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john welsford
10-11-2017, 07:01 PM
I've been watching the "Modern Architecture" thread here in the Bilge, and it occurred to me that although much of what was posted was interesting, that my real interest today is in small, energy efficient houses.
To explain, there will come a time in the next while when its time for me to move ashore, and when I look back at my landbound houses, at least the ones that I'd not designed myself, few of them had much to recommend them apart from the fact that for the most part they didnt leak.
I'd like a much more effective and interesting home, one that was really fit for purpose, energy efficient, quiet, nice spaces and easy to manage. I live on my own most of the time, so dont need a McMansion, would rather have the money needed to build one of those invested and earning income so my thoughts are a house between 800 and 1000 sq ft, two bedrooms, passive solar heated, natural ventilation and cheap to build.

Note that where I'll be is warm enough in winter to be frost free, no snow at all, but in summer the max would be around 85F so thats not a big deal either.

I've been looking around for inspiration, something different but still not so complex that it gets expensive to build.

Does anyone have any images of "interesting" houses, or interesting construction methods that might work?

John Welsford

TomF
10-11-2017, 07:16 PM
You may want to look at "home by design (https://www.amazon.com/Home-Design-Transforming-House-Susanka/dp/1561586188/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=G9NFYBBH7CTS5ZFXAR5F)" by Sarah Susanka for some ideas. Her book is a primer of the "how" and "what's going on" of many of the concepts which are demonstrated in her desperately best selling series of books starting with The Not So Big House. The book I've flagged is what she says that she wanted to write in the first place, an introduction to many of the design questions and principles which architects in her school of thought use when they work through ideas with clients, or then tweak those ideas into draft and finished designs.

Bear in mind that Susanka's objective is to create spaces which feel welcoming and warm rather than challenging, and as a result will feel less than razor-sharp cutting edge and provocative. Her lines of approach clearly won't be to everyone's liking. One of the formative principles in her own work is how to make smaller spaces which perform excellently in their intended functions, rather than building a larger and ultimately less useful space.

I'm not current on the energy efficiency front, but the "passive house (http://www.passivehouse.com/)" approach has a number of folks rooting for it. Not least because it's rooted in actual metrics and design recommendations for how the structure performs in terms of energy efficiency.

George Jung
10-11-2017, 07:30 PM
Interesting and timely topic - two of my kids are contemplating 'options'. With two in my house (it varies, depending on which daughter needs a respite!), we have more house than we 'need' - but it's what swmbo wants, so there you have it. If I was building, I'd be inclined towards a nice looking, smaller structure - perhaps part 'earth home', if that worked, or at least a walk out basement; some sort of permanent siding, likely brick, not requiring maintenance; super-insulated and with geothermal climate control. Tesla roof or its like, for solar/electric generation. In-town, electric vehicle. Interior finish, where we actually spend our time, is where I'd 'go detail' - hardwood floors, or tile; infloor heat in BR. Nice appliances. In younger years, workspace in the garage might've been important; not so much, now.

AnalogKid
10-11-2017, 07:37 PM
A mate of mine has just bought a plot in the Waikato with views of Te Aroha with a plan to build just such a house in the next couple of years.

I think he's close to engaging an architect but still not decided on the technology. SIPs are one possibility - http://www.nzsip.co.nz/. I've been raving to him about what a difference the double glazing we had installed in April has made to the livability of even our late 70s weatherboard house, I don't know if Steve's going to do something similar or even go triple-glazed. I'll ask for more details next time I catch up with him on the ferry.

AnalogKid
10-11-2017, 07:41 PM
Oh, one detail I remember is that it's likely to have a triple garage, 2 for his and her cars and another for all the bikes, both powered and otherwise.

skuthorp
10-11-2017, 09:19 PM
A group of smaller efficient (for those days) houses with a common 'back yard' of significant size was built in a Melbourne bayside suburb in 1948. A co-op project from a group of ex servicemen. Two pools, a tennis court, communal veggie garden, even a small pony paddock, and the original trees mostly were retained. They even had a private track to the beach.

