This Earth-Bermed Hobbit Home is a Steal at $200,000



A visionary house built in the early 1970s that evokes the atmosphere of Peter Jackson’s hobbit villages pictured in his Lord of the Rings series is back on sale for a bargain price.

The earth-bermed house, located in a remote tract of River Falls, Wisconsin, has long been known to neighbors and admirers as “the hobbit house,” although current owner and retired professor Jacque Foust has never taken to the moniker. Originally listed just last year at $285,000, the hobbit house is now up for grabs at just $190,000 — which equates to an estimated monthly payment of just $1,180 a month.

It’s located on 2.4 acres of heavily wooded forest and was originally built in 1972 based on plans created by Minnesota-based architect Mike McGuire. While it resembles the current trend for green roofs with its covering of eight inches of earth topped by natural vegetation, the design is much more aggressive an adaptable than comparable structures. Foust told Minnesota’s Star Tribune that the heat from the house melts off any snowfall and its internal design saves him money on his utility bills.

Architecturally, the home’s structural base is designed around a series of arching steel culverts that create a durable frame to uphold its earthy ceiling. Asphalt weatherproofing substances and a plastic sheet have been placed within the curved roofs to provide waterproofing, while five skylights outside flood the interior with natural light.

The hobbit home may look a little gloomy and cave-like from the outside but the interior belies first impressions. The mechanics are simple but effective — hardened spray-foam insulation keeps the interior heat in, while no less than three masonry brick fireplaces are on hand to keep things cozy. Elevated ceilings give the joint a bigger sense of open space, while glass walls let in more light for residents of the two-bedroom, two-bath, roughly 2,300 square-foot home. Two new furnaces and two car garages complete the offering.

The hobbit home is a little remote, located 70 miles from the nearest urban area of Rochester, Minnesota, but remains what its realtor calls, “[for] an adventurous buyer,” it’s a steal. For a home that’s been recognized in Smithsonian Magazine and a wealth of architectural websites, not to mention its evident heating and cooling advantages, aesthetic qualities, and indisputable resemblance to the homes of Tolkien’s diminutive heroes, fans of Middle-earth could definitely do worse for lodging.







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