Modern Idaho's oldtimer builds $ 50 underground & solar homes



Mike Oehler lived for over 30 years in a basement house he built for $ 50 (and expanded for $ 500) on his land in North Idaho near the Canadian border. Now in his 70s, his arthritis keeps him from hiking to his home, but he continues to "write and convert"

In 1968, like thousands of other San Francisco citizens hoping to go "back to earth," Oehler bought real estate and started building a home. After a winter freeze in a small cabin, he designed a house that would use the earth as an insulation. With his first attempt he fell into the easy mistakes of what he called "first house of thought": a hole cut into a slope with south-facing windows.

It gradually began to innovate with underground design, creating better ways to leave the light: including "Hollywood wings," "the Royer foyer," the dams and the most important "uphill patio" protected greenhouse). He also created an inexpensive, low-tech approach to basic design with what he calls PSP or Post / Shoring / polyethylene.

The book "$ 50 & Up Underground House" by Mike Oehler: