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The $50 & Up Underground House Book
How to design and build underground
by Mike Oehler

      No matter what kind of house you hope to build, if you are interested in low-cost innovation, then be sure to read Mike Oehler's The $50 & Up Underground House Book. The $50 & Up Underground House Book - book cover.       Oehler is an out-of-the-box thinker who presents radically innovative house design and construction techniques. This book will stimulate your thinking and give you a fresh perspective on house-building design and construction. While unconventional and extremely low-cost, his techniques are entirely sound, and in many ways, engineered better than mainstream underground homes--although you might have trouble getting a building permit to apply his methods.

      The $50 & Up Underground House Book is not about building a dark, damp hole in the ground, but about building dry, well-ventilated, sunshine-filled homes that truly blend into the landscape. You will also learn how incorporate greenhouses, root cellars, and--if you desire--a fallout shelter. It is the only book on the market that explains the Post/Shoring/Polyethylene building method, which was developed by the author. The book covers hillside and flat land designs, and explains how to solve drainage problems with dependable gravity rather then expensive, failure-prone building materials.

      But The $50 & Up Underground House Book does more than just cut your building material costs by up to 90%. It is widely recognized as the book which offers the reader the greatest possibilities for light, air and views in an underground home. Where most owner-designers and even professional architects are stuck on the disastrous "First Thought" concept, a design which greatly limits view, sunshine and air flow, and which usually causes staggering drainage problems, Oehler offers the "Basic Design" with the "Up Hill Patio" which solves these problems and more. He explains the weaknesses of the other three design concepts favored by conventional architects: skylights, vertical window wells and atriums. For example, though skylights admit a rewarding amount of light, they often leak, get dirty quicker, admit too much of the summer sun, too little of the winter rays, and offer no view whatsoever. They may have special applications, Oehler argues, but there are better design concepts for normal use.

Underground house.       Now in its seventh edition, The $50 & Up Underground House Book has sold more than 90,000 copies and has received enthusiastic reviews from Mother Earth News, Whole Earth Catalog and many others. Many consider it the classic in its field. The $50 & Up Underground House Book discusses in detail more than 50 different topics related to underground construction. Included in the book are 4 pages of engineering tables and diagrams, 8 floor plans, 54 photos, and more than 100 illustrations. 115 pages. 1978. 7th Edition, 1997. Mole Publishing. ISBN: 0-442-27311-8.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: What an Underground House Is Not
  • Chapter 2: What an Underground House Is - 23 Advantages
  • Chapter 3: Histories of the $50 and $500 Underground Houses
  • Chapter 4: The PSP System
  • Chapter 5: Design
    • The Basic Design
    • Posts
    • Elevation Changes
    • Views, Light, Ventilation
    • Five approved Methods of Design
      • -Uphill Patio
      • -Offset Room
      • -The Royer Foyer
      • -Clerestories
      • -Gables
    • Drainage
    • Special Designs
    • Flat-Land Designs
    • Special Effects
    • Special Features
    • Patio Barbecue Area
    • The Bachelor Bar
    • Built-in Greenhouses
    • Root Cellar/Fallout Shelter/Wine Cellar
    • Built-in Coolers
  • Chapter 6: Materials: Where to Buy and Scrounge
    • Wrecking Buildings
    • Windows
    • Auctions
    • Sawmill Lumber
    • Polyethylene
    • Concrete
    • Fee Timber Sources
    • Working Up Posts and Beams
  • Chapter 7: Construction
    • Secret Construction Method
    • The Excavation
    • Building the Structure
  • Chapter 8: You And the Building Codes
  • Appendices

The Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book
How to build an energy free year-round greenhouse
by Mike Oehler

Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book - book cover.

      The Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book expands on the revolutionary, ultra low-cost underground building principles presented in Mike Oehler's $50 and Up Underground House Book.

      With Oehler's latest work, you can learn how to build a budget greenhouse that will allow at least nine months of gardening and all-winter harvesting, even in frigid climates. (Oehler lives in Idaho near the Canada border and has expanded his own growing season from ninety days to nine months.)

