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Ideas for a stone house, critique my design. Scale Model Inside!  RSS feed

 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I have just started planning for a house i'd like to build on my land and found a tool much better than a rough sketch for demonstrating a concept: a scale model in The Sims 3, here is the idea I came up with:











And here is the real world place where it is to be situated, the front door should be right about where that stump is:




There are a few changes from you see in the model, most importantly is the addition of a 10X25 solar greenhouse on the left (South) side of the house with a sliding door to connect the two off the living room and some of the windows on that side opening into the greenhouse. Also in the living room I want to have a rmh bench where the woodstove and bookcase is but there wasn't a model for one in the sims believe it or not. Also one more minor detail, the roof for the kitchen wont be made of stone to the left of the point that it crosses the main house wall since I would need a full wall directly underneath to support the weight probably, and the walls don't line up perfectly that way so wood would be easier to build without having direct support underneath, I actually could have modeled that but didn't think of it until after. It is built pretty much to scale with the main section being 20x40 and the kitchen off the side being 10x30 making it a total of 1100sq/ft, not extravagant by any means for a 3br house. The cieling would be to the roof (vaulted) in the living room and kitchen, the back half of the main part would be lower with an attic space accessible through the hallway ceiling. The house will be built on a slab but I plan to dig a small and shallow root cellar in the most suitable location at the back of the house against the slab.

Some of what I took into consideration:

Design for wood heat. I plan to have an auxiliary wood cookstove/heater in the mudroom behind the kitchen and there are vents into the mbr through which the other half of the house can be heated from it somewhat despite the distance, I plan to also have a rmh in the living room which can be used in leiu of the kitchen stove depending on which is more efficient in which situation. In addition to both of those I plan to just have a few electric baseboard heaters for use if we go away or if we really don't want to have a fire for some reason, no furnace though.

Design for passive climate control. The arbor side of the house will point directly north and juts into a wooded alcove making for a great place to draw cool air from, its almost always shady and cool there now. Conversely the greenhouse points directly south and can be used as a huge passive solar collector for much of the year. I also put a small vestibule on the front door so that it can be opened and closed without cold breezes blowing in.

Limited plumbing. You cant see it in the picture, though the hot water heater is in the closet in the center of the house, I will probably opt for an electric on demand model. All of the water fixtures in the entire house: Toilet, both sinks, shower and washing machine are within 6 feet of the hot water heater and all very close to each other, I could plumb this house with like only 30-40 feet of pipe. Also besides the inlet from the well pump there will be no water pipes on exterior walls, lower likelihood of frozen pipes.

Ease of construction. I plan to build the house nearly 100% myself, the only thing I think I might outsource will be digging and pouring the slab foundation. With that in mind I designed it to be a simple shape. The greenhouse will also be a pre-existing structure since I plan on having that built by the end of next year, I would simply be building the house next to it then connecting them after.

Ease of sourcing materials. I think the only super expensive parts of the house will be the foundation and the stone, all of the lumber I can cut and have milled by my grandfather who lives across the street for a nominal fee. And before someone suggests it I cant harvest the stone myself on my land, we have TONS of stone, just not the kind I would ever build a house out of. Its a crumbly, soft sedimentary rock with tons of cool fossils in it, good for landscape walls but I wouldn't trust building a house out of it. I have 90 acres with a large supply of timber including tons of Red and White Pine and Balsam Fir for the stickframed interior walls and roof joists and I have a large supply of Hickory, Black Cherry and Maple for flooring and paneling. I would also have to buy fasteners, insulation, a few appliances, tile for the bath, either slate tile or cedar shakes for roof, windows, doors, paint, woodstain and maybe sheetrock, although I may make wattle boards and cover them with lime plaster meaning I just will need to buy the plaster, and use some bare wood paneling. Not to say the little stuff doesnt add up but the stone and foundation are what I want to be able to easily afford before I start the project. I have a vague and uneducated figure of 70-80K in my head for a total, final cost for everything, does anyone think this is realistic based on what I have to buy? Other than the foundation there will be next to zero labor costs so its just materials that I listed above.

Questions:

Does anyone have a rough idea how much that amount of stone would cost? I like the idea of using something at least semi local so that would be NY bluestone and it looks kind of like this usually:



All I can find prices for online is that silly veneer stuff that suburbanites like to slather on the front of their McMansions, not actual architectural stone. I have had 2 people tell me so far (Neither knows a ton about construction though) that stone construction is super expensive and that why you never see it done anymore. How does the cost compare to wood or brick? Even if it is more money I like stone, even though there are some environmental issues associated with quarrying I think it can be offset by the fact that the house lasts pretty much forever. I mean this is permaculture after all, we have stone houses nearby that are 200+ years old and as long as the roof is cared for, will easily go another 200.


Does anyone see any glaring errors with my design? I'm not a construction expert, I have built numerous landscape stone walls and a shed and chicken coop but putting all of those skills together into building a large structure isn't something I have ever done before.

Any suggested improvements?


