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Story behind my home re published

Post in 'The Green Room' started by elkimmeg, Jun 22, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Pictured in all the past weeks snow is my house.
    I built this house to be energy efficient, before many even gave thought of most of the ideas I implemented into this house. My first plan was to find a lot that had a hill and faced southerly. I built the house into the hill and had 4 sliding doors facing south, to take advantage of passive solar radiation. I usually do not require heat during the daylight time on sunny days in the winter. By building into the hill the natural warmth of the ground does two things. It never goes below 55 degrees so that is the point where I start heating. In the summer the same ground 55 degrees helps keep it cool. If one can notice by the picture I have a 4’ overhang. By studying the suns angles I correctly figured that its lower angle in the winter and all the trees loosing leaves would allow maximum sun light into my house. The 4’ overhand shades the sun in the summer due to its higher angle. Situated in the center is my fieldstone chimney wood stove and separate fireplace. The mass of the 16” thick fieldstone absorbs heat from the wood stove and radiates heat long after the stove has burned out. Plus heating up the flue and stone also radiates heat to the upstairs as well. So actually the walk in is where most people have cellars but I have oak floors and plastered walls, just like everybody else. The next concept was to limit windows facing north (Greatest heat loss exposure). All exposed walls were built with 2/6 with high R ridged Styrofoam insulation, and insulated with R19, giving me an r value (Walls) R26, Twice the r-value of all 2/4 framed homes today, Attic ceiling R38.
    All windows were double glazed Andersons. Even before double-glazing was required by code 6 years latter.

    I hand built this house with very little help. It took a year using all my spare time to do it. In fact I slept in a tent there while building it. I personally stick built it including all plumbing, (heating 3 zones FHW) wiring, masonry. Excavation and landscaping, Hung the blue board, but the only two sub contractors I hired was the plasterer and well company. From time to time, I had advice with the plumbing, heating, and wiring aspects of it, but I did all the work. The boiler, not a builder special, but a cast iron boiler with a heat retention and automatic damper, to keep in the heat longer, the most efficient way to do it back in 1977. When I moved in the week before Christmas the bench saw was still setup in the kitchen. My wife Ellen pregnant, and my first daughter Kim 2 days after Christmas, Even all the moving I did by myself, as my wife’s condition could not
    Lift anything.

    To the right of the picture: Two years later I built the foyer porch entrance with Ellen’s sewing room above and the two car garage. The window above is a greenhouse window, already started the garden’s seedlings. Two years ago I finished over the garage into a 3 room apt for my daughter to stay, including a full kitchen bath Living room and bedroom, separate electrical panel and FHA by oil Heating system. It took almost every spare hour to complete about 4 months.
    Not shown in the picture is the family room added to the back with the screen porch and pool area. The family room (1985) was a difficult task. It took the entire Labor day weekend to sledge hammer through the foundation wall to create the opening for the stair way. Also in the family room is my second wood stove, where I built a two-flue masonry chimney floor to ceiling cobble stonewalls and blue stone hearth. A third wood stove is in the cellar and used occasionally to heat my workshop. Over the years I have built most of my furniture, like the dinning room table and hutch. I also have refinished old wooden iceboxes and hoosier. I have many older furnishings I have redone. Over a period of time I have redone all the tile work and remodeled my kitchen in 1997, to reflect the more modern look, and my wife hated the dark walnut cabinets. Last summer I stripped and replaced the roof, all 40 squares. It is possible for one to completely build there own house. Imagine, there has never been a complaint about a contractor. Disclaimer, there was another subcontractor, the concrete form guys.

