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Bouncing Ideas...

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Hello All, I am new to this forum. I feel overwhelmed with good info at the moment. Needless to say this is right up my alley.

Im trying to formulate a plan for a sm. earthbag home (800 sq ft) I get the basic concept and feel certain I could figure out how to build it. Just not sure how I want to get there. Id like to bounce a few ideas off your heads. First off I should lay out what I do know I want (I think) This will be my retirement home. A small ,neat,rectangular home built with dirtbags. Ok first bounce, Concrete floors vs conventional joist flooring? I didnt include earthen floors as thats not going to float with the wife. Im leaning to the joists as we will be growing old there .A joists floor will be easier on us , not to mention easier on the hips if we should fall. I do like the was a stained concrete floor looks. Idea 2, Vaulted ceiling and loft or 8 ft flat ceilings? The loft and vaults ceiling would be great to make a small house feel bigger and give some extra heated space. The down side is the heat issue. Being as we are cold natured It just seems natural to stay with a flat ceiling . Cost of heating would be better as well

As for a heat source,I like the idea of a RMH but did like the idea of it taking up limited space or having a hard bench to sit on. I came across a Russian heater on this forum. I love it. I could stack my mass up rather than laying it out. I dont know much in regards to the pros and cons to either. Im sure either would work well.

These are my concerns at the moment. I just want to have a well thought out plan . That will equate to a simple,efficient and happy home. Thank you all for your advice

Posts: 554
Location: Asheville NC
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What climate Greg? Concrete floors are tough to beat and I personally feel orthopedic concerns are perceptual. Flat or slight vault with vented attic makes it easier to get very high and affordable R values overhead, which you will probably want to make up for the low Rvalues in your walls.
Greg Robbins
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Brain, thanks for the response. Im looking to build in N.W. Ark. Im not in love with the concrete idea due to it being so hard. I can see problems arising from walking on it long term. Concrete would be simple and easy to do. I guess Im leaning on a conventional floor. Just more user friendly. My initial thought was was having so much mass with the concrete floor and dirt walls That once I got it warm or cool it would be easier to maintain. I have been looking at these masonry heaters. I really like the concept. I was hoping that a heater like this would take care of my heating issues. Will the mass of the walls/floors make up for lack of R value?. The more I look into to this type of house the more I realize how little I know.

As to the roof. You are right with the flat ceilings. Im still leaning on a low pitch roof (4 p) that is vaulted.Im thoughts as of now are to use closed cell foam insulation between the rafters then use heat reflective sheathing then covered by T&G boards. Then use a fan to help bring down the heat. If you see fault in this then Id like to hear them.. I realize I cant build the perfect house but I do want make it energy efficient As I can and still be practical .

Thanks again, Greg

Posts: 10
Location: Middle TN, 6b
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Brian Knight wrote:Concrete floors are tough to beat and I personally feel orthopedic concerns are perceptual.

For some of us it's not perceptual. I've had chronic back pain for most of my life & I've found that working & living on concrete floors escalated my problems significantly.
It takes me months to recover when I'm not on them for 8+ hours a day.

(My mom owns a small slab house that I stayed in for about 6 months, a couple years ago & it took me 5 months to recover.
She had industrial carpet over a thin pad for support, but every time I sat on the couch, chairs or laid in bed, I could feel the hardness of the concrete through them.
Places with a lot more padding are much better, but still quite noticeable for me.)

If you feel like crap just hanging around at a store for an hour or so, you'll notice it more at your house.

--This is only my perspective & I've known many others who have no issue, but it's definitely something significant to consider if you think it might be a problem for you, specifically.

I just wanted to add my 2c on my personal issue w/ concrete flooring. YMMV. =)


I've been looking over a lot of natural building systems for when my husband & I get our own land & I'm looking at so many extra flooring options so I don't have to do concrete - at least for flooring.
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