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Maison du Bricolage: Do it yourself house  RSS feed

 
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Plans for the Future: House: Maison de Bricolage
I have not taken an architectural design class., I have read a lot and learned a lot by observation. If I had taken such a class, I would have done a project, this is my project design for the house I plan to build. I curtsy nicely to you all, and formally offer it for peer review.

I broke this up into two threads, land and house, for clarity and to make comments less confusing to read. See the other thread Gardens In My Mind for more about the layout and plans for the land. It’s all one design, the house is not just dumped on some land that then needs to be designed separately. They work together.

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost, that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

This house is not natural construction. Due to all the parameters of our needs, wants, money, health and available help, what I have designed here is what I think can be realistically built. The worst parameter has been Codes. We are legally under the 2009 IBC-IRC, and I have few polite things to say about the local building codes people so far. I really hope that will change. I’m trying to do better than the usual construction practices I have seen, build above code, and that entails doing things that are not “the way we always do it,” and it’s never easy to break ground in compacted soil. :D

The name of the house is Maison du Bricolage, which translates something along the lines of “House of DIY” or “House of Recycled Bits” either one works well, and it sounds classy, if I was calling it “House of Dumpster Dive and Thrift Stores” in English, I don't think it would have the same effect. Everything we can come up with cheap or free we are, we are on a very tight budget for this. The parts we are choosing to pay for are only the parts we can’t scrounge up or that need to be very structural. There are some really neat things going in, and it’s being fun and creative to design, will be neat to build.

Me and my mom are doing this. My mom is 79, excellent health in general, broke her leg badly a few years ago and was in a wheelchair for 6 months or so. It’s slowed her down a bit, and made her cautious about uneven surfaces and steps. I’m 54, with 20 years of serious health issues that get better and worse for various reasons. At best I’m pretty energetic with strength issues (very good with leverage and tools to compensate for strength) and a lot of constant pain that I can deal with. At worst I can’t walk more than 50 feet and don’t leave the property for months on end. We are hoping for the best, but designing for the worst also. My style is I design first for functional requirements, then add in the details that make it pretty.

Design Requirements:
Some of the house design requirements (there are more, but I’m already making these threads huge.)
Disability friendly: Main level completely wheelchair accessible, including garage, screen porch and patio; stairs to basement less steep than normal (6:12 instead of 7:11) and good solid rails to pull myself up with; carpeted with low commercial carpet to reduce foot pain in but be easy for wheels to roll on; good lighting that can be modified easily.
Kitchen: Big enough for what we actually do, including canning, mass production cooking, and multiple cooks. Base cabinets contain all drawers, possibly no upper cabinets at all. Two sinks, possibly two stovetops (one electric, one gas, both have their good and bad points, I use them differently.)
Bedrooms: 2 master bedrooms, with good light and air flow. Each has a bathroom, and a laundry room connects between rooms.
Bathrooms: Each bedroom has it’s own bathroom, roll in showers, laid out for easy access. Double plumbed for black/grey water.
Doors: All doorways 36 inches wide, interior sliding surface doors, exterior doors open left handed.
Easy to rearrange: Furniture, shelving etc all on wheels so space can be changed as needed to accommodate life changes. Main spaces all open, so rolling shelving works as partitions.
Temperature control: Good insulation, tight construction, airlock mud rooms, garage access also through airlock. Good air flow is a high priority as we are window opening people: windows that open wide, with high and low sections for controlling air, any clerestory windows that can be reached need to be operable, all windows open sliding sideways. Warmer and cooler areas in the living spaces of the house to accommodate different preferences and tasks. High thermal mass with good temperature control to stabilize basic temperatures, radiant heat, good air flow and circulation. Redundant systems of different input types to increase resilience.
Basic construction: Low maintenance, high ceilings, very good natural light, storm shutters, very mold resistant, designed for our real life not what builders find easy and cheap to do.
Easy to expand: We are building this on the grid, but I’m putting in the structural parts of the systems I will want later to take it more natural and less resource intensive, at the moment we need a house we can move into soon that will pass codes that we can work on at our own leisure and finances. Double incoming plumbing so well water can be used, double outgoing plumbing in place for grey water reuse, heating/cooling systems that can be switched to solar/passive easily, space for battery banks, space for RMH type heat if needed, parallel redundant systems of different types.
Easy to maintain: Easy access for repairs, modular construction, carpet squares so sections can be replaced out easily, sloped floors under plumbing so leaks are noticed soon, rolling storage modules under kitchen sinks so drain pipes are easy to reach.


Basic Design:
Basic map of the property we bought. 4 acres with about 10-15 degree slope to the north, cleared as pasture, llamas used to live here! There are old foundations where the previous houses burned and a small barn. We are in southern Missouri, so the temperatures swing from hot and muggy summers to bitey cold winters, which has made for interesting design issues. I have told mom since we started “It’s easy to design for always cold or always hot, extremes both way is a challenge!” Rain levels tend to alternate years of flooding wet to drought dry, also interesting to design against (that shows up more on the land thread.)


Structures currently in place (old foundations, basements, slabs, and the barn) and the probable placement of the house and a guess of greenhouse location. Exact house placement depends on location of a rock ridge under ground, more on that in the other post. We are not building on the old foundations. The main area of the old foundations is an old crawl space about 3 foot deep that will be used as a plant propagation area, it is sheltered from the wind, it will be easy to hoop areas as needed as there are good anchor points in the ground where a modular home was anchored. There have been two houses there, a conventional construction one that burned, it was replaced by a modular home, which also burned. I don’t know why the first house burned, but the second was electrical issues, I’m putting in whole house surge protectors. There is a full depth basement on one end that has roof issues, currently storage, will end up either a root cellar, a walipini or mushroom growing space.
 

