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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, I am new here, but not new to self sufficiency. It is nice to see activity here. I am newly 42, and living. I have a lot of building, fabricating, and repair experience so feel free to question me. Yes, I have built underground before and have experience. Largest underground project was 5000 square feet, and is still holding up well after more than ten years. Have done farming, animal husbandry, strong agricultural background. I am here to learn and help others learn. I am also considering starting a group of like minded individuals for a retreat endeavor.
 

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Aesops Ant (not Aunt)
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Hi, I am new here, but not new to self sufficiency. It is nice to see activity here. I am newly 42, and living. I have a lot of building, fabricating, and repair experience so feel free to question me. Yes, I have built underground before and have experience. Largest underground project was 5000 square feet, and is still holding up well after more than ten years. Have done farming, animal husbandry, strong agricultural background. I am here to learn and help others learn. I am also considering starting a group of like minded individuals for a retreat endeavor.
VUnder, welcome! Hey, I would appreciate any information on subterranean building that you can give. That is a subject that is of special interst to me. I have done as much research as I can and basically came to the conclusion that using large box culverts (12-20 feet wide and 10-12 feet tall) would be the easiest, safest, for me to use (at some point when I am to a point I can build). Maybe start a thread about your experience with building underground -- what methods work best and why -- make a good place to start a dialogue. Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I knew that underground would be of interest because it is the safest, most hidden way to protect yourself and your belongings. Humans have always had underground safe havens, and underground food storage. Caves have always been used because of thier safety. However, building under is an entirely different animal. I have seen some things that other people are doing and I am not too sure about their projects. Earth is heavy, and every little bit it gets when it settles will never be given back. Let's say, for instance, your buried container starts bowing in from outside pressure, you can't push that back out. So, different soil types, ground pressure, drainage, seismic zones, all have to be considered so you only have to do this one time and you'll be set.
 

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Aesops Ant (not Aunt)
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I knew that underground would be of interest because it is the safest, most hidden way to protect yourself and your belongings. Humans have always had underground safe havens, and underground food storage. Caves have always been used because of thier safety. However, building under is an entirely different animal. I have seen some things that other people are doing and I am not too sure about their projects. Earth is heavy, and every little bit it gets when it settles will never be given back. Let's say, for instance, your buried container starts bowing in from outside pressure, you can't push that back out. So, different soil types, ground pressure, drainage, seismic zones, all have to be considered so you only have to do this one time and you'll be set.
I notice you are in LR, AR. I plan to someday move back to AR and build underground. My biggest concern is water coming into the home. What measures do you use to keep water out? How successful is it? Does it have a very limited lifespan? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I am not that close to LR, but I am in AR. If you can find a place with some natural fall, it makes things much easier to do. Dig deeper than you need to. Order some wash rock from Malvern and line the bottome of your hole. We put a foot of rock. We put some 4" drain pipes all over, and collected them together and ran them with natural fall. Once we had our hole dug, I dug a ditch out of the lowest corner and continued it on a slope until I finally ran out at ground level about 100' away from my structure. I formed a slab on top of the rocks and poured it and wet set some ICF forms into the wet concrete. Also had my rebar sticking up for my walls. There was rebar in the slab, and in fact, we used livestock panel instead of re-mesh. But, this customer wanted radiant floor heat, so the panel was easier to work with. After slab cured, we laid blocks 8' high and drove a truck around and filled the blocks straight from the concrete truck. Painted the outside of the slab with swimming pool paint. Put rubber sticky membrane around the outside walls. There was also a place to put a sump pump, but have never even put a pump there in over ten years, have not needed it at all. The ICF does not sweat and mildew like cinder blocks will. Inside quality is a lot better, you can't tell the difference from a regular house, except for the lack of windows, and it is extremely quiet. You do have to watch out for the water. Ground pressure can do some mighty things. We buried a 2,000 gallon tank at a service station and the bulk fuel guy didn't show up to fill it as planned. It rained that evening, and we had a D5 Caterpillar parked on top of it, and the dozer was upside down and the tank was completely out of the ground. So, if you can naturally keep the water drained, will be your best bet. Don't have to worry about forgetting a pump, or the pump not working....
 

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The wanderer
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Welcome to the forum! Glad to have you with us!

I'm looking forward to more reading about underground building. I already enjoyed the post about gravel and drainage. We've talked about doing this ourselves someday. We have a nice SW-facing slope and soil that drains well. We're thinking of building back in the hill with windows facing SW. Not totally hidden but has some advantages. Easier to heat/cool, for one thing. Someday...

:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I looked at four undergrounds yesterday. Been there a long time too. Even if you do build it with the front exposed, you can put a high mound of dirt out in front of it. That way, if anyone sees it from afar, they just see two hills, and can't see your front. Question, I was in central america for a while with a fella from up there, his last name was Walters, maybe 45 ish or so. With Montana population being so sparse, I remember one day in central am. a fella walked through the barracks, and Walters jumped up and asked who he was, and the guy was from Montana too, but they had hunted together when kids. Small world sometimes.

It is not really that expensive to build that way, really you get out of having to do roofing and siding. Plus, the energy savings are phenomenal. For the water lines in the slab, just sleeve them in some cheap black pipe. Then, design it so that no plumbing is in the outside perimeter walls. This way, you can always get to things if you need to, without much trouble. I have seen brand new pipe have a defect in it, so you never know.
 

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The wanderer
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Question, I was in central america for a while with a fella from up there, his last name was Walters, maybe 45 ish or so.
Was his first name Dennis?

With Montana population being so sparse...
We have a density of just under 7 people per square mile. Arkansas has 56!

Yes, we could use a mound ("second hill") to hide the front of the exposed side of the underground house. We're also in heavy tree cover, with tall pines, Aspens, and Birch. That'll help hide it. The direction it faces has nothing for 25 miles as the crow flies over National Forest land until it meets the highway along the reservoir. That'll help 'hide' it too! Not that people can't come walking through there. However I'd worry more about fly-overs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
There was a Dennis in his family, how about Ken? Look at DC, almost 10000 per square mile. I have never been to MT, but an old guy here went up there and bought some draft horses. Some guys that worked for me had worked up there. I remember them telling me about having to go to town and buy water and fill a sistern at the house?

Looks like there are a lot of good old trucks up there. Maybe kinda shy on welfare recipients. I went and bought a food stamp card off somebody today for cheap and went and bought my groceries with government plastic, how fantastic! Some people scream "fraud", but those people are as able bodied as I am and have college degrees, so I think that it is fraud to begin with. We call it "government subsidized survival" around here. I just buy staples when I am using the plastic and "big doggin" down at the super wal mart.
 

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Welcome to the forum :wave:
 
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