barry loehr

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since Mar 25, 2014
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Recent posts by barry loehr

The link emailed to me only lets me download it one time. Put it on my computer but would really like it on my pad also. Is this possible?
thanks, Barry
2 years ago
Hi Paul, Cassie, and/or staff!
I'm no longer getting emails tho I still have a profile and all the other stuff I think. It happened around the time big changes were made and now I realize it's been a long time since an email came. Did I miss something?
Thanks, barry
Yeah the goats would need good fencing. But I'm sure they'd do more damage to that pampas than our picky horses! It's almost 2 acres of thick pampas, wonder if pigs would root it out?
3 years ago
Two horses and plan to get chickens. Total acreage is 3 1/2, but of course have to fit house, barn, garden and everything. Probably two pasture. I've been reading that pampas is really hard to get rid of and its thick. Thanks for your input!
3 years ago
Planning on chickens but don't think we have enough pasture to keep goats rotating permanently. Renting some goats might work tho. Sure sounds like an option.
3 years ago
Besides the current playing card thing, I would work on search engines, so your site turns up earlier, more often, with a wider variety of words, so even when people search "gardening" or something, up pops your site. I'm sure you've done much of this, but the faster it comes up on searches the more people get infected. Maybe I'll finally by some cards to help some for now...
We're buying a little land and plan to permie the hell out of it. A few acres that will be pasture for my wife's horses is covered in pampas grass and has been bush hogged.
I want to put some cover crop stuff in there that the horses can eat, and need to somehow choke out the pampas grass, all at the same time! I'm sure the soil needs work too. Plan to get some browsing stuff going for him, but the first step is just so he'll have something to eat. We live in the western nc mountains where there's a fairly mild winter and plenty of rainfall all year- sometimes too wet. Any ideas? Choking the pampas is the challenge. Please help Permies!
3 years ago
Hi Brian-
You're probably right that the R value of wood is more likely to be somewhere between 1 and 1.4 than a solid 1.4 considering all the variables. I suppose when a log home is first built and the wood is not so dry it would be worse and over a few years would get to its attainable R value.

We have to remember there are many different types of log homes. What I consider to be a log home is a home made of real logs, craftsmanship, love, diligence, and lots of attention to detail. Kit "log homes" are made from milled lumber they call logs, dumped on a site and put together by a contractor with probably no attention to detail when it comes to any type of sealing process. There's no scribing or custom cutting to ensure a good fit. All the thought is put into how the design looks in a pamphlet, and salesmanship. Putting it together is really an after thought. They're made with an assembly line mentality just like most stick built homes, except there's not the same minimum code standards that hold stick frame contractors to a certain standard no matter how cheap and shoddy their building is.

You're right that these kit log homes are often made with lumber that's no more than 6"-8" thick. I've seen a few of these and they are no doubt horrible things. A friend of mine rented a "log home" near Waynesville that was built from a kit and it was one of the worst examples of workmanship I've ever seen. There were such gaps there were bats in their house. There were corner notches that I could see through and my friends were not only run out by the bats but also the heating/cooling bills! There were huge windows, and the eaves, 18'-22' from ground level, were no more than a foot wide. The home couldn't have been more than ten years old and stone veneer was falling off several areas of the home, including the outside of the horribly inefficient fireplace. This to me serves as an example of how little care or thought was put into the home when built. Whoever had it built thought they were getting something completely different than the horrible thing they got!

I know there are manufacturers of kit homes that have efficiency in mind, and have processes like sandwiching insulation between D shaped lumber. To me these shouldn't be called log homes. They're homes with wood veneer, not log homes. Anyway, having said what I mentioned above, I can understand your concern and detest of what is being built out there under the name of log homes. It's horrible and many people are being taken for a ride in more ways than one. There needs to be some distinction, and possibly a whole new set of standards for them.

You mentioned codes, and I agree that requiring more and more stringent codes is not the way to go. I understand the need for government codes for safety reasons, (though fire retardant could be giving us cancer) but it's going too far to force us to build our homes using one and only building technique that favors the construction industry and banks. I believe I'm right when I say corporations lobby for codes in order to sell their product, not because of their concern for the environment or energy usage. I have a real problem with corporations having more and more say about what I can and cannot do as a human being. They already have more control over our food supply than... you understand. I kind of feel it's corporations who got us into this mess in the first place and can't be trusted to get us out of it. Of course I'll need the help of them for solar technology, among other things, but I don't want them... You get the idea. I'm really hoping that, along with our food supply, people will take things into their own hands. More and more people will see the advantages of and the need for change, and will do so regardless of residential housing codes.

Well, you can probably see by now that I don't plan to change the type of house I'm going to build, but hopefully you see also that I'll do so responsibly, with the utmost concern of attaining a structure with as little dependence as possible on fossil fuels. It may not be quite as sealed as a plastic bubble, but I hope to make up for that downfall in other ways. My goal, along with my concern for the environment, is to end up with a home that will cost very, very little to sustain. My wife and I presently make very comfortable salaries, but both of us travel frequently for work and I'd very much like to get rid of the need to earn what we do. I want to put whatever we need to put into the home now so that we can do what we want to do and not what we have to do in the future.