Exterior elevation drawings from the south (road side, front of house) north (pasture side, private space) east (driveway and work areas) and west (pond and nature areas.)


Basic house plan, main floor. Note reversed orientation, south is top of page. It’s hard to draw the levels so you have to visualize: when you are in the living area (cathedral ceiling, with clerestory windows) looking west you’d see the bathroom, halls, and utility room have a 7 foot ceiling, with the area above them sort of a low loft with a rail, which adds to the visual space in the living area (I tinted the low space pink in this picture.) The west wall of that loft area is mostly glass, so the bedrooms have full height cathedral ceilings, with their upper east wall glassed. You walk down the hall, past the bathroom, and the room opens up to high ceilings and fills with light, a lovely effect that I borrowed from Frank Lloyd Wright. The south bedroom has clerestory windows on it and windows up high between the rooms that let the upper light into the north bedroom. The south bedroom is mine, I prefer higher temperatures than mom does. The north bedroom is hers, and will be a bit cooler all the time, but just as sunny due to the high windows that let in the clerestory light from the south and east without so much heat.
Screened in porch faces the north slope and a lovely view.
South facing cement slab porch with a slope, roof has 3 foot overhangs, and no gutters, water hits the slab and goes to collection areas. Cleaning gutters is hard on my strength at best, impossible at worst. North side has 4 foot sloped sidewalk doing the same thing. Part of what I want is the umbrella ground shield effect to keep the basement dry. The south is the uphill side, so it’s the one most likely to be too wet. The slab is also in the sun, so it will be part of the heat system, more on that later.


Basic basement plan, walk out to the north and possibly west sides. The slope is perfect for a walk out! YAY! North door opens under the screened porch above, so it’s a sheltered area with a cement slab floor, some of my work needs that kind of space (spray painting etc.) Basement area is unfinished, it will be insulated on the exterior of the walls, and the electrical will be surface mounted, so no normal finishing is needed or wanted. The floor has PEX poured into it for hydronic radiant heat in the slab (insulated under the slab too) so not only will the basement stay a tolerable heat, it will be thermal mass that stabilizes the whole house.
Basement space has a tornado safe room, bathroom with a soaking tub, small kitchen area, a cheese aging cave, still room for processing herbs and oils, and is mostly my workshop/studio space where I can do things to earn money, have fun, and use the production off of the property. Lots of storage space for fabric and papers, computers for my graphics and layouts, sewing area, wood working tools, etc. I do odd stuff. (Explaining that would be a whole thread of it’s own!)

Construction:
This is where it gets interesting. I’m trying to eliminate as many of the builders as possible. I’m visualizing more like a barn raising, slower paced, make sure it’s all done correctly, I hate the normal amount of slop builders do as just a matter of course for speed purposes “put trim over it!” and the corners they cut for budget reasons. I am choosing where I want our budget cuts, and they are in very different areas than normal, we are cutting the budget mercilessly, but sacrificing the things we don’t find necessary. Looking at construction sites appalls me, basic suburban tract house construction is not what we want, but is what the builders tend to do on a tight budget.
I’m using steel SIPs, they are neat tech, and easy to build with. This video is of construction of a house being built of this type of SIPs, a different brand. 
  There’s no exterior wood framing (which eliminates needing framers to build the outside walls) the brand I’m using is a watertight roof as long as there are no valleys  (I modified the design to accommodate that) which eliminates roofers. It’s very tight construction, the R value on 6 inch thick walls is 24, and the 8 inch roof is 32, but there’s almost no air infiltration as the panels butt up to each other tightly and the styrofoam is continuous. I have run a LOT of numbers based on the climate locally, and air infiltration is going to be the worst problem due to the wind flow on the site. Cutting out uncontrolled infiltration should keep the temperature inside controllable, even with the relatively low R values of the walls and roof.  So I really expect the house to be quite comfortable.
Steel SIPs are also not skilled labor intensive, I’m hoping this will eliminate a lot of the labor costs, this area seems to have either expensive skilled labor who are very busy, or unskilled workers. Basic assembly is stand the panels (which are not heavy) into place in a footer channel, screw them together and add a header bar that screws down. The roof is panels that sit on the edge of the walls and on a beam and all screw down tight. So there are no trusses required either and cathedral ceilings are the default. Also because the roof panels are insulated all the way to the edges ice dams are very unlikely. I’m going to try to make no roof penetrations to avoid leaks in the future, run my code required vents out the walls instead.
The basement is concrete floors and walls (walls are either poured or filled blocks, that’s still up in the air) (dry stacked filled block is looking like it’s most likely, if so, I’ll add partition walls of block to buttress against the south wall dirt weight) with foam under the slab, hopefully under the footings (still figuring out the codes on that.) On the South and East sides the exterior under grade is coated well to make it watertight, then a layer of insulating below grade foam, then dimple mats or gravel to drain water down to the French drain systems. The slab will be poured with PEX in place for hydronic heating, the walls will possibly have PEX on cement board hooked to them for keeping them up to temp if required. The PEX along the walls is spaced closer, and that may be enough, with foam and earth insulation, to keep it stable. The manifold I’m getting for the PEX has more connection spaces than the floor needs, so it will be easy to hook wall loops in if needed. The bathrooms upstairs also have PEX in their floor to keep them warm.

