I have lived in what i call "the pump-house" for a total of about 5 yrs. it is half underground on a south-facing hill-side and its about 18' x 18' on the outside, made from 8" concrete blocks with 8" solid concrete roof and floor. it has always been the location of the waterpump for the property, the pump feeds an office trailer/mobile home about 80-100ft away up the hill. in my years living in this interesting south-facing dwelling i have done alot of work here. i have built an L-shaped bathroom with full shower - toilet - sink and a subfloor to house my drain pipes and subwalls to house polystyrene insulation and interior wall boards. i have installed a new front door and winow to something more modern and insulative - and the door has a window also for more southern light. it was divided into 2 rooms with a large brick division wall which is likely load-bearing - plus i added the bathroom (where the well pump is located) so its now 3 rooms if you count the bathroom. ive also installed a new propane 40 gal hot water tank and fireplace.
i want to install my RSMH in the near future and add a solarium/greenhouse to my front south facing side and get a more awesomer kitchen setup i want to grow more organic food and raise some chickens and so many plans - but im usually busy at work or lacking the cash to buy building materials so i do small accomplishments slowly when i can. and i can only do so-much being often or always on my own.
I have access to lots of tires, trees from the land here, and fresh milled lumber almost any size I want, among other natural building materils from the land.
What's a cheap and easy way to build a front solarium / attached greenhouse that will also be a foyer / main entance? I've heard about polycarbonate pannels on another thread I was reading. I want lots of light to get in so I can grow veggies and air purifying plants and so I can harness so of this south facing solar radiation/heat.
I've included a sketch of my current living quarters, and another of a rough idea of what I want to do. I'm in SE ontario canada so it does get hot and cold and wet and everything in between here through the seasons.
For the solarium I want to add to the southern face of my home I am considering a porch topped with translucent corragated panels. The sides would flexible plastic, maybe a translucent pool cover, which has air bubbles in it . In the summer time, the plastic would be replaced with screen for insects and shade.
The roof would be covered with aluminized bubble wrap insulation during
If things were not so built up around my house I would dig in and build a system like this:
A rocket stove in the solarium could use such a system to store heat, without needing to build a bell or bench.
Nah, I don't work for them, and their version is only one of several.
I would use the lumber, sunk into gravel pits .
Look for some of Jay C. White Clouds threads on wood preservation, they are very informative.
Sounds like you want lots of plants,so maybe a arbor for vines would be nice.
You might want a large tank or tub in the sun space, not because you need to store water, but it could help stabilize tempatures.
I just read a paper about research China did a few years ago on greenhouses in northern climates, and they recommend a modified hoop style with a solid insulated north, east and west walls, and a small (3 foot or so) insulated opaque roof on the north side of the roof (probably to keep the sun off the north wall (heat sinc) in summer). Sounds like your orientation is perfect for this. You could use local branches for the hoops, and sheets of plastic for the sheathing. A double layer of sheathing (one above and one below the hoops) would provide a little insulation from cold evenings. That's the cheapest way to go. Don't bubble it out too much or it will get colder at night. The optimal shape is more of a 2 or 3 foot tall vertical south wall, with the hoops going almost straight from there to your building roof line, at an angle equal to your latitude.
But I would want to see the view out, so I would probably use some windows I picked up cheap at ReStore or other recycling center. If you installed louvered shutters or an overhang to protect from rain, you can leave them open 24/7 all summer. If you don't use kiln dried lumber for framing, you need to leave a few inches around your windows for shrinkage as the wood dries, or you will crack your glass.
Note that if you put an opaque roof over your existing window, it will be much darker inside your home, so I would install a skylight over that window so you still get direct sunlight all year long if you go with an opaque roof in that area.
I would also make the east and west walls solid insulated. Maybe a small window in each for cross ventilation in summer.
Your existing block wall will provide some thermal mass for nighttime heating, but your floor should also provide some thermal mass, such as dirt, pavers, tile, etc. And insulate the floor. You can either insulate and waterproof vertically around the outside of your foundation, or if you have the room, install insulation like William did in his photo above, with the pink insulation (likely foam) and water barrier buried at an angle to create a larger thermal mass store.
I live in MD and have two 6-foot sliding doors and two 36 inch windows on my south side, with a 12 inch roof overhang (eves). In the winter, the sun hits the floor about 10 feet from the doors into my room, so most of the room gets solar heated, enough to heat my entire 1700 sqft poorly-insulated house during daylight hours when it is 20F outside. In the summer, the sun only hits the first 6 inches of floor because of the 12 inch overhang at my eves. The point is, if you want to make it comfortable so it doesn't overheat in the summer without human intervention to shade it, you may want to use an opaque roof and lots of windows or glass doors in a vertical wall. This is what I would do. But then you would not get direct sunlight on your block wall in winter to help moderate nighttime temps, so maybe an opaque cover that you install over a translucent roof all summer might be a better idea after all. Either way, I bet you will no longer have a heating bill.
Have fun and best of luck!
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