A passive, solar, earth-covered home is for sale on Parkside Drive in Foothills East, and I was excited to get a chance to view it. The realtor explained that to build an earth-covered home, the builders scoop out a hillside site, build the house out of concrete with a flat roof and lots of beams and then spread about a foot and a half of dirt on top of the house. The purpose of burying a house is to insulate it with dirt in order to save energy, keep the house quiet and increase the size of the yard.
Curb appeal on an underground house is not the usual, as the roofline is grass. On this house, several steps lead up from the street to an attractive front patio made of brown stamped concrete and nicely landscaped. Hunter green canvas awnings can be extended out several feet for shade. On either side of the patio are grassy slopes extending to the roof of the house. Eleven windows face the south front of the house.
I stepped through the red double doors into a wide entry hallway lined with closets and floored in a very nice darker wood laminate. From the entryway, guests face the dining room that in turn faces an atrium, so there is lots of light. I turn right to the big living room with six windows extending from floor to ceiling. This roomand everything else so farfeels like a typical fine home and I have no sense of being underground. The living room has a neutral carpet set in Pergo. There is a lovely gas fireplace with a black marble hearth surrounded by built-in bookshelves and topped with a mantelpiece.
Very open to the living room is the kitchen with a long breakfast bar. The kitchen floor is also Pergo, the countertops are an off-white marble and the back splash is a bright and attractive ceramic tile.
I stepped into the big master bedroom, which has beautiful murals on the walls, two windows and a glass door leading to the front patio. To the back of the room is a walk-in closet and a tiled full bathroom with a sauna.
Returning to the dining room, also floored in Pergo, I step into the atrium where the floor is tile. On top of this room are four skylights, which are angled south and let in plenty of sunlight. The atrium has a big fountain, plants and a wood stove. Returning to the entryway and dining area I walk down a corridor. Two bedrooms off this corridor get their light from the atrium via sliding glass doors. Two other bedrooms have windows facing the front of the house. There is also another full bath.
At the end of this corridor is a utility room and a half bath. Across the hall is the door to the two-car garage and a big workshop. Right out of the garage, a set of stairs lead to the roof. After climbing them, I open the gate to get the full experience of a backyard that is not behind a house but above it. The yard is covered with grass. There's a shed, the yard is fully fenced and I can see the windows of the atrium. There are some small trees and bushes on the edge of the yard. The yard is big and there could be all kinds of landscaping. A sprinkler system is included.
PROS: This is a beautiful, elegant house totally redone with nice woods, tiles, marble, murals and stone. The average monthly bill for this all-electric house is $138. There is almost no exterior maintenance on the house. Since the house is in the foothills, deer, raccoons and fox are common.
CONS: A person has to be willing to live in a nontraditional house, and to climb up to get to their yard. They have to be careful not to fall off the front of the yard and onto the front patio.