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  1. #1
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    Half Underground house

    Quote Originally Posted by Ratchaburi View Post

    It would be cheaper to buy a generator if you have power problems.
    Or you could build a house into a side of a hill as the under ground is
    cooler about 20 deg C
    Will have finalised the purchase of some land in Nakhon Sawan (quite a bit outside NS city in the hills) over the new year. I selected the site for various reasons but most notably because of the ability to use the hill at the back for lots of things. One thing I stumbled upon though was this quote which interests me greatly. So excuse the very very shite 5 minute picture, but what are your views on this.





    The idea is that at the rear of the house, a lot of it is actually underground level which when coupled with two things, firstly the heat vent at the a top rear of the house to allow the heat out, and very decent insulation material, should drop the core temperature of the house significantly. Can even utilise the hill cool air as well with a simply fan and filter I reckon.

  2. #2
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    Damp might be an issue.

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    Water runs downhill, so you'll definitely have to do something about that. Is there bedrock there as well?

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    What's the elevation of the lot? Surely you've thought of flooding? disturbed soil reaches saturation and then, you know the answer to that...

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    quite possibly a very stupid question, but given the small variations in seasonal and daily temperature in thailand compared to up north. would a underground house provide you with same benefits here as it does in europe?

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    There is bedrock, and the lots are surrounded by lots of fairly mature trees which I think would help. The site itself is significantly above the flood levels, and in relation to damp, well there you have me because it is not a novel approach (even my mums house in the UK the ground floor is in the bottom of a hill and no damp there) so I guess there must be a solution to that.

    Cooling though? My thoughts would be that it would maintain an good ambient temperature most of the year? Or am I dreaming? If there are more cons than pros, then I will build on the flatter section as previously planned and dig tunnels into the hills for my secret plan to hatch in taking over the world from my bunker. .

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    the under ground is cooler about 20 deg C
    I'd double check that sub-surface temperature. Does that mean it's 20 degrees cooler or just 20 degrees? Either way, I'm not sure that's true so you might well create a ton of new problems to not solve an old one.

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    I have been in a semi-submerged house in the UK

    the damp problem was solved with some expensive water control materials

    the dark was also solved with large south facing windows

    the house stayed warm in winter, cool in summer, and the energy bills were very low

    I suppose the same type of house could work here, as long as the hill is stable enough to take building
    I have reported your post

  9. #9
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    A lot of the expense is when you fit the water control methods after the house is erected I believe. If they are completed prior to and a the house is erected giving water an easier path to follow than by going through your walls, then it is relatively cheap. I am also assuming that there will be some piling work as well unless my Uncle can be convinced to pop over and survey the site thoroughly to let me know how deep the pilings really need to be as opposed to a Somchai plucking a lucky figure out of the air.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pseudolus
    A lot of the expense is when you fit the water control methods after the house is erected I believe
    that would be more expensive and not as effective

    you have to build the materials into the walls, as well as making some effort to divert any actual water flow direction

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    Exactly - you said "damp problem was solved" which leads to believe that the house was up, had a damp problem, which was then fixed, costing a bomb. So we agree that it is cheaper to do it as you erect it. The only problem might be is if you inadvertently dry the land too much prior to building leading to shrinkage, and thus an unstable platform perhaps?

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    As Hazz says, in Britain, there is much a greater temperature difference between summer and winter so if you're flattening out seasonal temperature variations (and I don't think a few meters down it's going to be much off the average - but I could be wrong), it's not going to achieve much in Thailand. In the summer you may drop a few degrees (which you gain in the winter) but I'm not sure the cost and engineering headaches are going to be worth it. Another problem is that if it does work, in the rainy season you might end up with internal damp; as the temperature drops, the air will have to lose its moisture so that needs to go somewhere.

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    ^After excavation to your specified grade, (elevation), lay drains down on the bedrock, place waterstop material over the drains. Waterstop material is a high grade polyethylene material, and should be installed where ever the house is in contact with the soil/or bedrock in your case. that means both the floor grade and the sides. Extend beyond the foundation limits. Place rebar or wire for concrete pour as designed and cast in situ pvc drains and water seal. this should secure the structure from water entry. Drains extend beyond house foundation as well.