Water system:
The climate here alternates wet and dry, so I am both doing flood control and water retention on the property. The house systems hook into and are part of the property systems.
There is a well on the property, near the house site, but since there’s no power in that area yet, I have not tested the pump, I would love to put a wind pump on it, good wind flow here. For now, we are hooking to the city water lines.
There is a sewer lagoon here, that I will be using to some extent, so I’m running lines to it, but my lines will split so I can put in a worm digester tank, and probably some plant leach beds, uphill of the lagoon, so the lagoon only gets overflow and problems.
I bought a large amount of 4 inch schedule 80 pipe really cheaply, all the air intake tubes, French drains, and non-potable water movement pipes will be made of that. In the pictures coming up the pipes are not drawn to scale, they are all 4 inch pipe. 


Water input lines marked in blue (the dotted line is where there may be an existing intact line.) The yard sections are separate and have uphill and downhill faucets so they can be drained easily for winter. The lower half of the this picture is the same shot, with my path layer turned on (see the other thread for more about the paths) and the paths line up with my water lines. Knowing the lines are under the paths makes them easy to find if they need repair years from now, and I HATE having to dig up plants to fix water lines.
The existing well is marked with a blue star, on the southeast corner of the garage/house.


Water harvesting system: Arrows show roof flows and some ground flows. The south patio is cement, roof water comes off 3 foot overhangs and flows to the south edge of the slab, where it hits a channel that takes it west, to cisterns. If I can make it happen, the edge of that slab channel will be curvy, with deeper pool spots, and we’ll put pretty rocks along it, and it will be a water feature too, and where the path crosses it, a decorative bridge. If we can’t use the well for much else, a wind pump putting water into our channel/feature would be neat. The well is uphill of this channel, and has a lot of potential, but has not been checked at all, no clue of water flow, quality or pump functioning. The south cistern is uphill of the house water input lines, and can be used if needed, it’s also within reach of the greenhouse and can run drip lines easily.
The north side water flow goes to a lower cistern, which could be pumped up with a wind pump, or used downhill. Any overflow from these goes into the ponds/swales system.

The French drain system runs along the edges, and underneath the house and hooks into the water harvest system also. It will also provide ventilation under the slab for potential radon, and the air in them can be pulled into the garage for intake air if needed.

Air intake tubes are marked in bright green. Sewer is marked in orange.
The air in the house flows both in and out the windows (3 foot wide by 5 foot tall, two sliding windows stacked in each unit, a 3 foot tall slider with a 2 foot tall one on top of it) and out the clerestory. When the windows are closed, the house inhales through air intake tubes. The north tubes go about 200 feet downhill (until I hit the rock outcropping down there) to a very cool area, they are for use in summer to bring cool air up, that will be further cooled by the ground, which will condense out some of the moisture (the water will end up in the lower pond.) The south tubes run under the south side concrete slab patio and will be sun warmed in winter (I hope) and they hook into tubes under the soil in the greenhouse so the house can pull off both the south air tubes and the greenhouse for air replacement in the winter. The garage can also pull air in summer off the French drain system.


Turning all of these layers on, it’s easy to see now that it all hooks together, and runs in the same trenches to make it easy to install with minimal digging. The soil on the west side of the house is deep, not rocky, so won’t be hard to work with. All of the water and air inputs come in the same area of the basement, so there is minimal penetration of the walls, easy to keep track of (well labeled!) pipes.

Heat and cooling systems:
All of the air tubes come into the basement, run through filters and end in an air handler that also gets the recirculating air from the house, temperature is adjusted if necessary, then the air flows back though the house through the central thermal mass wall. Recirculation pipes run from the peak of the roofline, the bedrooms, the valences above the windows, and floor vents below the windows to draw the air back down to the handler, with intake ports on the recirculation tubes at different heights so the temperature can be adjusted by choosing what air is being removed. Recirculation also pulls from behind the fridge and freezer, I don’t like letting the fridge heat the kitchen in summer.
Exhalation vents run from the bathrooms to the greenhouse, and from the kitchen to the garage, so any temperature control is not totally wasted on the way out, as both areas will benefit from the temperate air. Most high performance houses have a heat exchanger to vent out only cold air, but I don’t want my exhale to go randomly outside in a bad location, seems like a waste, I’d rather put it going to spaces that need temperature modulation, both heat and cooling. I don’t have the garage on the main temperature control system, it has PEX in the floor that can be turned on, but it’s main heat/cool is just the exhale from the house. It’s built of the steel SIPs, but even insulated garage doors leak air, and it’s not a priority to try to keep it totally controlled.
I don’t expect any of these systems to do 100% of everything, that’s why multiple systems are designed in, so the more expensive, energy intensive systems will correct only what’s left after the passive systems do their job. We also don’t expect to have a normal type house with a thermostat that is just magic and keeps the house perfect. What we do expect is to end up with a house that is tolerable on fairly low energy input, and must be modified by hand to switch systems for seasonal changes, or sudden weather conditions. Insulated storm shutters will be easy to put in place, and multiple weights of curtains so light or heavy window covering can be used at any time. If anyone wants me to, I can draw up that system for others to consider using in their own homes.


