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Would you help me with ideas renovating this house? - mediterranean homesteading

 
Posts: 225
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Hello everybody!

As some of you know, we have a family property in Denia, Alicante, a big town (or small city) in the mediterranean coast. I started last year to try to revitalize the land, with some food forest / syntropic planting and for this season we want to give a try to spend more time (mostly all the time) there. The property had two houses. The big house is where my grandparents lived and currently belongs to my father. It had an annex house wich was for the guards that my grandfather had (casa de los guardeses, in spanish). This annex house is the one that I am renovating. It has two floors. Ground floor was the living area and upper floor was a while ago for hay storage (you can even see a hook in one of the pictures, used to take hay up and down) and after that is was kind of "store everything" place. After my grandad death it had many uses without further renovating: it was rented, it had different workers living there, even my aunt lived there for a while. Always in the ground floor.

Now, we want to renovate it and make it a nice place to live, but we have also some goals that can be shared with people in this forum. I've read people building from scratch and studying everything, but here the main challenge is that we have to work with what we have. We want to be as efficient as possible (ready for winter and summer) and as "off grid" as possible.

We are at sea level. Mediterranean climate. 600-700mm of rain each year (a bit rainier than other mediterranean areas). 10ºc being the minimum temperature in winter, 28ºc maximum average in summer, can reach 34/35 during heat waves. Heavy southwest wind from late August to October (llebeig wind). I'd say wind is the worse climate issue that we have. And the "cold drop", heavy rain in September/October. From Late September until May we have frequent rain. May to September, not a single drop. 15 July to 15 August can be very hot, even the temperature is not super high compared to central Spain, the humidity creates a hotter feeling.

For this project, my aunt has helped us with planning the works and making the plans. But she is not considering the efficient and offgrid issues that we have, and as she is helping us "gratis total", I dont want to bother her more. And I find it fun to share it here in permies.com, where I can find people with similar points of view .

In picture 1 you can see the facade. Main door faces east. . Picture 2 is the back side , facing west. The terrace and the curved wall belong to the main house. Picture 3 is the south side, wich has the kitcheen door and kitchen window. North wall is adjacent to the main house and it has a closed window faced to the main house patio. I dont know the name in english, it is not a proper window, it is just to have light coming in from there (it had a window before). Picture 4 is west side again, a door that communicates with the patio terrace (main house) .

GROUND FLOOR

Is where everybody lived in the different stages and where we want to move fast (now we are in the big house, but we aim for our own space and privacy). We took most of the walls away , I don't know if it was the smartest decision from a sustainable and efficient point of view but it felt claustrophobic inside, with many walls and withouth any light flowing. Pictures 5 to 11 you have the plans of after and before, some pictures before the works and some pictures of the work done till now.

Our concerns with the ground floor are:

1.- Heating. This house, and the main house, are ready to be cool in summer, wich is great, but are terrible for winter. Humid and cold. So it is like whoever the builder was (it was built in 1890, and my great grand mother purchased it in the 1940`s) knew the mediterranean manual for summer... but ignored it for winter! As you can see, there is a fireplace. My aun used it and we use it in the mainhouse, but it is not very efficient. My parents renovated it and made it a kalfire with some tubes to heat other rooms. We could do something like that, or we could put a woodstove, or a rocket stove.

2.- Kitchen. Gas? Solar powered? (we are putting solar panels) , woodstove kitchen? We have access to wood and woodchips. Gas is great for cooking but don't want to be dependent on going to buy it. Ceramic hob, powered by sun, can be work, but I prefer some kind of fire. But also, there are some concerns. One, as my wife says "it is cool to take wood for long cooks or baking, but it is a pain in the ass for a simple omelette". Two, woodstove can be very hot in summer. So another option we are considering is placing just outside the south door (wich is the kitchen door) an outdoors bbq place and stove. But, again, if we have a fireplace, rocket stove, wood stove, for winter, it could make sense to adapt it to cook... here it is not super cold, but if you want some baked potatoes in winter we will not be in the mood to bake them outdoors in January.

3.- Floor. One mediterranean tradition is cooked clay floor (is it terracotta in English? I think you use this, wich is the Italian name). I think it is good for humidity, and for isolation, and for more things. It is expensive, but it might be the way to go . I think this house was once this way, but at some point my grandma decided to change it for stoneware . Maybe she needed to renovate it and thought that is was cheaper. We will have stoneware in the kitchen and wc (we needed to do that fast, and the terracotta needed more time and thinking), and the terracotta can be done next in the other rooms

4.- Humidity. Humidity is a big issue here, so any ideas of materials for this will be welcome. I think that using lime mortar (wich was once typical here) can be also useful

And well, any ideas on the ground floor are welcome, even though this floor is more advanced, but we still have decisions and margin.

