I only offer a different way of looking at existing
The Earthen Bermed Home
in the U.S. most of the homes that are built tend to use industry standard materials
of wood, asphalt, gypsum and concrete. Because of this our industry has evolved
around these materials to the point that building codes except only houses built
with these materials as the norm. As time progressed any other type of home
design was considered unacceptable and was suspect. Man tends to build upward
as his buildings seem to get taller as time progresses. His sky scrapers are
as tall as his technology allows him to design. Maybe architects consider height
as a barometer of man’s technological progression. Maybe this is a direct
result of some ancient tower of Babel ego driven desire. Almost all other species
of land animals burrow or live in natural caves. Ironically when man wants to
protect something he burrows underground. This is evident by places like Cheyenne
Mountain, Iron Mountain, super safe vaults, bomb shelters and Missile silos.
The Earth itself is a perfect and natural insulator and weather shield. Soil
is a better material than the materials used by current architects.
I have studied the designs of many underground home designers and the work of
Dr. Nader Kalili who builds his Earthen dome and vault creations in Hesperia
California. The underground home movement gained a big following in the early
1970’s when a fuel crisis. Which basically means a price gouge by OPEC
forced Americans to look for more efficient ways of heating and cooling their
homes. Many people followed the Gopher and Rabbit and began building underground
problem with most of these designs is that they tend to leak moisture and are
extremely expensive because of the massive amounts of concrete needed to keep
the soil from crushing the walls and ceilings in. So any energy savings were
offset by the enormous cost of the building materials. Comparing the cost of
construction and the over all heating and cooling costs over a twenty year period.
A conventional wood framed home is actually cheaper to own and build over all.
My design is simple. It is essentially two parallel nine foot tall by twenty
foot wide beams of soil spaced twelve feet apart. They lay side by side in a
long arch which adds strength and privacy as the single bedroom is located at
the rear and is out of sight from the kitchen. The inner walls are carved into
a series of stepped shelves. This keeps the inner walls from collapsing. In
the same manor as a strip mine retains its shape. The inner walls are then coated
with a thin coating of cement to maintain their shape and strength. The same
way an M and M candy has a thin candy coating over the chocolate to keep it
from melting or losing its shape. The windows are made from various large diameter
drainage tubes. The windows are circular pieces of Poly carbonate“Lexan”
or Polystyrene “Plexiglas” with a center pivot post glued and riveted
to it. The windows open like a large butterfly valve. Screen material is tied
to the outside edge of the drainage tube to keep out insects and uninvited critters.
Railroad ties are anchored all along the top of the berms to give the roof a
non corrosive anchor point. This is done by drilling the ends of the ties and
pounding rebar rods into the top of the berm. Steel pillars run down the center
of the inside of the house in order to support the 4”x 12”center
beams which support the roof. The roof will be ½” plywood covered
with a common hot mopped composition material. The plywood will sit on 2”x
6” single board rafters. They span a total of 28’ from berm top
to berm top or from railroad tie to railroad tie. They will extend 2 to 3 feet
beyond the railroad ties so that rainwater is directed down and away from the
berms. So even in torrential rain the water would have to soak twenty feet of
dry compacted soil. This will be impossible. Thus the interior walls will need
no moisture proofing and will never get wet.
The walls will never lose their shape because of the molecular adhesion of the
soil itself and the cement interior coating. When I say molecular adhesion I
mean that all materials have an individual type of charge on the molecular level
which holds the molecules together in a unique way. That is why every natural
thing from crystals to snowflakes has unique shapes. I piled the soil into berms
and let them sit for two years, allowing the wind and rain to mold them into
a natural shape. Naturally they resemble the local mountains in shape. Building
berms this way is no job for the lazy. It took me 10 man days with a mini bulldozer
at a rental cost of $2,000.00 to form the berms. It took me two man months with
a shovel to hand carve the shelves.
shelved berms come together at the south end in a large bowl which is the master
bedroom. The bowl shape is being used to focus acoustics (I listen to a lot
of music) and energy (heat and cooling) into the room. It is very different
from anything I have ever seen before. Above the master bedroom the roof will
be a circular deck with a spa. The rest of the roof will be a shallow pitch
composition roof. There will be no insulation on the ceiling. Hot air rises
and because the walls angle away from each other hot air will expand away from
the floor keeping the lower area cooler. There will also be a passive air flow
system that I am working on to pull fresh cool air through the house.
In conclusion I wanted to build an experimental house that was simple and cheap.
I will have $14,000.00 into this entire project. The house will have 1,200 square
feet of living space and enough shelving to store all my books and record albums
(I own thousands of each). I have posted some pictures of the process of construction.
I was thinking this was the most novel design I had ever seen. At least until
I was studying the history of the Vikings or Norsemen as some people call them.
one book I read there was a drawing of a house that the Norsemen would build
in areas where the weather was extremely harsh. Archeologists claim that bitter
cold and heavy snow was overcome by building Earthen bermed houses with steeply
pitched roofs to shed high volumes of snow. Some of these structures are still
around today (minus the roof) and they were probably built in the eleventh century.
I am planning on living to 100 so I only need it to hold up for another 52 years…….Waldo