The aforementioned greenhouse is going to be my project for next year, I already have plenty of money to do that. As far as starting on the actual house it would just be dictated by how long it takes me to save up enough so I either don't need to take out a loan or only a very small one. Depending on cost it could be as little as 3-4 years or as much as 10-12 before I get started. Hopefully sooner rather than later, the house we live in now on this land is terrible lol. Thanks for reading.
 
Angelika Maier
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Posts: 985
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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It would be far easier having a usual floor plan to make suggestions.
What definitely would change (and we did this in our house) is the entrance. Right now you are heating directly against the outside door and every time someone goes in or out you are losing all the heat. You need a second door here. And more on the practical side: I would leave out one window at the entrance to gain space for all the coats and shoes and wet umbrellas. I actually would put a built in wardrobe on the opposite side and make the whole entrance a bit bigger.
Second what do you intend to do with the immense roof space? You could build a house half the size using it.
There are two rooms in the middle without access to natural light, I guess toilet and bathroom. This is done in apartment house building but not in single family houses or at least I would refer to it as poor planning.
I would not put wood stoves on outside walls because you lose too much heat and I would aim for a design with one stove only it saves you a lot of work. I would think of something like rocket mass or "Kachelofen", should be the center of the house.
So how do you want to construct the exterior walls? Stone has a terrible insulation value. And don't forget to put insulation under your slab and certainly a second one on the top.
For the building costs the structure is less than half of it.
For the windows like you planned them with all the small panes, this is quite expensive as double glazing, and that is what you want if not triple. For conserving heat I would construct window shutters and for saving money single pane sash windows.
Electrical water heaters are quite inefficient.
If you live in a cold climate were you have to heat your house in winter you want a compact house. That means nearly a square but definitively not these corners you have created were your kitchen is. There is a value of the outside/volume. It would make the roof much easier to construct too.
I don't know if you have a lot of acres and not a terrible high water table I would put a cellar under the whole house for various reasons. It is great to store stuff and makes the house a lot warmer and you can probably pay it by simplifying the form of your house.
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I might move the half wall between the side entrance and kitchen down a few feet, then the entrance area would be 10x10. The woodstove there isn't primarily for heat either, it is a cookstove. Also the rmh in the living room wouldn't be on an outer wall, the greenhouse would about it there so that is actually a semi interior wall. I also would like to consolidate functions except I dont believe you could cook very well on a rmh with a regular bench and you certainly cant use it to bake with.

The outer walls wont be bare stone on the inside, i'd put a 2x4 structure inside to hold insulation and wallboard.

I could also use propane for hot water, the plus would be I could use it with the stove too. We have electric for both now though and the bill really isn't that bad.

I agree about the bathroom at least but ill see if I can rectify that, I could care less if the utility closet has a window, in fact I don't think I have ever been in a house where someone designed their utility closet to have a window. Also the windows don't necessarily have to have true panes, you can put overlays on them so it looks like there are small panes on a single pane window.

As far as a cellar, we for one have radon issues in this area, and our current house is about 50 yards from where the new one will be and we have a block cellar. Every time it rains water sprays in through every crack and crevice and even comes up from the floor. We live on quite possibly the worst soil for basements, heavyish clay with shallow bedrock and tons of springs. The people on my street who have "basements" either have them mostly above ground, are super expensive poured and well sealed ones or just live with the fact that it leaks from a morning dew. I'm going to try and build a root cellar but even then I would be hesitant to dig more than 2-3 feet down for fear that it will flood all of the time.

I agree also that a square would be more efficient, a circle or octagon even more so, although I think it looks rather plain also. The 800sq/ft house we live in now is quite possibly the most poorly insulated house I have ever seen so anything is an improvement. The house can drop from very warm to pipe bursting cold in just a few hours, I guess it was built when heating oil was $0.25 a gallon.
 
Brian Knight
Posts: 554
Location: Asheville NC
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Ian, youve done some excellent design work and its not easy putting hard ideas up for critique. Angelika has offered up some very good thoughts I think. I agree that its tough to evaluate the floorplan based on the iso view. Its tough to comment on costs with regional variance and so much DIY input but it seems doable to me.

I usually encourage folks to build to current international energy code as a minimum and based on your size and space conditioning plans I think you should try to do better in this area. Just because you plan on heating mainly with wood doesnt mean your creation wont contribute to heaps of pollution due to future inhabitants. You can also drastically reduce the amount of wood shlepping and indoor air pollution risk by building a better insulated envelope.

With a 2x4 wall, cavity insulation only, you can expect your wall R value to in the R9 or R10 range. IECC 2012 minimum for your zone 6 climate says it should have a cavity R value of R20 (2x6) with a mandatory layer of R5 insulative sheathing OR a 2x4 with R10 insulative sheathing. I would highly recommend the R10 insulative sheathing route and would personally strive for beyond code in wall and roof performance but most importantly blower door test results.

Dont ignore code regarding window performance and have you considered passive solar design?

