.
  • 057 fiberglass house 05 solarium.jpg
    The solarium.

  • 057 fiberglass house2 01.jpg
  • 057 fiberglass house 03 living room.jpg
  • 057 fiberlass house 04 master bedroom.jpg
  • 057 fiberglass house 02 wrap and river rock.jpg
  • 057-157-01i1
  • 057 fiberglass house 05 solarium.jpg

Earth-sheltered and underground homes are certainly nothing new to MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readership. After all, this magazine has been touting the advantages of such dwellings (low fuel costs, minimal maintenance, and superior durability to name a few) for some time now.

Recently, however, we've come across a new concept which might just alter the course of the whole "underground" movement: the prefabricated fiberglass house!

As most of us already know, the great majority of subterranean dwellings are at present made of concrete, poured into forms that have been carefully set into excavations. However, while this method does assure a rock-solid structure, the entire process can be expensive, and often forces the owner to hire a professional work crew to achieve satisfactory results. Not only that, concrete—because of its porous nature—must be thoroughly protected from the effects of moisture ... which will tend to seep through even the thickest of slabs and can actually deteriorate the cement-and-sand mixture.

But now after two years of research, Ralph Bullock (of American Solartron Corporation) has come up with an alternative to the usual underground building materials: his "answer" is fiberglass!

Strange as it may seem, Ralph wasn't looking for a concrete substitute when he made his discovery. In fact he had set out to develop and market a low-cost alternative to "standard" subterranean construction. His idea was to precast concrete slabs and join them together at the building site to form a "finished" structure.

Upon investigation, though, Mr. B. discovered that a prefabricated concrete home just wasn't feasible: "It was far too heavy to transport in sections, and even worse, the finished house would have been overly expensive. That's when we decided to try other materials." The "other material" that Ralph settled on was fiberglass, which is strong, inexpensive, lightweight, water resistant, fireproof, non biodegradable, and known for Its terrific insulative properties. Furthermore, this amazing substance has—for years—been used successfully in the manufacture of septic tanks, sewer lines, boats, and railroad cars—applications that demand a high degree of durability.

7/9/2018 4:52:04 PM

what is the website to get more information like designs and pricing and such?

9/20/2017 8:41:29 AM

can this house be built above ground? can it withstand hurricane force winds?

11/18/2013 7:56:50 PM

I see this information on Ralph Bullocks fiberglass underground house is a bit dated-is there any new info?-thanks,Kevin

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