After watching a lot of Extreme Homes, and having lived in old warehouses and loft spaces, I couldn't ever bring myself to buy your typical home in the US. And with the cost of traditional building materials continually on the rise, it is still expensive even if I were to build my own home. So, after much research I have finally decided the type of house that I want. When doing research on underground, earth sheltered, dome and other sustainable and energy efficient homes, the one that keeps catching my eye is primarily the cob house, and many are referred to as Hobbit houses, as in Tolkien's Hobbits. There is also the Cal-Earth home, which is very similar. I haven't researched which of the two is the best, but for now I am going to just refer to my dream home as a cob home. Cob isn't what corn grows on in this case, it is a mixture of earth, sand, clay, straw and water...similar to adobe. Cal-Earth is made out of what they call superadobe.
It just seems there are no downsides to these types of buildings if you have some physical strength and know how. Since I have many years of professional building experience, especially in mechanical areas, this really excites me. I figure that with a combination of PAHS, geothermal heating and cooling and solar and wind electricity, there will be no recurring costs except for maintenance/upkeep and property taxes.
A Welsh family built this cute home for around £3000(about $5000 USD.) I really like it, but it still isn't what I am looking for. You can find all the details at http://www.simondale.net/house/
You can find all the details at http://www.countryplans.com/underground.html
You can find this image at http://www.thiscobhouse.com/characteristics-of-cob-homes/
You can find details on this home at http://www.tinyhousetalk.com/cob-house/
Erdhaus with it having more vertical walls, like the following pic, so that the cats and dogs(don't have any of those yet) can play 'outside' but can't wander off. http://jetsetta.com/travel/fascinating-underground-homes/
So as I am designing the cob home in my mind and collecting images for interior ideas and cool little features, we are conducting our search for appropriate land. Starting in NorCal and moving North ideally we would love something with even a distant view of the Pacific Ocean. While I grew up in the mountains, and I have almost always ended up living within a couple of miles of them, it is really the ocean that I love. So if we could find something in the foothills or in the navigable mountains of the Northwest with an unobstructed view of the ocean, I'll break ground as soon as we can. We aren't looking for something so far from civilization that we have to carry buckets of water from a stream...but we also don't want to see a cul-de-sac close by either.
I estimate this is going to be a multi-year project, so we are in no big hurry.