As for water heating plans, Iam generally not a fan of tankless anything especially electric. If its just you or your families hot water demand is very low then maybe. Propane is probably the most expensive fuel so I would avoid it if possible. In your cold climate it gets tough to go with my current favorite, the heat pump water heater but thats probably what I would go with on my home in your climate especially with passive solar design or wood combustion as the main heat source.

The stone is perhaps the trickiest consideration and if you weren't supplying your own experienced labor I would say avoid it. The type of stone construction you are after is still technically a veneer and you should detail it the same way code would have you build a brick veneer: with an airspace between it and the sheathing and well detailed weep holes. On stone veneer projects in my area, I would budget 2-10$ per sqft for materials and 16-25$ per sqft labor.
 
Mike Cantrell
Posts: 555
Location: Mid-Michigan
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Hi, Ian!


So my job is, I'm an insurance claims adjuster. I look at around 500 damaged buildings/year.

Here are some ideas:

Your steep roof design is great. It takes more roofing material (what roofing material are you planning on, anyway? Looks like asphalt shingles in your drawings?) to do a steep roof than a shallow one, but they perform much, much better. Mainly in terms of snow, but also rain and hail. So, thumbs up.

(Oh! You did mention roofing later on. Slate tile. Wow. That's the finest of all roofing materials, in my book. It's also right up there for the most expensive.
I sketched your building in my estimating software, pulled up the Albany, NY August 2014 price list, and it gives me about $8,000 for the slate, material only, or about $20,000 material-and-labor.)
Cedar shakes, I don't love. The only wonderful thing about them is that you could, conceivably, split them all yourself, on site. Other than that... if they're damp, they rot. If they're dry, they catch fire. They're not especially resistant to wind or hail. Price list says, about $6,000 material, $10,000 material-and-labor.)

The things about roofs is that they have to be perfect. Any leak is a huge problem. And any penetration is a potential leak. You've got two chimneys there, and they're going to be both expensive and tricky, because of how tall they have to be. (You'll have to guy them, creating more penetrations.) If you found a way to combine your two heating appliances, you could cut that trouble in half. Have you seen the designs where people build a masonry heater that opens into two rooms? It forms part of the wall? Masonry heaters often have bake ovens and occasionally have cookstoves.

I'll second Angelika's remarks on mudrooms. They're a big plus for quality of life.

You don't seem to have any closets anywhere! No, wait, maybe that's one in the living room. And a little one in the middle bedroom? You have to have one in every bedroom. (Put them on the outside walls so that your hanging shirts get cold before you do.) You have to have them both for sanity and for building code. And then don't forget a coat closet, a broom closet, a linen closet, a bathroom-supplies closet, and a pantry.

Are you married? Ever going to get married? Mudroom, closets, the third thing is cabinets and countertops in your kitchen. Insufficient countertops leads to unhappy marriage! Ask me how I know.

As far as structural stone, I don't even have it on my price list. When you're friend says nobody does it, he's right. I haven't seen a structural stone builidng built in the last hundred years.
For what it's worth, structural brick (also called "giant brick" or "atlas brick" looks like about $9,000 material for your walls there, or $18,000 material-and-labor. Wouldn't surprise me if quarried stone was triple or quadruple that.

I think you may be writing off "a few appliances" too lightly.
You'll surely want:
A well pump and the plumbing from there to the house.
A well pressure tank.
A water softener?
A water heater, you already mentioned.
A toilet
Bathroom sink and kitchen sink, and a faucet for each
Bath tub, tub surround, shower, and tub/shower faucet
Drains
A septic system to drain into
A refrigerator
And an electrical system

That's big bucks.

Other things that will bite you by surprise:
Your chimneys are a couple thousand dollars worth of stainless triple-wall flue.
It's significant bucks for fees, permit, and attaching to utilities (you might only be attaching to electric, but that's not $0).

Wow! Ok, that was a longer list than I meant to write, but I hope it helps.

Bottom line? $70k-$80k, no, I don't really think so.


Mike
 
Troy Rhodes
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The more insulation you put in, the less sun/wood/propane you will need to stay warm. r-12, which you get with a normal 2x 4 framed wall, would be the absolute bare minimum.

I "superinsulated" mine. The walls are a foot thick with cellulose. r-50. You have to plan for thick walls, but the payoff is substantial and lasts for the life of the building.



troy
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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This is funny, I used to be an auto mechanic and the quality of responses you'd get on a forum about that were not even half of what i've noticed on here, usually a bunch of people who knew less than you did trying to answer your question to up their post count lol. Not used to knowledgeable responses.

Anyways, yes I have considered passive solar, I think the greenhouse should act as a pretty large passive solar collector and i'm not sure if i'd need much more. It should be able to both heat itself and the house during parts of the spring and fall. I have seen similar greenhouse structures right in this area that have excess heat almost up until real wintertime, that excess heat can both heat the house and be stored in a large water tank/fish pond in the greenhouse.

