Underground versus shed

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Ralphee

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G'day everyone,
I have the space to either put in a decent sized shed and make a section for a work room/ storage room for making wine OR i can dig a bit deeper (literally) and make this underground. Has anyone built a Hobbit House to make/store their wines? I would love some advice on this.
How far underground does it need to be to be thermally protected?
Pros / cons of going underground versus insulating a shed?
I have an area roughly 10mtrs x 10mtrs and its away from the house, but i will have power and water
Has anyone built underground separate from the house?
I have access to a excavator and i know the ground is rocky (shale) so i will factor that in, but either way i have to dig, its just a matter of how far!
Aesthetically i know underground would look the best, but is it worth the extra effort?
Just in the planning stage at the moment, would have to look into permits and drafting etc etc, but looking to see what is a 'better idea'
And yes, cost is a factor, but i also have to factor the ongoing cost of maintaining a constant temperature in a shed in Victoria Australia (we can get a run of days over 42 degrees c here very easily), so if its a bigger cost to start but less ongoing, then it works out the same. Google gave me lots of pretty 'man caves' with wine storage and nice seating, but nothing practical, I prefer to ask people with more knowledge and experience anyway.
Thank you
 

Rice_Guy

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You sound like you have thought this out quite well. An engineer probably can come up with thermal load for different materials
Underground has reduced thermal load. A traditional cave seems to be in the 10C /50F area. There are hybrid structures with a meter to two below grade and the roof exposed and another variation with sod growing on the roof.
The biggest negative with underground is everything gets carried down and then back up. At some age this becomes unworkable.
 

my wine

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So, I only have a clue about construction and I've built sheds for non-wine uses. Given that, I would lean towards digging. I make and store my wines in my basement. It is heated and cooled but not like the rest of the house. So it varies at a low of 59F in the winter and a high of 69F in the summer but mostly stays at 63 to 66 degrees. I like that "down-under" temperature stability.

You can get that with an above ground structure and plenty of insulation and heating/cooling along with the costs associated. Or, as you said, you could dig. Your cost to dig are reduced given you have an excavator. Time is also very flexible as you can dig now, later, in the evening or whenever. The excavated dirt would make a very good insulator pushed up against cinder block walls. A wild guess of 1 meter down and 1 meter of dirt up on the walls gives you 2 meters of dirt wrapped structure. If you screen the rocks out you could put some on the roof. Not sure how that might work where you live but native ivy could hold it all in place.

Unlike my basement you can address bringing things up or down by including some sort of lift. A properly build meter-square platform fastened to an engine hoist should lift anything wine related and posibly a full barrel. Hope this helps.
 

Rice_Guy

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? How many square meters are you looking at?
F7FAE259-005F-4E34-9EEA-4A7508ED07C0.jpeg
Possibly 2/3 below grade, all insulated with 10 cm (4 inch) high density polystyrene foam. The dirt you pull out back filled on the outside walls and roof. 30 cm of dirt on top which is planted with grass (drought tolerant species) and watered periodically.

Have you looked on the web for a Hobbit hole design?
 

MiBor

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So, if I was to build a wine making/storage structure for myself, the first question I would honestly ask myself would be: how much wine would I be storing and for how long? Also, would it be in bottles or barrels or both? Do I want it to also be a man cave, or just a workshop and storage for my wine?
Than, when I had answers to all these questions I would probably be able to decide what to build and how much to spend.

I have an older friend who built a sizable underground cellar with the entrance from his basement, in his new house. It is about 20 x 30 feet, with insulated double doors. It keeps a constant temperature around 53-55 F and he put in humidity control and cedar wine racks for about 4000 bottles along 2 walls. After the house was done and he moved in, he started filling the cellar with his wine and some commercial bottles as well. Than, a year latter something happened and he totally lost his interest and appetite for wine. I ended up with a lot of his stuff and now I'm probably the only one who goes down there when I visit.

