General berm/bury input and material consideratons
Post by:Nathan Pieper
Not sure if this is the best category for this, this is certainly no wofati, but my main concerns are about the earth berm/bury so hopefully this is the best place to seek input.
Beyond any general observations or recommendations folks interested in building science and function or earth berm/bury might have, I'm primarily wondering about realistic "natural" but more importantly structurally superior alternatives to concrete in a foundation situation that would conventionally require "engineered" concrete work. I guess I think I'm wondering about genuine stone walls, but what else don't I know, and I know nothing about modern stone walls either, or concrete really.
In any case our new home site lends itself well to a kind of earth bermed/buried south walkout format of a home, which I'm happy about, but doing that kind of build certainly requires a lot of subterranean wall, where both strength and moisture mitigation would seem paramount. While I have read about concrete's less then ecologically ideal building merits, which do matter to me to an extent, I'm frankly just more interested in building a home with a long generational lifespan, and have read questionable things about the longevity of concrete.
In a home envelope that will be practically half finished before framing etc even starts (lots of foundation), I worry about building a foundation that sets a sooner than otherwise possible termination date for the home and future generations who might otherwise use it. I don't want the hardest component of the home to remedy as it ages, to have one of the earliest expiration dates. I don't know if that truly would be the case with concrete, I just worry it could be and have read some scary things, like that deterioration really sets in after 80 years. That seems unacceptably short to me. I'm opting to build because any preexisting homes on acreage in our budget was already so far gone that it would have cost us a lot more to get them working again than to build new, and that's a conundrum I'm hoping to spare future generations to the best of my ability.
For a bit more context (see sketches and layouts also) I'm planning on building into a 16% grade slope. Pretty clay heavy subsoils. The footprint of home will likely be around 26 feet in depth (north to south, buried into a south-east facing slope) with a broader 36 to 44 foot length east to west "home" portion, maximizing solar exposure and fitting the site well. The "home" portion will also have an attached single stall garage/workshop/cellar/solarium-entry, beside it, keeping the same 26ish depth, but increasing overall width of the whole structure to around 64 feet. I'm so far planning a second floor roughly 20 deep by 36 wide, over the northeast portion of lower main home level. Seems the main level of what I'm drawing here would be considered either a "walk out basement", or "partial basement", or "slab on grade with retaining wall"...nobody who looks at what I'm concepting can seem to agree. No crawlspace beneath so a slab on grade or partial basement floor whatever you prefer to call it. I'm heating this place strictly with wood initially (southwest Wisconsin 4b), but will probably put radiant floor heat tubes into the first level floor for circulating hot water one way or another at some point, if desired.
We are working on a smallish budget, so extraordinarily expensive alternatives to concrete, while nice to know about, may not be able to realistically apply. Thanks for any input!
Post by:Nathan Pieper
More concept drawings. I've got a very preliminary kind of zones 1&2 layout started, any ideas there are welcome too (as I'm probably a bit naive about a fair amount of it), but its mostly to show the homes relationship to the property and topography.