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Country Discussion Topics
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If you were building a house
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Scott Hansen    Posted 03-18-2003 at 09:21:17       [Reply]  [Send Email]
What would you pick? Those whole foam insulated panels, or frame and foam for insulation? My family and I were talking natural gas bills, Friday, and I got scared.....


Ludwig    Posted 03-19-2003 at 14:38:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
Since somebody else made the pitch for straw in the concrete I guess I'll be the one to mention cordwood.
16" long pieces of wood layed up like sideways bricks with an insulation space in the center is about as good as anything.
When we build our house thats what I do, the north facing interior wall will be the odd man though with a 2x4 false wall on the inside with insulation in that and a vapor barrier between the two. That wall will be tight. I've been in too many houses, my apartment for instance, where the north wall is neglected.

I'm also a fan of fiberglass batts. Easy to lay, easy to replace if something happens.


Cheap Living..........Jimbob    Posted 03-19-2003 at 06:32:21       [Reply]  [No Email]
Our house in northern lower Michigan & is easy to heat. On sunny days the house requires no heat down to 40 degrees F due to heat gain from the sun. The house is single story, has a 8'-6" deep basement & the house itself is 28' x 42'. The North wall is buffered with a double garage. The exterior walls are 4" with 1/2" plywood & a 5/8" exterior aluminum backed sheating. Aluminum siding is the exterior finish. The ceilings has 16" fiberglass insulation with the attic vented & the walls the normal 3-1/2" fiberglass insulation.
Our heat is wood & some propane backup if in the 30s F or not sunny at 40F. We burn 12 to 14 cord a year @ pay $35 a face cord, split & delivered. This year we are buying a pulp cords @ $10 each & will cut/split ourselves. The pulp cord wood will cost $140/yr & propane about $400/yr that also runs the gas dryer plus water heater. $540 a year total right now. This will be reduced with a hot water tie-in to the wood heater & using clothes lines in the basement during the winter vs the clothes dryer. Our ultimate goal is $425 a year energy costs less electricity & gasoline.
When electric windmill rebate incentatives reach our state, 5 windmills are going to be installed removing the need for electricity from our electrical utility. I will also make use of an electric car that recharges off of the wind-gen sets, thus remove gasoline requirements for short 100 mile round trips.
With taxes & energy requirements, we will be able to 'float' the place for under $1000 a year (house is paid off). We will raise more animals this year for meat plus harvest a hay & grain crop for the animals. The garden provides us vegatables for the year.
Ultimate goal is $6K a year for everything including insurances with medical coming from our employer.
I suggest to all on this site to become as independent as possible, and get away from the 'money game'. Find a 'medical cover' thru an employer & be prepared for increased taxes plus high energy costs.


Willy-N    Posted 03-19-2003 at 07:01:12       [Reply]  [No Email]
That is a LOT of wood to burn! I burn 4 cord on a bad winter and 3 on a good one and that is for the complete 365 day year too. I use wood exclusivly for heat. I have 2X6 walls with R-19 (6 in) in the walls and R-30 (10 in) in the floor and R-42 (24 in) in the ceiling. 1,680 square ft of space 2 story good south exposure. We have a lot of wind where I live during the winter. The outside walls are wrapped with TY-VAC lets the walls breath and keeps moisture out. The siding is T-1-11 Plywood. Inside wall is coverd with plastic sheeting sealed for air filtration in every opening then sheet rocked with 1/2 rock. The walls breath throu the out side wall but do not let the air come thru the inside wall or around the plugs and switches. I live at 2,800 ft and the temps drop down below 0 degs but average 8-28degs during the winter time. The home was built to code 5 years ago for Washington State. Mark H.


Jimbob    Posted 03-19-2003 at 11:26:34       [Reply]  [No Email]
Our winter is colder than yours per your post. We had about 50 days dipping to -10F with many days to -20F & lower. The days were less than 10F high temperature with a large percentage hovering at zero degrees. Our situation is on a windy hill with an average wind speed of 18MPH during the winter. Many days were 25-35 mph winds. Our house with the heated basement is 2350 sq ft. I suspect our heating requirementswould drop to 1/2 in your environment. We do maintain about 75 degrees (chilly wife factor).
Securing 12-14 cord of wood is an easy task up here.


DeadCarp    Posted 03-19-2003 at 08:31:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
Any moisture problems with that setup Mark? Our neighbor has a nice snug house, not hard to heat but the walls tend to sweat inside. Of course, he has lotsa breathing kids and this is Minnesota. Seems like if attic insulation gets over 12" thick, moisture can be a headache too. need more turbines to keep it moving.
I'm not too surprised at Jimbob's wood use - we figure about 12 cords/year on average. Coupla winters ago, we didn't get over 20 below (wind chill considered) for a month, so it took a couple cords extra that year - but everybody's giving away lot wood and we gather our own.