Duncan Gibbs
10-11-2017, 09:23 PM
I'd like to see someone take on the 'earth-ship' model and really do something interesting with it, beyond repeating its well worn form. But I am a great fan of the idea of using recycled materials in construction to decrease the embodied energy footprint of a building.

Fly ash concrete is particularly good as it's lighter and stronger than normal portland cement based concrete, and is a by-product of furnaces.

But as Tom has said passive house technology is really where it's at as far as being carbon negative, and having a great deal more flexibility in the designs achievable.

PeterSibley
10-11-2017, 09:37 PM
I submit my place, built from recycled building materials (with the exception of the new colourbond roof)
and home to 5 people, 2 teens and 3 adults. Our power bill is 1/3 the local average for a dwelling with the same number of people.

4524

Gerarddm
10-11-2017, 10:10 PM
I designed an earth sheltered home system for my architectural thesis in design school; I still think the idea has merit given the right site. .

L.A Marche
10-11-2017, 10:31 PM
For the last ten months or so my wife and I have been mulling over the idea of building a new house. We love our current one but as we get older maintaining a 130 year old wooden house loses its appeal. We're pretty much in agreement in what features and size we need in a home, so that source of discord is absent. We've found some stock plans we like and are tweaking them via sketches and foam core models. Once thats done we'll send our ideas to the original architect for his input and comments, hopefully leading to a set of workable plans.

PeterSibley
10-12-2017, 12:16 AM
https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1216441645i/2966862._UY630_SR1200,630_.jpg

Chip-skiff
10-12-2017, 12:54 AM
I designed an earth sheltered home system for my architectural thesis in design school; I still think the idea has merit given the right site.

If I started from scratch, I'd build a house dug into a south-facing slope (north-facing in NZ) with large windows and dark masonry or slab floors for direct solar heat in winter that would be shaded in summer. You could dig trenches and put in geothermal heating/cooling ducts. There are also ways to add solar heat collectors for domestic water and underfloor heatsinks for radiant floor heat, especially in spots that don't freeze.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_XAqLuU8H28k/S9ZnNd3vBQI/AAAAAAAAAbI/BeK-F0ACcf8/ghouse%20heat.jpg


http://lh4.ggpht.com/_XAqLuU8H28k/S9ZnPbO4fJI/AAAAAAAAAbM/P8VTIQJ7Lwk/Ghouse%20floor%20tank.jpg


https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-XvLhdfJ1Cbg/Tqo0k45bmjI/AAAAAAAABrQ/atDbO4Ges_8/s650/gh10.jpg

For an example of of a low-tech setup that works in a really cold (-40°F) climate, see the first pages of this thread—

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?113609-Greenhouse-Update&highlight=

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:25 AM
A mate of mine has just bought a plot in the Waikato with views of Te Aroha with a plan to build just such a house in the next couple of years.

I think he's close to engaging an architect but still not decided on the technology. SIPs are one possibility - http://www.nzsip.co.nz/. I've been raving to him about what a difference the double glazing we had installed in April has made to the livability of even our late 70s weatherboard house, I don't know if Steve's going to do something similar or even go triple-glazed. I'll ask for more details next time I catch up with him on the ferry.

I've been looking hard at SIPs, there are five or six companies doing them in NZ and most of the reports are very favourable.
Yes to multi layer windows, Denny and I went to the home show a couple of weeks ago and that was one of the things I was checking out. Note that not all of them have full thermal breaks in the surrounds though so thats worth checking on.