When I read this thread, somehow it reminded me of my old friend and got me thinking. I believe that he never was really that much into wine. Yes, we made wine together and he knew a lot of stuff, but now I realize that he also complained a lot about how much work it involves and how long we have to wait to enjoy the fruit of our labor. So, again, if it was me planning to build something for my hobby, I would probably add another question to the list: How much do I really enjoy making wine and how long will I keep at it to make it worth the time and money I'm about to spend? And if I wasn't sure about the answer and really wanted to build something, I would probably make something versatile that would serve multiple purposes, including wine making. Just my $0.02.
 

wpt-me

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You may want to see what one poster did underground. Poster was Sammyk.
Search "hole dug new wine cellar"

Bill
 

Ralphee

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Rice_Guy - it will be pretty close to ground level at the entrance, maybe one step, but i want to be sure that i can use a trolley to get things in and out easily, will just need a bit more excavation to get the entrance right, but definitely no stair cases! And just looking to see what i can build, the area would allow for a 30ft by 30ft (10mtr x 10mtr) if i wanted, but i think thats a bit of overkill and would require some very fancy engineering!! And yes, 'Hobbit Hole' is what helped sell this with the better half, she loves the look of that! And so do i!
My Wine - thank you, its someone with experience that i am looking for, will do some more homework myself first, but i might hit you up with some questions if i get stuck, if you don't mind. We had the second case of snow settling on the ground here in roughly 30 years last year, thankfully well after harvest! So freezing temps is not a big issue. Now crazy hot on the other hand...
MiBor - well said and good points. Yes i have always wanted to have my vineyard (220 plants on the property) and now i have it, but this is a big investment. Worst case scenario its an epic man cave and i think would add to the resale of the property substantially, but if its not going to be used for its purpose, then its a waste of money (a BIG amount of money). It would need to be multi purpose, at the least have a bit of an entertaining area if its going to be that big, seats to enjoy a glass or ten and chat etc, but the main focus would be on practicality. I also plan on making mead, but that's just more of the same really.
wpt-me - that was an interesting read, thank you. I think the main two points i have learned from reading this is to do my homework before breaking soil (ie thermal properties and insulation required) and to have a backup plan of conditioning or the like, don't assume that the math will be correct, allow for extra cooling - with a 'hobbit house' the front is generally open across a wider area, i want this, so will need to plan accordingly.

Thank you everyone for you input, i will keep looking to see if i can get in contact with someone who has done this (my friend with the big excavators said to just drop a 20ft shipping container in the ground!)
Its a long term project as i don't have the money for it right now, and i feel it will take a lot of planning before i can really do anything.
Cheers
 

Boatboy24

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There was a member here who several years ago built a storage area into a slope in their property. They haven't posted in years, and I believe gave up on the hobby, but you might be able to find the details searching. As I recall, they had a contractor do the work and it was botched to some extent. However, I think they got it operating sufficiently in the end.
 

Ralphee

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Boatboy24 - yes that was the link above. They tried to do it cheap and had all sorts of problems

The idea of two 20ft shipping containers is winning at the moment. Join them, cut a doorway between the two and only have one door that opens. Seal one up for a storage room, use the other as a work room/ sitting room. Bury them and have one set of doors that can be opened.
Probably the cheapest option too.
 

Rice_Guy

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Reading through Sammyk I was reminded of when I set up a small production line to work second shift in my building. I made a mistake on energy calculations (operating batch everything started at temperature), after that project I always considered backup option B and C. Looking at Sammy option B would have been ,, design insulation for worst case heat load (45C) and option C would have been ,, if I do need to add mechanicals at some future point build in exhaust chimney(s) or break out utility entry windows to make modifications easy.

My pilot plant was designed with a utility loop so that I could add a new “toy“ every 20 feet in your container situation I would build utility tap in points every two meters, for a food production area floor drains/ sloped concrete are a utility.
Another prefabricated “box” to be aware of is a free standing walk in/ drive a fork lift in freezer. The outside walls/ roof/ floor are metal sandwich panels with nominally four inches of foam. The doors are well insulated.

A fun project,
The only place to install an air conditioner was in the steel door. So that is what we did. It is rated for a 15 x 15 room and 5,000BTU. There was no place because of the RR ties to get one set into the walls.

