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I have lived in 3 conventional houses in New Brunswick, one step north and more coastal than Maine.

The climate is challenging, and builders tend to be cautious.
-~50-60 freeze/thaw cycles per year, so it is difficult to keep masonry intact.  We get 20-24C  (43F?) temperature fluctuations within 24-48 h, multiple times most years
-high precipitation in all forms, often accompanied by driving winds to push water into unexpected places.
-high water tables in many areas
-poor drying potential in most years (this past summer/fall was anomalously dry, although possibly to be expected going forward).

Some comments on ideas from previous posters:
a) Wide eaves can be problematic if the trusses become cold bridges carrying cold back into the ceiling. This leads to condensation and mould if the spots of the ceiling drop below the dew point. Insulation below the trusses, or designs without eaves escape the problem. Ice dams around the roof perimeter can also be problematic.
b) But lack of eaves means problems with drainage around the foundation. Keeping a gutter system running is difficult when it freezes, plugs with ice, then needs to drain rain.
c) Canada guidelines aimed towards an insulated ceiling above a vapour barrier, a ventilated attic and a 'cold' roof for many years. But more recently, for the East, the benefits of a ventilated attic and cold roof are coming into question, and insulation directly under the roof deck, with a warm attic, is being discussed. The idea of the attic ventilation is problematic in high humidity.
d) Thawing out of the ground from the perimeter of the house can create water channels down the outside of any sub-surface structures. Insulation can help.
e) Vapour barriers are very very difficult to get properly installed, and are widely done inadequately. This leads to risks of mould within the building envelope, at the point where a surface reaches the dew point.

Personally I would not consider a construction that relied upon sub-surface living, or hand laid masonry or mortar in my climate. I think it would take great design skill to avoid a mouldy, subsiding mess.
Earth is a poor insulator, particularly when it is water saturated, and heaving up and down.

Some interesting approaches (no personal experience) are insulated slab on or above grade, with proper drainage and vapour barrier below the slab.
Or screw-in metal posts to support a structure above the surface, with insulation below the floor.
Or double-wall framed house with spray foam insulation.
 
pollinator
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Location: Anjou ,France
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I am a bit unclear what you are asking ?
Is it ideas you are after for your climate ?
Have you thought about having dormer bedrooms ? Essentially small bedrooms rooms in the attic. Why do people need such large bedrooms for a room that is only actively used for a couple of hours a day ?  I was recently staying in a Breton Fisherman's cottage built like this. No attic no attic space to worry about  or very little,  South facing built into a hilside no northwindows , shelter from the northwind ( and snow  )  very cosy Water collection system  great

David

 
Douglas Campbell
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Hi - I messed up, this was supposed to be a reply to a fellow asking about earth bag construction in Maine USA.
cheers, Doug
 
David Livingston
pollinator
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Do you want to repost your reply there and I will tidy up here
 
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