Going Down Under With Your House

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One of the biggest home expenses over time is the cost of energy. Going down under is one way to combat this cost. No, I am not talking about Australia!


house, underground, atrium, house plans, down under, berms, solar, landscaping

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One of the biggest home expenses over time is the cost of energy. Going down under is one way to combat this cost. No, I am not talking about Australia!

Going Down Under With Your House

One of the best ways to save money on utilities it to build a house that takes advantage of the surrounding terrain. One option for really brining this to fruition is to go nearly or completely below grade. Better known as an underground structure, this approach drastically cuts the cost of utilities over the life of the property and gives you an opportunity to build something very creative.

When you go down under with a house, you can have depths from 10 inches to nearly the full height of the house. We are not talking about a house under a lawn. One of the more popular designs for these structures is the atrium layout.

The atrium house is essentially a four sided structure facing an open atrium in the middle. The outer walls of the house are positioned flush to the ground or built up berms. The major living areas all face into the atrium. Windows and glass doors are used to facilitate heating with passive solar energy. Access to the ground and garages are provided through stairways. By taking this approach, the house has the benefit of being protected from wind, is temperature regulated by the ground in an indirect geothermal gain strategy and has a nice open atrium that can be used for just about anything.

The interesting thing about this approach is the appearance above ground. The top of the house is flush or nearly flush with the ground. This provides protection from wind and an escape from noise pollution. The design also provides you with a lot of area to get creative with landscaping. Most people will put in exotic landscaping to take advantage of the situation. Japanese gardens, small forests and so on have been used to striking effect.

One area where you need to be careful with an underground house is drainage. Pumps should be sufficient to remove just about everything, but you need to plan for it at the outset. You don’t want to be sitting in a very expensive pool after that first rain.

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