This is my concern with having thick wooden walls inside, not sure how valid it is. Any stone wall that can hold the weight of a roof is going to presumably be like at least 8-10ish inches thick I would imagine. Adding even just 4 inches inside of that makes for a pretty damn thick wall. I guess it wouldn't matter too much except you would have hugely inset windows and the door thresholds would be ridiculous too. I don't see why I wouldn't use sheathing though. Our house now has 2x4 exterior walls and I don't think they even have sheathing in them. Also does that R value include the stone outside? I know stone doesn't insulate well but it isnt R0 is it?

Maybe I have some confusion about terminology also. My idea of a veneer is a completely non-weight bearing wall. Filling a role kind of akin to wood or vinyl siding. That is what I want to avoid because it seems to have all of the costs of stone with less of the advantages. Id still have to have a weight bearing wooden frame inside and being thinner it would have nearly no thermal flywheel effect. I guess i'd get the look and low maintenance and that's it.

I'd like to go with slate for the roof most likely. My parents just built a house and went with slate and it wasn't even that much more than asphalt shingles were.

There is a guy just down the street from me who built a stone house (Albeit much bigger than my plan), I believe the way he did it though is he has a stone outer wall with a gap that is filled with insulation and then another stone wall inside, most of the interior is bare stone. From the inside the walls look well over a foot thick. His is self built also, maybe I can stop by sometime and pick his brain or something. He is a painter and its called Breitenbach Castle. As far as I remember he said he found most of the stone on his own property, although his property has a large dried up creekbed, something I dont have.I occasionally find the odd piece of nice stone on my land here but not enough to even build a shed, let alone a whole house. Here is a pic:




And as far as appliances I already have a house that is going to be demolished once we move so I can re-use a many of those things since I already have a well pump setup and a hot water heater. The only thing I would buy new would be kitchen and bath stuff, I'd figure maybe 12-15K for both, plus the septic then but I dont think thats super expensive, especially if I dig the leach field myself, I have a bulldozer I can use.

Also a question about chimneys, do they really need to be lined with flue pipe? The chimney in my current house is just bare masonry inside, chimney sweep never said that this was dangerous or anything.

We will have to dig a underground line to run power also but the power line is only about 40 yards away, my parents just ran underground power at their new house almost the exact same distance and it cost them $300. In the future I would like to add solar panels to generate at least some of our own power but ill worry about that bit after the house is built.

As far as closets I would have modeled more but the sims isn't a hardcore modeling program and the grid tiles for walls come in 2.5ft increments only and don't allow for making shallower closets. I would probably include a bathroom closet and a small closet in the two other bedrooms. I'll go back and take some better pictures but the kitchen already has an open pantry and a whole lot of counter space, its just hard to see behind the wall. In our current house I think we have all of about 6sq/ft of closet space and don't even use all of it now, we just don't have very much stuff. I live with my girlfriend and actually the vast majority of the closet space that is used, is used by her lol, all I have in a closet is my gun collection and a couple of shirts. As far as more storage, at some point I would likely build a small garage nearby with a loft, plus the attached garage attached to our current house is something i'd try to salvage when we knock this house down.

As far as the cost for stone I might just figure out how much I would need and then call up a supplier, as far as I know I think it is relatively cheaper in this part of the country compared to elsewhere but I don't know anything exact. Im almost 100% set on stone but If it was really impossibly expensive I could settle for just weathered brick, at least brick would be easier to lay than random ashlar stone.

 
Troy Rhodes
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If you live in the north, as energy costs escalate, you will pretty much be forced to choose between thick walls and high energy costs.

The problem -is- the solution.

Hey, you get these beautiful and unusual window wells. Throw a nice pad or a couple pillows in there and you have a built in window seat.

Every time somebody walks in your house, they will notice the thick walls and you have an easy entry into a conversation about energy conservation in new construction.


Normal is broken. Do not aspire to be normal.




 
Angelika Maier
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Posts: 985
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Actually in your stage of design I would really recommend a roll of cheap trace paper, it is so much faster! Stay on 2D floor plan and main section until your plan is very advanced.
It is difficult to comment on this 3 d sketch, but some more things:
- you need storage space (like others said). Inbuilt wardrobes just look best and you can add the doors later and start with curtains, believe me I have lived long enough in houses without this amenity. Between two bedrooms walls are usually made l-shaped for this.
- Your kitchen seems to be non functional, but it is difficult to tell because of the lack of a plan. Especially for a house on that much land were you will do canning an all that stuff.
If you want an energy efficient design you usually pack all the colder rooms on the north side of the house that is: entrance (mud room), larder, toilet, bathroom (needs heating short time only). You keep this wall close and the windows here are small. You have more windows in the south, but still, you loose more energy than you gain (!).
I know about these fake windows which look like small paned windows, the trouble is only that they look fake and nothing like the real thing and are still more expensive than a simple pane.
Next to your exterior stone wall. It invites a lot of trouble, especially as you will put a stud wall in front of it (why then the stones??). What is usually done with energy efficient houses is you pack all massive building materials inside, that means the stone walls would be inside- actually that would look awesome. Like that they can store the heat which comes thorough the south windows during the day (well east and west too) and radiate this during the night. It would be great somehow integrating a heating stove in this kid of wall, looks good and is very agreeable.
Then on the outside you make usual timber framing, but put a thick insulation in - I would go here to the passive house standard (those which are supposed to need no energy).
Were is your laundry?
I agree on the basement in this case. In Australia we usually have no basements for similar reasons, but houses are on stumps. this is not great for cold climates, but I would pour the concrete slab on a wall a bit above the soil that you are out of the moist etc. Put a thick insulation underneath and on the outside and inside of these walls (!). Then you can as well run all your plumbing underneath and have an easy access later.
Read up on passive house design.
I agree on the slope of the roof, it is more reliable in your climate.
As for the bathroom, I lived in house like this it is terrible, and you depend on electricity for the fan and lighting. I thought the second room is a toilet (you must know that people here comment come from a lot of different countries were houses are different)
All in all I think you are far too meddled up in details, you must get the base right first. I would go for a simple square shape, first because it is easier to build , second because of the energy preservation.
I don't know if chimneys can be crooked, I have never seen one, but I would not like to clean a crooked one.
Here are some links to passive houses:
passive house
Plans for passive houses
benfits opf a passive house