The electrical in the house is all surface mounted in fake wooden beams, painted deeper colors near the floor, lighter up high, probably solid colors in the basement. The electrical outlets will be (edited due to change in plans) 20 inches off the floor, so they are accessible without reaching down. Lights will be on switched outlets up by the ceiling, so the fixtures can be swapped out easily as they will have plugs, not hard wires. Me and mom both have changing vision issues going on, and are not sure what kind of lights will be most useful in the future.
Each fake beam will also have 1.5 inch PVC pipe in it with operable vents for air intake to recirculate air back to the air handler via 4 inch pipe. There is a valence above the windows on the south side of the house for removing excess solar gain in summer, vents from each intake pipe go to it. The lower end of the pipes have intake vents for removing cool air off the floor to be temperature modified and recirculated.
Solar passive heating panels (probably on wheels!) on the South side slab porch will be used to dehydrate food in summer, and in winter hook into the windows to add heat. The heat from them can either be left where it is, or recirculated down so it goes though the thermal mass. There are air outputs into the bathrooms, and in the bedrooms, as well as some odd ones in the floor of the kitchen under the sinks to provide air flow across the dishes drying rack drawers.  
The basement has a weird stub out in the thermal mass wall that is below where we will put a gas fireplace thing, so there is structural support for a wood burning mass heater if required. Until we see exactly how this place performs, I’m not doing anything I’m going to have a codes war about. The gas fireplace will have output pipes that run along and heat the thermal mass wall, that “just happen” to be designed as if they are output for a mass heater, with cleanouts and mass around them. Ideal location for a mass heater in this house would be the basement, and I’ll leave a space where it can go if I need one, but reality is the top floor is where we can maintain a fire, the stairs are not easy for us to use casually.


Cutaway views from the West, if you peel off the wall so you see into the bedrooms, and cutting the house in half at about the midline so you can see the thermal mass wall. The climate here requires designing for both heating and cooling, as both extremes are normal. The air tubes from the lower North area will be running fairly low humidity intake as the water will condense and flow back down the tube. It will be interesting to see if that is enough to keep the house comfortable or if the air handler has to add A/C to drop out more humidity.
These drawings show the air flow changing from winter to summer, as the intakes are closed or opened, the fans go one way or the other, the vents between floors are opened or closed, and the windows are opened or closed or covered.
Something that doesn’t show up on the drawings (they were too cluttered up) is the glassed in wall on the high East side of each bedroom has windows that open, to draw air through the bedrooms and back into the main part of the house.
The air handler will be a DIY thing, with (probably) a minisplit running temperature control in it. If anyone has installed split systems, I’d love to ask some questions, please PM me.

Something else that doesn't show up in all of this is how much of the house is recycled/upcycled/repurposed parts. There are all kinds of odd things going on that are interesting, but too detailed to get into. I am doing this within codes, but doing it within budget by being REALLY creative.

There is a LOT designed for this house that is all as detailed as all of this, but I don’t have it drawn up (probably won’t bother to draw it up) and have probably overloaded anyone who read both threads to the bottom! The property design is part of the house design, be sure to read that thread too if you are finding this interesting. Gardens In My Mind If you are not overloaded, and say “WOW, this is neat! I’d love to be part of it!” PLEASE PM me, I’m looking for help of various sorts, paid and volunteer, as well as one person I work with well who is stronger than me and can be the other half of it all. If needed, I can teach the skills required to do the tasks that need to be done, looking for an energetic good attitude and willingness to learn. This is going to be an interesting year or so!! Come play with us!!

I curtsy nicely at you,
Welcome to the Maison du Bricolage!!
 
garden master
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Holy Crap!  I clap and hooray back at you.  That is a hell of a plan.  It's so detailed that I don't have any input.  I'm not particularly versed in the air handling but hopefully some experts can look that part over.  The only question I have is if you've considered a root cellar in the design?  They're much easier to build up front.  Good luck with the build!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Mike Jay: Oh, it's even more detailed in my head! I have a busy head.
The basement in the old foundation may end up a root cellar, not sure. The problem with putting a root cellar in the basement of the house is the PEX heating the floor will keep it from being cold in there, as I need the basement concrete to stay a tolerable heat to make this work. When the actual dirt levels from the walk out are seen, I may sink a root cellar into the retaining wall I may need to put up. I have also considered putting an insulated closet in the basement that gets the air intake off the air tubes (that will probably be chilly in winter) and stays cool, that then passes the air to the air handler. The problem I can see with that is if something happens in the root closet thing, like a squash rots, the air flow into the rest of the house will spread the odor... Ew! Although, I guess that would make it so things like that didn't happen unnoticed :) Don't know about midwinter having the house reek of rotted squash.
Wish I could put one under the garage, but that's too expensive, would require a LOT more structure in the garage floor than I am planning.
 
Mike Jay
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See, you thought of everything
 
Pearl Sutton
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No, I haven't :) I keep thinking of more, and having to say to myself "you have a budget, quit thinking up stuff!!" So many cool ideas have been cut for budget reasons.
 
pollinator
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Well done!
(though a lot remains to be done of course, hehe)

I just have 2 questions....

- Why French? They would better say, by the way, maison du bricolage. And maison de Pearl...

- Why does the green house touches the house only by the corner?
 
Pearl Sutton
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Hi Xisca!
Thank you for the encouragement and the translation correction, I fixed it. :D Why French? No good reason except I have never seen a word I liked for all the weird stuff I do until I hit the word bricolage and looked it up. That works SO well in my head! So the house got named that, as well as my artwork style. This area has a lot of French names, although by the time you hear it through a Missouri accent, oh dear. First time I heard someone say the name of a local lake, Pomme de Terre, thankfully it was someone who wasn't offended when I laughed. I have a bad desert drawl, but even I get closer than that! So kind of historical local, kind of just me, no good reason :)

The greenhouse location is still up in the air. Has to do a lot with dirt levels and water flow. The south side of the house has a cement slab patio that has a lot to do with water runoff, I need to see how it's going to angle in reality before I decide how close to get it. Blocking the water runoff flow would be a serious issue. If I have MY choice, it will actually be on the west side of the house, so the door out of the South bedroom (my room) goes to the greenhouse, part of why i have a door, not a window there. Until the basement is excavated, I don't know where the dirt level is on the west, or exactly what the south side patio slope is. The exact house location is still up in the air (depends on rock levels underground) so guessing at exact dirt levels is futile without more data. The placement on the drawings is sort of my "best option unless I can get it someplace I prefer" location for the moment. But you are right, it would be better to have it closer. And I just reread your question, the corner it's touching is the South slab patio edge, not a corner of the house. So the water flow in that position would go in a stream between the patio and the greenhouse.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Pearl, that's enough reason that you liked the word bricolage! + the local french names.... how funny the potato lake....maybe the shape?

