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Building/Tools Anything to do with construction, remodeling, etc.

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Old 07-16-2009, 03:24 AM
remington remington is offline
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Default Two Story Semi-underground

I have been mulling this over in my head for weeks now and need here is my plan. I want to build a two story house but I want the first story to be underground. It would face south-east and from the front look like your average two-story house. but the rear and most of two sides would be covered in earth. The second story would be level with the yard in the rear and if possible I would like a basement dug back further under the yard. Ideas? Suggestions?
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:09 AM
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rAcErRicK rAcErRicK is offline
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Here is a very interesting site Rem. You will, no doubt find some helpful ideas here, and these folk share all their ventures in the construction of their berm home from day one, to completion. Their piece of land is breathtaking.
There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:24 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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Sounds like you're planning to build on a slope. My home is situated on one.

Before the economy dived and took a big chunk of my IRA with it, I was planning something similar. The main difference is that the front on mine would be a ground level, instead of the back. The plan was to raise my home up, as it it were to be moved. (Got the idea from a This Old House episode, where they picked up a barn in order to replace the foundation and convert the lower level to living space.)

The idea was to dig into the slope to create a full basement with walk out on the backside. After the basement walls are constructed, the house would be lowered back down onto them. A drain on the front and sides would have been incorporated before backfilling and redistributing the earth removed from the basement area.

Since the existing porches would have to be removed to lift it, new porches would be built. On the front, the porch would like like an old-fashioned farm house porch with just a couple of steps. In addition to the "look" this new porch would be larger with the goal of shading the front of the house from solar gain.

The porch on the back would be at the second floor level. (Walk out of the existing den onto the screened 3 season porch. ) Solar gain isn't an issue on this side, since the backyard is in the shade in late afternoon during the summer. However, during the winter wind is a factor for heat loss. This porch would act like an air-lock barrier to slow down heat loss from the patio door, utility room door, and the windows.

The backporch would also cover the walkout from the basement to provide a covered cook-out area and a summer kitchen. (Canning, smoking meats, preping veggies for the freezer, etc. - keep the heat and "mess" out of the kitchen.)

Access to the basement would be where the existing utility room is now.

In the basement itself - northeast corner would be a root cellar. Concrete floor would not be poured in that corner. Proper ventilation would have been incorporated into the basement wall design for that corner. Next to the root cellar would be a less humid (would have concrete floor) area to act as a old fashioned pantry. Heavy duty shelving (2by) for canned goods. Pallet like areas (keep storage containers off the concrete) for bulk storage.

One area, near the stairs would be devoted to a new utility room. Washer and dryer would be moved to that location. The utility room would also contain the freezer and a spare refrigerator for those times the one in the kitchen isn't large enough. (Family get-together cooking and holding foods until they can be canned, frozen, dehydrated, etc.)

Another area in the basement would be a safe room. (Roof reinforced). This is equivalent to a storm shelter. In addition to providing a safe place to stay during hurricanes and tornado warnings, it would contain emergency prep supplies needed for these and ice storms, too.

If the budget would permit (hadn't checked into the cost of this) where the existing insert fireplace in the den is located it would be replaced. In the basement, I'd have a colonial fireplace with an oven for wood fire cooking. Above it, in the den, would be a traditional fireplace or provision for a wood burning stove. It's been my dream for many years to have a colonial kitchen. Since I'm also a woodworker, I'd make make many of the components for one. Additionally, it would provide the place for my cast iron cookware collection. And, it would give me the place to actually use the spiders, Dutch ovens and such, as they were originally used. My wish list include a crane for the fireplace.

Moving on across the basement, the south west corner would contain my wood working shop. This would have a separate covered walk out. Half the year it's either too hot or too cold to work in my existing shop. Don't have AC in it, so the summer is the worst. During the winter I heat it with wood, so that makes it better then.

As to any remaining space in the basement it would be allocated to storage, possibly a library room and a separate crafts room.

One of the things in the plan was to convert from central forced air heating to radient floor heat using hot water. This would have been installed under the existing floor once the house was put on the new foundation walls. Would have also been incorporated into the basement floor where applicable.

This post is probably getting too long, so I'd better close. Hope these thoughts on what was my dream project will be of help to your planning.

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Old 07-16-2009, 12:01 PM
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tufhelp Male tufhelp is offline
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Just curious, why would you not take full advantage of the earth sheltering by making all of the house earth sheltered? Seems at first blush that having part of the house above ground would make that part of the house inefficient compared to the earth sheltered part. More costly to heat and cool.
The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits... Albert Einstein
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Old 07-20-2009, 02:25 AM
remington remington is offline
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thanks all for your replies. main reason for not going completely underground is we are fascinated by old farm houses but want to blend that with an underground.
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Old 10-30-2009, 07:41 PM
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NotSoFast Male NotSoFast is offline
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My dad's mother had a house like you're describing. It was actually three story with the bottom story dug into the side of the hill. It also had a root cellar dug into the hill which I think was an add-on, or at least an afterthought to the original design since only the porch was above that. The upstairs part was level with the front yard.

While it never got too hot in the main part of the house in summer, I remember that the downstairs apartment was always cool. I'm sure Pop could have dug deeper into the hillside for the basement but they weren't too concerned with more room.

It might be something to consider, depending on your land, to dig the whole downstairs out and build that floor, with a strong roof on the part that will be completely covered, then use the dirt to backfill over that once it's complete, leaving the above ground portion to be built after that and the rest of the foundation is built. That way you already have the dirt loosened up for a garden once construction is complete.

Also, if the back (to you) is to be what is visible to others, maybe that might be designed to make it look like it is only a one story house.

Just some wayward thoughts passing between my two remaining brain cells.
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Old 10-31-2009, 11:43 PM
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flatwater flatwater is offline
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What your describing , we call a daylight basement home around here. Is there something that I'm missing ?
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Old 11-02-2009, 09:31 PM
Pokeberry Mary Pokeberry Mary is offline
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Cool our house

Our house is built into a hill, the basement is walk out in the front but underground in the back. The front is a mainly southern exposure and there are lots of windows on the floor just above the basement. There is s 2nd story above that.

We have an add on underground room attached to the basement. It was called a hurricane room by the guy who started this building project. (we're finishing it)
Its a great root cellar/pantry as well as storm shelter.

Advantage of having our house partly underground is being able to build on a hilly slope, taking advantage of a gorgeous view from the windows in the first story above the basement. Being able to walk out from the basement in the front of the house to a level area where I eventually plan to have a vineyard--though currently its nice for working on cars..etc.
Being partially underground the house is more stable in our clay soil; and better insulated than it might be.

I like the arrangement fine. I sometimes wish it weren't quite so tall--though inside that's great--very roomy! The problem we have is we still have to put the siding on the 2nd floor on two sides and its so high up we've been saving up to rent a lift.

(yes, already tried scaffolding)

Anyhow its a nice arrangement. I for one would not want to live completely underground when there are beautiful views outside--no thank you! I'm not a subterranean Being.
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