Thanks for chipping in with that.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:27 AM
If I started from scratch, I'd build a house dug into a south-facing slope (north-facing in NZ) with large windows and dark masonry or slab floors for direct solar heat in winter that would be shaded in summer. You could dig trenches and put in geothermal heating/cooling ducts. There are also ways to add solar heat collectors for domestic water and underfloor heatsinks for radiant floor heat, especially in spots that don't freeze.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/_XAqLuU8H28k/S9ZnNd3vBQI/AAAAAAAAAbI/BeK-F0ACcf8/ghouse%20heat.jpg


http://lh4.ggpht.com/_XAqLuU8H28k/S9ZnPbO4fJI/AAAAAAAAAbM/P8VTIQJ7Lwk/Ghouse%20floor%20tank.jpg


https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-XvLhdfJ1Cbg/Tqo0k45bmjI/AAAAAAAABrQ/atDbO4Ges_8/s650/gh10.jpg

For an example of of a low-tech setup that works in a really cold (-40°F) climate, see the first pages of this thread—

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?113609-Greenhouse-Update&highlight=

Interesting ideas there. I've been thinking of a heavy concrete slab cast into an insulated box in the floor just behind big windows, the angle organised so its shaded in the summer and in as much sun as possible in the winter. That heat reservoir is a good thought.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:31 AM
Oh, one detail I remember is that it's likely to have a triple garage, 2 for his and her cars and another for all the bikes, both powered and otherwise.

Mine will have, at minimum, a 12 metre x 8.2 metre shed with full lighting and no part of it more than a couple of steps from a power point!
Got to have a place to play, the house is really just a bed, bathroom and kitchen.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:40 AM
You may want to look at "home by design (https://www.amazon.com/Home-Design-Transforming-House-Susanka/dp/1561586188/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=G9NFYBBH7CTS5ZFXAR5F)" by Sarah Susanka for some ideas. Her book is a primer of the "how" and "what's going on" of many of the concepts which are demonstrated in her desperately best selling series of books starting with The Not So Big House. The book I've flagged is what she says that she wanted to write in the first place, an introduction to many of the design questions and principles which architects in her school of thought use when they work through ideas with clients, or then tweak those ideas into draft and finished designs.

Bear in mind that Susanka's objective is to create spaces which feel welcoming and warm rather than challenging, and as a result will feel less than razor-sharp cutting edge and provocative. Her lines of approach clearly won't be to everyone's liking. One of the formative principles in her own work is how to make smaller spaces which perform excellently in their intended functions, rather than building a larger and ultimately less useful space.

I'm not current on the energy efficiency front, but the "passive house (http://www.passivehouse.com/)" approach has a number of folks rooting for it. Not least because it's rooted in actual metrics and design recommendations for how the structure performs in terms of energy efficiency.

Thanks for the link. Our local library has that and several other books by her, I've just ordered Home by Design and The not so big house. Thanks for the tip.
I'm fairly well researched on the Passive house issue, I designed the last one I built on those principles and daughter tells me that her power bill is around half what it was in their old home. She could reduce that a lot if she were prepared to give up the electric clothes dryer but as a working couple with two kids thats not easy.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:45 AM
I'd like to see someone take on the 'earth-ship' model and really do something interesting with it, beyond repeating its well worn form. But I am a great fan of the idea of using recycled materials in construction to decrease the embodied energy footprint of a building.

Fly ash concrete is particularly good as it's lighter and stronger than normal portland cement based concrete, and is a by-product of furnaces.

But as Tom has said passive house technology is really where it's at as far as being carbon negative, and having a great deal more flexibility in the designs achievable.

I'm interested in that idea, love the "earthship" concept but watching some of the battles that people have with our building standards people over that sort of construction I'm not wanting to go there even with the benefits that the method provides. Bear in mind that New Zealand is sometimes known as the "shakey isles" as we have tremblors all the time and a decent earthquake fairly frequently so the building standards are very conservative. It takes a lot to get anything much different past the bureaucracy. It can be done but I'm about all worn out with fights like that.

John Welsford

Duncan Gibbs
10-12-2017, 02:16 AM
I think the idea is viable, but a replacement would have to be figured out for the tyre wall at the back.

Concrete is a great material that might be considered as a structural replacement, particularly if you can source fly-ash. But the basic model could be retained and expounded upon.

wizbang 13
10-12-2017, 04:08 AM
My house is 20 feet square. 2 story shed roof. Floor is 6 inches of cement on top of 6 inches of styrofoam.6 inch walls,10 inch overhead.(fg insulation).small woodstove.foam inserts for windows.
Dead simple.No pipes in the slab. One door.cost $6000 to build in 1980.
Over time we tiled the floor ,made the window treatment nicer and installed a heat pump.

