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Old 10-20-2009, 09:21 PM
JohnnyScience JohnnyScience is offline
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Default Building home into the side of a mountain - any advice?

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I really like the concept of buying a large portion of land with moutain terrain and then building my house right into the side/bottom of it so that all 3 portions & the roof are comletely encased into it.

Moutain rock is one of the hardest, ever lasting objects, so using it as the shell will ensure the property to last many many generations.

How hard are homes like this to really build & what things do I need to be aware of?

Old 10-20-2009, 09:36 PM
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I like the idea and may do this my self.

Yes you need to be very cautious of water drainage through the various layers of soil and the possibility of water dripping into your home. Typically this is avoided by installing a serious footing drain around the out side of your ground bermed walls and completely sealing the wall it self.

Better yet is to conduct a geologic survey and ensure that the soil layers are tilted in a way that draws the water away from your walls. Plus add the footing drain.
Old 10-20-2009, 09:49 PM
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as mentioned moisture is a potentual problem. also there is the issue of falling rocks and slides. your construction costs will be greater, much greater in most cases. ventilation is another consideration. in short lots of extra work, the benifits vs. the cost is a question only you can answer.
Old 10-20-2009, 09:55 PM
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Puttin in a septic system in such a site will be a bitch

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Old 10-20-2009, 09:55 PM
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You'll go broke blasting into solid rock, slides will always be a concern. If it is rock it will be a tough place to get water piped to, to live in. I think a Underground bunker that is hidden, would serve you better, and be much more cost effective.
Old 10-20-2009, 10:34 PM
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I have worked on a design like this. My idea is to dig/blast a shelf out of the hill side large enough to build a 14 foot high shell. Built like a water dam. The back wall, a few feet away from the rock face, would be thicker at the base than at the top. The roof also would be thicker at the back than the front. Now here is the key. Inside the 14ft shell you place piers and build a wood and drywall inner home. It will have a couple of feet of crawl space both under the floor and over the ceiling. This allows water seepage to flow across the rock floor under the house without having any affect on the house. Another benefit is that being built of traditional materials, changes, remodeling, wiring, plumbing and repairs are made easy. You will have a space between the back wall of the living space and the shell to place mechanical like water heater and furnace and such.
In your floor plan, you should design long and narrow, placing rooms that need no windows in the back, bathrooms, kitchen, closets, laundry room. Also, if the house can be designed to face south, the sun angle can be calculated to allow the shells overhang to shade the front glass in summer and allow sunlight in in the winter months. There will also be a fascia area in front from the ceiling up to the shell. This could be used to hide roll up style mettle doors with the tracks built into the stone shell support columns. For security or storm protection, hit a button, a wall comes down over the entire exposed area in front!
The driveway/patio area in front is raised to floor level with drain pipes installed underneath to drain any seepage from the rock faces.
One day I may build one of these myself.
Old 10-20-2009, 11:18 PM
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We have a whole town here in Australia (Coober Pedy) with houses built into cliffs, so it certainly can be done. There are other parts of the world too with lots of houses in cliffs (Israel I think?)

Done in outback Australia for thermal properties, not protection, however, in Israel (if i'm not making the whole Israel with houses in cliffs thing up) it would be for protection.
Old 10-21-2009, 12:41 PM
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Look for old mine or cave/overhang. Think about it Mesa Verde is still standing. But Having grown up in the Colorado Rockies I learned fast you can't dig far without hitting ROCK, hence the name!
Old 10-21-2009, 12:46 PM
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My advise--- Use a lot of re-bar, don't skimp on the diameter and weld the contact points!!! Many folks use tie wire which is good for most situations but if your holding up a mountain weld the contact points!!

I've poured many a slab in my life and I can tell the difference between the welded rod and the tied rod.
Old 10-21-2009, 03:04 PM
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One advantage is you can use the thermal stability of the rock to provide cooling in the summer and heat in the winter. The problem is running the coils back into the rock...

Old 10-21-2009, 03:13 PM
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I did a quick google and found this.
Old 10-21-2009, 04:37 PM
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Here's some good reading material.
Old 10-21-2009, 07:10 PM
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this site does something along the lines of what your thinking the roof is open but its for a good cause
Old 10-21-2009, 07:33 PM
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I just want a hobbit hole.

I thought about the whole home-in-a-rock thing, but it's really expensive.

A hobbit hole is a great deal cheaper, and you'd have a lot more freedom in where to build it.

Old 10-21-2009, 09:55 PM
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Have you considered using something like these:

I know this is not building into the side of the hill and there are obvious pros/cons for doing so, but this seems to be a decent alternative.


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