Is it Really a Berm Home?

Most lenders instantly reject Berm Home loans.

This presentation explains how appraisers unknowingly prevent loans by applying labels that misrepresent property liquidity.

The appraisers didn’t understand the question the lender was asking.

This home uses two upslope walls for thermal mass.  The structure was classified as a Berm Home even though 85% of the walls are above ground.

Building codes require excavation so that weight bearing footers are put in undisturbed earth to limit structure settling.  This technique is standard practice in split level construction.

Structures built on a slope will always have backfilled walls on the uphill sides.   This technique is standard practice.  Our house uses has backfilled wall on the uphill side of the grade.

A Berm Home is a mounded structure usually built on flat where dirt is mounded to enclose the living space.  They usually have earth roofs and create cave-like living spaces.

This disqualified us from a loan – Ouch!

This video illustrates why it’s important  to use disqualifying “labels” very carefully.  These labels often transform energy efficiency features into loan disqualifying liabilities.


Chipcrete Floor Experiment

A section of my 2000 square foot floor.

This experiment is in search of an affordable floor.  At 2000 sq/ft, a 4 inch thick floor is about 25 yards, 3  truckloads of concrete, about $3K in concrete, delivered.

A week rental on a concrete sander prices out at about $1000.

So – the hard DIY price on a sanded concrete floor is $4k.  Since I have a mountain full of dead wood – maybe I can find a cheaper solution… Continue reading Chipcrete Floor Experiment

Eco Finance Guide

Goal.  A basic guide of how to develop a finance-worthy structure.  This matters because if you ever need to sell your house, you will have a much bigger audience if people can borrow money to buy it.


  • Earthship is an un-financeable because bankers perceive it’s made of trash
  • Features that make a premium design
  • The economics of simplicity
  • After it’s built – how much it cost to build doesn’t matter