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  1. 155 of 155 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Inspires Confidence, Crystal Clear, Makes the Option Very Attractive, February 23, 2007
    Robert D. Steele (Oakton, VA United States) –
    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

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    This review is from: Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable… (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)

    I went to some trouble to survey books centered on both underground or into rock dwellings, and also earth sheltered homes, and this book is the best I could find. It has proven to be everything I had hoped for.

    This book deals with earth-sheltered homes, which are homes generally built on the ground, and then covered with natural dirt and growth on the roof only, or on the roof and the berms of earth piled against at least two of the sides after the fact of building.

    This is a really excellent offering. 12 chapters, 4 appendices, and an annotated bibliography. A number of really nice color photographs on eight pages in the middle of the book, many black and white photos as well as really excellent understandable diagrams.

    Take-aways include the need for extremely careful but not over the top load planning, radon as a factor to take seriously, and ANYONE CAN DO THIS.

    The book covers waterproofing, insulation, and drainage, to include waste drainage where gravity rather than pumping is strongly recommended. It does not cover electrical and plumbing installation. It covers energy in relation to sunlight and windows and heat retention curtains, but does not include coverage of skylights (except as an energy loss factor), interior lights and other “plumbing.

    The bottom line in the book is that a solid earth-sheltered house can be built for $10K to $20K inclusive of appliances, plumbing and so on, which makes it a lot cheaper and greatly more sustainable than a double-wide trailer home, and better in most respects than your average rambler.

    With Peak Oil now upon on, the energy saving features of the earth-sheltered home are not to be taken lightly. The author document going without a need for heat from wood burning for almost an entire winter, and documents getting through any winter with 2-3 cords of wood. The home is cool in the summer without airconditioning, in part because of the natural respiration and evaporation of the earth roof with grass, moss, and wildflowers.

    I want to end with praise for the publisher. Five or six times now I have bought boooks based on my interest in their content, only to find that New Society Publishers is the provider. They now rank with Wharton Publishing as one of my favored publishers, and I will be keeping an eye out for anything bearing their imprint.

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  2. 71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Location, location, location, August 31, 2007
    J. Wagner

    This review is from: Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable… (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) (Paperback)

    This is a great book! If you really wanted to build your own earth-sheltered home you could certainly do it using the information presented here (though a wiser course would be to pick up more sources). Thanks to this book and “The New Ecological Home”, building our own home with environmentally conscious materials and possibly earth bermed or sheltered is high on our list of priorities. There is only one complaint I have about many books of this variety. They tend to cover difficulties with things like building code and location very lightly.

    Building code and location are going to be huge factors in building an earth sheltered structure, especially one made with fewer traditional modern building materials. Difficulties with local regulations or inflexible inspectors/building comissions may prevent you from being able to build in the area you want. This may drive an individual to build in locations further away from urban centers where they might work. Commuting is no fun; and if you wanted to look at it from an environmental standpoint commuting a greater distance to work, grocery market or schools has just raised your carbon footprint and negated some of the savings your earth sheltered home has created.

    I would highly recommend that individuals check local code thoroughly and choose a location suitable to their daily needs such as work or other social necessities before building. One need not build out of logs and plaster to have an earth sheltered home, though I understand that the point of this book is to have an affordable home and avoiding expensive modern materials. Take a bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish; if you are purchasing this book it is somewhat safe to assume you are concerned about the environment. Please also consider materials used. Rob Roy’s excellent use of modern materials such as rubber membranes and concrete block are high in initial cost to produce, environmentally speaking, but last longer and provide more benefit to long term savings such as insulative qualities and maintenance costs than lesser materials might. A lot of other earth-sheltered builders advocate natural materials to a fault, they have people using composting toilets and straw-bale homes. While effective in an environmental sense, they are not attractive to the average person. Rob Roy’s book moves in a positive direction by using modern materials with environmentally conscious construction to create a home that just about anybody would like to live in.

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