Building Underground, More Thoughts

Going back to a previous post, I want to continue my thought experiment on building underground. There were a number of good comments on the previous post, which serve as a good jumping off point.

Re-purposing old silos is a tried and true thing, and there are some very nice ones out there. The problem on water is well taken, as I know one around Abilene, TX where the silo is/was actually used for swimming and scuba instruction last I heard. In pretty much all cases, silos can become cisterns, though the living quarters usually stay dry. Good planning is required if you want a dry silo.

The take on them still being targeted is quite valid. For all that our bureaucrats are horrible at getting things done, Russian bureaucracy is worse IMO and there is no guarantee that Russia has updated its targeting — though I hope it has. As noted before, if they have not, I am going to be (very briefly) amused and annoyed given proximity to former targets. Though I admit the strip mall now in one location is somewhat hideous in architectural terms…

The one I know of that was just left “as is” not for sale and buried quite deep. So much so I could do an underground house on top of it and a house up above that. If I had millions to acquire, renovate, build, etc. would be tempting.

As for former mines being converted into homes, that remains a very good option if one has the funds. Keep in mind that not all mines are pits (literally or figuratively). Many hard (or semi-hard) rock mines and such are actually up local mountains/hills. The ones I saw out in West Texas are literally carved into mountains, and are up above a canyon system. This simplifies water/sewage/other runoff issues and offers good opportunities for water mitigation.

One of the things I had looked at with shipping containers was going on top of a hill or into a good hillside, doing all the digging and such required for household and rain runoff, then putting down a concrete pad and going from there. The key point there are to involve a special type of geological engineer both to guide with where to put a well (and what depth and other considerations are needed) as well as dealing with normal and emergency runoff (any number of disasters will change rain/water patterns temporarily or permanently). Once structures complete, backfill and be good to go.

Problem is, as several noted before, shipping containers can make decent housing in certain circumstances. Sadly, underground is not one of them. The real problem is the need to put about a foot of reinforced concrete around them. By the time you do all the bracing and such just to pour the concrete, it is not worth it. You would be far better off just doing regular temporary construction bracing for such.

Another option that sorta combines both concepts is to do like Cheyenne Mountain: dig big “cave” and put up buildings in it. Works, but a bit expensive for the average homeowner. Smaller scale, however, is not impractical.

I really like Old Paratrooper’s idea from a personal standpoint. Again, my thought is to go into a hillside or take off the top of a hill. Though, to put in a decent small library may have to use two quonset huts with one dedicated to being a library (smile). Gives you more than enough volume for a home, the opportunity to build and even change the interior at need, and works on several levels. Again, get good geological/hydro advice (as well as structural engineering involvement), dig out gravel drain fields (and put in diversion walls and such if/as needed), then put down the pad, the hut, and upper concrete. With the right planning, you have water/air/other issues worked out well in advance.

For a limited budget, the above works. If you win the lottery, look at converting a mine or mining out “caves” for use a la West Texas. If you win insane amounts of money, there are other options.

Just a few thoughts on what I may make a continuing discussion/thought experiment. Keep those good comments coming!

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2 thoughts on “Building Underground, More Thoughts”

  1. If your retro-silo is Ivan/Chang’s retro-ground zero; no problem for you. After the Big Nuke, it’s the neighbors who’ll have to cope. Cheers!

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