    I recall reading some civil code specifications regarding ground temperatures relative to locations and depths of excavations. Most locals have a median temperature of sub-soil at various depths. I recall and don't quote me, but it seems that after 6' deep you are beyond freeze zones and the median temperature is around 60 degrees F all year long. Water tables are important for your design intent.

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    Thailand Expat AntRobertson's Avatar
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    I know precisely nothing about the hows of building such a house but I really like the concept. Certainly different from the usual.

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    with that flat roof, i dont think this will cool any much...

    as the whole place runs imo danger to be quite dark (lot of sqm only window in the front (except of one at the side), the windows will NEED to be large and towards south/west - much heat in the room...
    the lower floor you can tick off, this will be pitchblack, with that terrace over it?

    they cant even make a tight regular roof here... i would never believe, yours will survive its first "monsoon"...

    this is entirely against "security standards"..
    everyone can climb into the house, every level... it will be iron barred from top to bottom...?

  16. #16
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    A friend of mine designed a hotel in Samui in a similar vein - I think there were 7 or 8 terraces on that one.

    There are plenty of ways to make sure it's water tight, just need to get a proper builder in, that's all.

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    I would not do it.
    Common sense would dictate a disaster.

    Why do Thais build houses on stilts rather than underground?

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    http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/earth-sheltered-house-zmaz81sozraw.aspx

    There is a lot of information about earth sheltered housing available. A structural engineer familiar with this kind of construction is a must.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exige View Post
    I would not do it.
    Common sense would dictate a disaster.

    Why do Thais build houses on stilts rather than underground?
    Because they build the in flood plains and rice paddies as opposed to half way up the side of a hill?

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by alitongkat View Post
    with that flat roof, i dont think this will cool any much...

    as the whole place runs imo danger to be quite dark (lot of sqm only window in the front (except of one at the side), the windows will NEED to be large and towards south/west - much heat in the room...
    the lower floor you can tick off, this will be pitchblack, with that terrace over it?

    they cant even make a tight regular roof here... i would never believe, yours will survive its first "monsoon"...

    this is entirely against "security standards"..
    everyone can climb into the house, every level... it will be iron barred from top to bottom...?
    This plan is drawn in 5 mins. not to scale and I chucked some colour on there.

    The upper roof is tilted potentially for solar panels up there. As for light, there is a light window at the top and the design of the inside of the house will funnel it through to where it needs to be. Not worried about the roof because I would not use a local band of somchais to build it anyway. Will pay a decent firm who will then subcontract out to a band of local somchais no doubt and rob me blind. Anyway, Security it the interesting point which I had not considered. Will ponder this, but no, bars all over the place would not be the solution.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exige
    Why do Thais build houses on stilts rather than underground?
    because, in the old days, there were no gyms or fitness centres

    they may also have found that the pigs couldn't climb stairs and the air flow around the house helped it to feel cooler

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmite the Dog View Post
    A friend of mine designed a hotel in Samui in a similar vein - I think there were 7 or 8 terraces on that one.

    There are plenty of ways to make sure it's water tight, just need to get a proper builder in, that's all.
    And there lies the rub of it.
    It's eminently feasible and probably practical and efficient in the long run.
    But finding a builder up in the boonies who can do it properly without the need for expensive future repairs would be difficult. You would need to use a proper qualified commercial builder, the expense of which would probably eat up any future savings.

    If he was prepared to do his homework and act as the supervising engineer he might be able to get it done.

  23. #23
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    In Canada there would be 6" or so of aggregate around the exterior walls with "weeping tile" or perforated plastic pipe at the base. Any water percolating into the aggregate area falls to the bottom and is carried away by the pipe. In this case the pipe would exit lower down the hill from the house.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    In Canada there would be 6" or so of aggregate around the exterior walls with "weeping tile" or perforated plastic pipe at the base. Any water percolating into the aggregate area falls to the bottom and is carried away by the pipe. In this case the pipe would exit lower down the hill from the house.

    Exactly what is at my old dorris's house and what I would plan to do as well. Give the water an easier path.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by VocalNeal View Post
    In Canada there would be 6" or so of aggregate around the exterior walls with "weeping tile" or perforated plastic pipe at the base. Any water percolating into the aggregate area falls to the bottom and is carried away by the pipe. In this case the pipe would exit lower down the hill from the house.
    They tend to use a plastic grid rather than aggregate nowadays, but obviously we're talking Thailand, so they'll probably use builder's rubble and a bamboo stick with holes in it.

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