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Are logs suitable for underground construction?

 
chad duncan
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At one end of my irrigation pond, I have tall hills on three sides. I was thinking that it might be an interesting idea to build a log house in that spot and then burying it, leaving just one side exposed. By building in this location I won't lose any usable land to the house and if I plan the roof strong enough I will actually gain some new hayfield. Also looking out my front door across the duck filled pond every morning will be a nice treat.
I am considering logs because my house plan involves a second floor and I have concerns about other construction types being able to hold back the hill and being able to hold the weight of the dirt above, particularily when the tractor runs overhead. I also believe (probably falsely) that logs are something I can deal with myself and aside from the heavy lifting seem pretty simple.


I realize that I will have a whole host of problems to deal with involving the clay soil and proximity to water, keeping logs dry, foundations, etc. At this point I am just thinking out loud and thought that a few more voices might be good.

Do you think that logs underground could be made to work?
Given that the buried walls will be around 20 feet tall, is there a better construction style choice to be made?
I am not too keen on concrete simply because it costs so much and has to be done all at once but I won't get mad if you suggest it.

 
Frank De Block-Burij
Posts: 30
Location: De Pinte, Belgium
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why don't you use recycled shipping containers?
Frank
 
Jason Hower
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Location: Jefferson State
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Frank De Block-Burij wrote:why don't you use recycled shipping containers?
Frank


I would be VERY hesitant to bury shipping containers. They are designed to support loads vertically; I doubt the walls are able to hold back the weight of soil for very long. I know some have done it, but I've seen firsthand how easily the sides can cave in from shipyard abuse.

I think the idea of burying a log house comes with more problems than it solves. That said, I think a well-designed oehler structure solves all of those problems, looks and feels like a log home on the inside, and is probably easier to construct when you consider having to move logs around. Here, I speak from experience - I am currently trying to build a butt & pass log home with several 8000+ lb. logs. If I thought I could get the local building department to "permit" me to build an Oehler structure or the like, I'd take the chainsaw mill to my logs TONIGHT!
 
Brian Knight
Posts: 554
Location: Asheville NC
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Anything is possible but there are many tricky details to get right. The logs would survive longest having the least potential for rot and mold with a ventilated airspace on both sides. The exterior/dirt side would be the biggest challenge. The waterproofing details would need to be on the other side of the airspace.

By the time you detailed this correctly, you probably could have done it with masonry cheaper, quicker and better. I feel the same way about shipping containers unless you are very proficient with them already. Even then, as Jason points out, thats not what they were engineered or designed to do. Buried walls experimentation is best done on uninhabited structures.
 
chad duncan
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In my mind, this is how I would bury the log home:


Logs on top of some sort of foundation, round stones (perimieter drain rock) outside of the logs, sheet of plywood holding the stones back, felt or tarpaper, a few layers of poly or some other waterproofing sheet, then the dirt. Not sure exactly about how to waterproof the roof, probably the same thing only without the stones. I don't want them to behave like little wedges up there.

I had thought to use solid logs across the top as well. I have driven over many log bridges on long abandoned logging roads and I think that they would well support a thick layer of dirt and some horses or an occasional tractor.


A couple other random thoughts.
At this stage I have not yet priced logs. Maybe concrete is cheaper?
Being so near to this clay bottomed pond may require pilings?
Since I need some excavation done for both this house and in general around the farm, I had thought to buy a used excavator to dig my own holes, and then to manouver the logs during construction. After the house is done and the other bits of digging and dredging are done around here, the excavator would be sold.
I have not yet considered a building permit.
I have considered sewage and electricity.

 
kobyn schlichter
Posts: 22
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Good stuff man. Keep truckin.

mike oehler has done this hey? his are old now and have lasted 30yr ongoing? might as well stick to his method bro. which is sounds like your doing.

i guess a guy would have to see exactly the water risk, and see how much he wants to risk. But mike says a french drain will save you pretty good. lots of risk you might want to overbuild.

im probably going to use reused poster plastic to seal by earthbermed place.

so me some pictures, im curious

(i cant use the letter "u" instead of you) ??

im going to cover the roof soil and perimeter of the building by like 20 feet with think polly too to further void water from coming near. dry soil insulates better
 
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