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  2. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Very impressive. If you were doing it all over again today what would you do differently? Where did you get your plans? Two of my friends want to build their own houses (well at least be their own general contractor and do a lot of the work themselves). Not sure this is such a good idea for someone with little to no building experience (unlike you). But I understand where they are coming from when market prices are twice what you should be able to build it yourself for.
  3. hearthtools

    hearthtools Moderator Emeritus

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    Loc:
    Oakhurst, California, USA, Earth
    Hey the spacing on the Pickets on top deck railing are not up to code??
    LOL
    Good to here from you old man.
  4. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Rod in 1977 they met code But rest assured I replaced all then with fluter baserters last year I have to see If I have a photo to post and yes the spaceing complies with today's code

    You guys suprised me this post is from so long ago I forgot about it The design was entirely mine some of which I created as I figured it out framing measurement and calculation on the plywod sub floor
    back to this post
    later I have to go and help a niece witha flat tire done

    I had an oppertunity to work on a concept house done By MIT in Dedham MA. This occured just after the first energy crises when we had even odd days
    to purchase gasoline and only 5 galon limits All the knowledge of the day was incorperated into this home in many way the research is equal or further advance then today
    too many years of low fuel cost stopped research advancements the market died. I had access to the best minds in energy conservation I could pick their brains.
    I would like to tell you I thought up the design my self but I had help In 1977 nobody had R 27 walls nobody used a compus to orientate the home
    nobody figued the angle of sun declination. Nobody had created a masive wall of field stone granite to absorbe heat from a wood stove to be relased hounr after the stove cold.
    We are not talking a few soap stone pannels but tons of stone and concerte mass all located in the center of the home to radiate in all directions.

    Note the 4 sliders facing south on a sunny day it is possible for that room to heat up to 80 degrees just from passive solar radiation and it could be below 10 degrees. My wife got into the act by making rock wool insulated drapes and b draft stopping tubes on the floor. She is quite talented concerning sewing
    the key to curtains is sealing air from entering from the top any air entering from the top experiences chimney effect in reverse meaning it loosed its heat trapped behind the curtain and sliding glass door by the time it exits out a floor level it creates quite a cold draft If I build a vanlance box at the top and infront of the slider and install the curtains inside the box natural convection is blocked and now is forced in front of the curtains No more huge reverse chimney effect heat loss. There are soo many things one can do to make their homes more effecient .Much is in the dyi catagory. If only they knew

    Grant it I was a bit younger but the era I built this home there were no chop saws no air powered nailers every nail was hand driven every miter joint cut witha hand miter box
    Even the roof is not plywood but 1/10 boards 20' long Btw they are far superior than any 1/2" plywood roof of today Every board has 3 8d nails in every rafter again hand driven.

    It does not take rocket science to build a home what it does take is advanced planning and know your own linitations realistically how much wall can you stand up by yourself

    A gambrel home is not the easiest roof for novices to tackle. I admit I had years of experience building before I did my own home.

    To trader it can be done (building your own home) Again I did take graduate courses in mechanical drawing so designing the plan too came with experience Too bad I did not have Auto cad it was not invented yet.. I can remember exactly where I was when the radio anounced Elvis died . I was framing the walls which turned out to be my son's bedroom

    AS to any members I am willing to offer advice and also willing to admit when your question is beyond my expertise. In many ways I wish building or the times had not changed
    back then I was able to do work that today, requires licenced professionals like plumbers or electricians..

    There are quite a few things I would change now but at the time I used the knowledge I had. There are also times when I added a dommer I cursed the crap out of my self for building it the wy i did I could have made it easier to pull it a part There are times when even today it amazes me what I did or accomplish at such an early age including workmanship

    Imagine living the american dream owning your own business and building your own home. I mean really building your own home
  5. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    Elk, its a pleasure to see you post!
  6. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Loc:
    Wapato WA, in the Yakima Valley of Central WA
    I love this house. I'm glad you re-posted for those who have not seen it before. I sincerely hope your home stays in your family for many future generations, and whomever is to live in your house in the future is one lucky duck.

    I would like to add however, the idea of solar orientation was one that was lost at some point in time. Energy (fossil fuel) was cheap and humankind thought they would overcome nature by force. Many ancient civilizations used solar orientation long before the idea resurfaced and was "new". It has only been in recent times where designers have again begun to incorporate such intelligent design. Still, I'm sad to say that large suburban tract homes (read: McMansions) are not a thing of the past. 8 miles from my home 560 houses went in using poor layout, the cheapest materials and bare minimum construction standards. When will we raise the bar to increase energy efficiency?