We have our heart set on the log home, so if I need to put in a larger solar system we'll do so. You've helped me greatly with your advice about radiant heating, heat pumps, etc. It seems you still believe radiant heat in my situation is just not worth the extra cost, especially considering there would be added cost to supplying it with a heat pump also. Maybe the way to go is just a simple air sourced heat pump powered by solar? I've thought about ducting and believe I could do so efficiently even in our log house. Is there a large difference in cost/efficiency of ducted heat pumps and mini-splits? What about the difference between ground sourced and air sourced heat pumps? Would the difference mostly be what it costs to get someone to dig it for you, or do the materials make the largest difference? I really like the idea of having geothermal, but am confused of just what is considered expensive. I've done some research into the actual units and see there can be a large price difference among brands. Would getting the high-priced super efficient air sourced pump be comparable to a lesser quality ground sourced? I've tried to learn as much as I can through reading online but still seem so ignorant when it comes to these things.

Your advice has been an enormous help to me in the planning of this project. I thought it was all said and done, supposedly simple, with solar powered radiant heating. So I'm glad you steered me away from that complicated system. I'm still pretty set on thermal solar domestic hot water though. Are these systems manageable without an enormous amount of maintenance?




5 years ago
Hi Brian-
It's hard for me to grasp, after reading so much from log home owners who talk about how comfortable their home is and how easy they are to heat and cool, even in much harsher climates. But I surely see how difficult it could be to seal them well. I've lived in places that are much, much colder than NC. However I grew up in SC and understand the necessity of dehumidifying also! I now live in Illinois in a stick built house that was insulated to code at the time it was built, 1982, and either the heat or ac has to be going about 360 days a year. When it's 10 deg in the winter, or 98 deg in the summer, the heat pump can barely keep up. In the summer we could fry breakfast on the roof and cook dinner in the attic. In the winter the crawl space could keep our food in deep freeze. It's a very uncomfortable house, even after all the extra sealing I've done, and adding storm windows.

There's lots and lots of things I have to consider. I've done so much reading about log homes, including writings from researchers who've lived in log homes who insist log homes can't be judged on the true R value of logs alone. They attest to the long period of time it takes for the temperature to change in a log house. Most real log homes are built with logs that are at least 10", usually 12" or more. At an R value of 1.4 per inch, that's at least R-14. I'm not building a home with 6" milled "logs". Here's also a bit about R-value/thermal mass of logs... http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/energy-efficiency-log-homes

I understand most likely your largest concern would be the leaks around the logs, but I don't necessarily want to live in a box that's so tight we'd suffocate if our ventilation system shut down either. Of course there's maintenance to consider to keep leaks out. There's a huge group of people who say they do very little maintenance after the first few years, and when they do it costs very little. You don't have to use chinking made by a corporation that costs $250 a bucket. Have you heard of these guys?: http://www.buildloghomes.org/

After much research and consideration with my wife I went to their seminar, so I already have a few grand into the project, not to mention the bias I now have after all the planning, etc...

I've also considered the short distance materials would have to be shipped, and eliminating materials that are manufactured by nasty corporations with most likely harmful industrial processes. I've been looking into plaster for interior walls that I can make with local materials. I'd need concrete like any other home, insulation in the roof and floor, but would be doing away with huge amounts of materials that would have to be shipped.

I think my idea is that I can live very comfortably in a house that's not airtight, and can sleep soundly if I'm using sustainable energy to heat/cool it.

About radiant floors... I figured we'd need radiant floors to keep our feet from freezing since we want tile floors with some type of concrete underneath for thermal mass. Even with a good passive solar design, on days when the sun is not shining wouldn't our feet freeze on top of all that concrete and tile? Obviously I plan to have lots of insulation under those floors, but wouldn't they still be chilly no matter how much warm air was blasting about?

Thanks to you I'm learning so much more about geothermal heat pumps. It certainly seems like a better way to go considering such need for A/C. Aren't these systems compatible with radiant heating? I understand the added cost, but I plan to build my own house with my own two hands, hiring out very little. I'm sure I can lay the tubing before concrete is poured.


5 years ago
Hi Brian- I really appreciate your thoughtful reply, and you'll have to forgive the brevity of mine for now. I work aboard tugboats and was called to Alaska, have had very little sleep for the past 24 hrs, and since we are getting underway shortly need to sleep asap. You could probably guess my wife and I have our heart set on a "real" log house. I have a problem aesthetically with hiding the true materials something is built with. If I were going to build a home purely for the air tightness of the building envelope then I would probably go with SIP's, and stucco the outside or something. One reason we're going with a log home is that we plan to build smaller cabins to rent out on the property.
You've given me much food for thought, especially the link to your website about radiant flooring. Is this reasoning based solely on the cost of putting in the system?
Also, I'd already thought about the complexity of solar hot water supplying domestic and heating hot water. I believe some have been successful with doing a fairly simple system themselves but I can see how it would easily fail and cause monstrous headaches for years to come.
I'll really have to address all of this further at a later time. I'm usually aboard from 1-2 months and internet access is sparse.
But I'll be in touch and again, really appreciate all of your effort... so much to think about.
Barry
5 years ago