If you kept "de" it would mean more something like "house more or less well made"... it would mean ... amateur, non professional.
With "du", it means that a lot of bricolage will happen in it.... which I think fits!

Yes I was imagining a door to go into the green house....

This of excavations that will change the plans, who can understand it better than me, as I live in a cave! I have been digging now even outside, for a toolshed... walls on the rocks, plants in soil!
 
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Wow! If I wasn't on the West Coast, I'd volunteer to help you. Love both the house and property plans. I have much to learn and your threads have given me many ideas and much to research. Kudos to you!
 
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Something that you might find inspiring (like I do) is the Bioshelter Ark's New Alchemists:  https://newalchemists.net/portfolio/bioshelter-arks/ and is in the same plant hardiness zone as I now find myself.  They have a number of interesting publications if you are interested:
https://newalchemists.net/publications/
 
Pearl Sutton
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Ebo David:
Cool! That looks like the high end versions of what I'm doing much cheaper! Awesome! I'll see what I can learn from them.
Thanks!!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Ebo David: Oh yes. Have read all of that information, have some of it in book form on my shelves. I follow that thread, haven't had anything to say on it yet.

I'm surprised I wasn't familiar with the New Alchemy stuff, but then I realized I have read their data, recognized their charts etc, just hadn't seen the bioshelter itself. They are the folks who did the base research that I learned quite some time ago and never thought about who did the actual research. All of the people I learned from use their data.

I'm doing the low budget version of that. I can't look at that place and imagine them chasing down a dump truck full of concrete debris from a foundation demolition and begging the guys to dump it on their property. (I got 3 loads! WHOO!!) Their greenhouse rigid foam insulation probably did not come out of the furniture store's dumpster. I'm doing the weird version, based on their research. We'll see how it turns out :)

Something that always frustrates me with places like that is they always start with, and assume everyone else has, a south sloped piece of land. I have a north slope. Will make it a very different system to work with. I have good south sun exposure, but the ground is sloping down to the north. And they always have money to buy stuff, and lots of help to do it. Ah well. (Sorry, weird mood tonight, hard to not get frustrated sometimes.)
 
Ebo David
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@Pearl, believe me.  I understand.I have fantasized about having something like this since I first heard about it something like 40 years ago.  I was all ready to just keep it on the dreaming shelf when folks started posting links to texts that gave me the engineering info I needed to wrap my head around if I can too do this -- maybe even now...  I will have to price things out (both new and salvage).  I will also look at springing for an engineering firm to do a little structural analysis and pay for the stamp (I've found one that designs truss buildings, and they will do the design drawings for a fee -- or so I understand). 

I have been using lots of reclaimed and salvaged stuff where I can, but I also woke up to the fact that I spent a week of my time trying to salvage something that I can buy in bulk for maybe $100, and I realized that doing a little extra work and springing the bucks can save money in the end.  That said, there is pleasure in reducing, reusing, and recycling.  Also, if you read some of the lessons learned you will find that some of the more time consuming and expensive additions were a bust, and they came up with cheap hacks that just work.  Knowing that can sidestep a lot of work and expense and just  make it happen easier, cheaper, and less maintenance.

Best of luck, and more later.
 
Pearl Sutton
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Ebo David: Yeah, I have been fantasizing and reading for many years too, until life stuff changed intensely, and I moved, it wasn't an option in my life. Now I need a house before a greenhouse (I HAVE to get out of this rental, it's making me crazy, that's a whole rant in and of itself, bad design AND bad construction, AUGH!) and the money I have needs to go first into the house structural stuff. Until I have a house and work space, I have no way to up my income, I'm stuck with the small income I have (that I live on) so scavenging it is. It's also more fun, and good for my soul, and I LOVE it, this is my joy in life, always has been "what can  I do with what I have or can find that does what I want it to..." Everyone has their best skills/assets/talents/joyful work, that is mine. I can rant more about that PM if you (or anyone else) are interested. I don't have energy for another huge thread, and it would be as large of a post as this thread and the one about my land. Maybe one of these days I'll write one. Anyway. Cash is tightly rationed. The house has to come first, I'm doing the parts of this first greenhouse that work with the house construction now because I can do it more efficiently, the rest waits till I get a house built and am living there. There's a LOT more to my pipe dreams than I managed to get on these two threads, including more greenhouses, this first one I have the structure for already, the rest will have to stay in my head until structures show up :)

Trying to think how long I have been dreaming this kind of thing, in the early 1980s me, my bf, and a friend of ours debated buying land in Arkansas and building a homestead. So by then I already had the urge, at this point I have the data too! Unfortunately, not the physical strength, or the two strong young men that would have been involved then. But I am much wiser now, perhaps I can do well in my new life here :)
 