    -Kevin
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I live in New england not the hotest climate My wife hates AC and me All I care it to be confortable sleeping This past heat wave I finally put in the window AC in the bedroom

    I will usually use fans and use the Ac unit less than 10 times
    99% of all new homes are built with HVAC systems why for the advantage of central AC Anyone who have read some of my post will soon discover
    todays HVAC systems are not desinged or installed well.. Inspecting the SEER number is almost a joke.. The industry opted to use flexible ducting Flexible ductiog
    created far more friction resistance to flow to the point the burner /exchanger has to be oversized. Originally designed to add flexibility to allow acces to hard to reach areas
    never intended for wholesale usage

    What suprises me is what ever happened to FHW baseboard heat? A heat easilly zoned a much cleaner even heat. Does not suffer huge transmission losses
    therfore much more effecient. There is one builder that get's it. He installs FHW base board heat and install a seperate Central AC system.
    Believe me this a far superior way of doing it. Out of most home buyers knowledge, HVAC combined systems are not best at delivering Ac or Heat,

    Actually AC requires larger duct work but uses the lesser size Combined system

    (OT) but I remember a post about mini Split systems Well I have installed 2. These are very effecient compared to window Air And there are various sizes

    Many of the exchangers blower units are run on very effecient 24 volts.

    Another Question What ever happend to the whole house fan? It takes a lot less energy to run a fan than an AC compressor.

    We are wasting a lot of energy I would rather see a few less square feet area and a better more energy effecient home. Put the money where it pays to conserve
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Moving to Green Room since this is the subject....
  9. kevinmoelk

    kevinmoelk New Member

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    Elk, I hear you. Clearly you know more than I on the subject of energy efficiency. My studies have focused on the natural building movement over the past decade. Building houses small and efficient. Taking advantage of nature to help heat/cool a home, and building with heavy insulation whether that be underground construction, strawbale, earthship, cob, etc. It seems a little more effort and thought up front to a homes design will yield greater energy efficiency results. Many homes I've studied use no AC and heat with only a woodstove, yet are so efficient a comfortable temperature can be maintained all year round.

    I've recently been reading about designing smaller homes, and the impact architecture has on humans and our relations with our family and community. Arguments surface against McMansions for a host of reasons. Size first of all, is expensive. It's expensive to build, and expensive to maintain. Beyond the mere expense, mass marketed homes have helped to isolate family members. When families lived in just a few rooms they were forced (for better or worse) to share space and hence people tended to learn how to get along with each other. Many modern home designs isolate family members from each other. Bigger is not always better. Having to share a bathroom with your sibling is a daily learning experience. Studying small home design has really opened up my eyes. Hallways are for the most part could be eliminated in many homes, adding space. Bedrooms are for sleeping, not hanging out all day separated from the rest of your family. Bedrooms should be small, then space can be moved from bedrooms and added to public areas. Multiple bathrooms should be eliminated. There should be one bathroom with everything, then just a toilet and sink for convenience if needed. With a little scheduling there is little need to have multiple showers (for example). The overall point is to have multi-functional spaces, and consider the time spent performing tasks on a daily basis and design the house around these priciples.

    Many McMansions with master bedroom suites could add a kitchen and the suite could serve as an apartment. I grew up in a large home, 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, gourmet kitchen, dining room, living room, family room, study, etc, etc. While I would consider myself close to my family, I can still recall watching TV in one room, while my brother was watching TV in another room, and my Mom and Dad watching TV in yet another room. Would we be closer if we all shared the same room and watched TV together? It's hard to say, but perhaps some closer quarters wouldn't have been such a bad thing.

    Back on subject a little. My parents second home in Canada has old hot water radiators in each room. The nice part about this set up is that there is no noise of the fans blowing, no dust blowing around, and each individual room can be set to different temperatures. So rooms that they use less are turned down, and the overall heating bill is reduced. I believe this is the system you are referring to Elk. Though my parents system has a mini thermostat at each radiator, whereas a modern system is probably centrally controlled I would guess.

    -Kevin
  10. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    Is this a sign that your neck of the woods is heating up,
  11. DriftWood

    DriftWood Minister of Fire

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    Bluewater Area, Great Lakes
    Global Warming New England style.
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