UPPER FLOOR

This is where the mambo starts. If ground floor needs blitzkrieg action (hire people and move fast in order to have our family place and privacy), in the upper floor we can be creative and take our time. For this floor, we are more in the mood of going step by step as we can and if we can do it ourselves, better than hiring other people as we did til now. The upper floor was used for hay storage and then everything storage. You can see how it was some months ago, bare soil and bare walls, and lots of old stuff. Pictures 12 and 13 are the now and after, being the after only some ideas as nothing has been done yet (so we can change everything). There is a door communicating with the main house patio terrace (pic 16) and the big window  in the facade that you can see on picture 1. There are some small walls and nothing else. We had to make changes in the roof to proof it (lots of problems with the heavy rain, so we had to do it now). We will have to install a whole ground as now is too weak, so we have to reinforce it and work on it. But, from that point, we are open to everything. With this plans and distribution, with what we have already? How to keep it cool? How to heat it in the cold months? How to keep it biodinamic? Wich materials for walls, ground, etc? What do you think? With the upper floor, we are totally open, we want to keep the mediterranean touch but we want to make is as efficient as possible.

WATER

Other thing that worries me (I can sleep, though) is about water. How to be off grid with water and with this house? What can be done? Gray Water, Black Water, Todo Water, I am completely newbie to all of this and don't know what can be done and what can't. For the trees, we have our own water will. But for the house, we are connected to the local government. And I hate that.


If you have make it so far and want to help us with
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Location: Pacific Wet Coast
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Antonio, I'm afraid I will need to ask you some questions:
Can you get a good enough picture of your PDF floor plans to post them as pictures? Apparently if I try to embed them, they will no longer be able to be downloaded.
Do they have lots of measurements on them? Measurements would be helpful.
You use the term "biodynamic" which implies to me that you want natural materials. The issue is that then you have no insulation or thermal break. Thermal mass inside an insulated envelope helps to hold heat and release it gently (which is what makes RMH's keep an area warm for multiple days from a single firing. One older home I know, has lots of thermal mass but zero insulation, and it requires a lot of energy to both keep it warm and keep it cool. A different house I know has no thermal mass and it's quick to warm up, but equally quick to cool. The house I currently live in has a concrete basement floor with no insulation under the concrete - it will hold some heat from our wood-stove, but once it's cold, it takes a lot of time and wood to warm it back up. If the builders had put insulation under it, it would have made a huge difference. Those are the sorts of things you need to consider. I'm definitely in favor of thermal mass, but figuring out the where's and how's will be the challenge. I'm also in favor of natural materials, but I'm willing to compromise a little for the sake of efficient use of time and energy.

Having just watched a series about water security and ground water infiltration and storage, I would strongly recommend you consider how to manage rainfall. "Water gardens" designed to infiltrate water rather than letting it run off (Brad Lancaster's work is one example) is key, but looking at what's available as large, cost-effective water storage tanks on or in your land could make a big difference. With weather weirding, rainfall/drought is getting much harder to predict. Storing water in the soil is the cheapest approach, but if that water is going into an aquifer that others can access, you may find the water you so carefully infiltrated won't be there to help you. That is still better than just letting it run off, but I'm suggesting a two-pronged approach.
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 225
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
43
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Jay Angler wrote:Antonio, I'm afraid I will need to ask you some questions:
Can you get a good enough picture of your PDF floor plans to post them as pictures? Apparently if I try to embed them, they will no longer be able to be downloaded.
Do they have lots of measurements on them? Measurements would be helpful.
You use the term "biodynamic" which implies to me that you want natural materials. The issue is that then you have no insulation or thermal break. Thermal mass inside an insulated envelope helps to hold heat and release it gently (which is what makes RMH's keep an area warm for multiple days from a single firing. One older home I know, has lots of thermal mass but zero insulation, and it requires a lot of energy to both keep it warm and keep it cool. A different house I know has no thermal mass and it's quick to warm up, but equally quick to cool. The house I currently live in has a concrete basement floor with no insulation under the concrete - it will hold some heat from our wood-stove, but once it's cold, it takes a lot of time and wood to warm it back up. If the builders had put insulation under it, it would have made a huge difference. Those are the sorts of things you need to consider. I'm definitely in favor of thermal mass, but figuring out the where's and how's will be the challenge. I'm also in favor of natural materials, but I'm willing to compromise a little for the sake of efficient use of time and energy.

Having just watched a series about water security and ground water infiltration and storage, I would strongly recommend you consider how to manage rainfall. "Water gardens" designed to infiltrate water rather than letting it run off (Brad Lancaster's work is one example) is key, but looking at what's available as large, cost-effective water storage tanks on or in your land could make a big difference. With weather weirding, rainfall/drought is getting much harder to predict. Storing water in the soil is the cheapest approach, but if that water is going into an aquifer that others can access, you may find the water you so carefully infiltrated won't be there to help you. That is still better than just letting it run off, but I'm suggesting a two-pronged approach.



Hola Jay!

