Most Freqently Asked Questions About
Earth Sheltered Homes.
Often we are asked important questions concerning
earth sheltered homes. We have included answers to some of the
most popular questions here so that you may better understand
some additional advantages of earth sheltered living.
Q: What is the difference between "earth sheltered"
and "earth bermed"?
A: An "earth sheltered" home is one in which the top
as well as most of the sides are covered with earth. An "earth
bermed" home utilizes a conventional roof, with only the
sides of the home protected with earth.
Q: What are the advantages of an earth sheltered home versus an
earth bermed home?
A: Besides reduced maintenance costs and increased safety from
fire and tornadoes, earth sheltered homes are much more energy
efficient than earth bermed homes. According to an independent
sudy done by the University of Minnesota, "a related advantage
of placing earth on the roof of the house is that the below grade
wall and floor are 2 to 4 feet further from the surface."...Houses
built with wood structual systems do not provide the same mass
as predominantly concrete shell."
For example, according to the same study, the temperature
of the earth during the summer is much higher at the surface than
at greater depths. Thus, an earth sheltered home...particularyly
one constructed of 100% reinforced concrete with the highest quality
rebar, as in a Davis Cave home...will net much more energy savings
due to moderate earth temperatures than an earth bermed home with
a conventional roof.
Q: Can we expect good air circulation in a Davis Caves earth sheltered
A: Of course! Davis Caves Construction is proud to be working
with national experts in designing air circulation systems exclusively
for our earth sheltered homes. These unique systems can be set
up manually or automatically providing abundant year round fresh
air without significant energy loss. Because this is a "positive
pressure" system it eliminates concern for radon gas. (More
information on our air circulation system available upon request.)
Q: Can I get appropriate financing to purchase a Davis Caves earth
A: YES! Because of our experience and number of homes constructed,
we have gained recognition and approval from lending institutions,
and LOANS ARE NOW AVAILABLE NATIONWIDE! Davis Caves will assist
you in working with your local lending institution.
Q: How thick are the celiling and walls?
A: All structural concrete is 6 bag mix. All structural reinforcing
rod is ASTM grade #60. The standard 8' wall is 8" thick and
designed for a minimum of 650 lbs. per square lateral load.
The standard ceiling is 10" - 12" thick and designed
for a vertical load of 790 lbs. per square foot. This allows for
a minimum of 3' of earth cover.
A: Is it dark?
A: Many people, until they have visited one of our model homes,
think earth sheltered homes are like a basement or cellar. After
a visit, they discover that with a south or southeast exposure,
(ideally) an abundance of natural light is allowed into the home.
Q: How do you meet building codes?
A: Several national building codes have revised their standards
to eliminate the need for secondary egress from bedrooms. (If
the home is finished with metal studs and fire resistand dry wall.)
With these variances and/or floor plan options, we can meet any
Q: Are you able to add skylights?
A: Yes. Skylights may be added to any floor plan. We recommend
the tubular skylights (called "Sun Tunnells", "Solatubes",
etc.). They are comparatively inexpensive, easy to install, and
allow even more natural sunlight into your Earth Home. They also
are efficient as far as energy loss.
Q: How is a Davis Cave earth sheltered home insulated?
A; Unlike a conventional basement, Davis Caves Construction insulates
on the outside of the concrete between the shell and earth backfill.
This eliminates thermal stress on the stucture and provides mass
within the heated envelope. We use Extruded Polystyrene insulation
due to its superior quality for this application.
Most conventional basements have little or no insulation on the
exterior walls. Thus, the walls are exposed to subfreezing air
and ground temperatures. When the cold wall surface comes into
contact with warmer, moisture-laden air, condensation and must
odor are the result.
Q: What about drainage and waterproofing?
A: Dave Caves Construction assures proper drainage by correct
placement of drainage tile with a granular fill. This tile drainage
system is natural "gravity flow", not dependent on electricity
supplied to a sump pump. Bentonize wateproofing is also applied.
We use Bentonize since it is inorganic and stable underground.
It will not deteriorate due to acids in the soil. (Further information
on our Bentozine waterproofing available upon request.)
Q: Are your plans designed by Architects and Engineers?
A: All structural specifications are calculated by registered
architects and engineers. We also have a design service available
for your custom floor plan.
Now that you know the answers to these questions, we would be
happy to tell you more! We're confident that when all the facts
are in, you'll choose an earth sheltered home from DAVIS CAVES
Davis Caves, Inc.
Atlanta, IL 61723