Saturday, October 20, 2012

October, 2012

An update and response to Gin:

We are still very happy with our earth sheltered concrete home, and it is performing as we hoped and expected.  It took 18-24 months for the temperature to stabilize (it was cool to begin with as the concrete cured)and now our electrical bills are pretty stable summer and winter.  During the shoulder months we do not either heat or cool as the house provides the stable temperature around 74 that we want.  The biggest problem here in TX is with the humidity, not temperature, and the house cannot really help with it.  So far it has not been enough of a problem to install a dehumidifier.  The heat pump system works as expected.

There have been no concrete cracks or leaks at all. We apparently planned well enough that there have not been any major corrections or additions we want to do that do not have wiring/plumbing available to them.

We are presently in the process of landscaping the yard, as soon as we get the plans from the landscape architect.The orange, lemon, kumquat and grapefruit trees make it through the winter with a little help and protection, and are all loaded with fruit in the process of ripening. The fact that they are planted under the overhang next to the heat retaining concrete walls helps, I am sure.  Most of the other trees (oaks, pecan, wild plum, pomegranate and Fantex ash are healthy and growing.  We have Texas Sagebrush and creeping lantana on the roof, which exist with virtually no care and no irrigation.  They do very well, as shown in the above  photos and should eventually spread to cover the entire roof. (And a Texas sunset, too!)

We do not have any open houses scheduled, though it is due to no requests rather than any other reason.  If enough people want to see the house we will schedule one.  I would direct people to other similar houses, but there is no good list or registry that I know about.  Maybe we need to figure out how to create one.

If people have specific questions I am happy to try to answer them.



Ryan Bishop said...

Attn Mike,

I'm putting together a comprehensive underground and earth sheltered home resource, and I'd love to get in touch about your post looking for just such a resource. I'm looking for contributors and frankly just other enthusiasts, and I'm actually planning on building my own home near bastrop in the relatively near future. You can see the site and get in touch at

DIY Helper said...

Do you allow for tours of the home, and if so, when are these scheduled? We're looking to construct an earth-berm home as well in the Leander / Liberty Hill area and are trying to get as much information and inspiration as possible. Also, please feel free to email me with any and all advice you may have regarding the construction of your home (what were the pitfalls, the pros of design as well as the cons of the design, what would you do differently, etc.). Could you provide the general price / square foot estimate of the general build as well as a basic estimate for such a home if it were to be finished out? Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
Rebekah Fountain

asdfa said...

Hi Mike,

Mr. Smoot suggested I contact you. We are building a earth sheltered home in south Bastrop county and need financing. I cannot get this without a comp and there isn't much around. My home is from "Formworks Building" in CO. The plans are complete and in-hand. I was hoping we could work something out where I could use your home as the basis for my comp (no visiting or asking to tour). It would help myself and future builders out immensely. Please contact me if you are so inclined.

512-577-7272 or email.

Lindsey Akins said...

My husband and I are also interested in building an earth sheltered home. We too have looked into Form Works. Nothing official yet. But that's mainly due to no financing options and very little info available. How did you all get started and we're you able to find financing? What were or are the pros and cons of living in an earth sheltered home? How long have you all lived in your home? How much did it cost to construct per sqft? We are looking to build a home that is roughly 3000 sqft. And advice or tips on where to gain more useful information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Lindsey Williams