In 1985 I built a twin, 2 miles away.
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4486/37623758072_58562e5943_z_d.jpg
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4468/36945550104_d0de6da233_z_d.jpg
..also tacked on a160 sq ft bedroom. Built of the doug fir that grew here.
Folks often ask me how I can afford to live half the year on my boat in the Caribbean. Living below my means, like this house, is the answer.

skaraborgcraft
10-12-2017, 04:30 AM
I was involved for a brief while with small "huts" based on skids. This was a work-around planning permissions as the building "could" be moved around;the caveat with this style was no fixed plumbing for water or sewerage, though even if semi-static, overground pipes did not need planning permission either. This was in the SW of Cornwall where housing was/is beyond the reach of most locals on their average wage, and the local council planning department was one of the worse i have had to deal with.
Sips panels are an excellent way to build, it was beyond my budget at the time i was looking to build a new house on my previous plot, but one i would have opted for, the other was straw bale, but round these parts you really have to keep the small vermin out. Only have double glazed windows here and seems fine down to -25, triple glazed up in Siberia but -40 in winter is a definate every year, hard to imagine you would want that in balmy NZ, your electric bills would need to be frightingly more expensive than they are in Sweden for the extra cost of glazing to pay off. Passive solar, heat sinks, bulk thermal water tank all good, but we can go weeks here in winter with no sun, so a small woodburner with a back boiler is a good option.
For someone who came close to buying a few acres with a burnt out house down in Dunedin way back when, a small cabin/house is all i would have required. I share the sentiment that a house is just somewhere you go to eat .sleep and wash, but i will add somewhere warm and dry to stow your books.
I would be interested to hear about your rules on caravans for "permanent abode". They do "winter grade" caravans here in Sweden, very well built and insulated including the water tanks. Caravan does offer the option to move if absoulutely needed, but not not have the feel of a home design and built wee house.
My current thoughts are along the lines of a barge like build or a shanty/pontoon boat, something that could be used on the lake for an entire summer liveaboard, and taken back to land and lived in during the winter......might struggle with a 1000sq ft though and keep it road transportable.

skuthorp
10-12-2017, 04:38 AM
A bloke I worked with whose dad had bought well when land was cheap had a house in a very expensive beach town beside a private golf course. In the 1970's the golf course wished to expand, he didn't want to sell, eventually a new modern part underground house was built with a green on the roof. Oh yes, he wasn't a golfer.

Duncan Gibbs
10-12-2017, 06:43 AM
John, one thing to bear in mind is that SIPs are basically metal clad EPS panels; the same material that went up in smoke and flames on Grenfell. This isn't such a huge drama on a small house, particularly if there are no real possibility of bushfire attacks, but it is something to think about when choosing your materials. There are SIPs that are fire retardant, but they come at a premium.

Also, I strongly suggest looking at architects in your area/region. Look at their web sites and what kind of buildings they've produced. Go and visit some, and meet the architects and, if possible, the clients if you see examples you like. Talk to the local chapter of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and seek their advice. Also look at builders and what projects they've completed.

Get a fixed lump sum fee for the architect and an 'all-in' fixed price from the builder using a proven form of contract that covers issues like variations, contingencies, building standards (which should also be provided for in the construction documentation drawings and specification) and if timing is an issue, a liquidated damages clause, as well as contract retentions, which are usually set at 10% of the total before practical completion and 5% until final completion. Warranties should also be issued on the build.

Good engineers that understand and are sympathetic to designers and designs are gold, since they will help your architect fulfil your design brief.

