I’m architect Earl Parson. After 20 years in the Los Angeles architectural custom home industry, I started asking myself why things couldn’t be done differently. What if, instead of hiring an architect for a (very expensive) full service to design a new home, and paying a general contractor a big markup to build it, there were a way for people to get simple, well designed modern home plans to construct themselves?
Quonset buildings date back to prefab military structures. Today, quonset structures are still used for homes, shops, storage and other buildings. They are economical, very wind and snow resistant, and ecofriendly since over 80% of the steel is recycled content. Kelly Hart built a shop/garage/office quonset building that he covered with bags of scoria (volcanic gravel) for insulation. It’s relatively easy to screw/bolt quonset buildings together with a cordless drill.
Here’s an interesting project by Chris Magwood and crew. They used a steel quonset hut to build a large earth sheltered root cellar in Canada.
Steel quonset structures or ‘culvert homes’ are usually not rated for underground residential use. From what I’ve heard, most quonset hut manufacturers will not sell to anyone who intends to bury the structure. Covering a building with earth adds enormous weight on the structure and manufacturers don’t want any liability issues in case of collapse. This is unfortunate because quonset structures are well suited for underground homes, rootcellars and storm shelters. For one, they’re quick and easy to build. The main step involved is bolting the arched sections together with cordless drills.