New construction opinions...

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
255
SE WI
Next year (2021) my wife and I are planning on building a cabin/house on some vacation property. Trying to save as much as possible, so we're going to clear the site ourselves and do the finish work but contract the foundation and shell. Mostly this will be used in the summer, but once kids are older we'd like to use it more in spring/fall/winter. Plumbing will need to be winterizeable (hopefully easily).

One of the big things the Mrs. wants is a fireplace for ambiance. We have a woodburning stove here at home. Main heat source will be forced air propane.

So here's the question/idea... what do you think of having a double flue chimney installed right away for the possible installation of a wood furnace in the future? It should be easy enough to tie that into the propane furnace ductwork... What do I need to insist on for the fireplace (never had one)? What idea's would you suggest I look at?

Thanks for any ideas/suggestions.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
255
SE WI
So nobody had any suggestions regarding this the first time, but I've changed the plan. Maybe I can get a suggestion or two...? Building site and surrounding area is cleared, just need to finish burning brush & debris. I'll take some photos and post in "work done 2020" next time up there. Have a cord or so of birch & cherry and about 12 of Aspen & pine. Excavation hopefully starting in March...

We've decided against a double flue and having the possibility of a wood furnace tied into the propane furnace ductwork. Too much additional cost for a future "maybe". HVAC guy really doesn't like the idea...

As originally stated, this is mostly going to be a summer weekend place for us for now with more use when we retire; but I have aspirations of fall musky fishing, deer season, ice fishing, etc. I try to plan ahead, so I want it to be more marketable with a useful secondary heat source if we can't handle it anymore and the kids don't want the hassle.

We have decided a zero clearance fireplace on the main level for ambiance and supplemental heat seems to be the way to go. Any recommendations on them? I personally wanted to put in a stove, but the Mrs. really wants a fireplace.

I am acting as GC myself and will be doing a large portion of the build myself. The install of a zero clearance fireplace seems basic enough... put the pass-thru through the roof before shingles go on, run the class A down, build a receptacle & surround for the fireplace and chase around the pipe (obviously with required clearances), finish as desired... We are looking at a cast stone product, so after plywood on the chase we'll have to apply mesh or a substrate.

Comments, suggestions, questions, concerns...?
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,891
South Puget Sound, WA
Stick with an EPA certified ZC fireplace. How large an area will the fireplace be heating?
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
255
SE WI
Absolutely EPA! I love the NC13 I put in last January after years with the smoke dragon...

Ranch with a loft. Main level just shy of 1200sqft with 2 bedrooms. Loft size is questionable until the trusses are designed, but guessing approximately 16x22 loft. Open concept (cathedral ceiling) over kichen/dining room and living room with railings or half walls on one end of the loft, so heat should get in there pretty well. There will be cold air returns for the propane furnace which should help draw the warm air into the loft.

Design is allowing space in the semi exposed basement for future bedrooms and bathroom, but I don't think there's a realistic way to get heat from the fireplace down there... Been thinking I might want the propane furnace thermostat moved to down in the basement once it's built out and close the duct dampers to the upstairs part way when we have a fire going...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,891
South Puget Sound, WA
Most likely the loft will heat well, maybe too well due to hot air pooling near the ceiling peak. Ceiling fans will help stir the air up. Sounds like a 3 cu ft ZC fireplace will get the job done.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,283
Northern Maine
Our place in northern Maine was built with a full masonry FP. 3 flues, 2 from the basement and 1 from the LR and a 4” vent for the LP gas log arrangement for the FP in the MBR. Had custom made enclosures for both the LR and MBR.
It didn’t take long for me to say no to running the LR FP because it was sucking all the heat I burned $$ for out the chimney.
The MBR log set was used once in 15 years. I’m going to chuck it into the trash and fill it with large locally made candles and seal up the vent.

There is no way I’d ever install or have built a FP ever again unless it was for an insert.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,891
South Puget Sound, WA
A good EPA ZC fireplace can heat very well. Some like the Pacific Energy FP30 are the freestanding stove's firebox in a ZC form.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
255
SE WI
If I can find a zc with an outside air intake I will hook it up. Don't use it on the NC13 because my house is far from airtight.

This new build will be well sealed, well insulated and hopefully have decent airflow - 2x6 walls, vapor barrior, insulated basement walls & floor, cold air returns and ceiling fans. I was also advised to have the sills spray insulated by my HVAC guy rather than just stuffing batt insulation in there.

I appreciate both BeGreen's input and Bad LP's concern about shooting pre-heated air up the chimney as combustion air and pulling cold air into living space through the windows and walls . I could also see having draft issues without the outside air.

We are so excited about this but want to do it the right way, which is why I'm looking for input. It's going to be a long haul. After it's shelled I'll have a lot of work to do to before we can get occupancy, then do the finishes, then phase 2 will kick in to get it done (basement bedrooms and bathroom) - if we can afford it...

This is planned as a "family" place. Both my wife and I come from family's with 6 kids. We lived frugally as kids and both of us lost parents young. Fortunately the lessons learned stuck with us. We've worked hard and continue to live frugally (some say I'm cheap ;)) to try to get ahead. We hope that the extended family's accept invitations to join us... There's already been some conversation about it. Couldn't do it previously because of having to haul water and the porta potty ;hm.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,891
South Puget Sound, WA
If I can find a zc with an outside air intake I will hook it up. Don't use it on the NC13 because my house is far from airtight.
That shouldn't be an issue.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
255
SE WI
After some digging around and comparing sizes, features, efficiency & costs I'm leaning toward the Osborn Strattford II. Anybody have a review for this one or alternatives? My Google search kept bringing up all kinds of different things even though I specifically searched for EPA fireplaces.

I found some fairly recent threads about it, but no likes/dislikes... I like the ability to tie it into the furnace ductwork with the forced air distribution kit. Figuring on using Duravent Duratech for venting.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,891
South Puget Sound, WA
There are some reviews here of the pre-EPA 2020 models and of its sister the Valcourt Lafayette. They have been well received. I don't recall any complaints.