Earth-sheltered housing in permafrostgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Am thinking of building an earth-sheltered house here in Fairbanks, Alaska as I have heard they are wonderful in cold climates. However, I'm not so sure about building in the permafrost layer. Is there anyone who has built this type of house like so? If so, what has been your experience?
-- Ruth Freeburg (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 16, 2001
You ask very hard questions; I'm a semi retired builder, and live in an earth sheltered house. However, the only advice I could possibly tell you is to do lots of research. This is way out of my dahrma!
Sure you don't want to move to a SLIGHTLY warmer climate?
On the other hand, I used to know a guy who went to school in Fairbanks (UA?); he described these contests for who could grow the largest fruits and veggies, and told me that the weather got extremely hot on occassion in the summer. This being true, how could there be permafrost there? Are you sure it's true permafrost? How interesting.
I know another guy, who used to survey for Alaska Dept of Trans. He told me some almost unbelieveable stories about huge ice lenses, over which they would insulate, build roads, and hope the ice never melted. This was not around Fairbanks, though.
-- joj (email@example.com), November 16, 2001.
For goodness sakes, Ruth! Don't even consider doing anything in Fairbanks permafrost other than raising the house in the air. No one I know has ever had anything but extremely sorrowful results with any other method. You cannot keep the heat from being transmitted to the soil, with eventual catastrophe.
-- Audie (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 16, 2001.
I have lived in Fairbanks and now live down south in Palmer. I am a full time Real Estate Agent here. Most people who build on permafrost build above it and try to keep the permafrost from melting. Fairbanks is not all permafrost...only the areas that have poorly drained soils. Are you in one of those areas?
If your soils are well drained I think you would likely be OK.
I wouldn't try to build anything expensive on or in permafrost. A small cabin built on pilings above the ground with the area below wide open would be OK. You could level the cabin every summer. I have seen large expensive houses completely split in half that were built on top of permafrost with concrete foundations.
What are the soils like on your site?
-- marty (email@example.com), November 17, 2001.