It is really important to put a lot of time and thought in the planning. And how you want to insulate your house. Our current house was insulated poorly and the first years we froze I guess our climate is a lot milder than yours something between zone 8 and 9. With a woodstove you can heat only so much which is good but you need insulation. Once again, don't waste time with difficult to use programs by a roll of trace paper and get your design right. When this is finished then you can work on your computer. It is as well very easy to build a small model with corrugated cardboard and pva glue.
BTW were is North in your design? How does your house sit on the property? How is the cross section with the property and major trees?

 
Angelika Maier
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Posts: 985
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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As for the hot water:
There are these electric water heaters 5 litres under the sink, they are fairly efficient if you don't forget to turn them off after doing your dishes. I don't know weather you have these in the US. I used these for a long time and were happy with it.
There are water backs for wood stoves.
A friend made something ingenious, if he heats his kitchen stove water heats and through small pipes hot water goes upwards into a well insulated tank in the roof were it stays hot for several days.
We have solar hot water but I don't know weather this is suitable for your climate.

Why do I insist so much on the design process on trace paper? Simple. You are using a programme you are not used to and in your case which is not really suitable for what your are doing. It certainly took many hours to get to your design. The picture now looks very neat and even details like curtains are in.
Design on trace paper is fast and you can try out many floor plans in a very short time. I guess you are not an architect and your drawings won't look great. But as long as they are TO SCALE (!!!) it is OK. If something does not fit you simply put another layer of paper on the top and change it. Draw 2d floor plan and a main section if this is important because you are on a slope or want something special here. You mostly even draw freehand (on scale) for higher speed. The first layer is usually drawn with a ruler and then your get over and over and change and change until it fits.
The neat picture of the computer drawing obfuscates flaws in your design and you are not very willing to change it because it was so much work and is such a pain to change. But it is now when you can make changes easily. Architects often have a design "ready" only to throw everything in the waste paper and start all over. But this is not wasted time, often things get much clearer in the process.
 
Ian Taylor
Posts: 59
Location: Grafton NY, 25 Miles east of Albany
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I'm not super concerned about most of the details like what kind of hot water heater i'm going to have, I did want to incorporate at least a placeholder though since I will need at least some kind of one. I agree that can be decided much later. Same with the furnishings, I just furnished it to get an idea of how it would flow and for a relative idea of size.

I think your thoughts about the kitchen are just based on the poor angle, so I took some better pictures. I also expanded the mudroom about 2.5 feet, now it is 10x10 which I think is pretty big. Look at the wicker loveseat for scale.





That's the size of the work area in the kitchen, there is a small L shaped work area to the left and then 7 more feet of clear counterspace off to the right, if there was a need for any more space still there is room for small island to be put in also. Plus there is a large shelving area to be used as an open pantry, now we have an enclosed separate room as a pantry but I would prefer the stuff was just one an open shelf right in the kitchen if there was the space.










And here is the master bedroom with a slightly modified closet:




And here is a better top down view, the scale is each solid grid square = 2.5ft.



The laundry is in the center utility closet next to the bathroom, there is another closet across the way which would have the well pump pressure tank and some limited storage space. As far as closets in the other 2 bedrooms and a bathroom linen closet, like I said, I would have added them but I cant build walls smaller than the grid squares and I would only build closets of that sort to be about a foot or so deep.



I will probably start to sketch it out on paper but I think the computer is easier when starting out since its easier to visualize and play with different layouts. I tried about 5-6 floorplans before coming to this one and maybe ill come up with a better one in the future, I am satisfied with the exterior and I somewhat like the interior plan but i'm going to try some more layouts to see if it can be improved. The idea for the exterior is a rough copy of a historic house near where my parents live that I liked, we live in a perfectly square house now so i'm content to break up the monotony for the minor loss in insulation value.

