The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Survivalist and eco-friendly underground house in Maryland

Distinguished homes for sale in the D.C. region

22941 Foxcroft Rd., Middleburg, Va. (Roman Caprano/Sky Blue Media)

Worried about a cyberattack on the power grid? Fearful of a nuclear explosion? Anxious about a catastrophic terrorist event? Or maybe you’re concerned about the environment and want to rely less on fossil fuels. Perhaps you are looking for a spacious house with low upkeep costs. Then this may be the home for you.

The underground house in Clinton, Md., offers everything a doomsday prepper, environmentalist or frugal home buyer desires.

“The necessities are there to finish this house out if you really wanted to go net zero and live off the grid,” said listing agent Jonathan Benya of Keller Williams Select Realtors. “You could do that with this house very, very easily.”

The original owners were from California and wanted an energy-efficient home. They had seen houses similar out West and turned to Formworks, a Colorado company that specializes in earth-sheltered homes. This house, the first of its kind on the East Coast, was designed by Dale Percy.

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Behind its brick facade, the house burrows into a mound of dirt, using the earth as insulation. It is essentially two domes connected by a tunnel. The front dome contains the bedrooms, the living room and kitchen. Two of the bedrooms are on the second floor, and the master suite is on the first floor. The family room is in the rear dome. The laundry room, which is in the tunnel, and the bathrooms are the only rooms that don’t have windows and access to natural light.

“Many people want that open floor plan where you have these two-story foyers,” Benya said. “This exceeds anything you could ever find like that. It feels very, very spacious. The family room in the back, which is the 40-foot dome, is large enough that you could park four cars in it.”

Energy bills are never more than $200 a month, and if solar panels were installed, as the owners planned, that would reduce energy costs even more. The house has its own septic system so there’s no water bill. The only utility bill left would be the gas for the fireplace.

Built with concrete and with a soil depth that runs between 21/2 to 24 feet, the house can withstand a hurricane or a tornado. As a bonus, you wouldn’t have to worry about replacing the roof and you’d rarely have to mow. Since the owners built it in 2006, the grass on the hill has been mowed only once.

Benya acknowledges that the home is not for everyone.

“It’s one of those ‘love it or hate it’ kind of houses,” he said.

The three-bedroom, two-bathroom property is listed at $425,000. An open house is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Listing: 8305 Poplar Hill Dr., Clinton, Md. 

Listing agent: Jonathan Benya, Keller Williams Select Realtors

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