Here you have again the floor plans. I will consider all that you are saying and share it with my wife, she is the smart one here :) I dont need it to be “full biodinamic”, what I mean is as natural as possible. But long term efficiency and self sufficiency are the primal goals

6EEABFF6-3860-402D-B80B-99EE4057C4A2.jpeg
Ground before
Ground before
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Ground after
Ground after
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Upper before
Upper before
A586427C-CDD4-4838-A487-50DB7CC322B1.jpeg
Upper after
Upper after
 
pollinator
Posts: 3554
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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Looks like a great project.
I have some ideas to think about,
INSULATE
- The ceiling in the top area, its my guess the heat will pour through those tiles.
- Double glaze windows
- think about insulating the walls of some rooms on the inside with a panel of insulation and then a new wall treatment. It could be done by putting up a stud wall
 or fastening insulation panels directly to the wall and lime plastering over them as per specifications.
- Seal any drafts through doors and windows
WATER
Study rainfall collection and storage, benefits-rainfall-collection
Many people may scoff at the topic, but it works well in Australia [ rainfall at my place 450mm ] and many other places.

I have some questions as well;
- what is the water supply now?
- Is there a cistern on the property?
- Is it practical in winter to leave the heating on all winter and warm the walls etc.
 Yes some will leak out but hydronic heating which is used a lot in Europe may work for you.
- What is a practical heating fuel in the area?
- Have you looked at Masonary heaters or even the Rocket heaters promoted on the Permies site?
 
pollinator
Posts: 463
Location: Málaga, Spain
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Wow, lots of things to say.

My first issue is with the tree in the south side. Is it caducious? Doesn't look like it is. Otherwise, it will not let the winter sun heat your house. If you want a passively heated house, you need windows opened to the south.
I understand that the main house is to the west, so there's little you can do on that side. If I'm right, you have a solid wall on the north side for privacy, since that's where the central patio is located.

Your architect has designed crossed ventilation from east to west. If I'm right, you usually have a nice breeze coming from the East, so the house is oriented towards this breeze.
I would not touch this designed ventilation. Your kitchen has already a shunt chimney and it's on the West side, reinforcing this flow. Each floor has its own crossed ventilation, so there's going to be little communication between floors.

I would like to know whether the main house patio is cool. It should be, if it is a squared enclosure without a roof. If it is, then you could use it as a source of cool air.

Floor layout is personal so I won't comment on that. Waterproofing your house is outside my knowledge.


I would consider:
1.- Thinning or removing the tree to the south, in case it is not decidious. It's making your house colder than it should be.
2.- Opening windows in the south wall. Not only it gives more light, but it will be proper heat (sunny in winter, shade in summer). This windows you don't need to open for ventilation, so they could be just plain glasses.
3.- Equipping your windows with blinds. They will add an extra insulation in winter when you light up the fireplace.
4.- Installing a false ceiling in the upper floor. The ceiling is too high and it will make your house very cold in winter. If you can, open a window on the wall between the false ceiling and the roof. This window is just for cooling the space in summer (open windows), or heating in winter (closed windows). This means your false ceiling should be removable.
5.- Reopening the window to the central patio, if you feel like you need extra coolness in summer.
6.- Attaching a mini greenhouse to the eastern wall windows. This greenhouse has a balcony closure in one side and your house windows in the other. In summer you open the closure and manage your house windows depending on whether you like the wind, in winter you close the closure and open the house windows, so it stores heat that comes into the house. As a plus, you might use this greenhouse as an actual greenhouse.
7.- I would use a gas stove for the most part. A bottle of butane will last you a whole year if it is just for cooking. Outside the kitchen, near one of the kitchen's windows, you may install a rocket stove for cooking in summer. Being near the kitchen's window you can take anything you need from the kitchen easily. It may double as a BBQ.
8.- A rocket mass heater is the most efficient thing you can have without electronics, and the model of Peter van den Berg is just beautiful and efficient. Even if you go for a conventional model, make it store heat in materials with high thermal inertia.
 
John C Daley
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Abraham,

caducious

do you mean deciduous? Drops leaves in winter.
I never like to see tress altered or removed to suit humans!

I think the window in the south wall and the green house on the east side is clever.
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 225
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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John C Daley wrote:Looks like a great project.
I have some ideas to think about,
INSULATE
- The ceiling in the top area, its my guess the heat will pour through those tiles.
- Double glaze windows
- think about insulating the walls of some rooms on the inside with a panel of insulation and then a new wall treatment. It could be done by putting up a stud wall
 or fastening insulation panels directly to the wall and lime plastering over them as per specifications.
- Seal any drafts through doors and windows
WATER
Study rainfall collection and storage, benefits-rainfall-collection
Many people may scoff at the topic, but it works well in Australia [ rainfall at my place 450mm ] and many other places.

I have some questions as well;
- what is the water supply now?
- Is there a cistern on the property?
- Is it practical in winter to leave the heating on all winter and warm the walls etc.
 Yes some will leak out but hydronic heating which is used a lot in Europe may work for you.
- What is a practical heating fuel in the area?
- Have you looked at Masonary heaters or even the Rocket heaters promoted on the Permies site?



