Tag: Custom underground homes

Structural engineering company

3 Ways a Structural Engineer Can Help With Your Custom Home

When a custom home is in the works of being built, there’s an entire team of people you need to look at hiring. These people include architects, interior and exterior designers, engineers, contractors for general work and many more. Most people don’t think about contacting structural engineering companies first, but the truth is finding a good structural engineer should be a top priority. No matter how good a home looks on the outside, it’s only as good as the structural engineer who designed the plans from the foundation all the way to the top of the chimney. Here are the main ways a structural engineer is important when you’re looking to build a custom home.

Structural Safety

Every structural engineering company prioritizes safety in all aspects of the work they do. When evaluating the location of a custom home, a structural engineer will look at factors like the soil, the climate in the area, what major weather events typically occur, the seismic activity and more. Sometimes it’s simply not safe to build a home with the exact orientation the homeowner wants, which is exactly why it’s important to take the advice of structural engineering experts.

Use The Right Building Materials

While safety is the first priority when building any custom home, structural engineers also want to bring a homeowner’s vision to life as much as possible. This can include wood framing, bamboo, masonry, steel or any other materials. Many times a structural engineer will get an idea of the vision the homeowner has and then go to work designing the home based on that. If it’s simply not possible or safe to build it exactly like the homeowner desires, then they will inform them accordingly. There are many different factors that go into the building materials used for any custom home, and the best structural engineers will still make the custom home look as close to the homeowner’s vision as possible.

Efficient Designing

Most people don’t think about contacting a structural engineer when designing their home. This is typically done by an architect. However, structural engineers put together plans for the design that takes into consideration the foundation, roof, framing and overall structural integrity to be able to support the desired designs. Architects and other contractors rely on structural engineers for this information, which is why they are typically the first experts needed when designing a custom home.

BE Structural has helped build hundreds of custom homes over the years. Our unique team is comprised of experts with various backgrounds and different levels of experience, so no project is too large, too small or too complex for us. In fact, we enjoy taking on complex custom home designs since it challenges our skills. If you’re looking into the possibility of having a custom home designed, contact us today to see what steps to take and how we can help you get started.

Facade engineering

Are Floating Cities Our Future?

The concept of a floating city has recently become more widely known and discussed. The president of the Seasteading Institute, Joe Quirk, has a plan in place to create floating cities and free them from the constraints created by world governments. With the popularity of underground homes rising, it makes sense that now is a good time to discuss the possibilities of floating cities being our future. Of course, there are plenty of challenges to uncover, but the concept of a floating city could be happening sooner rather than later.

Where Will The First Floating City Be?

A project is in the works for the first-ever floating city to be located off the shore of French Polynesia. Work is expected to begin sometime as early as 2018 and could be habitable by 2020. This city is planned to be large enough to house up to 300 people, and facade engineering experts are working through the challenges of how to create the safest homes possible for the people who choose to live on this floating city.

Involvement of Architects and Engineers

Architects and engineers have already visited the proposed location for the first floating city several times. The things taken into consideration at this point consist of how residents will receive power and clean water, what challenges there are when constructing a safe and secure building envelope, how the floating city could potentially expand and more. Of course, there are plenty other challenges and details to cover, but the ultimate responsibility of these professionals is ensuring all residents could live as safely as they could in a home on shore.

Floating Cities Could Create Floating Countries

Just like with underground homes, this first floating city isn’t expected to be the last. Once the viability of the city begins taking shape, we could expect to see numerous floating cities in the future. The big question is how many will we see, and how quickly will we see them? Joe Quirk has the ambition of having thousands of floating cities in the next 30+ years. The goal is very ambitious, but if the floating city off of the shore of French Polynesia sets the standard, then it won’t be out of the question.

BE Structural consists of a team dedicated to working together to better serve our clients. We are experts in facade engineering, structural engineering, structural inspections, home renovations and much more. We expect to be heavily involved in the concept of floating cities now and in the future, so don’t hesitate to contact us to learn more.

Concrete underground homes

Underground Home Structural Components

Underground homes are anything but traditional, but they do still have similar considerations when it comes to the overall structural components. What makes these homes unique is they can be designed in many different ways, depending on the landscape, climate and other factors.

When it comes to the actual structural components, the type of soil needed, the construction materials used and the overall design are all taken into consideration. Here are some of the structural components used in underground home plans.

Type of Soil

As with traditional homes, the type of soil you build on (or in) plays a large role in how you can construct an underground home. And to take it a step further, some walls or other structural components are made from a mixture of clay, sand and straw to form building blocks. While this isn’t recommended for most structures, it is an option available and is used in many cultures.

