Gilbert Fritz wrote:I'm no expert, but I've heard that heavy mass designs are more suitable for warmer climates, and that in very cold places insulating designs are better.
Roberto pokachinni wrote:I do not plan to use vapor barriers, though the building inspector might be a bit hard to convince. The only place I might consider it is in the ceiling. My own constantly evolving idea for my house involves a concrete foundation, with stone up a couple feet, then cedar cordwood for a few feet, then straw bale for a couple of courses, with a post and beam or joined timber frame structure supporting the roof that has sheep's wool in it for insulation, and a steel roof to either shed snow fast (steep) or support a heavy snow load (much flatter). I have ideas to do a solarium on the South side, with a stone and glass wall on it's North side. With operable windows, the solarium acts like a trombe wall, passively heating the house on low angle light winter days. My climate, like the one you are thinking of, has many winter days with little sun. A good knowledge of wood heat and storing that heat in thermal mass, puts you at advantage. Rocket mass heaters might be your best bet. I plan to have at least two in my house; one that works in concert with the trombe wall, and one that is part of the kitchen/living room shared wall that can be used partly for cooking.
Meni Menindorf wrote:We were originally very drawn to work with Cob, but upon much rumination, we've realized that in cold climates like this the most important factor is insulation. In the natural materials world this pretty much means Straw Bale, or possibly double-walled cord-wood. This was a major bummer for us as we have no attraction what-so-ever to working with Straw Bales. But we've swallowed the pill and are planning to build a concentric circular home with the inner ring being composed of Cob, and the outer ring being Straw.
Also, if you're not opposed to a few unnatural materials (like the poly-bags) you may want to look into aircrete. This substance could make both a structural and insulative layer to build into the ground. I have become very curious if aircrete could be made from other more earth friendly materials like lime~ Very interesting stuff!
First, I should have mentioned that you must wash the wool as it will not only stink but attract moths if you don't. I would lay the wool down between framing members of the ceiling much as one might put down fibreglass insulation, over top of the boards in the ceiling. Of course it is less uniform than batts of fibreglass, but you can heap it as deep as you like between your ceiling and your roof members, and if you have an attic space, then you have lots of space for deep wool insulation. If I was going to put any vapor barrier, I would put it between my ceiling framing and the boards which are on the living space side of the ceiling.
can you describe more about how you would build/layer the roof, incorporating the wool? also, i'd love to hear more about the solarium and the trombe wall working in concert with the rocket mass heater, maybe with diagrams! lol, asking a lot.
Tom Linson wrote:Hello,
I am brand new to all this so bear with the simple questions.
My goal is to buy a tract of land and build a earth bag/berm home. I wanted to go back to Washington state but financially that may not be possible. I currently live in upstate NY and started look at NE Maine. The land is quite affordable and it's actually close enough that we could travel up there for a few days and work on the project while still living here.
My big concern is the winters. I have no doubt the earthbag home would provide us with a warm home, my concern is with the expanding and contracting of the soil during the seasons.
How to you address this?
Thanks for any help.