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Living down under (the ground) OK for some

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

CATAWISSA, — Some Missouri residents find that life is just fine living in the land down under.

Down under the ground, that is.

Rural areas of St. Clair, Jefferson and Franklin counties are dotted with farms, homes and small family-owned businesses. Drive through the region, though, and every now and then you'll spot just a roof — the top of underground homes.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that earth homes are emerging into green housing lifestyles. Many are more than just basements.

The homes typically have three sides underground, with only the front of the structure peeking out. Some are completely submerged with just the roof exposed.

The roof itself can be unique. Some are made of shingles, but some are made of dirt and grass.

Owners may be giving up some window view, but experts say there are benefits. Earth homes can last for centuries. Construction costs can be less because there are no exterior walls.

The underground structures are made of concrete, steel and wood, using the dirt and the ground as an insulation barrier. Skylights installed in the roof and tall windows or doors in the front provide natural light.

Real estate agent Judy Davis in Pacific sells earth homes and land for earth home construction.

"I see people looking for the green aspect of earth home living where the ground temperature is consistent," Davis said. "It's about 60 degrees underground all year round."

Davis said potential buyers need to be aware of the drawbacks.

"It can be dark. You may feel like you're living in a cave." She stressed, though, that basic design and plenty of windows in the front can make a world of difference.

 

 


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