This morning the temperature is down to 69 and the humidity down to 54%. It was lower last night but we turned the unit down for the night since we could not keep an eye on it. We did turn it back up to high this morning.

The other air conditioner, the lowest we could get it was 75 degrees and 84% humidity.

Drilling a hole in the 8" cement to install the other air conditioner and put dust everywhere inside! Major cleaning to be done inside now.

Anyone here have any legal background?

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balatonwine

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Pros / cons of going underground versus insulating a shed?
Any properly made underground structure is fully passive. It will give optimal temperatures and humidity for your wine making and storage without much effort after construction. An "off grid" solution.

An above ground structure, not matter how well insulated, will be a container that will need technical tools to keep it within proper humidity and temperature year round. And if you have a power failure.... Well, all bets may be off. :)
 

Ralphee

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Rice_Guy - exactly what i was just thinking, great idea. I was jumping on here to comment exactly this when i saw your post.
Just got off the phone to my contact who can get me 20ft containers and explained what i was doing, he suggested ex-freezer containers. Ones that the motors have died and aren't worth fixing. let them keep the motor for spare parts, make sure the outside is still well sealed up, and bury them! Insulation is well and truly covered that way. Best guess is $1500 AUD for ex 20ft containers, maybe a bit more for these, still guess under $2K each, lets say $1K for incidentals and bribery to hire the big excavator, that's roughly $5K for a big workspace and massive storage area underground!
We need permits to put up a flag pole in my area (no seriously, we need permits for a flag pole) but if its been there for 15 years you don't need a permit... i wonder if i can hide them for 15 years....
 

Ralphee

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Okay, back from holidays and still thinking out loud (read - looking for advice)
20ft containers underground need a whole bunch of reinforcing, basically i need to build a box to put them inside of. Not as cost effective as first planned (the corners are very structural, however the roof and walls are not - I will need retaining walls beside them and back fill that with dirt, not beside the containers)
So now i am thinking its cheaper to just build a bunker and insulate that with extra insulation.
Has anyone on here buried a container or two? And how did you stop the walls and roof from caving in?
Next step is to get the area mapped and check to see if there are any massive rocks where i want to dig (nobody likes digging up big rocks!)
 

Ajmassa

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Okay, back from holidays and still thinking out loud (read - looking for advice)
20ft containers underground need a whole bunch of reinforcing, basically i need to build a box to put them inside of. Not as cost effective as first planned (the corners are very structural, however the roof and walls are not - I will need retaining walls beside them and back fill that with dirt, not beside the containers)
So now i am thinking its cheaper to just build a bunker and insulate that with extra insulation.
Has anyone on here buried a container or two? And how did you stop the walls and roof from caving in?
Next step is to get the area mapped and check to see if there are any massive rocks where i want to dig (nobody likes digging up big rocks!)
you are probably right about the cost comparison. But depending on how much work can be done yourself it could still very well be the cheaper route. And more importantly— it’s cool as hell!
i remember looking into this a while back for a job and what i found was an endless list of horror stories of homeowners thinking they could build a bunker on the cheap using an old shipping container dropping in a hole. everything needs to be reinforced, waterproofed and thoroughly planned. looking for an old video i remember seeing that was basically identical to what you are doing— done very well and made into a winemaking area. (using 1 container. not 2). will post if i find it.
 

Ralphee

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looking for an old video i remember seeing that was basically identical to what you are doing— done very well and made into a winemaking area. (using 1 container. not 2). will post if i find it.
Yes please, i have looked at a few, but mostly find the horror stories. In and *ideal* world i want to get a license to sell my wine and brew some mead here as well, so i need a registered food grade area etc etc etc, but they make it difficult here in Aus to scare off most people (to apply for a permit before you break soil is $1800, and your plans must be drawn up by an architect, and he quoted me $1700-1900 just for the plans for the retaining walls!!) - to do this 'properly' will blow out cost wise very quickly. I understand why people just do whatever they want themselves instead!
 

Ralphee

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Oh wow, that's a great video! concrete roof over the top helps.
Unfortunately there is no way i would legally get away with that here. Our building laws are crazy and there is not retaining walls on the side, rest is brilliant though.
Food for thought, thanks
 
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