Concrete Instead of Wood

Due to the nature of underground homes, walls have to be constructed with concrete instead of wood. Concrete underground homes have to be completely waterproof and strong enough to withstand a large amount of earth sitting on top of it, so concrete is the only realistic option for the overall structure.

Underground Home Rooftops

From an aesthetic perspective, the rooftops of underground homes have some of the most unique and distinct characteristics. Most rooftops consist of greenery with live plants and grass growing on them. However, the structural engineering company must ensure the support beams used are sufficient enough to handle the amount of weight on such rooftops.

Thorough Planning is Involved in All Components

From the excavation process all the way to putting the finishing touches, underground home plans must be extremely thorough. Using concrete is an obvious structural component, but the support beams and other materials used to ensure durability and strength have to be taken into consideration. The angles of the home to allow for water runoff and other waterproofing characteristics are essential in order to have sustainable underground homes.

While it may seem like a difficult task to build underground homes, it’s not when you use an experienced structural engineering company, like BE Structural. We know the ins-and-outs of building underground homes, so you won’t have to worry about the structural components used. Feel free to contact us today to learn more about underground homes, the structural components needed and how we can build the underground home you desire.

Custom underground homes

Factors to Consider When Planning an Underground Home

If you’ve done any amount of research on underground homes, you’ve likely seen the multitude of benefits they offer. From the privacy considerations to the natural energy-saving characteristics, an underground home provides a variety of advantages for residents. However, in order to successfully build an underground home, there are many factors to consider. Many of the factors are similar to the ones used when planning traditional homes, but some may be considerations you wouldn’t think of otherwise.

Climate

Most custom underground homes are built in areas where there is extreme climate. Areas with extreme cold or warm temperatures are more suitable for underground homes, since the earth helps to absorb the temperature and keep the home more energy-efficient. Since the temperature of the earth varies much less than the temperature of the air, an underground home can provide more stability and comfort year-round.

Soil

Grainy soil like sand and gravel is best for building an earth-sheltered home. You need a soil that compacts very well due to the weight of the construction materials and the water draining benefits. Structural engineers can conduct a soil test prior to your planning to ensure the land is suitable for construction.

Natural Water Drainage

All underground home plans have to have some sort of natural water drainage incorporated. Of course, you can build a manmade water drainage system, but it’s much more effective to have a natural flow of water in case of a disaster. Extreme water pressure against the walls of an underground home can create significant problems, so this is one of the main considerations when planning underground home construction.

Construction Materials

Most underground homes are built with concrete, since it is one of the strongest and most durable building material there is. Steel is often used in conjunction with concrete to add more stability to the home. Wood can still be used for interior designs and minor structural considerations, but it is not advised to use as primary construction materials for safety and durability reasons.

The structural engineers at BE Structural know what to consider when planning underground homes. Whether it’s the climate, topography or any other environmental issues, we will ensure your underground home can be built safely before any plans are discussed. To get your evaluation for an underground home in your area, feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Underground home plans

Three Underground Home Styles

Not all concrete underground homes are the same. In fact, unless these homes are built side-by-side, there’s a chance the design will be vastly different. The style of underground home you can build depends largely on the soil and geography in which it’s being built, even more so than traditional homes.

There are three main styles of underground homes you can build, depending on the landscape you’re working with. A qualified structural engineer should be able to easily give you the best option for your particular area, but here are the three main styles described in detail for you.

Elevational Homes

Elevational homes use the hilly and sloped landscape around you for its construction. The home is essentially built into a hill, so there is one side of the home exposed outward, while the other three sides are contained. The result is a home with natural insulation and many aesthetic options. You could add on multiple levels to your home, depending on the size of the hill, and the main entrypoint may be from the top of the home if you choose.

Berm Homes

Another style for concrete underground homes is berm homes. These are mostly found on flatter land, but uses the earth surrounding it to create hills to cover it up. Berm homes give you more options than other underground home styles, since you have the choice of how many sides you want covered up. You can have anywhere from one to three sides completely enclosed by the earth, depending on what you want and the natural resources available on the flatland.

Atrium Homes

From a design perspective, atrium homes offer the most unique underground home plans. The homes are generally built in a U-shape and are usually submerged in the ground partially. These partially-submerged homes create easy access points to multiple areas of the home. Atrium homes aren’t the most popular underground home style, but they do offer plenty of advantages and options to create the ultimate customized underground home.

BE Structural’s team of structural engineers can help guide you through all of the styles of concrete underground homes available for your location. You may be able to determine the style you can incorporate based on a view of the landscape, but our engineers can help you visualize exactly what your underground home can look like. Feel free to contact us any time for an evaluation or to learn more about underground home plans.