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I feel for you (sister?).  The only way I could get my place was through an FHA loan, and they are myopically fixated on the house (which is a problem when trying to renovate the farm).  I think I find myself in the same boat paying a mortgage AND rent, and after a year and a half I still do not have water or interior walls...  At least I no longer have the first contractor.  The new one seems on the ball.  Anyway, having a grumblathon will do no one good, so I'll wish you well and do what I can to keep the dream alive and to help turn it into a reality.  Along the latter, I know in the deep past that sod roofs and walls were accepted building practices in the great plains migration.  Similar building practices were used to build the greenhosue in New Mexico that I referred to in "Mike's passive solar greenhouse design/build" (with lots of great stuff there):  https://web.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-050313-175341/unrestricted/SF13-GREEN_REPORT.pdf   ; The nice thing about that is that you may well be able to build something similar where you are.  Even though most people think of New Mexico as being hot, once you get up 6,000 to 10,000', it gets darn COLD!  You should be able to find something that will work for you and be
with found and natural materials (like they used adobe's -- mud bricks, and straw bales).


  Best of luck!
 
Pearl Sutton
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I'm going for the steel SIPs, for a LOT of reasons, and it looks like I'm my own contractor, I am not liking the idea of paying someone a lot of money to build stuff that doesn't work for me. Makes it more challenging, but I really don't want to end up with someplace I hate. This is it for my home, unless something REALLY unexpected happens, this is where I plan to die. I have hated for years working with other people's bad design. I am not paying all the money we have budgeted for the house only to end up with something that I have to keep modifying to attempt to make it work.
And yeah, it's "sister" :D
I curtsy nicely at you :)
 
Ebo David
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Wow.  I had looked at SIPs but I did not know you can get them in steel.  I will definitely look at that.  Thanks!  BTW, do you have any good material for metal SIPs handy that you particularly liked?

I wish you the best of luck with the build, and finding folks to help when you need the hand. 

I'm kind of the same way with my place -- this will be my first house ever, and I can finally set up my forge, foundry, and pottery kilns  (I served a formal apprenticeship with a master blacksmith, and grew up in a family of potters).
 
Pearl Sutton
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Ebo David: PM sent
 
Posts: 126
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Pearl, you may have already considered SIPs with polyurethane foam instead of EPS (which is what the R-values you list indicate). PUR foam has greater R value, is structural, and does not need any (toxic) flame retardants added to the foam. It costs a little more, or course, and there are fewer SIP makers who use it. There is one in Indiana, Florida, and in Colorado.

Have you looked at citrusinthesnow.com for greenhouse ideas? It's my favorite at this point, and is in a slightly colder climate than your have.

I hope it all comes together soon for you. Thanks for sharing such detailed plans!
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jerry McIntire:
Thank you for the citrusinthesnow link! I had lost that one, been wondering where it was, could only recall what the home page looked like.

I wish there was someplace doing the steel sips affordably with PUR instead of EPS, but I have not seen it. I have only seen the OSB sips made with it, and those won't work for too many reasons, most of them involving money for waterproofing, siding, interior sheetrock, and the people to install all of it. The steel will be done when it's up, no roofers, siding guys, etc, and no sheetrock inside to get moldy if it gets wet. The only way we are affording this is to eliminate all of that. And for my health, I have to have a mold/mildew free home. If you have seen anyone selling steel sips with it, please tell me, I'd prefer it, but have not seen it offered. Before I realized how bad the labor market is around here, and how much it was all going to cost, I had asked a place in Colorado (probably the same one you meant) for a base price on the OSB sips. It would have worked, if that was all that had to be done. Having to add all the rest took it up to unaffordable.

Thank you for your kind words, and for reading my detailed plans! There's a LOT more to it all, but it would be another 4 posts this size to explain it, and drawings that would take me longer than the actual work will :) There's a LOT of function stacking, layered systems, things dependent on where exactly something else ends up in reality, and non-standard interior work that is just not easy and quick to explain. And then you get into the pretty parts.... It won't be bad to make it (I hope!) but trying to explain it is complex.

Have a great day sir, and put me on your prayer list please :D
 
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I very much like your design, I would personally flip and rotate your kitchen so that the stoves were against an exterior wall - to allow easier ventilation, and the sinks against the walls of the bathrooms - to allow shorter plumbing runs. I wouldn't even bother with a second story, it looks like you have everything you need on the first story, and as you both get older, getting up stairs becomes less and less pleasant and safe. I would also make the shape of the house a little less rectangular and more square, for ease of heating. But at that point you would almost have the same house plan as the one I am building. X-P
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jj Grey: Thank you! Glad you like it! But I don't want YOUR house, I want MINE!! :D  Do you have drawings of yours? I'd love to see!

The sinks are on the north wall because the north view is beautiful, good thing to stare at when you are working at the sink. Stove doesn't need much venting, I have never used an exhaust fan in my life, doubt I'll make such a mess I need one at this point in my life. The house exhales from the bathrooms, and from the kitchen wall toward the garage, so if I had to, I could crank the kitchen vent fan up.

The basement is work space, not living space, my studio, workshops, and weird herbal stuff making spaces. If you had ever seen the messes I make, and how bad they overflow, you'd know why we put it someplace it's contained! Actually we wanted it all on one level, but the cost was prohibitive. I will make it so I can get up and down easily later. The stairs are designed to be what I am able to do on most days. I don't have to wait till I'm older for the stairs to suck, I have had serious problems since 1996. So I have a lot of experience in what I am able to do on what kind of days. They are a long slow rise, not steep, I had a builder tell me "You'll lose all your basement space if you do that!" I said "If I can't get down there, it doesn't matter how much space is free!"