I find it hard to picture what it would look like in real life from a sketch drawing, just looks like lines on a paper. Modeling this isnt that slow, if I knew exactly what I wanted from the start I could draw that again in a half hour.


And after some though the idea of very thick walls seems quite nice, a lot of ledges for window seats and shelves.

As far as having the house inside out, with stone inside, I think that negates much of the reason for using stone in this climate and that is durability. We live in one of the wettest regions in the U.S., getting over 40 inches of rain spread pretty evenly throughout the year. From looking at other houses in the area, anyone who uses wood siding has it rotting right off the house, my parents own some wood sided rental property and it basically rots if you leave it unpainted, then the paint flakes off and starts rotting again in short order. The other alternative I can think of, vinyl is something I definitely don't want for numerous reasons, or like the man down the road with the castle, using 2 layers of stone but... well that's a lot of stone, perhaps I could do something like that one one wall or something.


As far as orientation this is a picture, the property line to the left is the crinkly line where the trees get darker, The green is the greenhouse and red is the house. The orange is land that has been cleared, this pic is about 3 years old. The land slopes down very gently both to the north and south as there is a small ridge there on which it will be situated, hopefully keeping the house a bit drier. Fwiw my vegetable garden is just to the south of where the greenhouse will be.




And here is a picture showing what the relative size of the greenhouse would be, obv not that shape though, i'd like the peak of its roof to join with the bottom of the roof of the house, so i'd use 2 angles and the floor will be sunk down about a foot or so still giving me 11-12 feet to the ceiling.





I mean I guess construction is going to be a number of years off so I can still go in any direction but the plan does have to be at least nearly finalized before next year when I start the greenhouse, I want to know what i'm going to be attaching it to years down the road by the time that I start building it.
 
Angelika Maier
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Stone walls have a terrible insulation value. If timber is not an option then I would go for double brick with insulation in the middle. There are other options but you need the best insulation you can. It is true that stone has a good durability though, but I don't know how you would get acceptable insulation values. I don't like these walls were you put inside a timber frame and gyprock, if you know what I mean. At least not when the concrete slab is not way off the ground (60cm or so).
I really like that in Australia the older houses are all off the ground that makes all plumbing work so easy and you can easily access and change.
I am metric. You have a lot of weird angles and a lot of space which has to be artificially lighted all the time. There is NO reason for putting the bathroom
in the middle unless you are building apartments. If you have your laundry in the middle without a window you will need artificial ventilation and usually they
are somewhere at the back with a door to the clothes line, at least in Australia (and serves as a second mud room). HOw often is electricity interrupted in your place?
There is no north on your plan.
At this stage it is not important to visualize, you must get the size of everything and the organization right.
Your kitchen is big enough but utterly impractical.
Four or five different layouts is very little. On paper you do that in an hour or two.
As you have obviously no training in planning, it might help first to draw a diagram without any scale which simply shows which room goes were, say living room you want in the south (or maybe not because you use it only in the evening), mudroom in the north, kitchen close to the vegetable garden, bedrooms together to name a few.
Next you tell what you want to do in these rooms (cooking, sewing, piano) and what you would like (i.e. cozy, light, warm,)then decide how big you approximately want each room and then you draw a floor plan on TRACE PAPER in 1:100 scale.
 
Mark Livett
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I know how much easier it is to show my wife a 3D model of a house that you can zoom around rather than just putting a plan in front of her. She can't look at a plan and make anything out of it.

Here is something I put together for an education centre


I used a free online program (Sweet home 3D) that allowed you to upload a plan of the house and then using the plan you can add all the walls etc. on top.

It isn't as nice as the one you designed but it did the job.

However before that happenned a lot of planning went on, a lot of changes and a lot consultation.

We didn't have the luxury of tracing paper, so all I did was get a piece of graph paper with the outline of the building and all the things I couldn't move, like the lifts and the columns etc. I laminated that and used an erasable marker to draw in all the walls, anything I liked I scanned in to the computer and emailed to my boss. I think it took about 20 designs just to get the basic layout of the rooms and after that we kept tweeking bits here and there. The place is built now and other than a few material choices that were out of my hands it is pretty much working the way I hoped it would.

The temptation is to go straight to the 3D model because that feels like you are progressing and pretty much finished, however as a tool for designing it was not much good, though if you want to sell the idea to someone, they will spend more time looking at the pretty presentation than actually giving you any useful feedback.
 
