Hobbit houses are structures built with earth.
Builders use laminate shells as the base for construction.
The cost to build a hobbit house is around $100–$200 per square foot.
If you've daydreamed about living in the rolling hills of a hobbit shire, you can make it a reality right in your own backyard. Here's everything you need to know about building a hobbit house—what it is, how much it costs, and how to get it done.
What Is a Hobbit House?
J.R.R. Tolkien described his hobbit hole as being meant for "comfort and good living." Modern hobbit houses take the "hole" to a new level with amenities and gadgets while keeping the charm of Tolkien’s original intent. Essentially, hobbit houses are tiny homes built into the earth, using plants and soil to protect the home and regulate the indoor temperature.
Common Characteristics of Hobbit Houses
Hobbit houses can be small or large, ranging from several bedrooms to a studio-type structure that you can put in your backyard. But all hobbit houses do share several characteristics:
Earth homes: They are either built into the earth on a hillside or covered entirely with soil and plants.
Round windows: Hobbit houses usually have at least one round window.
Tiny square footage: Most hobbit homes are a few hundred square feet or less.
Natural light: They allow in lots of natural light via glass doors and large windows.
Grounded aesthetic: Many have an "earthy" feel, with builders using natural wood and stone to achieve the aesthetic.
What Are Hobbit Houses Made Of?
While digging into a hillside and putting up some walls might look easy in the movies, in real life, hobbit homes require a specific structure, so they don't collapse in on themselves. Usually, builders use a laminate material or fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) covered with soil. The soil helps protect the home from inclement weather and sun damage. It also helps regulate the temperature in the house, so it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Once the builder installs the initial shell structure, you can customize a hobbit home with modern-day comforts: plumbing, ductwork, heating and cooling systems, and electrical wiring. According to some hobbit homebuilding specialists, hobbit homes require 50% to 70% less energy than traditional homes due to their construction.
Can You Really Live in a Hobbit House?
While the idea of a hobbit house may seem like a fairytale, you can actually live in them. Some companies specialize in building hobbit houses, which is helpful since there isn't a vast inventory of them for sale out in the marketplace. If you're dead set on building your own hobbit house, something else to keep in mind is that lenders can be hesitant to finance hobbit homes because they are permanently attached to the land and not considered conventional homes.
How Much Does It Cost to Build a Hobbit House?
The cost to build a hobbit house depends on the size of the home. Generally, these homes run between $100 and $200 per square foot, depending on the elaborateness of the design, whether or not the home is move-in ready (turnkey), and any energy efficiency standards the home meets.
Can You DIY a Hobbit House?
Building a hobbit house is best left to a professional home builder near you, especially if you plan to live in the home. To build a hobbit house, you have to find the appropriate location, dig a pit, and build the structure—which are the more manageable parts. Ensuring that the home is waterproof and protected from the elements plus installing modern conveniences (plumbing and electrical work) is more complex, so you may want to consider requesting quotes from specialty home builders.
Problems With Hobbit Houses
Despite their energy efficiency and general adorableness, hobbit homes have some drawbacks. Improperly installed or inadequate insulation can be a significant issue, meaning that hobbit houses usually do best in warm climates so the earth on top can keep them cool. The walls in hobbit homes are about the thickness of a storm window, so if you live in a climate that changes drastically with the seasons, this may not be the best option.
Hobbit houses can also be more costly to build, with any add-ons driving up the cost. Banks typically will not do mortgages on hobbit houses, so you'll likely have to pay your builder in cash if you're planning to use yours as a primary residence.