Does anyone have any ballpark estimates of cost to build a concrete root cellar, about 10x14? I would hire it built
Is there any way you could roughly describe how you would build a root cellar in a basement. I somewhat thought a basement pretty much was a root cellar (unfinished, unheated/cooled basement). What is needed to make it a root cellar?
This is important to me, because the house I bought a few years ago has a partial basement and I’ve been wondering if it would be a great place to store fruit (apples at least) and garden veggies like potatoes. I haven’t used my basement in the 4 years I’ve lived here. Its completely underground, but only goes under about 1/2 of my house. But it is just cinder block walls and concrete floor and that’s it. No heat/AC but it stays about the same temp all year-like a cave. Its extremely damp (probably too damp for storage) and even floods occasionally, though I could prevent that with a new sump pump.
Sorry for the detailed description, but I thought it might help people understand what my basement (might even be called a cellar since only way in is via outside stairs that go from ground level down to entry door). SO understanding that, can you (or others) help me understand whether it would work as a root cellar, and if not, how could I “build a root cellar in my basement” as you suggested womblesd do. THanks.
My root cellar would be a berm cellar, about half under ground and covered with soil
For an outdoor cellar, the prices vary widely based on where you are and the site etc. I had a room like that built off the back of my house and it cost a couple grand. But it was part of a bigger project, backhoe already on-site, etc.
Here is a thread with various experiences, looks like 3-4 grand is the price range based on what these folks were doing.
My outdoor room is not completely sealed so the temperature fluctuates too much. I have an indoor room as well which I hope to make the fruit room one day, doing something like what TFB suggests. Its not to hard to get a small fan and two thermostats to heat/cool: put one thermostat on the outside that switches the fan off when the temp is too high, put one on the inside which switches off when temp too low, then wire both switches in series. The room will then cool when it needs cool and there is cool to be had from outside.
For the indoor room I used two layers of the thickest foam insulation and I took an insulated door and also put the foam on the inside of the door. The door ends up being the weak link, make sure it is well-insulated. Also the ceiling should be insulated as thickly as the walls.
Up here in Wisconsin…my mostly unheated basement varies between around 70F in the heat of summer to around 55F in the winter. Its too warm for storing anything. I use a chest freezer hooked up to a t stat.
Depending on how much you need to store, a couple of huge chest freezers might be cheaper? Not sure. In the future, i’d like to store a lot more apples for the winter and i could see myself filling my bigger (15 cubic foot) chest freezer. The nice thing about these converted freezers is that they use a tiny amount of electricity to maintain that near freezing temp.
Thats what I do now myself, I have an old fridge. The room is for when I need more capacity, its more than ten times the capacity.
I added an extension to my house a few years ago. I included an unheated storage room. I’m in zone 7. Night time temps can go as low as 0 but are typically mid 20s to mid 30. Day time temps don’t get above 50 (except for this crazy year). The room stays low 40s to low 50s in the winter. The common wall to the rest of the house is not insulated. This discussion has given me an idea. With a small thematically controlled vent to the out side I could keep the room colder. It has a window so I can experiment by opening it in inch or two.
Wow. And to think I was thinking I could just put some shelves down in my little basement and I’d have the perfect root cellar. Sounds like there may be a lot more too it. Though I was worried about how damp it is. My “basement” is really nothing more than a 15 x 20 ft room with concrete floor and cinder block walls and it is 100% all underground. But it does stay around 60 degrees both winter and summer. Anyway, I’m going look into what you’ve just described and try to figure out if it would work for my underground “bunker”.
Depending on your house you might have one already poured. Most houses I build have front porches that have full basement walls under them with no access to them. They usually get filled with leftover brick and scrap from the job and then a slab of concrete over the top. You could check your foundation plans and if your porch was built this way you could just cut a door through the basement wall to the porch area. Almost every house I build here in Michigan has a porch foundation not being used. Some of the Italians have doors in theirs to use as a wine cellar.
I think i could build a large, really nice root celler for 3-5k. Thats getting free use of excavating eqp and using salvage materials or maybe burring a storage container. I would think a small root celler might cost 7-12k to have a contractor build it. Building a walk in cooler was a fast solution four under 2k.
I saw an interesting plan using a new 2500 gallon concrete septic tank. It was at Mother Earth website. Just type in root cellars at the site.
Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables - by Mike and Nancy Bubel