Oblio13's Underground Coop

I've been intrigued by colonial era bank houses and Anasazi pit houses for years, and I figured this was as good an excuse as any to build one. Hopefully an earth-sheltered, sod-roofed coop will be warmer in winter and cooler in summer than our conventional one, and muffle the rooster's crowing for our neighbors. Even though my long-suffering wife is accustomed to my eccentricities, she was mildly appalled when she saw the hole in our yard.

After three days with a pick and shovel this is what I had accomplished.
A neighbor with a little backhoe took pity when he saw the blisters on my tender pink hands and speeded things up. Now I have a ten-foot by twelve-foot hole. There's still a tremendous amount of dirt to move to level and square it, hope I can get it done before the ground freezes. My tentative plan is too leave the floor dirt, and use pressure-treated 4"x8" timbers to build up the sides, notched log-cabin style to resist the pressure of backfilling. I'll put a gently sloping sod roof over it, and a window in the south-facing door.
It's become a neighborhood project - I bribed them with a boat ride to the pizza parlor.
What's now become locally known as "The Chicken Hole" is progressing slowly. This may become a race with freezing weather. Inside dimensions are about 10' x 11'.

After delays attributable to winter freezing, spring rains, economic shortfalls, and a period of contemplative conceptualization that my wife mistakenly characterizes as laziness, WORK ON THE "CHICKEN HOLE" HAS RESUMED!

I'm about ready to start planking the roof. I've got 4 x 8's spanning about 11 feet between walls, and the longest gap between them is 40". I'm going to use pressure-treated 2x lumber for decking, then cover that with a couple layers of thick black plastic and about 6-8 inches of soil. I have a feeling I'll have to use a screw post or two under the beams to prevent sagging, but we'll see.


View from the southeast​

View from the northeast​

View from the northwest​

I had some concrete left over from another project, so I used five-gallon buckets as molds (is there anything five-gallon buckets can't do?!) and made footings for them

Finally nearing completion. Still need to put more dirt on the roof, a deep layer of leaves on the floor, cover two of the openings with chicken wire, and build a door.