Earl and Freida Woods constructed an economical underground earth sheltered home that uses solar energy and cost only $10,000.
Earl and Freida Woods believe that earth-sheltered living can be just as economical as it is comfortable . . . and the simple house they’ve built in the mountains of eastern Tennessee is a case in point. Early in 1977, the pair–assisted by Freida’s brother, who’s in the construction business–broke ground and began to move tons of dirt to make room for their earth-sheltered dwelling.
The structure’s walls consist of eight-inch cement blocks which were treated inside and out with Surewall surface-bonding compound. (Reinforcing rods were inserted in the blocks, and the remaining cavities were filled with cement.) Steel I-beams support the overhead, which consists of approximately five inches of concrete.
Only pressure-treated lumber was used in the frame of the building, and a handsome cedar-shingle roof shades the front entrance and patio. The insulating fill dirt on top of the house ranges in depth from about 2-1/2 feet near the front to a 10-foot layer at the rear. Since it faces south-southeast, the Woods earth shelter has an ideal exposure for collecting solar light and warmth (and that suits Freida’s houseplants fine).
Inside, the 960-square-foot building contains three rooms (one of which is large enough to be partitioned into two separate living spaces). After Earl and Freida finished constructing the outside of the home–a job that took 2-1/2 years–they went on to complete the interior as time permitted. The house has an open fireplace at present, but the couple may install a coal- or woodburning stove later. A vent housed in the chimney covering recirculates the interior air, and the Tennesseans report that a comfortable indoor temperature is maintained in all weather.
With a final construction bill of around $10,000, this do-it-yourself economical underground earth sheltered home dwelling proves–once again–that earth-sheltered living is a practical alternative. Earl and Frieda Woods are looking forward to a long, snug retirement in their handbuilt home.