Hola John!

- Ceiling in the top area, we will work now isolating the roof tiles, so that might do the job
- double gaze windows, yes, that is on plan
- insulation walls. It was not planned, but we decided two days ago to do the lime mortar thing, do you think this might be enough?
- Sealing drafts: could you go further on this?
- water collection, we are now studying all about this, as we are new on the subject. I think I will have tonread a lot

Questions

- Water Supply: municipal water
- cistern: what kind of cistern do you mean?
- is it practical to leave the heating on in winter? I dont know, I guess it depends on how long. We were considering this hydronic heating as we will have to work on the floor, the so called “suelo radiante”. I dont know if it is the best option or not
- what is practical heating fuel in the area? I dont know if it is practical, but the traditional way was the fireplace, and many people are transitioning to woodstoves, or renovating the fireplace into “inserts”. Now lot of people are installing “hot/cold air conditioners” wich I dont like. And “radiador de silicio” (silicon radiator? The translation does not fit, but this are some kind of stone radiators plugged to the electric grid. So Inguess the main heating fuel is electricity, wich I dont like as there are growing electricity cuts and the prizes are going crazy
- Masonry, rocket, woodstove and this kind of heaters promoted on permies: yes, I am looking to them and hope to have this decided by the end of the week

Thanks a lot!
 
Antonio Hache
Posts: 225
Location: Denia, Alicante, Spain. Zone 10. 22m height
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Abraham Palma wrote:Wow, lots of things to say.

My first issue is with the tree in the south side. Is it caducious? Doesn't look like it is. Otherwise, it will not let the winter sun heat your house. If you want a passively heated house, you need windows opened to the south.
I understand that the main house is to the west, so there's little you can do on that side. If I'm right, you have a solid wall on the north side for privacy, since that's where the central patio is located.

Your architect has designed crossed ventilation from east to west. If I'm right, you usually have a nice breeze coming from the East, so the house is oriented towards this breeze.
I would not touch this designed ventilation. Your kitchen has already a shunt chimney and it's on the West side, reinforcing this flow. Each floor has its own crossed ventilation, so there's going to be little communication between floors.

I would like to know whether the main house patio is cool. It should be, if it is a squared enclosure without a roof. If it is, then you could use it as a source of cool air.

Floor layout is personal so I won't comment on that. Waterproofing your house is outside my knowledge.


I would consider:
1.- Thinning or removing the tree to the south, in case it is not decidious. It's making your house colder than it should be.
2.- Opening windows in the south wall. Not only it gives more light, but it will be proper heat (sunny in winter, shade in summer). This windows you don't need to open for ventilation, so they could be just plain glasses.
3.- Equipping your windows with blinds. They will add an extra insulation in winter when you light up the fireplace.
4.- Installing a false ceiling in the upper floor. The ceiling is too high and it will make your house very cold in winter. If you can, open a window on the wall between the false ceiling and the roof. This window is just for cooling the space in summer (open windows), or heating in winter (closed windows). This means your false ceiling should be removable.
5.- Reopening the window to the central patio, if you feel like you need extra coolness in summer.
6.- Attaching a mini greenhouse to the eastern wall windows. This greenhouse has a balcony closure in one side and your house windows in the other. In summer you open the closure and manage your house windows depending on whether you like the wind, in winter you close the closure and open the house windows, so it stores heat that comes into the house. As a plus, you might use this greenhouse as an actual greenhouse.
7.- I would use a gas stove for the most part. A bottle of butane will last you a whole year if it is just for cooking. Outside the kitchen, near one of the kitchen's windows, you may install a rocket stove for cooking in summer. Being near the kitchen's window you can take anything you need from the kitchen easily. It may double as a BBQ.
8.- A rocket mass heater is the most efficient thing you can have without electronics, and the model of Peter van den Berg is just beautiful and efficient. Even if you go for a conventional model, make it store heat in materials with high thermal inertia.



Hola Abraham!

1. It is a Tipuana Tipu. It is semi decidious (loses most of the leaves), but it is also a protected tree (I have many of this) as it could be one of the eldest Tipuanas in Denia. It is catalogued by the local government. So, not to remove. But being decidious, no worries

2. We will open one in the upper floor, I think is “V10” on the plans

3. Yes! Long live to blinds

4. This might be tricky as the wooden beams are very appreciated in the area and our property , being more than hundred years old, should preserve this kind of traditional things

5. Ups! We sealed it. From previous experience we found it bad for privacy, as it connected to the main room, so people cooking in the patio knew all the intimacies of previous inhabitants

6. Could you develop more this? I cant visualize it. East side is the main entrance

7. I am divided with this. For one side, I like cooking with gas. Much better. For the other side, I dont want to be dependend on buying the “butano”, one, because I do live like a hermit, two, if things go crazy with fuel I want to have my alternative ready. I could have it anyway, but it should be integrated with the other options (so I will have plan a, b, c…). Also, I am kind of in love wich wood cooking in winter, but this might be too much to deal with. You know, the fire burning, the blanket and the smell of the wood while we are roasting a lamb leag. So I was wondering how could I have all the alternatives in place. There is a mix of “I like it” reasons and also this “two is one, and one is none” in cases of crisis. But I dont know how to integrate all this

8. Yes, we will install some of this. I dont know if there are commercial models. And we are thinking in the option of integrating it with the existing fireplace, to take advantage of it

Other questions

- You told me about planting vines. Would you plant them somewhere?