Willy-N    Posted 03-19-2003 at 12:00:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have to put water on the stove to bring the moisture up during the winter inside the house. I live in a dry area and have no problems with moisture anywhere. I checked the attic for dampness and it is dry under it. My craw space is dusty it is so dry. My neibors use 6-8 cords to heat there places and at 85.00 a cord for Tamerack that adds up fast. I leave windows open all the time. We get bad winds 15-20 average and 30-45+ during the winter and off and on every other day all year. My walls are dry as a bone but the ty/vac only lets air in the water molicul is to big to go thru the membrain surface. Mark H.


DeadCarp    Posted 03-18-2003 at 22:13:53       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi Scott, we're wrestling with a similar problem and would like a house that can be heated with a Bic lighter next winter. (Okay, maybe a bit more, but that's ideal. :)
Tradition offers one good option: 8"wall made with staggered studs, with fiberglas insulaton "weaved" between the studs.
The redimix people have another good option: 2" styrofoam form boards with plastic ties every 8 inches, then pour 8" of pump mix in the cavity.
I'm getting ready to experiment with a third option: Concrete with straw mixed right in, rather like papercrete only we have way more straw handy. I'd probably cast blocks of it and use the same mix for mortar.
So far, those look pretty good, though they all have drawbacks.
Based on the place we have, I CAN say with some certainty that the BEST location for windows is the southeast wall, so load that side. (I'll build it to take advantage of the rising sun) I'll keep you folks posted as we go.


Lazy Al    Posted 03-18-2003 at 16:29:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
I guess that foam has improved since the old days but I have seen where that was installed
and in a few years it shrunk away to just about half . so you had a 14inch space with 7 inches
of foam in it .worthless If I was building a house and I'm not I would put 2x6 outside walls and put half inch sliver backed foam on the inside and dry wall over that and blow the walls full of blown in insulation . Then spend my money on high E windows . Like Mike says you can get it to tight I would put an electric heater in one room like a hall way ceiling that gets it's air from the out side . Which helps with humidifing too That would make fresh air comming in any time it's on They make a box the goes around your outlet boxes that I would put on the out side walls too. Seem like there's always a draft comming in those .
Then Blow in insulation in the ceiling and VENT your atic very well
Al


Jimbob    Posted 03-18-2003 at 14:00:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
The foam sheets are excellent insulation, but costly. We heat with wood, very inexpensive.


Word of caution-    Posted 03-18-2003 at 12:08:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
O.K.- for you tight house freaks-
It is not good to have a house too tight. Causes mold, traps moisture never intened to be trapped.
A house needs to breath. A few leaks of fresh air is a great benefit to your health, not to mention the health of the structure. I have a hard time with the 'new-age' building gurus that promote a zero infiltration structure. You are heading for trouble if you build a house tight enough to have static air. I've been building and bending nails for over 30 years, and I'll tell you upfront: don't build too tight. Just like you don't wear your clothes too tight. 'Bout the same dam thing.
Mike D.

p.s. stone on the north face... board & batton on the south face. south facing windows. try to put a woodstove in your basement to convey heat through the floors. have the ability to open all windows from either the top or the bottom. stay away from single operating sash windows, and casements. you need to control convection. keep your home somewhat moist in the winter and dry in the summer....

hard learned lessons to some folks- you can build a 'sick house'. I've seen it aplenty. Mike D. from Virginia.


VaTom    Posted 03-18-2003 at 18:49:57       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hey Mike,

Don't know if I'm a "new age building guru" but I build extremely tight concrete underground houses in central Va. They get an air system that provides a 2 hr total airchange. When you couple the ventilation with an air-to-air heat exchanger, a filter for pollens, and a dehumidifier, I get a house that needs close to no heat and no ac with air so fresh inside visitors frequently notice it, all for a few hundred bucks. You're right about the need for fresh air, but there's a better way to provide it. My north faces are nothing but dirt. Lots of glass on the south (15% of footprint) without overheating, due to the increased mass. A house ought to keep you dry, warm in the winter, cool in the summer, have no exterior maintenance, and cost nothing to operate. I'm very close.

Tom (tight house freak- mostly because it's easy to build this way)


BOSS    Posted 03-18-2003 at 17:33:40       [Reply]  [No Email]
Mikes right. not only what he said, but the pilot lights in the dryer, furnace, and stove will suck the air right out of the house. If you make it too tight the inspector will make you put in 4-6 inch combustion air vents.
Tight houses aren't as good as they once thought.
I'm partial to batts myself, they don't settle, and if they get wet, they hold little water, not like blown in, it acts like a sponge and when it gets wet, it all settles to the bottom of the wall.
Now the spray foam is good for the roof, it does void the shingle warranty, but what shingle manufacturer covers their warranty anymore anyways ???


Robert    Posted 03-18-2003 at 15:38:49       [Reply]  [No Email]
Personally, i'd rather build it tight and if needed leave a window cracked. At least "i" get a choise that way. There's always a little leakage from around doors, the exaust fan in the bath room, above the kitchen stove, and dryer vent too.
Of course, building them in the cold north isn't always the same way they do them in the southern states either, especially with the vapor berrier.
Robert


Scott Hansen    Posted 03-18-2003 at 12:20:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
What is a single operating sash window?


well,    Posted 03-18-2003 at 13:20:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
those are those cheap vinyl jobs that only one of the 2 sashes opens and closes.