Custom underground homes

The Myths Surrounding Underground Homes

While underground homes are becoming more popular, there are still plenty of misconceptions about them. As with anything, the myths surrounding these earth-sheltered homes come from people not being aware of how they are designed and constructed. It’s easy to believe the most common myths, but structural engineers and architects can quickly debunk them. Here are some of the myths you’re likely to hear about custom underground homes and why they aren’t true.

Myth #1: Underground Homes Are Dark

People believe underground homes are dark because there’s no natural light source. However, most underground home plans are constructed with windows strategically placed to allow in natural light and either have domed ceilings or skylights. Domed ceilings are popular since they are co-linear, and light actually gets magnified on them rather than bouncing off like traditional ceilings.

Myth #2: Bugs Are Bad in Underground Homes

Many insects find their homes in the ground, so it’s natural to think there will be more bugs in an underground home. But the reality is bugs are generally less of a problem due to the homes being constructed mostly with concrete rather than wood. Bugs like termites aren’t usually a problem in underground homes for this reason. Other insects won’t cause more of a problem than they already do with traditional homes.

Myth #3: Underground Homes Are Damp and Cold

Possibly the most common myth about custom underground homes is they seem cold and damp, somewhat like a cave, but in fact the opposite is true. Underground homes actually retain the earth’s natural heat. There have been enough earth-sheltered homes built where structural engineers and architects know how to create the proper ventilation, drainage and waterproofing to ensure these points aren’t an issue. Most of the time this is achieved by incorporating a domed ceiling, but there are other ways to prevent cold and damp homes depending on the landscape in which the home is built.

BE Structural has a team of structural engineers to help debunk any possible myths about underground homes. While these homes have plenty of value, it’s understandable why some people are skeptical about the functionality of them. For more information on underground home plans in general, and to dispel any of the myths you’ve heard about them, be sure to email us at any time.

Underground homes

Underground Communities: Are They in the Near or Distant Future?

As the world population continues to increase, cities are more crowded than ever before. Some cities and countries are more populated than others, but it still begs the question: why can’t underground communities become the norm to create more space?

Underground homes aren’t the norm worldwide, but we are seeing more of them come up in different countries. There are many benefits to building concrete underground homes, so having complete underground communities could legitimately be a trend in the future. Underground homes and communities will likely be in our future, but the main question is how quickly will they become the norm?

Urban Crowds May Expedite Underground Living

Crowded cities are becoming a problem, especially in countries like Singapore. People have nowhere to go, traffic is terrible and they are simply running out of space to live. As the population continues to grow in the United States as well, it wouldn’t be surprising if underground homes start to become a trend in the near future. And when that happens, complete underground communities won’t be very far behind.

Once a trend starts to take off, everyone wants to follow suit, which could bode well for the future of underground communities. We won’t be seeing them a year or two from now, but with the expected population growth in the next decade being enormous, all options will be on the table.

For Some Countries, The Future of Underground Communities is Now

Singapore, China and other countries are extremely crowded because there’s not enough land to house everyone. The role of a structural engineering company is to evaluate the land and provide different options for people to live in these countries. The success of underground homes will lead to full underground communities at some point. In developing countries, this future may be closer than expected. But in developed countries, we still may be looking at several years or decades down the road before underground communities become the norm.

Underground Communities May Become Inevitable

The concept of living in concrete underground homes seems futuristic to many people. Cities are going to become more crowded every year, so what seems like a trend right now may become a necessity. Underground communities offer many benefits to the homeowners and also to the general public in an area. It will open up more urban living spaces and give homeowners a safe and secure place to live outside of the city.

BE Structural is a structural engineering company that looks at all different options when it comes to building homes and communities. While concrete underground homes may not be the norm worldwide right now, our engineers believe complete underground communities will become the norm before you know it. If you have any questions about underground homes in general, or if you are considering one for yourself, feel free to contact us at any time.

Custom underground homes

These Underground Homes Will Blow Your Mind!

Underground homes are still a new, and sometimes unheard of, concept in the United States. However, custom underground homes are becoming more popular by the day worldwide. If you’re going to invest in an underground home, you should think about all possible characteristics you would want in a home, and see if a residential structural engineer approves them from a safety standpoint. And if you don’t know what to even consider, check out these custom underground homes for inspiration.

The Hidden Lair in Switzerland

This beautiful underground home is strategically placed in the natural landscape of the rolling hills of Switzerland. It’s one of the most unique underground home plans you’ll see anywhere, and it looks like a home you would see in a fictional movie rather than in real life. You can literally walk over a hill and stumble upon this home in all of its natural glory.

Flower-Shaped Home in Bolton, U.K.

Former British football star Gary Neville had this home designed in one of the most unique ways you’ll ever see. From an aerial view, the home looks like a flower, with the petals being separate openings to let in natural light. Each petal also has different aspects and features, so the entire home has something different to look at in all areas.