- I was thinking in working out something in the main house patio. My mother wanted to renovate it, and make it more like a roman patio could be useful for both houses, even though we closed the window
 
John C Daley
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Doors and windows can have cracks the air can pass through. At times of extreme weathers they can suck or pump a lot of heat in or out.
I will get something to show you,

Water collection from rain is one of my strengths, and I am an advocate for it world wide. Ask we anything and will try to help.

Cisterns can be many things;
- an above ground water tank
- an in ground water storage system
- a small storage tank for flushing toilets.
In this context I meant a water storage system either above or below ground.
HYDRONIC heating is often done via panels bolted to the wall rather than pipes under the floor. I think the panels are used because of the heavy stone walls and the ease at which pipes can be incorporated through the house.
The primary boiler can be fueled by gas, wood, oil


Your silicone heater may be what we called "heat banks", where the bricks were heated at night with lower cost electricity and used during the day by running a fan through the hot bricks.
They are not used today.
I would not rush the heating system, other than floor systems all the others take time to order and install so you can go slowly on them at this point.
Open fires are extremely inefficient and trendy [ popular ]
Steel box heaters are very efficient by comparison,
Masonry heaters are very well known around Europe, Russia, Balkans and may be called Russian heaters.
Rocket Mass Heaters are also as good as the Masonry but not as complex.
 
John C Daley
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What is a Rocket Mass heater
 
Abraham Palma
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4. This might be tricky as the wooden beams are very appreciated in the area and our property , being more than hundred years old, should preserve this kind of traditional things

5. Ups! We sealed it. From previous experience we found it bad for privacy, as it connected to the main room, so people cooking in the patio knew all the intimacies of previous inhabitants

6. Could you develop more this? I cant visualize it. East side is the main entrance

7. I am divided with this. For one side, I like cooking with gas. Much better. For the other side, I dont want to be dependend on buying the “butano”, one, because I do live like a hermit, two, if things go crazy with fuel I want to have my alternative ready. I could have it anyway, but it should be integrated with the other options (so I will have plan a, b, c…). Also, I am kind of in love wich wood cooking in winter, but this might be too much to deal with. You know, the fire burning, the blanket and the smell of the wood while we are roasting a lamb leag. So I was wondering how could I have all the alternatives in place. There is a mix of “I like it” reasons and also this “two is one, and one is none” in cases of crisis. But I dont know how to integrate all this



2.- Isn't that window like too small? Windows in the south wall are usually bright the whole day, but since you can't do anything about the tree, that's for you to decide if it is worth to have more openings to that side.
4.- I am not saying to remove the beams. Just placing a removable false ceiling at 250cm height to insulate you from the roof. It will make your ceiling lower and it will be warmer in winter. I'd added an example.
5.- Your house is cool, anyways.
6.- Look at the attached photo.
7.- Well, you only have to buy one bottle per year, maybe less if you do the bulk of your cooking with wood. You can even store 3 or 4 extra bottles for safety. I think the convenience here trumps. Maybe in a future you won't have access to this gas, and it is good that you have alternatives, but meanwhile, why not enjoying making omelettes without hussle? Also, have you seen Mad Max III? As long as you have cattle, you can have gas.
Attached-greenhouse.jpg
a small greenhouse attached to one of the house windows.
a small greenhouse attached to one of the house windows.
ceiling.jpg
a man installing removable ceiling tiles.
a man installing removable ceiling tiles.
 
Antonio Hache
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John C Daley wrote:Doors and windows can have cracks the air can pass through. At times of extreme weathers they can suck or pump a lot of heat in or out.
I will get something to show you,


Water collection from rain is one of my strengths, and I am an advocate for it world wide. Ask we anything and will try to help.

Cisterns can be many things;
- an above ground water tank
- an in ground water storage system
- a small storage tank for flushing toilets.
In this context I meant a water storage system either above or below ground.
HYDRONIC heating is often done via panels bolted to the wall rather than pipes under the floor. I think the panels are used because of the heavy stone walls and the ease at which pipes can be incorporated through the house.
The primary boiler can be fueled by gas, wood, oil


Your silicone heater may be what we called "heat banks", where the bricks were heated at night with lower cost electricity and used during the day by running a fan through the hot bricks.
They are not used today.
I would not rush the heating system, other than floor systems all the others take time to order and install so you can go slowly on them at this point.
Open fires are extremely inefficient and trendy [ popular ]
Steel box heaters are very efficient by comparison,
Masonry heaters are very well known around Europe, Russia, Balkans and may be called Russian heaters.
Rocket Mass Heaters are also as good as the Masonry but not as complex.



