15 December 2008

Hand-Build an Earth Sheltered House For $5,000

Written by Susan Kraemer
"Total expenditure? $5,000. Tools? A chisel, a chainsaw and a hammer. Building expertise?"

Simon Dale says:

“My experience is only having a go at one similar house 2yrs before and a bit of mucking around in-between. This kind of building is accessible to anyone. My main relevant skills were being able bodied, having self belief and perseverance and a mate or two to give a lift now and again.”

Want to see more pictures and read the article
on how Simon Dale built the low impact homemade house?
Click here


  1. Thanks for the article! I just bookmarked it in my "Go Green!" folder in my toolbar.

    Half of me have always wanted a loft in a city for the reason of trying not to take up much space & because I grew up always living in from an apt to another (in NYC) so I never really envisioned myself owning a house because I felt that was something that I thought did not belong to me. But, sometimes a half of me peeks in a dream of wanting a very small, cute house, but never knew how to find one or what type until I saw a show on HGTV about Earthships. That was really uplifting and giving me hope of the possibility of owning a house that suited my philosphy of green living.

    And now this article! That was very exciting to read! Once again, it has given me more hope. Thanks!!!

  2. Hey Veronica,

    You should go for it! Visit the Earthship community in Santa Fe, NM if you haven't. I rented one house for my birthday weekend and it was absolutely breathtaking and lovely, especially the large bathtub with a view of the moon, snow capped mountains. It was unbelievably comfortable, much better than an house, really!

    One summer, if any of us decide to build one, it should be announced on EcoDeaf so I can come and pitch in & help!!! :-D

  3. check out here: www.naturalbuildingschool.org.

    marta mulholland who co-runs the place is a sign language interpreter. she and eli, who also runs the place, would be excited to work with deaf folks interested in this. :=D

  4. Hello Veronica, I'm glad this article gave you more hope! I can relate to your feeling about wanting a small eco-friendly home. You can make it happen!

    Raychelle, that Earthship community in Santa Fe, New Mexico sounds wonderful! If I happen to be wandering through New Mexico, I will check the Earthship community out.

    When I was backpacking out in the mountains of Colorado in 2004, I visited a home that was built by the bare hands of a couple. It was more of a small house than the Earthship that we see in the picture here, but it was cozy! They had a garden protected by rabbit proof fences next to their front door. For lunch, we picked and made salad with fresh kale, romaine, green, and red lettuces straight from the garden. It was Earthalicious!

    Count me in! I'd be happy to help build an Earthship!

  5. Diana, I did not see your comment until after I posted my comment.

    Thank you very much for bringing those people's names up and their website!

    Definitely a door of opportunity has been opened for those who are interested!

    I will look into the website and perhaps contact those people with some inquiries when I have more free time later in the evening!

    This is totally awesome! I'm stoked about the website!

    Thanks again!!!

  6. How much for this couple buying the land for their ecogreen residence?

    Is there any requirement for city or state permit to buy the earth house?

    Not enough details.

    Where this ecogreen house located at? What state?


  7. How much for this couple buying the land for their ecogreen residence?

    Is there any requirement for city or state permit to buy the earth house?

    Not enough details.

    Where this ecogreen house located at? What state?


  8. Hi RLM,

    "How much for this couple buying the land for their ecogreen residence?"

    I was wondering about the land purchase, too.

    "Is there any requirement for city or state permit to buy the earth house?"

    I think it is required to have city and/or state permits to build an earth house. If you live on a private land out in the country, you might get away without obtaining permits. I would double check with the local town or city officials about permits to avoid hefty fines and legal hassles.

    "Not enough details."

    I would be happy to investigate and research for more details then get back to you.

    "Where this ecogreen house located at? What state? "

    Wales was mentioned, so I'm thinking it's in United Kingdom. I will find that out and get back to you.

    Today I was told there is an earth house outside of Buffalo. I would like to contact the person and ask permission to visit the house soon.I am curious about that earth house because Buffalo gets a lot of lake effect snowstorms and how different or similar it is from other earth houses in warmer climates.

    If you learn anything new, please share with us. Thanks. :)

  9. There is an earth sheltered home on Dennis Road in Angola, NY. (South of Buffalo)

    Go to the National Tour of Solar Homes website


    to see different earth friendly homes in the state of New York. Descriptions and costs are included.

  10. On HGTV, when I saw their segements on Earthships, Tucson in Arizona was mentioned.

  11. Veronica,

    Speaking of Tuscan, Arizona

    check out this website:

    That is an interesting website! Thank you for letting us know about Tuscan!

  12. Some years ago in the summer, I went to the Adirondack Mountains -- one of the most beautiful places I've been to.

    What amazed me is that a home is built around these enormous trees that are still in the roots. You go from one set of trees to another when going to a different room. Each room, they have everything what they need. It almost reminds me of how a tarzan and Jane live but better! :) I believe that home was meant to be for spring/summer residence. It is really hard to describe in writing how the home was set up.

    I think earthship is a fabulous way to show appreciation and respect for our nature.


  13. Hi Katherine, that home in the Adirondack (ADK) mountains you just described sounds beautiful. It reminds me of the Ewok village in the movie Star Wars but those furry characters were living on the treetops, not on the ground.

    Where about in the ADK mountains? I visit the ADK mountains every year in the summer and I would love to stop there if the home is open to public.

    Thank you for sharing it with us! :)

  14. Anthony,

    I am not sure which part of ADK mountains it was located in as it's HUGE. I am not sure if it is open for public as it is a private residence of a friend's parents' friend. It's a magnificent home.

    When I have time, I'll get in touch and find out if that couple/family intended for it to be public as well. It would be great if the public could see it.

  15. Hi Katherine,

    It would be great to see the home in the ADK if it is open to public.

    I just stumbled across this website which I found interesting. The Wee home is not anything like the earth-sheltered home that we saw in this article.