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TitleThe Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book
File Size3.4 MB
Total Pages115
Document Text Contents
Page 1

The $50 and Up
Underground House Book

By Mike Oehler

Illustrations by Chris Royer

ISBN 0-442-27311-8

Page 2

© Copyright 1978,1979,1981,1992,1997 by Mike Oehler

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 81-70112
ISBN 0-442-27311-8

All rights reserved. No part of this work covered by the
copyright hereon may be reproduced or used in any
form or by any means — graphic, electronic, or mechan-
ical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or
information storage and retrieval systems — without
written permission of the publisher.

Printed in the United Stated of America

9 11 13 15 17 19 20 18 16 14 12 10

Published by Mole Publishing Company

Readers are invited to use the design or construction
methods and features described in this book. For per-
mission to build from any specific plans write:

Mike Oehler
Rt. 4 Box 618
Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805

Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with
all correspondence.

Printed on Recycled Paper

Page 57

By turning the pitched roofed house into a

split level and adding a clerestory, we get the
Clerestory Flat Land Design. It is a home
with windows and views in four directions.
Each room in the house excepting the bath-
rooms and root cellar (which should be sepa-
rated farther from the house) has floor to ceil-
ing windows facing either the north or south
sunken patios. The living room and master
bedroom also have, in addition, windows to
the east through the clerestory, and windows
to the west through a semi-sunken gable.

Entrance to the lower levels is through the
sunken courtyards, the south one of which is

a covered greenhouse in the winter. Both the
living room and master bedroom have pri-
vate entrances off outside walkways which
also serve as lounging areas either sunny or
shaded, whichever one wants to use. Above
the work counter in the kitchen is a translu-
cent fiberglass panel which can be opened to
allow communication through to the living
room (so mother knows what the kids are up
to). The master bedroom similarly has a fiber-
glass panel which may be opened to allow
communication down to the kitchen and din-
ing room, or closed for peace and quiet.

A house like this could probably be built
commercially for around $15,000.


Page 58


Page 114

a couple of inches above floor level. I call this
the "barrier method."

There is one other method which is accept-
able. I t invo lves us ing our old fr iendly
enemy, concrete.

You may pour "piers" in holes you have dug
on the site with post hole digger, holes you
have reinforced with chicken wire and half-
inch rebar. Or you may pre-fab the piers by
pour ing in greased six or eight inch stove
pipe, loosely held closed with plumber's tape.
Post and pier are joined by a rebar set in the
concrete which fits into a hole in the bottom of
the pos t . Cau t ion : This sys tem may
"h inge"—may p u s h in due to the lateral

Or you may pour footings. These have the
advan tages of great s t reng th . The pos ts
should neither sink nor "hinge." But footings
are labor intensive and expensive, emit radon
gas, and could possibly be unstable during an

Of all the systems, my favorite is just char-
ring the posts and wrapping them in garbage
bags. At least for interior use it is.

Reader Doug Brecht in upstate N.Y wants to
know "what exactly is it that causes your PSP
method to fall short of the building codes?
The fact that all your wood is not treated...?"
Right. We contac ted a member of the
International Conference of Building Officials
— the people who write the Uniform Building
Code — for an interpretation. U houses must
meet the requirements for all-weather wood
basement construction, which means pressure
treated wood. (The official was also upset

that "these underground houses don't usually
have windows in the bedrooms" and other
design violations such as entrances only on
one side of the house — all of which can be
overcome by following closely the design
ideas advanced in this book.) The official,
incidentally, was astonished to learn that they
have no objection to the earth/carpet floor.
The only thing in the code about flooring is
that the bathroom and garage both must have
hard impermeable surfaces. I hope they are
not going to rush out and write something
into the code now. ("George! George! People
in Idaho are putting carpets down on earth,
calling that a floor and we have nothing in the
code to stop them!")

The codes are not insurmountable. William
Howat, Sunnyside, Washington, got a vari-
ance for the PSP method in Yakima County,
Washington. He got wri t ten test imonials
from prior PSP builders as to the durability of
buried polyethylene, and the variance board
passed it. A precedent has been set.

Special note by the author. The diagram on
page 44 has led many people to think that the
roof over the clerestories drains down over
the windows. Nothing of the sort. We never
place our clerestories so that they interrupt
the drainage flow. They do not go across the
roof, but up and down it, or at an oblique
angle. Please note the illustrations on page 45.
If the man on page 44 is sitting in the house on
page 45 the roof drains off to his right.