Hello again!

Sealing: Ok, now I get it.

Cistern: No, we don't have anything. We have a cesspool, and that's all

Water: I take your word on this, as I am very interested. It might need a monographic, but I want to give it a try. It is not the next step at the moment, but it is definitively a step in mind.

Masonry Stove: Do you think that we could take advantage on the current fire place and place it somewhere there? Here are two pictures, one with the original ground floor and another after some works have been done. I was thinking that there is the logical place to be (pictures below)
IMG_4969.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_4969.jpg]
IMG_8308.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_8308.jpg]
 
Antonio Hache
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Abraham Palma wrote:



2.- Isn't that window like too small? Windows in the south wall are usually bright the whole day, but since you can't do anything about the tree, that's for you to decide if it is worth to have more openings to that side.
4.- I am not saying to remove the beams. Just placing a removable false ceiling at 250cm height to insulate you from the roof. It will make your ceiling lower and it will be warmer in winter. I'd added an example.
5.- Your house is cool, anyways.
6.- Look at the attached photo.
7.- Well, you only have to buy one bottle per year, maybe less if you do the bulk of your cooking with wood. You can even store 3 or 4 extra bottles for safety. I think the convenience here trumps. Maybe in a future you won't have access to this gas, and it is good that you have alternatives, but meanwhile, why not enjoying making omelettes without hussle? Also, have you seen Mad Max III? As long as you have cattle, you can have gas.



2. Right now the window is nonexistan, so we can make it as we want.
4. We will study it. The video is quite useful
6. Ok, I get it, but , in the main door?
7. Mad Max III totally convinced me. My wife will be happy on this point
 
Abraham Palma
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6. Ok, I get it, but , in the main door?



Not the door. One of the windows on the front wall.

I would have chosen a different wall, in different scenarios. Let's consider your windows.
- The one to the west is coming from the kitchen, that's a good place for your outdoors kitchen, and it's next to your parents house. Maaybe you could place the greenhouse here instead, but it's not ideal.
- The one(s) to the south have no insolation, thanks to the tree. Otherwise, it would have been a perfect location. No sun, no heat.
- The wall to the east have two windows and a door. You can place it in one of the front windows unless you are very worried about the aesthetics. I think this is the best location since your house ventilation is going from east to west, so in this location you will be drawing hot air from the greenhouse and pumping it naturally inside the ground floor. It won't be as much effective on the west wall.
- You don't have any window facing north, but a greenhouse there would not have been very useful either.

If you dislike the aesthetics of a greenhouse, you may consider then a small enclosed terrace (see picture). It's also called a porch extension, when it's on the ground floor. It's more or less the same thing, but you place a few comfy chairs and a round table inside so you can enjoy your patio in winter while having a hot drink. Don't make it with bricks though, or you might be asked if you had permission to increase your building area.
porch-extension.jpg
a beautiful room extension, with the same aesthetic as the rest of the house.
a beautiful room extension, with the same aesthetic as the rest of the house.
 
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A nice looking project.
I just finished putting 160mm of rock wool onto the face of an old building here in East Bohemia. The other sides were done last year. As we covered each apartment everyone noticed they got warmer. We were using breathable mortar to stick it to the face of the building and then we drilled in the fasteners to hold it for long term and then we did two thin coats of mortar with a mesh, which is also breathable. I highly recommend putting that on your building and then your thermal mass can work well. Maybe add some earth tubes for extra summer cooling.
I’m currently rebuilding the family house over here and we found out that the factories have shut for a while and when they come back online the price will go up by at least 15%. So we found it through the websites where people sell building stuff. We’ve got half now and still looking for the rest. The price has already gone up 25% so we are scrambling to avoid the next rise. If you are interested in doing this, then start looking and buying as soon as you can if you want to save. Rock wool or something like it will breath nicely and help you avoid the mold problems with styrofoam.
Oh and check your beams in the floors. What I see from the pictures seems good, 9 out 10 were bad in mine so all the floors were torn up and rebuilt by me. Took a while and was extra work, but I don’t want to visit the in-laws downstairs the quick way.
I really like how Anna Edey dealt with her black water. But there are many great solutions out there.
I’m sure you can find some stuff by Art Ludwig here on the forums, I’ve got some of his books and one is on building cisterns. You have plenty of rainfall where you are.
Beautiful area too, I’ve been there about 5 years ago.
Good luck!
 
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Picture #11 shows a really nice gentle arch and that could be done with brick, stone, or wall board to show just a 3" to 4" wide arch. Somehow these things tend to "open up" a room even though the wall is a dead end.

Of course the older homes had no insulation either. You may would lose a lot of floor space by build interior walls with sprayed foam insulation of a high density. Keeps rooms warm in winter and cool in summer. You might could get some bucks off from the contractor and/or government for installing the insulation also.

