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Build Oehler house in rocky, shallow soil?

 
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal
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I don't really know much about your work as I always assumed that as my soil is really thin then I wouldn't be able to apply your ideas as I just couldn't go 'underground' far enough.

Are any of your designs and ideas applicable or modifiable for areas where you just can't dig down that far and there isn't much spare earth?
 
author
Posts: 60
Location: Bonners Ferry Idaho
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Sure, Burra. Build above ground and berm around the structure and put soil on the roof. Insulate the outside of the earth berm, cover the insulation with a sheet of polyethylene, cover the poly with another foot or so of earth and plant with vegetation to keep it all in place. That earth berm will now be a heat sink and will gratifyingly moderate the homes temperature while giving protection from high winds, fire, radiation, etc. Offset rooms, sun scoops, and several of the other 13 approved methods of design found on tape two of my DVD set work as well on a bermed home as a true underground one, though where soil conditions permit you are always better off to go below. I hope you win one of the DVD sets. Sounds like you have a head on your shoulders and can make good use of it. Design is simply the paramount and least understood part of building an underground or earth integrated structure.
 
pollinator
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Mike, that's about what I've been thinking about doing here.  We don't have much slope to build into, and the soil is heavy clay -- I'd have to buy several truckloads of soil in order to berm even a small house.  Still thinking about it, though.

Kathleen
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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It's not really possible to get hold of 'truckloads of soil' for berming around here.  We can however get wood shavings, and sometimes we can get wheat straw.  Could the berming be done with bales of straw, maybe broken open and laid down in slices get the right sort of shape?  Or using wood shavings?  Or maybe partially composted shavings?  I could get a truckload of those and leave them in a heap to start rotting down ready.  And I think I've seen a huge heap of eucalyptus bark left to rot - maybe I could get my hands on that and berm with it?  I guess it might settle a bit with time, but could I start off like that and then top it up if neccessary?

You've gone and started something now Mike - I've been dreaming of putting some kind of hideaway on my little olive grove in the forest ever since I got it and couldn't decide between a caravan or a log cabin, but now it just *has* to be a hobbit hole!!!
 
Mike Oehler
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Location: Bonners Ferry Idaho
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Hmmm... Interesting question. You'd have to keep it dry to get insulating effects and I can only guess at what sort of critters might want to burrow into that stuff right next to your warm house. If you try it as always put a sheet of poly between it and the house side. Let us know how it works out.
 
                                          
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I am guessing here that it would be beneficial to have a big overhang to protect the straw bales, and in addition to the poly next to the house, you could finish the straw with a plaster covering as in straw bale building.  I think that would also help keep the critters out of the straw, otherwise, I can see them moving in en masse. 

Good luck!

Lauren
 
pollinator
Posts: 236
Location: Central California
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Bruce in Montana, I think it is has just organic material over his place and he has a wonderful underground house with a garden on the roof.

I like to see a couple inches of soil at least for fire protection and plan to put poly over comp roll roofing, a couple inches of soil then succulents for low water use as per a Ken Kern idea on an entry way that I changed to rather conventional to accent a tree that is supporting the roof horizontally.
 
Burra Maluca
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Mike - when you live 'underground', does it make you feel more 'part of the earth'?  Does it give you a sense of 'putting down roots' which gives you the confidence to say what you feel and do what you want to do?  Or have you always been a down to earth hobbit on a mission?

I've been to your Major Miracles site - great stuff!  Sorry can't help out with your actress sitution, I'm too old, too fat, too far away and too tied up with other stuff to be of much use to you on that score but I put a link to your site on my facebook page just in case it attracts a bit of attention for you.  You seem a great guy - feet firmly on the ground, head up high, not scared to dream - enjoy your trip!
 
Mike Oehler
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Location: Bonners Ferry Idaho
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Thanks Burra. Yes there is a definitely different feel about living underground. Many the visitor has remarked on the feeling of peace and serenity.
 
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