Angelika Maier
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Tracing paper is cheap. You buy the thinnest one available and that is 20gr/m2 they come in rolls of 200 meters and that should suffice.
You can use any scrap paper too but tracing paper is easier. It is much easier in metric because you get one sheet of mm paper which you can lay underneath and then
you don't have to measure at all just draw. I don't know if something similar exists in inches. If you cannot find tracing paper than you always can draw on a sheet of glass and put a light underneath, but this is a pain in the back.
For a computer programme you need something were you draw to scale. There are very good ones like ArchiCAD but you will need a friend who has this because it is so expensive. Otherwise I haven't tried google sketchup. You will have to draw everything first in 1:100 and later for plumbing and more detail in 1:50 with the computer you don't have to redraw that is great manually it is no big job for a small house either.
If you get corrugated cardboard (waste at plumber supply), you simply print out you floorplan stick it on the cardboard. Then you cut out strips the height of your walls with a utility knife and voila you have a model. this is very fast. You can make it with roof and everything. I like it much more than computer 3d. Maybe the kids will do that (mine are too messy for a work like that)
 
Troy Rhodes
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Stone has an insulating value of r-1 per...foot. If you put it on the inside of the thermal shell, it moderates the inside temperature. But you don't get any benefit from spring/fall solar heating on the stone.

If you put it on the outside of the insulation, it won't moderate the indoor temperature much, and you will get minimal benefit from that solar heating.


"Moderating the temperature" sounds awesome doesn't it? Significant thermal mass can work for you, or against you.


Large exposed passive thermal mass without insulation (eg adobe structures) work the best in climates where the average daily temperature is 60f to 80f. Hotter than that, or colder than that, you will need to have a plan on how you are going to manage the mass so it doesn't make you uncomfortable. In New Mexico for example, it might be 85 in the afternoon, and 48 at night. But the average is 67. Feels wonderful virtually all the time.

That same building in my neck of the woods (michigan) would cool off in late november, and be pretty much unlivable all winter long unless you pumped huge amounts of heat into it because it has little insulating power.


Even in a well insulated structure, lots of thermal mass can cause problems. In the winter, that means it takes forever to heat the house up once the stone has discharged its heat. Like days, not minutes or hours. The furnace or woodstove just runs and runs and runs and runs, the the mass just soaks it up and up and up while you stay cold.

troy
 
Brian Knight
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Again, gotta be tough putting your ideas out in the world but I think projects end up for the better. I have to question any plans for an attached greenhouse. I would strongly encourage you to keep the greenhouse separate and go with more proven passive solar design. Plants and greenhouses have different needs than humans and homes. Trying to make the two work together creates more problems than it solves in my opinion.
 
David Livingston
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I was not that impressed with the other stone house. I felt it was all for show . European houses look like that because they were build over hundereds of years with extentions upon extentions .
I would echo what everyone else says about passive solar plus insolation .And I live in a stone house .Unless the stone is very local the cost will be prohibitave . What is the local stone ? Why not use that ?
If there is no local quarry then what did the origional settlers use ? Bricks can be good if used with some thought .

Instead of putting a whole design out there for critic why not approach this bit by bit
First the site
Then the materials
then the inside
etc etc

David
 
Brian Knight
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Another point on durability, if those same examples of failing siding were installed on a rainscreen system, the results would probably have been much different. Flashing details are typically more difficult with stone and problems are harder to fix. This could end up being less durable in some situations. Also, mortared stone is a moisture reservoir cladding which can contribute to inward moisture vapor drive which could decrease durability with the wrong details and certain situations. Its also going to be tough getting a meaningful amount of insulation between stone or brick and Iam personally not a fan of thick walls, especially in passive solar elevations.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Ian,

Thanks for sharing the beginning of this project and making it available for public critique and "learning moment" for everyone.

Brian, and I, plus a few others either have built a great deal or work professionally as design-builders ourselves...which Brian and I are both colored with that brush. I would also note that if Brian and I "banter" at one another...it is in "warm jesting and with respect." He and I are on the same page...just different sides. I could, thus far (and will) repeat much of what he is saying...just perhaps in a different way and from a more "natural/traditional" perspective.

With that all said I am going to try to only hit key points, and let questions come for me (et al) that I may assist with.


Stone

Stone=very hard!!!

This is both a joke and given physical reality in many ways... Having worked as both a quarry worker, and stone carver...as well as many different methods of "dry laying," I can promise of all the wonderful things stone gives us as builders...easy, fast and inexpensive is not any of them. Take the projected costs of this project, and triple it at minimum (I believe Brian made a similar observation.)

If someone hasn't built with stone before...take a class and/or "shadow" a good dry-stone artisan/mason for a while. Also, do not scrimp on good tools...it makes a "hard" job much easier.

What is presented for the intended "stonework" is without any doubt a "stone veneering method." All I can say (strictly an opinion from a traditionalist...not disrespect intended ) this is not "real stonework" and is fraught with issues, concerns, pending challenges, and....list goes on. I have seen (done when asked to) good veneer work...it is not cheap, easy, or better than much simpler methods.

As for the suggested foundation...I would suggest reading...Raised Earth Foundations...(if not already read) as it could provide additional options. This is the basic premise of all the oldest existing building in the world and how they are built...including the oldest wooden structure at over 2000 years.

Current Project Questions:

Does anyone have a rough idea how much that amount of stone would cost?


For Albany, NY area (not that far from me and a few of my students) about $300 to $400 per "Tri Axle" load for just delivery, which is about 10 yards for solid wall stone...perhaps a bit less if on pallet.