Go here for some ideas:  
https://www.monolithic.org/homes/featured-homes/there-s-a-dome-of-a-home-going-up-on-pensacola-beach

The above is just the starting point. Don't pay attention to the outside of the homes. Look at what various people have done to the interiors. And, they do have some Med. country styles there too.
 
John C Daley
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One of this type of wood heater could be used in your existing chimney / fireplace.
They are called wood stove inserts.
wood-burning-inserts-fireplace/

With regard to keeping the ceiling beams visible .
You could install a good quality insulation between them, but not as deep as the beams, and add a 'plaster' cover over the insulation.
That way the beams are still exposed.

It might need a monographic,

I dont know what you mean with this statement?
 
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As Jason said, adding insulation on the exterior of the walls is an excellent way to make the house warmer in winter, and to take advantage of the thermal mass of the masonry walls both for cooling and heating. There are several ways to add insulation, rock wool or cork panels are both available to you I think? Then you must place a new waterproof finish wall outside the insulation.

The most important insulation is in the ceiling. A dropped ceiling will not insulate really, it will only reduce the cubic meters you must heat. But there is plenty of room above a lowered ceiling to add insulation, which can be inexpensive recycled cellulose or a similar loose fill.

Air sealing is at least as important as more insulation, and is less expensive.

Inside, a lime plaster will help with humidity. Is humidity a problem mostly in the winter or in the summer?

Yes, you can definitely use the existing chimney on the ground floor for a masonry heater or rocket stove. Both are more efficient than the alternatives, and both can have cooking surfaces as well as an oven.

In Alicante you have plenty of sun, and solar panels are less expensive now. I would move away from gas cooking as soon as you can with an electric cooktop for summer, and the rocket stove in the winter as well as an outdoor wood burning stove for summer (if there is not one already on the patio).

Collect all of the rainwater you can from the roofs! You can add to your system as the years go on, collect it from the main house also, and finally you will not need the municipal water except as a reserve system.
 
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Pk, what is breathable mortar made of?  What are some finishes to put on the mesh that are waterproof and breathable?  Is that even possible/
 
Jerry McIntire
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Kathy, I believe PK posted quite a while ago. Breathable mortars are usually lime based, or they could be clay. Portland cement mortars are not breathable, nor are synthetic or mortars with polymers.
 
Kathy Vargo
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My fat fingers typed Pk instead of ok.  I am familiar with these thanks.  Rockwood board is very hard to obtain in my area, NE US.  Any other external insulator besides Styrofoam and ble board?
 
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Abraham Palma wrote:

6. Ok, I get it, but , in the main door?



Not the door. One of the windows on the front wall.

I would have chosen a different wall, in different scenarios. Let's consider your windows.
- The one to the west is coming from the kitchen, that's a good place for your outdoors kitchen, and it's next to your parents house. Maaybe you could place the greenhouse here instead, but it's not ideal.
- The one(s) to the south have no insolation, thanks to the tree. Otherwise, it would have been a perfect location. No sun, no heat.
- The wall to the east have two windows and a door. You can place it in one of the front windows unless you are very worried about the aesthetics. I think this is the best location since your house ventilation is going from east to west, so in this location you will be drawing hot air from the greenhouse and pumping it naturally inside the ground floor. It won't be as much effective on the west wall.
- You don't have any window facing north, but a greenhouse there would not have been very useful either.

If you dislike the aesthetics of a greenhouse, you may consider then a small enclosed terrace (see picture). It's also called a porch extension, when it's on the ground floor. It's more or less the same thing, but you place a few comfy chairs and a round table inside so you can enjoy your patio in winter while having a hot drink. Don't make it with bricks though, or you might be asked if you had permission to increase your building area.



Gracias Abraham. This can be great and I’d love to have a greenhouse, so it goes to the wishlist
 
Antonio Hache
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Jason Learned wrote:A nice looking project.
I just finished putting 160mm of rock wool onto the face of an old building here in East Bohemia. The other sides were done last year. As we covered each apartment everyone noticed they got warmer. We were using breathable mortar to stick it to the face of the building and then we drilled in the fasteners to hold it for long term and then we did two thin coats of mortar with a mesh, which is also breathable. I highly recommend putting that on your building and then your thermal mass can work well. Maybe add some earth tubes for extra summer cooling.
I’m currently rebuilding the family house over here and we found out that the factories have shut for a while and when they come back online the price will go up by at least 15%. So we found it through the websites where people sell building stuff. We’ve got half now and still looking for the rest. The price has already gone up 25% so we are scrambling to avoid the next rise. If you are interested in doing this, then start looking and buying as soon as you can if you want to save. Rock wool or something like it will breath nicely and help you avoid the mold problems with styrofoam.
Oh and check your beams in the floors. What I see from the pictures seems good, 9 out 10 were bad in mine so all the floors were torn up and rebuilt by me. Took a while and was extra work, but I don’t want to visit the in-laws downstairs the quick way.
I really like how Anna Edey dealt with her black water. But there are many great solutions out there.
I’m sure you can find some stuff by Art Ludwig here on the forums, I’ve got some of his books and one is on building cisterns. You have plenty of rainfall where you are.
Beautiful area too, I’ve been there about 5 years ago.
Good luck!



