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Re: Earth sheltered home

"Earth Sheltered" can have a range of meanings, but the main thing to look for is that it was professionally built by someone specializing in these. There are often water ingression issues, insulation issues, and structural issues that are far beyond the usual range of homebuilding. Site prep for adequate drainage is critical and proper ventilation can also be an issue. Even with my vast and experience with concrete underground construction I would do one of these for me but not for someone else- they are that specialized. Painting concrete walls isn't a problem, but if there is even the slightest moisture getting through the concrete the results won't last long. Far better to furr out inside with hat channel and use sheetrock with adequate ventilation behind the entire wall to prevent hidden mold build-up.

Know your limitations and when you need a special-ist do not hesitate in getting one no matter how hard it is to find them. Otherwise you may be in for bigger headaches than you can imagine!


Re: Earth sheltered home

Your TOP priority is exterior proper water drainage and interior moisture prevention. I'm assuming your house was constructed to spec for those issues so you can ask the local paint dealer for a recommendation for waterproofing paint. There are two reasons to paint: 1.function and 2. aesthetics. If there's exposed exterior concrete above grade(ground level) you can use a quality exterior paint and apply according to the can instructions, ie., outdoor temps, etc. Concrete soaks up paint like a sponge so use a waterproofer or sealer/primer and lightly spray water on it first so the paint will adhere better. Same for interior concrete. Interior: any exposed concrete on the outside wall that's below grade must 1st be painted with a moisture barrier/mold retardant prior to other paint. Then paint any latex or oil-based top coat you like (for aesthetics). If the interior walls of concrete is covered with sheetrock, you must rely on the builder, presume it's received a proper coat of moisture protection. Good luck!

Re: Earth sheltered home

I had a great interest in earth sheltered homes back in the 80's which has somewhat waned. A friend built one in about 1990 and had some interesting problems.

1. You will need to have an extensive drain field around the house along with a well sealed wall from the exterior to prevent moisture penetration into the concrete. Nothing is worse then a damp smelling house or more dangerous then the development of mold.
2. Expect problems with your insurance company - they really do not understand earth sheltered homes.
3. Ditto those problems with lenders unless you are well funded.
4. Resale of these homes is tough since their appeal is not to a very wide audience.
5. Invest in very quiet appliances and a quiet HVAC system. Bermed/underground homes are very quiet and that little noise from a refrigerator becomes a loud droan in that environment.
6. Properly size your HVAC system to remove moisture. This is tough since most HVAC guys do not really know how to accurately caluculate heat loss/gain in earth sheltered places.
7. Excavation costs vary widely - here in my Texas limestone it is cost prohibitive to build one of these homes.

I still like the concept of earth sheltering. That's my 2 cents...


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