M.O. —April 1997


Page 115

Now that you have read "The $50 & Up Underground House
Book" you may be asking, "Can I design and build a home or
other structure with what I have learned here?" The answer is a
cautious, qualified, "Yes."

Yet we don't recommend it. We have found that most people
have trouble transferring knowledge from a book into actual
practice. A number of homes we have seen built from this book
have been disappointments. The folks, sad to say, botched the

Not that the book itself failed. Readers, reviewers and builders
alike overwhelmingly agree this is the finest book on the subject.
The problem is that books are two dimensional, soundless,
unmoving. The problem is underground housing presents new
problems that even many professionals fail to recognize. The dif-
ficulties for owner/builders are greater yet, especially for those
who have never built before. More is needed.

So author Mike Oehler has given us more: six hours of instruc-
tional video tapes that greatly expand the teachings and princi-
pals set down here. He shows slides of a variety of successfully
designed and built P / S / P structures in various stages of con-
struction and completion. He works with scale models to show
you in three-dimension the Twelve Approved Methods of Design
— seven more that are explained in detail in this volume. He
takes you on two video tours of the underground structures on
his land.

For many however the most valuable part of the combined
Workshop /Semina r Videos comes dur ing tape two, when
instructor Mike Oehler takes you through the design course —
the same course he has taught at leading universities across
North America and Europe. Using the copyrighted design kit
that is included free he soon has you designing underground
homes with windows from all four directions of the compass in
each and every room!

That is too many windows, of course. When you design your
own home you will want to cut back. But you will have the
knowledge to design windows into each and every room from
what ever directions you want. Most professional architects are
capable of designing underground with windows from only one
direction in the entire house. As a viewer/participant/designer of
this remarkable course, you will beat the pros at their own game.

We figure the design course in this six hour video set alone is
worth more than 100 times the cost. Look at it this way: if you
build a house that you live in for ten years is it worth $10,000 to
have windows in you bedrooms? That comes out to about three
dollars per day. How about if you also get windows in the
kitchen where you wouldn't have had them before — windows

on two or three sides of the kitchen. And two or three times as
many windows in the living or family rooms. A house that is
now no longer cave-like, no longer a tomb, but is light and airy,
bursting with sunshine, with gentle breezes of fresh air flowing
through because of the cross ventilation. Is that worth three dol-
lars per day? Well, it's not going to cost you that. IT'S ONLY
add at least $10,000 to the resale value of the home: These videos
not only assure you a wonderfully livable house, they put money
in the bank for you too. For those designing and building under-
ground there is no better bargain.

There's more. In the third video you learn how to build an earth
sheltered greenhouse so effective that it can take tomatoes into
the second week of December on the Canadian border without
any additional source of heat other than the sun and earth. The
first one ever built has taken hardies like kale and the cabbage
family clear through the winter. This greenhouse gives your fam-
ily a year-round source of fresh, unsprayed vegetables and will
pay for itself in food savings in a year. It will feed your family in
time of crisis.

The third tape does more, far more. It teaches you how to build a
shelter that will take your family and friends through the worst
that nature and man can throw your way — for as little as $50
($1,000 if you buy all new materials.) You will survive nuclear fall-
out, high winds and tornadoes, fire, earthquakes and riots. In gen-
tler times your shelter is a root cellar, storage area, kids play room
or spare bedroom. The tape shows you how to convert the shelter
into livable emergency housing with windows when the crisis has
passed and most above ground structures have either blown or
burned down. We advise everyone to build a shelter first to learn
the Post/Shoring/Polyethylene method where your mistakes are
not so visible. You can live in it then, should you wish, while you
are building your permanent underground house.

Though we can sell you just the Low Cost Underground House
Workshop (Videos 1 & 2 plus free workbook and design kit) or
The Shelter Seminar (videos 1&3 plus shelter plans) we urge you
strongly to get the combined set—all six hours of videos, plus the
workbook with design kit and shelter plans. You not only will
save $39.50 over the cost of buying the two sets separately but
you will get all the information necessary to build a complete life
support facility for time of crisis and an extremely low-cost and
comfortable lifestyle system for normal times.

This material is sold with the guarantee that if you don't find it to
be everything we promised you may return it in good (re-sal-
able) condition and we will refund your purchase price in full.

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