Drop me a PM if you want me to call and talk to you if you'd like to discuss anything, as I have a plan for my mobile phone where I can make IDD calls up to 300 minutes for free per month.

lupussonic
10-12-2017, 07:19 AM
I've been quite taken with steel frames buildings the last few years. There are companies that started out putting up agricultural style buildings, that now erect 'homes'. They have very good insulation and window systems. All piping is internal, as is electric. Very quick to put up, lasts many years and easy to put in extra floors / stairs etc as an afterthought. Earthquake / hurricane / fire proof. That technology in the hands of an eco designer would work well IMHO.

Flying Orca
10-12-2017, 07:32 AM
Wells and Woods wrote an interesting book entitled The Earth-Sheltered House or something like that; it might be worth a look. Susanka's books are great too.

L.W. Baxter
10-12-2017, 07:40 AM
I am currently framing 16 "net zero" townhomes in industrial Portland. Net zero refers to the total energy used versus energy produced.

They are silly expensive to build, but all 16 units have been reserved, 18 months out from occupancy.

mmd
10-12-2017, 08:24 AM
When I was considering building a house a few years back, I looked into SIP construction and was quite taken by the technology. I was also interested in a "dog-trot" house style for its ability to separate guest/kids bedrooms from the main living space (but I would have used the separate space as my office). This is one of the designs I looked at as the jumping-off point for what would have been a semi-custom house design:

http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/prefab-cabin.jpg

http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/prefab-house-kit-interior.jpg

http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/modern-floorplan-lg.jpg

Canoez
10-12-2017, 08:48 AM
SWMBO and I moved from a 1200 square foot home to a 2400 square foot home after the arrival of sprog #2 - the old house just didn't work for us anymore. The new house is very nice, but far to large for us once the sprogs are fully fledged. DD is 18 and currently working as an au pair in Germany for the year, but will be back again to go to college and will be living at home. DS is 14, so we've got a bit of time to go yet.

That said, once they're out of the house, we'd like to build our "retirement home" - much like John's thinking, we're looking for something that is smaller, easier to maintain, and will be able to deal with the consequences of growing older. Our thinking is to have a well-designed small home that is either "Net Zero" or "energy positive" in that we generate more power than we utilize. As Lee points out, they're much more expensive to build than a standard home, but the up-side is that you have control of your energy costs, which I view to be pretty important in retirement. I may not have control over the growth in cost of property taxes other utilities, but at least heat and light will not be one I need worry about. In thinking about it, we've got some ideas, but well-organized storage and multi-functional spaces in the house to allow for guests, entertaining, etc. have been on our mind as well.

L.A Marche
10-12-2017, 09:42 AM
Alternative designs and materials have an appeal, and I would really like to build that way, but at a certain point realities must be faced. Could we get it past the local building department, meet the provincial building code, probably with enough cash and a good architect. An in town infill lot kinda means no straw bales or tires, so conventional construction it is, poured foundations and stick built walls with maximum insulation. Steel roof tiles and some sort of engineered clapboard siding is about as far as we'll venture from the norm. We thought of not putting in a basement, but that's a non starter here, digging down four feet for footings anyway, so what's a few more feet. So that leaves us looking for a clever design that works for us but not too far out of the ordinary because resale is always a factor.

katey
10-12-2017, 09:55 AM
I bought a 750 sqft 1950's rambler (a simple box) that needed to be gutted anyway. I doubled the exterior walls with staggered studs so I have 7" of insulation. I'm in a climate that needs a little bit of heat (passive solar doesn't work very well in Seattle area winters) which I accomplish with a wood stove or an in-wall electric heater. I put in three of those heaters but I've only ever run two at once, when there was a high-pressure cold snap (16°F) and a burn ban on for air quality issues. Cooling is accomplished with operable skylights.

Some thoughts on living small in a moderate climate:
1) You will want outdoor work space. Covered, and with power available. If you have bugs a screened outdoor living space is great too and you can sleep out there on the few days per year when windows and skylights don't cool the house down enough before bedtime.
2) If it's in the budget, a full basement below grade is glorious. It's cool year round, enabling non-refrigerated food storage, and gives you space to do something other than read and sweat on the hottest days of the year. The house I grew up in had a dry dug well in its cellar and my dad ran ductwork to the bottom and used a small fan to suck cold air up into the kitchen...a poor man's heat pump.