Retail: $20 to $30 per cubic foot...plus that deliver cost...Knock off (usually) about $10 from either end if bought in "balk." Maybe $5 more if "picked up" and/or getting a dumper not a palleted load.

Blue stone will be the most expensive (probably) with generic field stone, ledge rock, and "bank run" being the least expensive.

What this design appears to be aiming at is what in the industry would be called a "heavy veneer," which is typically 8" to 12" and I won't do a job with less that 12"...preferring 14" to 16" when I have a choice if I have to do any veneer stone work at all.

A How does the cost compare to wood or brick?


Brick is usually "half" that of stone...and wood falls of the chart in the way of cost and ease of use...especially for DIY builders with little "whole house" experience projects.

...even though there are some environmental issues associated with quarrying I think it can be offset by the fact that the house lasts pretty much forever. I mean this is permaculture after all, we have stone houses nearby that are 200+ years old and as long as the roof is cared for, will easily go another 200.


Hmmm....yes there are some issues with quarries, yet I would call them marginal at best in the bigger picture of things. However (apologies :\) this project really can not compare (in most ways) with a 200 year old stone house (I restore these) and what is described as intended building modality...they are vastly different architectural styles. The better built "Stone Enders" and other traditional stone and timber framed structures I have seen and/or bin part of across the glob are very thick walled....Often starting out and 1.2 meters (4') or greater, and perhaps only thinning to 400 mm (16") near the top where the rafter plat rests on most.

Does anyone see any glaring errors with my design?


EEE gad...I dare not touch that one...this is to far outside the scope of what I facilitate in architecture typically, as "veneer and stick work," is not my forte...as it were. I will do my best at addressing direct "item" questions as thus fare it is not what I would recommend to a consulting client...many of which are DIYer folk. If it hasn't been considered...I would suggest "Google Sketch-up" to do the design work...it has better overall familiarity with architects, designers and builders, etc.

On wood siding...I would suggest really looking at that again! Done well (read traditionally) it will last well over 200 years...and 500 years is not uncommon in areas with still existing traditional building systems, and artisan knowledge. Even with your current "design trend" a "cold roof-rain screen" system is strongly recommended...(sometimes called a "breathing wall-roof assembly.)

I'm not a construction expert, I have built numerous landscape stone walls and a shed and chicken coop but putting all of those skills together into building a large structure isn't something I have ever done before....Any suggested improvements?


Hmmm...probably a lot, yet these would take you from the path you are on...so...I would tend to follow Brian's lead on this one, as this is more "mainstream" architecture than an actual "Permie build," "natural build," or in the "Traditional-Historical" realm I tend to ply craft. I will still field any direct query, if you would like.

...3-4 years or as much as 10-12 before I get started...


This is a "good thing," as every project (especially DIY projects) that good planing time is given to...always...turn out better!

Good Luck, and I will continue to follow along,

j
 
Rojer Wisner
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Location: CA - planning for NM, USA
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Although I just found this thread, I too have similar aspirations of building a stone house and would consider laying my plans bare for some constructive criticisms. I am curious if there has been any major updates to your plans. I don't want to hijack your thread, but I'm very new to forums and not sure if I want to start my own topic of similar nature. My plans are a bit eclectic and no less grandiose. I have been using Sweet Home 3d and Tinkercad for my drawings. I am not that fond of SketchUp, I used to get lots of freaky results. I may end up redrawing in Cheetah 3D, if and when I need more precise floor plans.

So far, my plans are for a 24" thick outer slip-formed wall with 6" or 9" sandwiched insulation in similar fashion as described in Thomas J. Elpel's Living Homes book and video, and having some form of masonry heater (with oven at least and stove - hopefully) and perhaps a RMH in the downstairs bathroom/mudroom.

BTW: I most enjoyed Jay C. White Clouds' input.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Rojer,

I would encourage you to enjoy this thread, yet if truly entertaining a project in stone, It would warrant starting a post thread outlining your project goals, aspirations and questions. It can become confusing quickly when "projects" overlap on a thread. It is also a much easier way for those like myself to keep things strait in our heads.

Sketchup can be challenge in some regards, yet like many languages, the ones most commonly spoken typically should have the basics learned. I work now exclusively in Sketchup because of the commonality and wide spread academic application, as well as, professional, since most Architects and PE work in or with it as well.

As for "slip forming" (and I only mean this in a purely technical perspective) is not "stone work." It is a form of concrete work, and as such, not considered "natural" nor "traditional" crafting within the realms of the different stone base architectural forms. Like many "short cuts" it was an attempt to not actually have the skills or understanding of appropriate stone work for GC and others to render a "faux affect" that resembled "stone work," much like the "fake culture concrete stone glue ons" that are inundating the market today. It also has other challenges not worth getting into.

I love stone work, and really encourage folks with stone resources to take full advantage of them...

Foundation for a stone wall will depend on high and the subjected loads it will have to take. I would suggest securing a design for the project then the "mechanics and engineering" can be examined from a better vantage point.

Hope you start your own project file, and look forward to following along, helping where I am able...

Regards,

j
 
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