The main living level is all wheelchair accessible, the loft thing is more decorative and air flow than useable space. That will need to be accessed twice a year, at season change, to shift the air flow system, other than that, if we can't get up there, it's no big deal. Possible we will find a setting for the vents so even that won't be required. My last house it took me a couple of years, but then I no longer had to adjust my vents for season change.

The slope of the land dictated the size and shape of the rectangle, this wasn't what we started with when we drew up our ideal house before we bought land. I think this is version 6B, if I recall correctly. We also started with ICF, before I learned that it was still going to need all the siding and sheetrock etc, and was going to cost a fortune and look like everything else out there. BLAH! I like cool houses. No vinyl siding desired. I need a mold-proof house, no sheetrock desired. I planned to use the ICF interior walls as the surface, put the outlets into the foam, do something like wallpaper to cover it. Fire codes don't allow that.

The worst thing about the building codes is I'm the last property in the city limits, my hedgerow is the city limit. If I were just on the other side of that fence.... I tried to get un-annexed out of the city, but they have weird hoops to jump, that can't be jumped till we have already built. Short version is I can't put an RV on the place till I build, and I can't try to get out of the city till I have lived on the property for 3 years. So house will be 3 years old before I can try to get out again. This is the ONLY thing I disliked about this property. Other than that, it's good land, no historical chemical use, great neighbors, fair location, etc.

Thank you for reading it all! Did you see the other post about the land also? It's all one system, the whole design was conceived as a unit and it meshes together.

:D 
 
Jerry McIntire
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Pearl Sutton wrote:Jerry McIntire:
Thank you for the citrusinthesnow link!
...Have a great day sir, and put me on your prayer list please :D



You're welcome.

I don't know of any PUR SIP makers who have the steel skins available. There is one in Florida that makes magnesium board skins which are mold-proof and don't need sheetrock.

Glad to!

Jerry
 
Pearl Sutton
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Jerry McIntire:

I don't know of any PUR SIP makers who have the steel skins available. There is one in Florida that makes magnesium board skins which are mold-proof and don't need sheetrock.


I looked into those hard, I would LOVE those! As of a couple of years ago (have not looked lately) there seems to have been pretty bad issues with the magnesium board being inconsistent, some of it was structurally failing, some of it had heavy metal contamination issues. I can't afford to build something and then have to do it again in a few years. The supply system for consistent magnesium is just not there yet. Those were my first choice after the ICF, but the steel ended up being a safer bet.  They are also very heavy, a crane is required to move them, not a very DIY system, and with the labor issues in this area, the more I don't have to get much help with, the happier I am.

...Have a great day sir, and put me on your prayer list please :D


Glad to!


Thank you, I need all the prayers I can get, this is being terrifying.
:D
Pearl
 
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Having spent a few months in a wheelchair, there were a couple "peeves"

--height of kitchen baseboard cabinets...hard to use countertops

--stove....if designing for wheelchair, forget the stove and get separate oven and cook top placed at
a height so a person can't burn themselves

--ramps...unless the chair is motorized, the 5-degree slope allowed by code can be a bit steep, especially
if a bit above ground level.  A guy I knew priced out lifts and decided to get an old electric forklift and used
parts of it to make a lift.

--carpets....some materials, combined with the chair's rubber wheels, would build up a good static charge.
Used to hate grabbing on the door handles--never know when I'd hear, and feel, the "zap".

These were the major gripes.  I know there were others that were due to design....it has been around 8 years
since I was in a wheelchair so  I don't remember them all....height of anything--ie: light switches--were a PITA
 
Pearl Sutton
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R Jay: I am sorry you have learned the hard way about wheelchair accessibility too. Too many of us know more than we want to about that, don't we?

The separate cooktop and oven have already been bought. The countertop heights, not sure if I discussed them on this thread or another... There will be multiple heights, for different uses, including chair height. Chair height kitchen sink too. Plumbing under the sinks tucks flush against the wall, the cabinets under the sinks are roll out modules so they don't have to be there at all.

I have always thought whoever decided 5 degree grade has never been in a chair. Especially has never been in a chair with any strength or energy issues going on, when I am in one it's because I'm very weak, as well as in pain.

Carpets: I just moved from the desert, the low humidity there makes for serious static build up. Leather gloves are your friend!!

All of our outlets and switches are measured for us both walking or sitting. Me and mom are each only 5 foot 2 to start with, a lot of switches etc are just the wrong height even when we are healthy.

I wish more people considered these things when they designed houses. The rental we are in right now has 2 steps to go from one to room to another in several places. That's hard for me on bad days right now, and if I was worse, would be impossible. This rental has a lot of issues for me though. It looks like a nice normal house, and my sisters can't understand why I hate it. They have never lived in my body. They think the steps are cute. "Keeps it from being boring!" Keeps me in pain.

Some days I wish there was a way to put people into a body like mine for a week, so they understood. I bet houses would be designed VERY differently after that. And it doesn't need to look bad, just have the ability to be useable no matter what is going on. It's not hard to design well. 

Thanks for reading this and chiming in! If you think of other things for accessibility that I may need to consider, tell me! Hardest thing is being getting the garage floor level with the house door, it's weirder to make happen than you'd think. I really don't want it ramped if I can help it. Codes has different opinions about how it should work than I do. Wish I could put them in this body for just a week....
 
