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All info appreciated! :) Building new home--unfortunately with loan and ridiculous bank rules--60K  RSS feed

 
Karen Bunnell
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The Situation: I have a very tight budget to build, 70-100K for *everything,* including home, septic, water, clearing, etc. And unfortunately with a loan, the bank requires a general contractor and multiple inspections--so I can't do much myself--which I otherwise may be able to. I live in Central Vermont. Thankfully we do not have zoning in my town. I need help saving money any way I can; I wanted as much passive solar as I could, but unfortunately that may mean just orientation. Btw--I have never used a compass; how do I find True South for orientation? The following are my thoughts on a building. All input welcome. What could I cut out first if I have to?

About 800sq ft home--maybe a knee-high second floor--especially if the basement turns to 4in slab

Pex tubing for radiant floor, plastic tubing w/ return lines next to out-going hot lines 1/2”-3/4”, copper pipe header to split the runs, pump placed at end of run/water is coolest, own control valve for each

Basement with bulkhead, woodstove in middle of basement--I really want a basement and a porch

Radiant Heating: centralized thermostat/expansion tank/pressure relief valve

Long side oriented within thirty degrees true south, extra large south windows with low e film

Covered porch on West side

Kitchen at NE corner of house, bathroom next to porch door

Door in a downstairs’ bedroom—if there is a downstairs bedroom

4 Plug outlets, outlets outside, prewire for generator, full-size cupboard in kitchen for brooms, light in crawl-space attic, faucet on outside, recessed fridge, stacked stairs

Double stud walls joined by small plywood trusses filled (12” cavity) with Dense Pack Cellulose (exterior load bearing)

Conventional Pre-Manufactured trusses

Bathroom next to outside door

Steep metal roof

Earth Bermed?

Is it cheaper to build a 16ft wide home?

I talked with one general contractor--how does this process work? Is it better to find an architect first--and where for something this simple? Has anyone seen similar plans online? Can I find almost the same plans and just have the contractor deviate? Will he do that? Or if I have plans, am I supposed to put it out to bid just to get a general contractor?

I don't mind rustic, but the bank requires that it be finished to a certain degree. Am I nuts for getting a loan? My son is 17months. Should I just save up?

And how do I know how much overhang for the south windows?

Thanks for any input!

Karen
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Loans tie you down, but so does renting--with nothing to show for it in the end.

For that size, I would look for online plans--they will cost you a few hundred to a thousand dollars depending on where and how detailed you get. That is about the size common for weekend cabins, etc. Also look at all the tumbleweed and tiny house blogs for ideas.

No zoning should mean no stamped drawings--but you still need enough detail for the gen contractor to build from with a minimum of mistakes (there will ALWAYS be mistakes, you just want them to be small and cheap).

Flooring was the big DIY money saver for me. Hardwood and tile that I did total for less than the install charge for carpet. And they boosted the appraisal considerably.

Think frugal simple--A walk-in pantry costs about the same as 3-4 cabinets. Kitchens and bathrooms suck up money really fast, but they don't have to.

Basements are EXPENSIVE these days. I wouldn't do one unless you are in tornado country or you already have to dig that deep for frostline.

I haven't priced trusses or engineered joists in a long time. It used to be that 14' was the sweet spot for maximum span for the price. You also need to think about siding and roofing to minimize the joints and splices.

Porches can be added later, especially if you plan for it now. Of course, I said that 10 years ago and still haven't finished them...
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Welcome to Permies!!

Great to have you here!

I will try and address you challenges the best I can, and then with others guidance, you might be able to fine tune your plans a little better. I would also add that I am a fellow Vermonter (down in Thetford) and work in traditional and natural building (among other eclectic skill sets) so will be glad to assist you to what ever capacity you would like.

70-100K is a tight budget, yet can be achievable with the correct design modality.

Not to scare you, but all of Vermont has zoning, and requires that your home meet international zoning regulations, (as do most banks for their loans) Vermont doesn't have field inspection, certificates of occupancy and code enforcement (though some areas have all three) yet your bank may force the issue. We can, and have worked around that.

True south (or true north in the southern hemisphere) are where the sun will be at its highest during the day. Unfortunately simply using a compass needle aligned north-south isn't adequate. "True south" is different than "magnetic south" and in Vermont can be tricky because of mineral deposits may effect "declination." I teach (taught?) land navigation and if I go into all of it here you will (as will others) be board out of your skull in no time so when you are ready read this (http://rimstar.org/renewnrg/finding_true_south_pole.htm) and then ask me (or others) if you have more questions.

Your sq ft size (800) is more than achievable for that price tag, and with the correct facilitation, you may be able to do much of the work yourself. I often will take the willing and just make them a subcontractor under my direction, or make them the "project manager." It will all depend on the bank you work with and some in Vermont are just fantastic.

I steer folks away from basements as they tend to turn into a "money pit" and just don't give you that much "bag for the buck," the exception is a true a "walk out," and these can do a lot for a design for little money. As for slabs...well it depends, sometimes maybe, but for the most part nothing beats traditional wood, lime, cob, or the related trad and/or natural floors.