Hola Jason. Never heard about rock wool before. Now I am checking it and looks great. Here we are using lime mortar, wich is a breathable mortar that is great.

About water collecting, it is definitively on the list and I will read about it more and act accordingly

Thanks!
 
Antonio Hache
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Jesse Glessner wrote:Picture #11 shows a really nice gentle arch and that could be done with brick, stone, or wall board to show just a 3" to 4" wide arch. Somehow these things tend to "open up" a room even though the wall is a dead end.

Of course the older homes had no insulation either. You may would lose a lot of floor space by build interior walls with sprayed foam insulation of a high density. Keeps rooms warm in winter and cool in summer. You might could get some bucks off from the contractor and/or government for installing the insulation also.

Go here for some ideas:  
https://www.monolithic.org/homes/featured-homes/there-s-a-dome-of-a-home-going-up-on-pensacola-beach

The above is just the starting point. Don't pay attention to the outside of the homes. Look at what various people have done to the interiors. And, they do have some Med. country styles there too.



Hola Jesse. I am checking the website and this gives lots of ideas. Being warm in winter is mandatory, and the main issue here is humidity. Quite often is better to be outdoors than indoors, as outdoors is warmer!
 
Antonio Hache
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John C Daley wrote:One of this type of wood heater could be used in your existing chimney / fireplace.
They are called wood stove inserts.
wood-burning-inserts-fireplace/

With regard to keeping the ceiling beams visible .
You could install a good quality insulation between them, but not as deep as the beams, and add a 'plaster' cover over the insulation.
That way the beams are still exposed.

It might need a monographic,

I dont know what you mean with this statement?



Hi John. Yes, wood stove insert is looking like the practical way to go. Although it might need some works to enlarger the fire place (it looks like it should be wider)

About the insulation, I will work on it when we start thinking in the upper floor

Monographic: Maybe I made a literal translation, but I mean that we will have to talk specifically about it, as it is a new subject for me. I will need a focused plan and step by step.
 
Antonio Hache
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Jerry McIntire wrote:As Jason said, adding insulation on the exterior of the walls is an excellent way to make the house warmer in winter, and to take advantage of the thermal mass of the masonry walls both for cooling and heating. There are several ways to add insulation, rock wool or cork panels are both available to you I think? Then you must place a new waterproof finish wall outside the insulation.

The most important insulation is in the ceiling. A dropped ceiling will not insulate really, it will only reduce the cubic meters you must heat. But there is plenty of room above a lowered ceiling to add insulation, which can be inexpensive recycled cellulose or a similar loose fill.

Air sealing is at least as important as more insulation, and is less expensive.

Inside, a lime plaster will help with humidity. Is humidity a problem mostly in the winter or in the summer?

Yes, you can definitely use the existing chimney on the ground floor for a masonry heater or rocket stove. Both are more efficient than the alternatives, and both can have cooking surfaces as well as an oven.

In Alicante you have plenty of sun, and solar panels are less expensive now. I would move away from gas cooking as soon as you can with an electric cooktop for summer, and the rocket stove in the winter as well as an outdoor wood burning stove for summer (if there is not one already on the patio).

Collect all of the rainwater you can from the roofs! You can add to your system as the years go on, collect it from the main house also, and finally you will not need the municipal water except as a reserve system.



Hi! Humidity is a problem 365 days of the year. Quite humid here.

Air sealing, definitively we will do that. Simple and effective. Solar panels, we are working on it. Right now electricity prices are going very high, so this is a must.

We have bbq in the patio, but not stove, so we will place one asap. I love outdoor cooking, so that we will do it.

And rainwater collecting is going to be one of the next steps for sure
 
Jerry McIntire
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Kathy Vargo wrote:Rockwood board is very hard to obtain in my area, NE US.


There are at least 17 retailers that sell Rockwool products in New Hampshire: Dealer locator
Rigid foam board can be used of course, styrofoam being the least effective. Closed cell, rigid polyurethane foam is the most effective per inch and it is available now without blowing agents that harm the atmosphere. Of course, it is still a synthetic foam.
 
Kathy Vargo
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I've tried to source the minor which is rigid Rockwood boards, the bats are a bit thick to put on a house with ft. thick walls.  I tried to get the board from Lowe's a chain hardware store but while all of them say they have it, it's located 3 hrs away and I have to go get it.  Alot of the other places only sell to contractors in bulk.  I am not a contractor and wouldn't know how to go about getting it.  I should say it's not easy for me to get.  I was using it on a stove surround and hearth installment and only needed a few pieces.
 
John C Daley
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Kathy, maybe talk to a contractor and see if they will help you.
 
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