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Adding to accessibility I have been in wheel chairs and / or had arms and hands damaged through fire.
I found there are many things people forget about
- doors that cannot be opened with a elbow,
- doors that need to be pulled towards you
- narrow doors
- doors at the end of corridors that have no side space to allow the door to be levered open
- footpaths that are too steep or have a excessive cross fall that tries to pull the chair into the kerb
- wheelchair crossings that tip you out.
- ball style door handles
- wheel chair access paths too steep, too narrow or with a step at one end.

Apart from that the only other issue I had was people on phones tripping over me!!!
-
 
Pearl Sutton
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John C Daley wrote:Adding to accessibility I have been in wheel chairs and / or had arms and hands damaged through fire.
I found there are many things people forget about
- doors that cannot be opened with a elbow,
- doors that need to be pulled towards you
- narrow doors
- doors at the end of corridors that have no side space to allow the door tone levered open
- footpaths that are too steep or have a excessive cross fall they tries to pull the chair into the kerb
- wheelchair crossings that tip you out.
- ball style door handles
- wheel chair access paths too steep, too narrow or with a step at one end.



I totally agree!
Lever style handles, plenty of room around the doorways, etc.
I have it so when going out the exterior doors you pull toward you left handed, and coming back in you push right handed. My strength is likely to be worse as I'm coming in from outside, so my strongest move is used when I'm coming in. If coming in tired I had to pull left handed on a door, odds are high I'm not getting back in, and that's whether I'm in a chair or not, my strength is a major issue. When my health is bad, I get very weak, and I use up my energy working outside.

Our interior doors are few, and they are surface sliders (like a barn door type, although not that look at all.) Hinged doors are an annoying waste of space at best. And I don't tend to use interior doors often, having lived alone many years. Living with my mom these days, we don't shut doors often, once in a while to keep light or air flow or the cat out. Having interior doors all over is a waste of space as well as a pain to deal with. Pocket doors require a certain type and size of interior walls to work, and are difficult to maintain if they have any issues.

I don't currently spend my life in a wheelchair, but it's a high possibility, so my main exterior paths are going to be both stepped and sloped, next to each other, so you can use either one as you need to for weather or health or what you are pulling. All with good solid rails. The weather around here makes me appreciate shallow steps so I don't slip off, but when I can't do steps, I need a low slope path.

A friend of mine was in a wheelchair, he got a power chair, which changed his routes. I walked with him on his route to work, came back the next day with cement, and leveled the places on the sidewalk where the section changes were so off level it made it unsafe for him to go that way. At one point there was such a bad uplift that it was safer for him to get off the sidewalk, into heavy traffic, and go around the area. I disapprove of that. I'm a tool using pragmatic type. I poured concrete.  Whoever was in charge of those sidewalks had never run them in a wheelchair.

I think anyone who designs public spaces needs to spend a month or so in a wheelchair before they design areas. Public bathrooms are the worst, they are designed by the numbers that are the minimum and no one actually tries them out in a real life situation before they are built. My friend had long legs and due to his health had to have his legs extended fairly straight out in his wheelchair. He couldn't reach past them to access things like doors that had no side clearance. The space that was assumed you could turn in was not big enough, the space that was left under the counter was wrong for him, elevators were interesting. I learned a LOT watching him. He's not the typical wheelchair user, size-wise, but he's reality, and couldn't use a lot of areas at all. I'm short, putting me in a chair puts me way low, making a lot of things inaccessible. This house design is for me and my mom, whether we are healthy or not, and the realities we are likely to have to deal with either way.

Another thing I'm doing is decreasing trip hazards. If me and my mom don't fall, there is less chance of us needing a chair. Outlets are at 20 inches off the floor, and there are twice as many as required by code, so cords don't have to stretch across areas, and if you put a piece of furniture in an area, you don't have to climb behind it to reach the only outlet that's near. Also putting in a few floor pocket outlets where we will want our reading lights etc, so there are no cords across the floor.

Edited to add: Screen doors can be done right, but seldom are. The rental we are currently in has screen doors that make it so there is no way to open the door if you don't have an empty hand that is strong enough to do thumb latches. Really difficult to deal with. We prop it and let the bugs in when we carry in groceries. Will not be doing our house that way, I guarantee it. Screen doors also snarl up chairs badly, and need to be well thought out.

None of this is complex, but few people do it. I get frustrated sometimes, and tend to say "This is NOT rocket science! It's common sense!" I talked to someone who tried to have her builder add extra outlets during construction, he wouldn't, said she could have it done later if she wanted. That is just stupidity, the walls are open right now, do it. She was willing to pay, but he wasn't willing to do anything that wasn't his usual. This is the kind of thing making it so there aren't "builders" involved in this.

And I am still (June, two thousand eighteen) (2018 makes a smiley face?)  looking for hired helpers who understand what I'm doing. Contact me if you are in that category!
 
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Great layout, and OMG yes your brain is constantly firing on 12 cylinders isn't it?  I'm curious as to what speed your brain functions and how quickly you can sort through what it comes up with? With your handicaps you seem to have compensated and perfected something truly incredible Pearl. I know you've said what you actually post is only part of what that amazing comes up with, I can only imagine what that would be like, because it'll take me a few days of reading each of your posts for my brain to digest one section at a time and then I'll be lucky to keep up, wowsa!
Brian
 
John C Daley
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Have you read my topic on 'benefits of rainfall collection', it may encourage you to capture the roof runoff into tanks
 
Pearl Sutton
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John C Daley wrote:Have you read my topic on 'benefits of rainfall collection', it may encourage you to capture the roof runoff into tanks


Not sure if they made it onto those drawings, they are in the design. In the correct place to gravity feed into the house, and come in on the secondary water lines. :)
I'll look at your topic, thanks!
 
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