Stone Home in Greece

Underground home plans in the middle of the desert may not seem like the best idea, but this one incorporates all of the best elements perfectly. It’s located between two hillsides and is constructed of thick and durable stone. The eco-friendly design allows it to use natural light, heating and cooling with the most efficiency. If you just happen to be passing through the desert and see this structure, you probably won’t even realize someone lives in it!

Grassy Roof Home in Poland

The great thing about custom underground homes is you can get as creative as you want. This home has a grass-filled roof that is only accessible for the resident via a staircase from inside the home. The roof is actually level with the ground, so from a distance, you won’t even realize there’s a home there.

When you’re considering a custom underground home, don’t be afraid to put your residential structural engineer to the test. BE Structural has the best structural engineers to ensure the safety of your underground home, no matter how creative you are with your designs. Be sure to contact us if you have a design idea for an underground home or if you want to learn more about them in general.

Underground homes

What Are the Best Benefits to Underground Homes?

If you’re considering having an underground home built, you aren’t alone. More people are realizing the benefits of custom underground homes today more than ever before. And while underground homes make up only a tiny percentage of the homes built worldwide, the number is steadily increasing.

Aside from the unique aspect of living underground, these homes have plenty of other tangible benefits as well. Whether it’s saving money on energy bills or having natural privacy, here are some of the best benefits to underground homes.

Energy Conservation

The main reason why many people choose custom underground homes is because of the energy-saving benefits. Since the home is not affected by outdoor air temperatures as much, you won’t have to run your HVAC unit nearly as much as a regular home. The interior temperatures will be much more stable and will feel more comfortable overall year round.

Extreme Weather Protection

You won’t have to worry about boarding up windows during a hurricane, dealing with the aftermath of a serious hailstorm or searching for protection in the event of a tornado. Underground homes provide a natural layer of protection against those elements, which is the ground. And a related benefit to the natural weather protection is lower insurance premiums. Since underground homes aren’t as vulnerable to weather damage, you could save a significant amount of money on homeowners insurance.

Very Little Maintenance

Protection from the wind, sun and other elements means you won’t have to clean or maintain your home as often. Underground homes don’t accumulate as much dust as conventional homes. They also won’t get beat down from the sun and require repainting or other maintenance issues. While there are still other things, like water and sewer, that need maintaining, they are on a much lesser scale with underground homes.

Privacy Considerations

With custom underground homes, you can enjoy complete privacy without even having a fence around your home. The natural landscape around you will provide enough privacy for most people. When people drive or walk in the area, they will only be able to see the top of your home, in most cases.

The first thing you need to consider when you’re thinking about building an underground home is finding the best residential structural engineer. At BE Structural, we have structural engineers with experience in custom underground homes to ensure your safety and satisfaction. To learn more about the benefits of custom underground homes, or for answers to your specific questions, feel free to contact us any time.

Custom underground homes

All About Reinforced Concrete Underground Homes: The Pros and Cons

Living in an underground home is tempting for many people. While they do offer many benefits, there are also just as many things to take into consideration before you make the investment. All underground home plans have to be different, depending on the climate, soil and other environmental factors. However, with the right structural engineers and architects, you can enjoy living in your custom underground home for years to come.

Advantages of Underground Homes

  • Conservation of Energy – One of the main reasons why people build concrete underground homes is because of the tremendous savings on energy bills. Heating and cooling costs are greatly reduced because the home is not exposed to the weather elements as directly.
  • Protection Against Extreme Weather – Since custom underground homes are protected by the earth naturally, extreme weather patterns don’t affect them much. This means insuring them is usually cheaper and they are safer to live in overall.
  • Privacy – When people can’t see your home from the ground level, you have as much privacy as you could ever want or need. Having a private and quiet outdoor space is one of the best benefits people enjoy with custom underground homes.

Disadvantages of Underground Homes

  • Condensation Issues – Humidity levels are generally higher in underground homes. This could cause condensation issues within the walls and other areas of the home. You’ll need to consider incorporating more insulation to prevent condensation from intruding and eventually leading to mold and mildew issues.
  • Waterproofing Challenges – Since water flows downward, having a completely waterproofed underground home can be a challenge. A structural engineer will have to strategically place drainage areas in and around your home to avoid potential water damage.
  • Ventilation Concerns – Many underground home plans include a ventilator to exchange outdoor air with indoor fresh air. Having good indoor air quality is a concern for underground homes, since the home generally does not get the best air flow below the surface.

At BE Structural, we want to make sure you understand all the challenges and benefits of building concrete underground homes. These can be great structures to live in, but you need the expertise of a structural engineer to determine the proper location and building materials to use. Be sure to contact us if you’re considering living in an underground home so we can analyze the area to maximize the benefits and limit the disadvantages.