Earth Sheltered is above ground. Underground is just the opposite. And Rammed Earth is something all together different again, but all three are normally masonry construction , so could be built most anywhere normally and to code should that be required. 

As there always seems to be confusion on all this, we'll try herein to clear up our position on what they are and which way think most should go and YES, we design all three and more plus each has its own benefits and its own problems, which is also not unlike a fourth choice which we don't prefer called "wooden or stick construction" - AKA traditionally constructed housing , which has its own problems too (namely cost, energy and operational's), but with all the former three, you never should have any wide operational temperature swings, as the Earth will temper that change, to an almost -0- level, if the building is not left all the way open to the worlds changing temperature, but Stick frame construction, it can swing widely and must be constantly fed energy, just to stay comfortable .  


Are you wanting a Traditional Rammed Earth home, that has an exterior that with the look of colored Earth? A building with the hardness of man made stone and it's walls are open to the landscape generally on more than one side wall, then this is neither Earth Sheltered, nor Underground, and it's called Traditional Rammed Earth. These homes are beautifully built somewhat as an Adobe Brick home is in layers, but in tamped Earth lifts, instead of with bricks and it's completely above the landscapes grade by at least 6 inches and it's letting the world see its beautiful Earthen walls, which were compacted into man made stone, called: Rammed Earth. Insulation is hidden inside those thick walls, as is the electrical and plumbing, all built in as the wall goes up. This all requires more planning and a skilled M,aster builder to make sure, all goes as it's supposed to, since corrections are difficult.

Underground is well, Underground. So, either 100% built into or underground [or perhaps partially underground], but it's not traditional "Rammed Earth" construction, but one can use Rammed Earth in its construction, to have great strength and a savings by not having to use all Portland Cement walls, as is done in most traditional masonry construction, but this Rammed Earth use will require the use of permanent forms on all the outside walls, that will remain in place , partially holding the walls together for all time along with other devices. Its exterior walls will be covered by Earth and not seen neither inside nor outside, due to the finish walls treatment. This is mostly considered for all underground structures and it works well, but cost a little more due to water proofing, so it will be built, at a much higher cost much as a basement is built, completely (more or less), below grade. Temperature swings are eliminated, as the Earth holds a basic 58 degrees in most of the Southern section of North America but passive heating is difficult to impossible and natural passive ventilation is also more difficult.

Earth Sheltered .  This is our favorite method and it combines some finished space, that can't be seen, but it's build above grade unlike underground and this above ground space is generally left on the South side wall, mostly all open to the South to catch the Winters Sun (in the Northern Hemisphere) , but all that interior space and its walls, are built much easier than underground construction is, (so generally less expensively) , as it's built above the ground, then during the walls construction, its exterior walls are back filled, with as much as thirty feet of Earth,  against those exterior walls, to give a great drainage and the Earth's protection year round.  Temperature swings are eliminated, as the Earth holds a basic 58 degrees in most of the Southern section of North America, thus the building stays about the same temperature year round, but unlike underground construction totally, no water damage is likely, and the Sun can enter the Southern windows, thereby passively heating the interior.

Below is a video about Masonry concrete underground homes we found on YouTube and it gives some neat design ideas, but in our opinion, for most homes, Earth Sheltered and Not Underground construction, is the best choice for 99% of off-grid homes, so as to operate at about -0- cost yearly, for their heating and cooling, due to the combination of the sun passively heating the interior and passively cooling through buried Earth tubes, for passive ventilation through Southern windows tops. Also, the cost of Portland Cement is much higher than using the Earth for a buildings main construction, and you bought a lot of Earth when you bought your land, so if all cement is used, you will need quite a lot of money to build anything seen, on this video compared to Earthen construction, but we know how it all , including Georgia Adobe Concrete Domes(TM) so don't hesitate to call us if this is your need, YES as we know how to build and design Concrete Domes too, but it cost more, than the three processes above, but please do go over see the Dome Page linked three times in blue, in this sentence !

Want to learn more ? Please do read more on our website as lots of info is free herein and Feel free contact us, to learn more, as the first conversation, just to see how we can be of service to your project, is always FREE !

And consultations are inexpensive too, if that's needed.  Contact us between 10 AM - 5 PM Mon - Fri at 706-363-6453