• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Critique My House Design  RSS feed

 
Sheldon Nicholson
Posts: 54
Location: Canada
6
books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These are my design criteria:
- Canadian Shield, very cold winter, lots of snow, humid and hot summer, shallow soil, lots of rock, lots of trees
- House must be easy to build, must be heat efficient, must be cool in summer, must be cheap, must last a long time

I designed my own house because I did not feel that any conventional designs fit my situation very well. Wofati wouldn't be ideal because the soil here is very cold and very shallow. Straw bale, earthbags, etc weren't floating my boat.

A picture of my design is attached to this post (I hope the attachment works...)

Here is a legend:
A: Tin roof, to keep snow and water off of straw insulation. Is on a hinge (c) so that it can be raised in the summer and the straw bales can be removed)
B: Straw bales, for insulation in winter (removed in summer to allow a draft through this space
C: A really, really strong hinge so that the tin roof (b) and greenhouse roof (L) can be raised or lowered
D: A Jean Pain compost pile. It heats water which heats the house. There is a new one built every year.
E: hot water pipes under the floor of the main house area (f). The water is warmer towards the right (north) and cooler towards the left (south) creating airflow within the house during the winter
F: Main Living Area
G: A very strong ceiling to hold the weight of the straw bales, also is a vapour and moisture barier
H: A thermal mass, probably a thick stone wall. This holds heat from the greenhouse during the summer to keep the house warm during cold summer nights. This wall contains windows and the main entranceway.
I: A vent pipe through the top of the stone wall (h) which can be opened or closed. In the winter this is kept open in order to create the circular airflow within the living area (f)
J: The Main support posts for the house. These are sunk deep and very strong. They hold up the tin roof(b) the ceiling (G) and Greenhouse surface (L))
K: Greenhouse area, grows plants year round. High tilt to prevent snow buildup. Has a shade-cloth for winter. Can be raised via the hinge (c) if needed.
L: Greenhouse surface, wood frame. Glazing hopefully glass, but maybe plastic.
M: The second Jean Pain compost pile, this one heats the greenhouse soil. The combination of both compost piles (m and d) keeps the soil under the stone wall (h) and posts (j) from freezing, to prevent frost heaving.
N: hot water pipes under greenhouse area.
O: (off to the right) Shed for storing straw bales during summer.

I still have to work some of the details out with the Compost Water piping system. And I would love to be able to capture some methane as well. I also have to work out the water drainage around the house and from the roof.

My main problem I think is ensuring that the house is cool enough during the summer.

Okay, go to town. Tear it to pieces! Better now than while I'm in the middle of building it....
image1.JPG
[Thumbnail for image1.JPG]
Sheldon's House Design
 
Steven Kovacs
Posts: 227
Location: Western Massachusetts (USDA zone 5a, heating zone 5, 40"+)
9
urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sheldon,

I applaud your ambition and goals, but I do worry that with this many non-traditional features, the potential for something to go wrong is pretty high. What do the traditional and conventional houses in the area look like? Learn from what works (or doesn't work!) locally and in similar climates (Russia maybe?) and keep it simple. Minimize moving parts, maintenance, and manual seasonal adjustments wherever you can.

The one detail that really jumps out at me as a neat idea that is likely to cause problems is the hinge. Moving parts are very hard to insulate and seal against water, and you're proposing to put such a part at the apex of your roof where it will be exposed to the elements and where water will damage it and leak into your home. Unless you live in the desert (and maybe even then), water is the enemy.

Removing the straw bales seasonally is likely to be a hassle, and they will inevitably suffer damage over time. Where will you store them that is dry and protected from any critters that might want to eat them, nest in them, or use them as a toilet?

Turning to your local resources, can you make use of what's around you? Are there deciduous trees to the south of your building site that could offer summer shade? Can you use local rocks for a foundation or walls? Passive solar with high thermal mass (rock) and exterior insulation seems to be a popular and effective starting formula for temperate climates with cold winters, from what little I've seen.
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can you please describe your summers? I also think that messing with the apex is risky and the removing the bales for the summer and replacing for the winter is likely to be counterproductive, or at least I think there are probably better ways to solve the summer ventilation issue. Do you want to share what your thinking is on that part of your design?
 
Sheldon Nicholson
Posts: 54
Location: Canada
6
books
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Steven, It seems that most of the problems you talked about could be solved by simply removing the hinge component of the design, which would mean leaving the straw bales in all year round. But then there would be a problem with the straw bales rotting or decaying over time...

I am totally fine with the labour involved in moving all of the straw bales twice each year, but if there is another solution which doesnt involve so much work I would certainly consider it.

Basically I had planned of removing the straw bales because I assumed they would make the house unbearably hot during summer. I am not nearly as knowledgeable about keeping a house cool in the summer as I am keeping one warm in the winter. So maybe having a heavily insulated roof isnt really a bad thing during summer?

From what I understand there is not really any insulation which can compare to straw bales in terms of cost, ease of assembly and lack of toxicity. But straw has the drawback of not lasting forever... that was another reason for wanting to replace it each year.

I have lots of animals so straw bales will always be in abundant supply anyways.
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good ceiling insulation will help keep a building cool in summer (you don't get the heat from the roof transferring through into the house). This is why I was asking what kind of summer you have, I was trying to imagine what conditions would make an uninsulated roof in summer an asset.
 
Yup, yup, yup. Tiny ad:
The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book by Mike Oehler - digital download
https://permies.com/wiki/23444/digital-market/digital-market/Earth-Sheltered-Solar-Greenhouse-Book
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!