SKIP KILPATRICK
10-12-2017, 10:01 AM
I submit my place, built from recycled building materials (with the exception of the new colourbond roof)
and home to 5 people, 2 teens and 3 adults. Our power bill is 1/3 the local average for a dwelling with the same number of people.

4524


Peter your house looks awesome!

amish rob
10-12-2017, 10:01 AM
I submit my place, built from recycled building materials (with the exception of the new colourbond roof)
and home to 5 people, 2 teens and 3 adults. Our power bill is 1/3 the local average for a dwelling with the same number of people.

4524
Will you please STOP posting this picture! :d
I think your home looks so dreamy, Peter. It looks “right”, like it fits there, and it sure seems to suit you.
It’s is so lovely.

Peace,
Robert

Ted Hoppe
10-12-2017, 10:49 AM
When I was considering building a house a few years back, I looked into SIP construction and was quite taken by the technology. I was also interested in a "dog-trot" house style for its ability to separate guest/kids bedrooms from the main living space (but I would have used the separate space as my office). This is one of the designs I looked at as the jumping-off point for what would have been a semi-custom house design:

http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/prefab-cabin.jpg

http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/prefab-house-kit-interior.jpg

http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/modern-floorplan-lg.jpg

I like this style house very much. Modern and open concept. Solar and hot water panels on roof.

amish rob
10-12-2017, 11:06 AM
Our last home had passive solar water heating on the roof.

It made water so hot it melted through our house! :) Really, though, during the summer we would have a few hundred gallons of tea brewing hot water ever day, just by parking it on the roof in clear cylinders with reflectors beneath...

Our house now is quite small, really, but old and drafty.

Really, If I had my druthers, I’d take it all down but the southern wall with the enourmous window span, and I’d start over. Here, I’d do a straw or rice bale home, stuccoed outside to match the rest of the houses around here, but with a corten roof. :)

A basement, even just a root cellar, would be dreamy.

I’d have a rudimentary kitchen and shower outside, both supplied with passive solar hot water, for use when the weather is nice. Or maybe when it’s not nice? ;)

And no flush toilets. Composters.

Peace,
Robert

Ted Hoppe
10-12-2017, 11:12 AM
Really, If I had my druthers, I’d take it all down but the southern wall with the enourmous window span, and I’d start over. Here, I’d do a straw or rice bale home, stuccoed outside to match the rest of the houses around here, but with a corten roof. :)

A basement, even just a root cellar, would be dreamy.

I’d have a rudimentary kitchen and shower outside, both supplied with passive solar hot water, for use when the weather is nice. Or maybe when it’s not nice? ;)

And no flush toilets. Composters.

Peace,
Robert

I saw that design in nature... Now that is getting back to your roots and natural root cellar. When it rains, take a shower. subsistence farming is a bonus.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Prairie_Dog_Washington_DC_1.jpg

amish rob
10-12-2017, 11:20 AM
I saw that design in nature... Now that is getting back to your roots and natural root cellar. When it rains, take a shower. subsistence farming is a bonus.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0d/Prairie_Dog_Washington_DC_1.jpg
You really do need to come check out this joint. :) We are getting close to our old spot. Baby steps. :)

Peace,
Robert

amish rob
10-12-2017, 11:21 AM
https://www.google.com/search?q=forestiere+underground+gardens&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari#fpstate=lie
There is this option, too. :)

Peace,
Robert

Ted Hoppe
10-12-2017, 11:30 AM
You really do need to come check out this joint. :) We are getting close to our old spot. Baby steps. :)

Peace,
Robert

In a few weeks - ill ride over. :)

amish rob
10-12-2017, 11:33 AM
In a few weeks - ill ride over. :)
Oh, Man. That sounds great!

Peace,
Robert

john welsford
10-12-2017, 12:53 PM
https://www.google.com/search?q=forestiere+underground+gardens&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-us&client=safari#fpstate=lie
There is this option, too. :)

Peace,
Robert

Thats interesting, Something like that dug into the side of a hill might work.
thanks Rob.