      This book is best considered a supplement to Oehler's $50 and Up Underground House Book. Use that book to fully understand his design concepts and building techniques. Then use the The Earth-Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book to pick up the additional tips for building a successful earth-sheltered greenhouse. 230 pages. 2007. Mole Publishing. ISBN: 978-0-960-44640-7.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Prolog to a Happy Discovery
  • Chapter 2: The Grow-hole Concept
  • Chapter 3: The Grow-hole in Practice
  • Chapter 4:The First Cold-Sink Greenhouse
  • Chapter 5: P/S/P Construction
  • Chapter 6: Glazing
  • Chapter 7: Insulation
  • Chapter 8: Ventilation
  • Chapter 9: Passive Solar Energy Collection
  • Chapter 10: Heat Tubes
  • Chapter 11: Bugs and Other Pests in Your Greenhouse
  • Chapter 12: Rabbits and Other Beneficial Critters
  • Chapter 13: Growing Tips
  • Chapter 14: Root Cellars
  • Chapter 15: The Garden House
  • Photos
  • Chapter 16: Designing Your Own Greenhouse
  • Chapter 17: Building Plans and Costs
  • Chapter 18: Random Notes
  • Chapter 19: A Final Word About Gophers
  • Index
  • Bibliography
  • Resources

Earth-Sheltered Houses
How to Build An Affordable Underground Home
by Rob Roy

      An earth-sheltered, earth-roofed home has the least impact upon the land of all housing styles, leaving almost zero footprint on the planet.

Earth-Sheltered Houes - book cover.       Earth-Sheltered Houses is a practical guide for those who want to build their own underground home at moderate cost. It describes the benefits of sheltering a home with earth, including the added comfort and energy efficiency from the moderating influence of the earth on the home's temperature - keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer - low maintenance, and the protection against fire, sound, earthquake and storm afforded by the earth. Extra benefits from adding an earth or other living roof option include greater longevity of the roof substrate, fine aesthetics, and environmental harmony.

      The book covers all of the various construction techniques involved including details on planning, excavation, footings, floor, walls, framing, roofing, waterproofing, insulation and drainage. Specific methods appropriate for the inexperienced owner-builder are a particular focus and include:

  • pouring one's own footings and/or floor
  • the use of dry-stacked (surface-bonded) concrete block walls
  • post-and-beam framing
  • plank-and-beam roofing, and
  • drainage methods and self-adhesive waterproofing membranes
      The time-tested, easy-to-learn construction techniques described in Earth-Sheltered Houses will enable readers to embark upon their own building projects with confidence, backed up by a comprehensive resources section that lists all the latest products such as waterproofing membranes, types of rigid insulation and drainage products that will protect the building against water damage and heat loss. 255 pages. 2006. New Society Publishers. ISBN: 0-86571-521-1. Printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

      About the Author: Rob Roy has been building, researching and teaching about cordwood masonry and earth-sheltered housing for 25 years and, with his wife, started Earthwood Building School in 1981..

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Earth-Sheltered Design Principles
  • Chapter 2: Siting and Excavation
  • Chapter 3: Foundations
  • Chapter 4: The Floor
  • Chapter 5: Design
  • Chapter 6: Timber Framing
  • Chapter 7: Waterproofing, Insulation & Drainage
  • Chapter 8: The Living Roof
  • Chapter 9: Finishing The Exterior
  • Chapter 10: Interior Considerations
  • Chapter 11: Performance
  • Chapter 12: Our Earth-Sheltered Home--A Case Study (by Mark Powers)
  • Appendixes
    • Appendix A: Radon
    • Appendix B: Resources
    • Appendix C: Stress Load Calculations
    • Appendix D: Metric Conversion Tables
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Index
  • About the Author

Authorized affiliate of and

Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
See also: Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction.

      Looking for life-changing resources? Check out these books by Thomas J. Elpel:

Green Prosperity: Quit Your Job, Live Your Dreams.
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, and the Blossoming of Human Spirit
to Reality
Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids

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