BY ZOE MELNYK
With a steep housing market and difficulty finding a stable job, young people are turning to cave homes for a more affordable alternative.
This young couple in particular, Alexis Lamoureux and Lotte van Riel, managed to buy their cave home in Loire Valley, France for a measly €1 at an auction. The cave, previously owned by his great aunt, was not only stripped down to its bare bones in comforts but was also completely trashed.
It wasn’t just a mountain of work, it was Mount Everest and after some very clever persuading from Lamouruex, the auctioneer was more than happy to hand over the responsibility to someone else.
But why even bother; why live in a cave?
Living in a cave is exceedingly more beneficial than you might assume, and it’s actually pretty popular. In China alone, there are an estimated 40 million people living in caves, not to mention all the cave colonies dispersed across Europe in countries like France, Spain, and Italy.
For starters, it’s cheaper all around—the construction and the maintenance. This is because the core foundation is already there and the natural built in insulation from the stone keeps a more consistent temperature, which means less heating in the winter and less cooling in the summer. Never again would you feel nauseous looking at your heating bill after a particularly cold winter.
Caves are also extremely safe. Despite what you might assume, caves are not known to collapse and are usually left unaffected from earthquakes. The largest issue dealing with a cave home is generally the liquid and condensation build up in the home.
With all this in mind, Lamoureux proceeded to search for a €25,000 loan in order to create his dream cave. However, being 23 with no steady career led him to be denied from ten different banks.
Undeterred, the young couple worked at Lamoureux’s father’s restaurant for three years and diligently saved their money in order to begin the work to convert their cave into a livable space.
The saving was probably the easy part, considering the work that was required to renovate their new home. To begin with, they had absolutely no plumbing, no electricity, and no sewage pipes.
This meant 12 months of difficult, physically demanding work including the installation of 11 cable anchors secured with cinder blocks and concrete, and hand digging a ditch to allow pipes and cables to run from the house to the road.
The price tag after all the necessary renovations came to €35,000, just under $45,000. Though this might seem expensive for a cave, you’d be hard pressed to find a house with the same amenities in a similar location for that price.
The final product after four years of saving and construction is a magnificent cave home the couple can proudly call their own. Currently, both Lamoureux and van Riel live in their one bedroom one bath section of the home.
A separate bed and bath is being offered on the travel website Airbnb for €75 a night, which allows the couple to actually turn a profit on their luxury cave home.
Converted cave homes could be the answer to anyone looking to own an affordable home. As long as they’re not afraid to shed a bit of money in renovations and offer up some very serious TLC.