John Welsford

john welsford
10-12-2017, 12:57 PM
I like this style house very much. Modern and open concept. Solar and hot water panels on roof.

I note the trend away from kitchens hidden away in their own room toward having that work area within the main living space so the cook is not isolated from the rest of the occupants.
I like that.

Nice house by the way, that big covered porch would be a great space.

John Welsford

Gib Etheridge
10-12-2017, 12:58 PM
Surprised no one has mentioned double wall construction. Warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and for hardly any more money or trouble, and whatever more it takes is so well offset by future savings, comfort and appearance. Deep windows and shelving can be beautiful.

This is a little too much for me, but it get's the idea across.
http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base_images/zp/raised_panel_finish_trim.jpg (http://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=imgres&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiUyN_x0-vWAhXoh1QKHZh5CBkQjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.woodweb.com%2Fknowledge_base% 2FRaised_Panel_Finish_Trim_Around.html&psig=AOvVaw2zT1s58eTD3S_Ljvv26oLi&ust=1507917316658782)

You can do the same thing with hay bale construction.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/19/1c/d7/191cd735de9c0bf41c9acc6d07af3d24.jpg (https://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjczMjJ1OvWAhUCqlQKHUMlChgQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F555842 778979061710%2F&psig=AOvVaw0aRODyNNKpu0v8DohWgxpB&ust=1507917439418151)

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:13 PM
John, one thing to bear in mind is that SIPs are basically metal clad EPS panels; the same material that went up in smoke and flames on Grenfell. This isn't such a huge drama on a small house, particularly if there are no real possibility of bushfire attacks, but it is something to think about when choosing your materials. There are SIPs that are fire retardant, but they come at a premium.

Also, I strongly suggest looking at architects in your area/region. Look at their web sites and what kind of buildings they've produced. Go and visit some, and meet the architects and, if possible, the clients if you see examples you like. Talk to the local chapter of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and seek their advice. Also look at builders and what projects they've completed.

Get a fixed lump sum fee for the architect and an 'all-in' fixed price from the builder using a proven form of contract that covers issues like variations, contingencies, building standards (which should also be provided for in the construction documentation drawings and specification) and if timing is an issue, a liquidated damages clause, as well as contract retentions, which are usually set at 10% of the total before practical completion and 5% until final completion. Warranties should also be issued on the build.

Good engineers that understand and are sympathetic to designers and designs are gold, since they will help your architect fulfil your design brief.

Drop me a PM if you want me to call and talk to you if you'd like to discuss anything, as I have a plan for my mobile phone where I can make IDD calls up to 300 minutes for free per month.

Good thought Duncan, I had similar worries about fire, so called on one of the manufacturers, picked up a chunk of foam ( with their consent) brought it home and put it on a fire, it took forever to catch and only burned as long as flame was applied, stopped as soon as I pulled it away. The SIPs that I'm looking at are made of OSB with a flame resistant cloth cover on each side of the foam. Also called and looked over a house, much bigger and more ostentatious than I would be comfortable in, but was impressed at how it managed temperature and how quiet it is. Having the hearing issues so common among us older guys who've worked in noisy environments most of our lives that latter is very important.
I've two architect friends, both interested enough to be involved on an advisory basis, and have an architectural engineer in mind. All boating people by the way, one with one of my boats and the other two people using similar craft.
I cant really design the house until such time as I have the location, you'd know better than most how location specific a house design should be but I like to check out ideas, look for inspiration and information so when I get to the point of action I'll be well informed as to the possibilities.

Your offer is much appreciated, and for sure I'll keep it in mind. I could be a couple of years away from action as yet, my sisters and I are working through the issues of getting permission to subdivide a chunk of land within the city, which is not where I want to live, the permission process is burning money at a huge rate but all going well will see us reasonably well heeled at the end.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-12-2017, 01:22 PM
I've been quite taken with steel frames buildings the last few years. There are companies that started out putting up agricultural style buildings, that now erect 'homes'. They have very good insulation and window systems. All piping is internal, as is electric. Very quick to put up, lasts many years and easy to put in extra floors / stairs etc as an afterthought. Earthquake / hurricane / fire proof. That technology in the hands of an eco designer would work well IMHO.

