Finishing our Earth Sheltered Home

The following spring we had to address the front of our earth sheltered home. The dirt we had put on top of the insulation became a huge mess. We were debating between installing a wood deck or pouring a slab. One design flaw we had with the house is we didn't pin the front wall to the slab.

In the Mr. Roys original design he had backfilled the front of the house as well which would keep the wall from shifting out. My wife wanted to keep the front open and I had not modified the design and anchored the wall to the footer. To get around this we decided to pour a slab two inches above the wall and pin it to the footer to basically sandwich the wall between the interior slab and the outside slab. It wasn’t perfect but it was the best solution we could come up with. First we had to get through winter.

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the house outperformed our expectations, we used slightly over a half cord of wood the first year

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So in the spring we scraped off the topsoil

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and exposed the footer

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we cleaned it up the best we could, the bottom was quite rough, we would have to address this later

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We set up some forms

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and staggered it back to form a step down to the granite

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we ripped up the filtration fabric

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and raked it out, exposing the footing drain. We went and rented a compactor

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and spent the next couple hours raking and compacting

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we backfilled around the forms to stop any blowouts

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and started drilling out pin holes into the footer

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and hammered in 2 foot sections of rebar

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we ran rebar around the perimeter

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and laid down wire mesh

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all ready to pour

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The next morning the pump trailer showed up, because of the way the house sits we had to pump it around

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we ran the hose around the building

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and started pulling concrete

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we started floating the slab

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and it quickly set up

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I let it cure for two days and started pulling the forms off

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he was not impressed

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I had to brainstorm a way to finish off the bottom

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we decided to cut the slab into a 3×3 gridwork so it looked like a large tile floor and to provide stress relief

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and snapped a line and cut the bottom of the stucco 5.5 inches off the bottom

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all done, we also had a seamless gutter delivered

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we used a piece of 2×6 pressure treated and filled in the bottom cut, we also installed a drain for the gutters

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the next afternoon we washed the cement several times to get it clean

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and my wife started staining with the same stain as inside

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we mulched around the slab

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and mounted the gutter and piped it through the drains, we used this for our rain water catchment system

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at this point the house itself was officially done

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Click HERE to see the complete build in the forums

  • Connie Skinner

    This Blog was so interesting. My husband and I have been researching earthsheltered homes for a while and your design is just what we have been discussing.

    Thanks for the pics and blog it answered some of our questions and concerns we had.

    Congratulations it looks great!

    Connnie
    in Oklahoma

    • Kvr28

      you are welcome connie, any questions I can answer just ask, good luck!

  • Ferris

    Hi I found it interesting what you said about your front exposed wall shifting as ours does the same thing. Me and my wife bought an earth sheltered home that was built in 1980 a couple years ago and love it. But every summer the front wall seems to move out at the bottom about an inch and then it pulls back in the fall to winter.

    • Kvr28

      Hey Ferris, we hadn’t seen any shifting but were concerned about it since we didn’t pin the wall to the footer, it’s why we poured the slab in the front to prevent it from happening. You might want to have a engineer look at that

  • Josh

    Kvr28, can you give a ballpark of how much a house like this would cost to construct, materials only.
    I stumbled on this site about a week ago, and have read it over and over again. I am a big fan of Rob Roy’s books, and it is so cool to see someone actually pull it off.
    I have limited funds, but perhaps access to some land to build on.
    I have looked at Earthships, The Natural Home, and others so this is right up my alley.

    Thanks,
    Josh

  • Ferris

    Thanks Kvr28 it doesnt seem to hurt anything we had an engineer come out and look at it he found nothing unusual. We have alot of clay in our part of texas he said it was normal for a little movement. It has been this way for over 30 years so I guess it will at least last another 30 lol. We love the house not sure how we ever lived above ground. It will soon be featured in a local magazine kind of excited about that. thanks again…

    • Kvr28

      Awesome, if you have a link to the article online, I would love to see it

  • kathy

    This was such an interesting series. I read it all in one day!! You have it fixed up so nice. The house itself seems small though. I didn’t see pictures of all the finished rooms, but there must only be the two of you living there, as the living/kitchen seemed kind of small. Wondering, do you only have one access door to the outside? What would happen if you had a fire in the front and you were in the back. How would you get out? Not a nice thought I know, but just curious. Does the house stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer? I think its amazing how you finished the whole thing in less than a year. Love reading all about the stuff you do. Very interesting.