Radiant heat is the only heating system to use whether traditional or modern...great choice on your part.

Porch (Engawa 縁側 in Japanese) are a must and I add them to most of my designs. In most ancient folk architecture, being able to go outside in bare feet and walk all the way (or almost all the way) around your home without getting into the elements, and often several feet off the ground was not only a nice little luxury, it was a safety and security element. As for your basement, that will all depend on location, and design. Sometimes good idea, most of the time (as I sad before) a real money pit.

Long side oriented within thirty degrees true south, extra large south windows with low e film


Maybe?? it depends

Covered porch on West side


All porches are covered or they are decks, and I don't do decks...they are another money pit and just will have to be replaced. Stone patios (sometimes roofed) yes...but no decks.

Kitchen at NE corner of house, bathroom next to porch door Door in a downstairs’ bedroom—if there is a downstairs bedroom


O.k. sounds good...if the land and sun say so. As for door in bedroomif it makes sense to the desing of house (sometimes yes and sometimes no.)

4 Plug outlets, outlets outside, prewire for generator, full-size cupboard in kitchen for brooms, light in crawl-space attic, faucet on outside, recessed fridge, stacked stairs


All sounds reasonable and within your budget.

Double stud walls joined by small plywood trusses filled (12” cavity) with Dense Pack Cellulose (exterior load bearing)


Yes, these are call "wall trusses" (sometimes Larson Trusses by John Larson a friend and a long story) the concept is rather old, and the only way now we usually enclose our timber frames. I (or some of my students) are the only builders and designers using the European method of "all wood joinery" in or truss system. We work in metric so our system ranges from 250mm (~10") all the way up to 600mm (~24") and are the only way to really build quality architecture. The benefits form this system of wall enclosure is incredible, from ease of installing and updating electrical and mechanicals, to added storage potential and of course super insulation modalities.

Conventional Pre-Manufactured trusses


Wouldn't touch them if you paid me...not on my architecture...sorry.

Bathroom next to outside door


Good thinking, good desing, and wonderful to have. Often near the outside shower and sauna.

Steep metal roof


We often go with 16/12 or what is traditionally called "gosho" or "praying hands" which is a 4/3 pitch or 53.13010235 degrees and the foundation of the 3/4/5 triangle of traditional building and designing.

Earth Bermed?


Hmmm, maybe...it depends.

Is it cheaper to build a 16ft wide home?


Yes, but that will also depend on other things in the design, your family dynamic, what the land has to say about it, and several other factors. I like the 4.8 meter (~16') wide design for "micro architecture design" and it fits our sawmill production rate much better saving clients money and our backs in the "beamery," (our timber frame shops)

I talked with one general contractor--how does this process work? Is it better to find an architect first--and where for something this simple? Has anyone seen similar plans online? Can I find almost the same plans and just have the contractor deviate? Will he do that? Or if I have plans, am I supposed to put it out to bid just to get a general contractor


You can use an architect, but ask yourself what you are paying for? We do our own design work, and what is more valuable (if you are an experienced and accomplished designer) is a PE should the need arise. Much more valuable than an architect in many cases, and I have many architect friends that will begrudgingly admit the same truth. Architects can not do what a PE does, and many architects have to also hire them. So why overpay for a design that may still have to get PE approval to move forward, especial if you hire a good "design build" firm. There are plans online but for your budget and needs, you should be able to find a good local (Vermont) design build company that you can work with. Many contractors (by the way it doesn't have to be a "HE") will take "stock plans" from you and modify them, yet I do not typically recommend it in most cases because I do not recommend contractors that are not either part of an architectural firm or part of a design build group. Putting things out for bid is a good idea...kinda, but not always. If you do not have a solid background in architecture you can be taken down the "rabbit hole," real quick. A sight like this is a good place to vet the potential candidates, or do your project in stages, and have the contractor work that way. First design, (you can see if you can really work with them and they really know what they are doing, while being helpful to your process.) Then "dirt work" and foundation. Then frame and roof. Then finish. I often recommend to "consulting clients" that are new to this game, and are looking for a natural-traditional (or unusual build) to do all contracting in stages, that way if a contractor turns into a "chuckle head" you can just get rid of them.

I don't mind rustic, but the bank requires that it be finished to a certain degree. Am I nuts for getting a loan? My son is 17 months. Should I just save up?


If you can save up, do so, otherwise shop for a builder to fit your (and the banks) needs, and banks do log cabins all the time and they are rustic. Rustic is a concept style and does not mean "poor quality" by any means, and depending on the "rustic style" like folk styles can be very refined and expensive, I know as we do (among several folk styles) Japanese Minka Farm house style which is a beautiful refined "rustic" folk style. The antique frames (sometimes 400 years old) can cost over a million dollars and be under 1000 square feet. So Rustic is more than doable for a bank.

And how do I know how much overhang for the south windows?


All depends on the design and needs of the architecture.

Regards,

j
 
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