Jim in Michigan    Posted 03-18-2003 at 09:46:25       [Reply]  [Send Email]
We are going to be building a new house in the next 2 years, I have found a package deal that is roughly 24x32 big enough for the 2 of us, it is 6000 for the basic structure, then we have the inside to do on our own,, it is 2x6 walls, we plan on insulating between the studs, maybe blue board on the outside and house rap, then the siding, I have discussed it with some local contractors and they say it is a good idea, we will also insulate the crawlspace above the ceilings and use plywood for the roof with rainguard and metal roofing, I do not like chip board so I will use all plywood construction. It looks to be roughly 12000 to build it, with me doing the work myself, thats not including furniture or the septic, the basement and septic my nieghbor and I will dig with his backhoe I am building everything so that I can add on should my family increase in size,Interior will be all drywall due to fire resistance,as a fire fighter I see the benefit to this,I will heat the house with propane as natural gas is not available, but I do plan on placing a decorative wood burner in the living room area just for looks and the nice warmth they give off,,,Jim


kathy in illinois    Posted 03-19-2003 at 06:04:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Sounds terrific...wish I were builsing a house...well, no I don't, I love my house, and the chicken coop honey and I built last summer 'bout did us in. But if I were building a house I would...

Use those insulated foam panels on the outside of the basement walls...they are relatively inexpensive, and make a HUGE difference in the liveabilaty of the basement...have bedrooms in the basement...nice and cool in the summer. Have EXTRA-LARGE window wells to bring added outside light to the basement. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE GOOD LIGHTING OVER THE KITCHEN COUNTERS! I can't see a darned thing!

Have a great time planning, dreaming and building
Kathy


Jim in Michigan    Posted 03-19-2003 at 08:00:24       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks Kathy,,right now we live in a 14x70 mobil home, Its on 40 acres belonging to my family, My parents also have a house on this land. We are planning on building here somewhere because we already own the land, and with property at over 1000 a acre here right now there is now way I could buy land. Plus I have all my critters in the barn. My parents had a Grade A dairy here when I was growing up but quit due to my mothers health, she is crippled by RA and osteo as well as having both forms of lupus. She is in poor health and my dad has heart problems, so I live near them and take care of them by doing all the chores they need done and such,,so I am building here to be near them so I can help...Jim


Robert in W. Mi    Posted 03-18-2003 at 11:29:11       [Reply]  [No Email]
You are doing it exactly the way i did it, except i have a 6 mil vapor berrior under the rock, and i'm NOT fond of metal roofs! I also i used 5/8" sheet rock, because it lays much flatter, and most of all the fire rateing it SO MUCH BETTER than 1/2"!!
Use good windows and doors too, as it all adds up to a nice easily heated tight house!!
The extra you spend now on getting it right will easily pay off in heating and cooling bills later!!!
Robert


BOSS    Posted 03-18-2003 at 17:36:37       [Reply]  [No Email]
Rob, where are you at in W. MI???

I'm in Rockford.


Robert in W. Mi    Posted 03-20-2003 at 20:28:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
Not far from Casnovia.
Robert


Hal/WA    Posted 03-18-2003 at 16:50:26       [Reply]  [No Email]
I use 5/8" drywall for ceilings, as it does not sag as much between ceiling joists on 2' centers. The thicker drywall gives better fire resistance. But I can't see much reason to use 5/8" on the walls. 1/2" is cheaper and is easier to handle.

On my last ceiling job I had to get the sheets more than 12 feet off the floor. I had heard of using a machine to place the panels before, but had always just manhandled them and used a 2x4 T. For the high ceiling, I rented a drywall lifter, which lifts the panels up as high as you need and is light enough to jockey the panels in place from the floor. Then you climb the ladder, put in a few drywall screws, and move on to the next panel. I could not believe how much easier it was than my former method. I was able to put up the whole ceiling in a few hours, working alone. Rental for 24 hours was about $25, and I could easily transport the tool in my pickup. Needless to say, I will never do another drywall ceiling without renting such a tool. Neat!

Another suggestion I would have for someone who is new to working drywall is to start taping and mudding in a bedroom or less used room. After you have learned how to do the job pretty well, then go on to the most public rooms of the house. I have never got it down to the point where I don't have to sand at all, but at this point, I am pretty close. The least amount of sanding dust is extremely important if you are living in the house as you work on it. The sanding dust is hard to clean up and seems to get everywhere. Gotta keep Momma happy...

The house I built is extremely tight and built to be energy efficient. But I built in an outside air inlet that goes through the cold air return system of my gas furnace. That way, every time the furnace ignites, it sucks in a bunch of outside air to replace the combustion air that goes up the chimney. It works the same way whenever we turn on an exhaust fan. But with the house as tight as it is everywhere else, we don't lose very much warmed air otherwise. I have always thought that the air quality in the house was excellent. Good luck with your projects.


Salmoneye    Posted 03-18-2003 at 10:28:35       [Reply]  [Send Email]
You going to have a bapour barrier beneath the drywall?


Scott Hansen    Posted 03-18-2003 at 10:03:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Is there a web site?


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