Natural Building Blog

Earthbag Building & Other Natural Building Methods

Earth-Sheltered / Underground House Plans

Arc House Defined by an arc, this gently curving house uses passive solar design to capture the sun’s energy during the day and then store it in its interior mass to stabilize interior temperatures, even in cold climates.


Based on ancient Native American designs, this Earth Lodge with living roof will keep you cozy and warm even in the harshest climates, because it is earth-sheltered. South-facing windows and a skylight over the kitchen ensures ample daylighting.


The Earthworm Studio was custom designed for a client who wanted total concealment by building into a hillside and using living roof and living walls. They also requested minimal environment impact and lowest possible cost off-grid design. 662 sq. ft. interior including bedroom loft, 1 bath; footprint: 18.5′ x 39′.

This one and a half story Hobbit House features drop-down stairs that lead to a spacious loft, wood stove heating, and modern kitchen with pantry space for Hobbit food. The undulating thatch roof or living roof is created by varying the knee wall height above the bond beam. 24-6″ diameter with 471 sq. ft. interior, 471 sq. ft. loft, total 942 sq. ft. interior, one bedroom, one bath.

This modern Solar Pit House is based on the traditional pit house. The construction is much the same. Additional ‘modules’ have been added to create an elongated rectangular design for added living space and windows added on the south for solar gain. This plan is available for free!

This unique earth-sheltered Spiral design includes a large grow bed, exposed timber ceiling and living roof. 740 sq. ft. interior, 1 bedroom, 1 bath



This unique earth-sheltered Spiral 2 design includes a large grow bed, exposed timber ceiling and living roof. Ample light is provided by the window wall next to the grow bed, window and door glazing, and suntubes. Distinguishing features include two bedrooms, masonry two-way fireplace, covered porch and cool pantry for storage of food.

The Spiral Dome Magic homes combines the Peace Dome and Spiral Houses, which are also available separately. But by combining them it really creates a truly exciting design. This unique, almost Hobbit-like earth-sheltered design includes a large grow bed, exposed timber ceiling and living roof. 452 sq. ft. interior dome, 740 sq. ft. interior spiral, plus pantry, 2 bedroom, 1 bath

Subterranean Survival Shelter This round earthbag shelter for up to 4-5 individuals is designed for survival through war, plague, etc. It is low cost, durable and practical. 20′ DIA (314 sq. ft. interior plus pantry)



This Triple Roundhouse Cluster design connects three sloped roof roundhouses and adjoining closets to create a unique roundhouse cluster design that is earth-sheltered on three sides – east, west and north – with a sunny courtyard on the south. 785 sq. ft. interior, 2 bedroom, 1 bath; footprint: 28′ x 58′ plus buttresses.

Zero Energy One is a major step forward in sustainable housing. This revolutionary design features zero net energy use, extremely low ‘near zero’ embodied energy and extremely low cost. This design is the result of years of research in energy efficiency and low cost, alternative building methods.

Zero Energy Two is similar to the Zero Energy One plan above, but it has two bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, as well as separate airlock entries into the bedrooms, bermed mechanical room and pantry. There is even a built-in solar oven in the kitchen.


Zero Energy Four is a four bedroom version of the Zero Energy home series. This revolutionary design features zero net energy use, extremely low ‘near zero’ embodied energy. 1,693 sq. ft. interior plus 901 sq. ft. interior greenhouse, 4 bedroom, 2 bath; footprint: 40′ x 109′ not including cisterns or optional garage.


21 Responses to “Earth-Sheltered / Underground House Plans”

  1. Malcolm says:

    big mirrors facing south, reflecting into your home

  2. Ted says:

    What if home site is north facing? Any design suggestions for steep (~25%) hillside earth-shelter (“near-underground”) design considerations? Site’s is high pasture, ~2000′ in WV. There must still be some energy benefits worth economics of embedding one’s home into the hillside. Suggestions?

  3. Sean Enright says:

    Hi Owen,

    I’m an interior designer in Thailand and an old client of mine is doing a yoga retreat center in Pai (Mae Hong Son) and contacted me to help with designs. Though we didn’t start out thinking in this direction, after finding your work, our minds have changed. I wonder if you are presently in Thailand and if so where? Maybe I or we could pay you a visit, see some of your work, and get your input on what we are looking to do. We are both very impressed. Thanks and have a wonderful day!


  4. Derek says:

    Where’s the underground stuff? everything listed as “underground” is above ground.

  5. Silani says:

    What about earthquake safety? What additinal structural beams are added? Also humidity. We live in Costa Rica. We would put on a high roof, not a flat one, to send warmer air up.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can search this blog for ‘disaster resistant’ and ‘earthquake resistant’ articles. Most all disaster resistant articles are archived at our other site Earthbag Structures or Earthbag

      Often the upgrade to disaster resistant structures consists of rebar pins down through the bags and a few other simple steps since earthbag walls are already very strong.

  6. Sherry says:

    I am wanting to build something very simple, unique, roomy, airy, like to have windows to have inside plants. Love lots of light, plan on a Big room- living & dining w/kichen. then master bedroom,bath. and a quest bath & laundry. Simple, Simple. Don’t want it to be tiny like 4-500sq.ft. Looking at maybe around 12oo.. still small, but plenty big for me. No Halls, few walls.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You can build any size and design you want. Start small though because earthbag is labor intensive.

  7. Steve smith says:

    Please keep me updated. I am building a rehab center in Alabama using underground construction.

  8. Jadzia says:

    We are working on building an underground house as part of our sustainable community. We live and work in northern B.C. Do you have any knowledge of housing for zone 3 buildings underground?

  9. Burnie Stokes says:

    I’m going to build on when I retire in a few years. In the side on canyon wall facing the south. In the trees across from the road, will be a pergula for the wife and family cookouts. Interesting designs…

  10. Robby N. Tirbaney says:

    I am seriously gonna build one but still thinking of the design

  11. aeon says:

    We would like to involve you in our vision and add you as a resource. We are working on several projects that make the knowledge you provide very valuable. Thank you and let me know how we can collaborate deeper.

  12. debbie says:

    I belive this is Herman’s website kinda hard to view picktures

  13. ashley says:

    so cool

  14. donna says:

    great site……

  15. Wendy says:

    Cool site please keep me up dated

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