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Old 07-04-2011, 05:16 PM
 
Location: Murphy, NC
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Default Digging your own cellar/ underground dwelling

I once went to someone's house and in their backyard they had a hole/entrance.. I don't remember if it had a board covering it or what, but you walk down its dirt steps and at the bottom its completely dark and the temperature drops. It had that dirt smell to it. There was a lighbulb with a string to light up the underground room. It didn't have a floor or anything but it was flat and well carved. I think he dug it to secretly store things or have shelter from tornados. He lives in the country where noone cares or notices what do on your property.

Reasons to have a basement or cellar:

store things in a hidden way
shelter from storms or radiation (preferably a finished basement)
cool off from summer heat
snakes for dinner

Anyone ever done this? How did u do it and do u recommend it?
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:15 PM
 
Location: FROM Dixie, but IN SoCal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhanu86 View Post
Anyone ever done this? How did u do it and do u recommend it?
I have never done it (yet), but I have studied it rather extensively.

Before YOU attempt it, be sure to learn about the characteristics and qualities of the ground into which you propose to dig. Carefully and thoroughly learn the merits of digging out only the space you intend to use, then strongly and effectively shoring the walls. Another approach is to dig a much larger hole, build the structure inside it, and then backfill the area between the structure and sides of the hole.

Fail to do this, and you're likely to experience a seriously premature burial.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:03 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
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There are all sorts of books on Amazon about how to build any and everything from a root cellar to an underground house. Not only is it easier to regulate temperatures in an underground facility, but you can make them completely unnoticeable.

There are a lot of things to consider besides frost-lines and caving-in. How close is your water table to the surface (as kids we once dug a huge hole, 10 foot radius, and put in steps, cleaned out the roots by taking apart fireworks and using the contents <BOOM> - and then, just as we were fixing it up, we dug a little too deeply and it filled with water overnight). If you have clay soil it is harder to dig but the walls won't need as much shoring as sandy or loamy soil. What you have on the surface is not always what you will find underneath, BTW. There are also things to consider like zoning, ordinances, electricity, drainage (water always follows the shortest, easiest route), high moisture intrusion/condensation, etc. Do you want a hole in the ground on level terrain, do you want a hole in the side of a hill? Do you want to use 'natural' materials, or go with concrete pillars or poured sides? Remember that, underground in a closed situation, treated lumber won't rot - but the fumes have cyanide and other nasty chemicals in them, so storing food and water, or even living in it for an extended period, might cause problems.

I once knew a fella who owned 10 acres and said he was gonna dig a series of tunnels all over the property "like the Vietnamese did" for escape routes, storage, etc. His property was hardpack clay, with thousands of pine trees and their roots - and needless to say he didn't get very far before giving up in frustration.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:47 AM
 
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As a kid my friends and I dug such a place, and hid their fathers Play Boy Mags in the hole.. My Dad was already gone, so i have to say their fathers.

It was damp and musty, but never really wet. We had a few candles and a oil lamp.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Murphy, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mac_Muz View Post
As a kid my friends and I dug such a place, and hid their fathers Play Boy Mags in the hole.. My Dad was already gone, so i have to say their fathers.

It was damp and musty, but never really wet. We had a few candles and a oil lamp.
Yea when I was about 10 my crazy friends and I dug a tunnel, about 3 or 4 ft deep and 30 ft long, I crawed through it once and said never again. My mother was so angry that I messed up my new clothes.

I'm gonna refer to yal's advise because when I do have property to dig one, I'm gonna have one, or a basement. I love basements, the problem is water damage it never fails unless u do it right. My father has a half a million dollar house with a finished basement and even it had water damage from an average rain storm. I'll probably have it in a typical oak tree type of forrest area, probably no hills.
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Old 07-05-2011, 12:43 PM
 
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My mother was out of the picture when I turned 14. Before that she went bonkers if I went water skiing on my sunday best before church though. I don't know why since I didn't get wet.

If you have any sence dig a hole and crete up a box. Cover that box farther out with tyvac at the least, and bury all of it. Figure to vent air in and air out that is rodent proof.

Study old root cellars to get ideas.

Have drainage around the perimmiter, or all you get is a mold farm.

A dirt smell is one thing, a mold smell is another. Mound up the land over it to pass water away too, then build something stupid on the top. Don't make a trail to it.

This is just hiding something in plain sight. This something just happens to be bigger. Something stupid might be a pole barn with no walls, and nothing stored under it often.

It's a plain no reason for a thief to even want to bother, since he can see there isn't anything there.

I live rural, and the local kids here know every summer camp and cabin better than the real owners.
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Old 07-09-2011, 02:39 PM
 
Location: Interior AK
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Yup, any time you're in a hole or other enclosed space you must always account for ventilation, water intrusion, and structural stability. Basements and root cellars are awesome, but only if they work properly, don't kill you, and don't create total chaos by failing. I've seen a great many houses with broken backs because the weight wasn't distributed properly, the soil couldn't bear properly, and the beams started to rot from moisture or mold, so the whole thing started a slow (or fast!) descent into the cellar. Several root cellars full of rotten produce, rusty cans, and creeping slime mold on every surface because of high humidity and no/poor ventilation... not what you're looking for in a food storage solution in a survival situation!

You think "what could be easier than digging a hole?"..... PLENTY
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:03 PM
 
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Good articles here: Building a Root Cellar

and here: How to Build a Root Cellar for Food Storage - Modern Homesteading - MOTHER EARTH NEWS - Build a Root Cellar

How to Build a Root Cellar | The Survival Spot Blog
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Old 07-09-2011, 03:45 PM
 
Location: Murphy, NC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissingAll4Seasons View Post
Yup, any time you're in a hole or other enclosed space you must always account for ventilation, water intrusion, and structural stability. Basements and root cellars are awesome, but only if they work properly, don't kill you, and don't create total chaos by failing. I've seen a great many houses with broken backs because the weight wasn't distributed properly, the soil couldn't bear properly, and the beams started to rot from moisture or mold, so the whole thing started a slow (or fast!) descent into the cellar. Several root cellars full of rotten produce, rusty cans, and creeping slime mold on every surface because of high humidity and no/poor ventilation... not what you're looking for in a food storage solution in a survival situation!

You think "what could be easier than digging a hole?"..... PLENTY
Your post reminded me of a scene from the movie "what's eating gilbert grape" when the house fell in, and the beams in the basement weren't doing well.
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Old 07-09-2011, 04:49 PM
 
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A cheaper way would be get a back how and dig a really big long trench, then line it will a really big conduit pipe. The kind that go under roads, won't last forever, but will last 1/2 a life time if you have that much. Still ya gotta get it to breath, and not flood, but it is a fast and dirty way to get space underground.

I am assuming a lot of things too, like maybe you can dig 20 feet down and not hit water in the first place.
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