What if you could pull into your garage and disappear from the world at large? It's not just a fantasy -- the buyer of this underground lair in Mohave Valley, AZ, doesn't have to worry about the cares of the above-ground world.
Listed for $199,900, this subterranean retreat is full of surprises. Every room has windows. And no, you won't be staring out into the bleak nothingness of dirt and darkness. As with a normal home, you'll get splashes of sunlight filtering in. The light pours down into an uncovered, atriumlike center around which the circular house is built.
"Even though you're living underground, you can see the sky out of every room," says Tim Dixon, who bought the two-bedroom home in 2009. It's a unique feature, as most underground homes give off a claustrophobic or sealed-off vibe. But in this residence, you're just steps away from a circular deck (20 foot in diameter) with a spiral staircase leading to the ground level.
Surrounded by chain-link fence, the spiral staircase is the home's unofficial, or guest, entrance. From a distance, the circular fence "looks like a round swimming pool," Dixon says. The main entry is actually accessed through a flight of stairs in the adjacent three-car garage, which sits above ground.
The circular center is an innovative workaround for a type of home that's normally kept in the dark. The 2,079-square-foot-home was a labor of love for a former Army Corps engineer and his wife, who built the home in 1982.
According to Dixon, the engineer dug the hole and designed the home over the course of about three years. When Dixon purchased it, the home had a bare-bones aesthetic. He intended to use the underground dwelling as a second home, but before he used it as a true getaway, he began remodeling.
Now, almost everything in the house is new. "I remodeled it to today's standards. New cabinets, countertops, finished all the bathrooms, new fixtures, new plumbing, new deck [in the atrium] -- it's like a new home," he says proudly.
He's not kidding -- the house hasn't been lived in since 2009. By the time he finished the renovations, Dixon says, "things had changed" in his life, and he ended up buying another property.
The home's original builder is now living in a retirement home and is about 95 years old, according to Dixon. During the renovations, Dixon shared his progress with the builder by email and phone.
"He's a very interesting character. This was his baby. He says, 'I never dreamed the home could look like that inside.' For them it was just for functionality. This is beyond his vision of what he's done with it," Dixon says. The original builder had nicknamed the property after himself: Hayes' Hobbit Hole.
Dixon acknowledges the home isn't for everyone. When potential buyers come around for a look, he says, guys get excited but "sometimes the woman doesn't want it or has a tendency to shy away from it. Sometimes when we don't hear back we kinda know who made the decision," he says with a laugh.