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First All-Wood Underground Homes
Earth-sheltered underground houses have attracted a lot of attention the last few years. Latest development is an all-wood structure that doesn't use a speck of concrete for walls, roof or foundation.
Kenneth "Corky" Uren has introduced the first all-wood earth-sheltered homes and commercial buildings at his company, Everstrong Marketing, headquartered in Redwood Falls, Minn. He's selling them through Heritage Homes outlets in 26 states and Canada. The "all wood" homes are based on the "all wood" basement concept which has caught on in the home-building industry within the last five years.
Uren cites the following advantages of wood over concrete: Fewer humidity problems, lower construction costs, transportability, and quicker construction with pre-fabricated components.
Everstrong builds the structures out of wood treated with chemical preservatives. Pressure-treated lumber is used for the framing and an exterior skin of 3/4 in. treated plywood is attached to the framing as a barrier to the soil that will be piled over and around the finished structure.
Interior walls are insulated with 10 in. of fiberglass insulation. The roof is insulated to an R-value of 38. A Bentonite coating is used to waterproof the roof which is covered with up to 18 in. of soil. The north wall is cornpletely covered with several feet of soil and most of the east and west walls are surrounded by soil. South-facing walls are left open to the sun for heat and light.
Everstrong has built seven houses in western Minnesota since last September. Uren says there have been no humidity problems and fuel bills have been pleasantly low. "During the winter of '79-'80, it cost just $69.77 to heat our earth-sheltered office. We figure that's about 10% of what it would cost to heat a conventional office building."
Uren cautions against trying to build an all-wood earth-sheltered home yourself. "It took nearly three years for us to figure out the engineering requirements for these buildings. It's not a do-it-yourself project. The structure should be done by a professional because it must be capable of supporting the roof load and the enormous outside wall pressures."
Uren is also excited about the potential of his buildings for agricultural uses. "They should make great farm buildings for livestock and poultry because they maintain constant temperatures and control humidity to keep the animals comfortable," he says. He's currently working with specialists at Arizona State University to design and build an earth-sheltered, all-wood live-stock building for the University's experimental farm.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kenneth "Corky" Uren, Everstrong Marketing, Highway 19 and 71 East, P.O. Box 431, Redwood Falls, Minn. 56283 (ph 507 637-3616).

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1981 - Volume #5, Issue #4