Q.: We're intrigued with building an earth-sheltered home to save energy. But we've had enough troubles in the past with a slightly buckled basement wall and with basement dampness so that we wonder how to avoid these and possibly other problems. Can you give us some guidance?

A.: Probably you should start by reading Norman Scott's 3-page article, "Before You Build: Do Your EARTH-SHELTERED HOMEwork," published in our June 1982 issue, page 493. The author points out some potential problems the novice is not likely to think about and gives some good design tips.

Other articles in that same issue and in the September 1980 issue give good information. (The latter issue has now been reprinted under the title "Earth Sheltered Construction," a 28-page publication available from Concrete Construction Publications, Inc., 426 South Westgate, Addison, Illinois 60101.)

There are some standard designs available from companies who specialize in such construction. If you prefer to develop your own design you should rely on an experienced professional engineer.