Hobbit home exterior

Hobbit Houses: A Magical, Eco-Friendly Option That Will Have You Feeling Shire-Inspired

Erin Gobler5-minute read
February 07, 2022

You’re probably familiar with hobbit houses if you’ve ever seen “The Lord of the Rings.” Your mind probably immediately pictures the earth-sheltered homes the movies’ characters lived in. But you might be surprised to learn that hobbit houses aren’t entirely fictional. This home style is actually becoming more popular, and you can live in one too. You can have your dream hobbit house by building it from scratch, or you can simply buy an existing home.

Keep reading to learn more about hobbit houses, some of their common characteristics, and how you can build one of your own.

What Is A Hobbit House?

A hobbit house is a home created in the earth, or covered by the earth, which is used to insulate the home. A wall of windows bathes the home in natural light on its exposed side. A thoughtfully designed hobbit house can be extremely energy-efficient.

This alternative housing option is difficult to find on the real estate market, but there are prefabricated shells available that make it possible to build your hobbit house within days. You might be interested in this type of home if you prefer eco-friendly homes and enjoy the earthy style this type of home provides.

The Hobbit Home: History And Influence

As you can probably tell from the name “hobbit house,” this style of home gets its popularity from “The Lord of the Rings” (LOTR) series by J.R.R. Tolkien. Today’s hobbit houses indeed resemble the hillside homes that Bilbo Baggins and his fellow hobbits lived in. In fact, the homes from the series “The Hobbit” are still built as a permanent attraction. They look like the homes you remember from the movie, as well as those you can find today. They are earth-sheltered homes constructed of stone.

But you might be surprised to learn the influence of hobbit houses doesn’t end with J.R.R. Tolkien's works. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy promotes earth-sheltered homes as a way of energy efficiency. They may not call them hobbit houses, but the homes they describe are exactly as you would picture a real-life hobbit house.

Finally, you can find quite a few of these earth-sheltered homes around the country (and likely the world) as “LOTR” fans were inspired to build their own hobbit houses. Some of these homes have been featured on HGTV or are available to rent on Airbnb and other vacation rental sites.

Hobbit House Interiors: Common Characteristics

While some of the hobbit homes of today are designed to look like those from “The Lord of the Rings” movies, others have a more modernized look. Either way, there are a few interior characteristics they often have in common.

One of the most noticeable characteristics of real-life hobbit houses is their size. Most of these homes are just a few hundred square feet, putting them in the category of tiny houses. In “The Lord of the Rings” story, the hobbit homes were small because the hobbits themselves were small. But as tiny homes have become more popular, hobbit homes have also become more attractive.

Another feature of many hobbit homes is their natural light. While part of the home is usually earth-covered, the remaining part is often covered in large windows and glass doors, which let plenty of natural light into the home.

You’ll also notice many hobbit houses have natural aesthetics inside. You’ll find lots of stone and untreated wood that contribute to the earthy feel of these homes. And while each home is different, other common features include round doors that give them a more “hobbit” feel.

Hobbit Home Examples

As we mentioned, there’s no shortage of real-life hobbit homes, both in the United States and around the world. Some of these homes are privately owned, while others are available as rental homes on Airbnb and other vacation home websites. You can travel to New Zealand to see the hobbit houses on the Hobbiton movie set, but there are plenty of real-life homes in the United States. Below are a few hobbit home examples.

San Diego Hobbit House

If you travel to San Diego, you can stay in a hobbit house that looks like it’s straight from “The Lord of the Rings.” It features an earth-covered house with a round wooden door. Inside you’ll find wood and stone features, and there’s even an outdoor living area to accompany it.

Washington Hobbit House

The Brothers Greenhouses in Port Orchard, Washington features a hobbit house that visitors can walk through. While you can’t stay in it, it’s open to visitors of the greenhouses to take pictures and sign the guest book. From the outside, it looks like a real-life hobbit house, from the stone wall to the earth covering to the round wooden door.

Tennessee Hobbit House

Tennessee is a surprisingly popular spot for hobbit homes, and you can find quite a few of them available to rent on Airbnb. One example is a mud-covered tiny home located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Rather than being built into the earth as some hobbit homes are, this one is a freestanding building built from mud, featuring the iconic round hobbit house door. The house is located on a beautiful wooded property with a garden seating area and more.

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Hobbit Homes As An Environment-Friendly Option

The obvious appeal of hobbit homes for many people is their tie to the “Lord of the Rings” series, but they have far more benefits than just that. Earth-sheltered homes are incredibly energy-efficient.

Because the home is partially or fully covered by natural materials, it has built-in insulation that protects it from extreme temperatures and inclement weather. Soil is used the world over to insulate homes against heat and cold, so it’s no surprise that hobbit homes provide less need to pay for heating and cooling, and they also happen to be water-resistant.

Another benefit of eco-friendly hobbit homes is they’re built from sustainable materials. Earth-sheltered homes are often built around a concrete structure or using prefabricated shells instead of wood. And because they are partially made from sustainable materials, they are more eco-friendly overall.

Can I Live In A Hobbit House?

Hobbit houses aren’t just for tourist attractions and vacation homes — you can actually live in one. Something to keep in mind, however, is they may be more difficult to find and finance.

First, as you can probably guess, the real estate market doesn’t have a plethora of hobbit homes. If you can’t find one on the market — which seems likely — then you’ll have to build one yourself. Additionally. Because they are permanently affixed to the land and aren’t considered houses in the traditional sense, you are unlikely to find a lender willing to finance one.

If you plan to buy or build a hobbit home, the best way to do so will be to either save up to build one in cash or to find a secured personal loan.

How To Build A Hobbit House

The process of building a hobbit house will vary depending on what you’re looking for. There are no set rules, so you can customize your home to fit your needs. Many permanent hobbit homes are built from concrete, wood, or stone. And you’ll notice that many of these homes are built into hills, so they are partially underground.

And it’s actually easier than you might think to build your own hobbit home since they now sell prefabricated models. These micro-houses, as they’re often referred to, are built from prefabricated panels. And once you place them on your property, you’ll reinforce the sides with soil and vegetation to provide the earth-sheltered component.

The Bottom Line

Hobbit houses were made popular by the J.R.R. Tolkien story, but they’ve since become a real-life housing option for many people. Not only do people enjoy these homes because of their ties to the movies, but also because of the eco-friendly design and sustainability.

When you’re ready to start shopping for a home - a hobbit house or any other kind - we’re here to help. Visit our Rocket HomesSM home directory to start searching for your next home.

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Erin Gobler

Erin Gobler is a freelance personal finance expert and writer who has been publishing content online for nearly a decade. She specializes in financial topics like mortgages, investing, and credit cards. Erin's work has appeared in publications like Fox Business, NextAdvisor, Credit Karma, and more.