The last house I designed and built used steel portal frames, they came from a barn building company, custom made to my drawings and I got them to erect them and put the roof on, I carried on from there using subcontractors for the likes of the floor pour and the plumbing, did all the rest myself including the electrical ( 18 power points in the main living room) and kitchen. It was designed with a real focus on passive solar heating, Daughter and her family live in it now, and its working really well. They have windows open pretty much all winter.

John Welsford

Edward Pearson
10-13-2017, 04:20 AM
Dad kept putting eco tiny/ alternative house under my nose. I remember one was a big black barn that had a large downstairs work area, I'm trying to find the details John. Based on agricultural steel framing etc as your familiar with, it was around £40k, it might have been the Barhaus.

The UK self build association runs an annual competition for architects for lower cost more radical/ atypical housing in the 40k-75k range depending on the year...

This Barnhaus (Ed Green Pentan architects) could be live upstairs work downstairs. He has a few variable in form. This one (100 sqm) was costed to £41k, but depends on what you buy, and what things cost in NZ.

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/10/19/16/3985A46000000578-3848174-Former_winners_of_same_competition_include_the_Bar nhaus_based_on-m-14_1476891776183.jpg

The costs breakdown is quite usefull:-

http://www.nacsba.org.uk/images/shoestring/18_shoestring13_ed-green.pdf



http://www.pentan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Barnhaus-1-1200x776.jpg

http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/client_media/imagecontent/xselfbuild2_620px_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.NlpX3EKbuC.jp g



2013
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring/12-shoestring/39-shoestring2013top16

2014 (city site)
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring/12-shoestring/55-shoestring2014

2015
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring/12-shoestring/73-shoestring2015top16

2016
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring?id=77

wizbang 13
10-13-2017, 08:39 AM
Hey nice computer V dubus parked in the back.

chas
10-13-2017, 08:18 PM
"I cant really design the house until such time as I have the location, you'd know better than most how location specific a house design should be but I like to check out ideas, look for inspiration and information so when I get to the point of action I'll be well informed as to the possibilities."

Find a spot with a clear view to your NE, NZed appears to be at a latitude that you would appreciate the morning winter sun in a passive solar house design. As is universal in the hot season, beware western glazing. I look forward to following your progress here. Good luck! / Jim

oznabrag
10-13-2017, 08:47 PM
When I was considering building a house a few years back, I looked into SIP construction and was quite taken by the technology. I was also interested in a "dog-trot" house style for its ability to separate guest/kids bedrooms from the main living space (but I would have used the separate space as my office). This is one of the designs I looked at as the jumping-off point for what would have been a semi-custom house design:
http://www.greencabinkits.com/images/modern-floorplan-lg.jpg

I like this floor but for two points.

1) The master bedroom should have a private entrance to the bath, and

2) The two bedrooms should share a Hollywood bath.

john welsford
10-16-2017, 06:51 PM
You may want to look at "home by design (https://www.amazon.com/Home-Design-Transforming-House-Susanka/dp/1561586188/ref=pd_sim_14_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=G9NFYBBH7CTS5ZFXAR5F)" by Sarah Susanka for some ideas. Her book is a primer of the "how" and "what's going on" of many of the concepts which are demonstrated in her desperately best selling series of books starting with The Not So Big House. The book I've flagged is what she says that she wanted to write in the first place, an introduction to many of the design questions and principles which architects in her school of thought use when they work through ideas with clients, or then tweak those ideas into draft and finished designs.

Bear in mind that Susanka's objective is to create spaces which feel welcoming and warm rather than challenging, and as a result will feel less than razor-sharp cutting edge and provocative. Her lines of approach clearly won't be to everyone's liking. One of the formative principles in her own work is how to make smaller spaces which perform excellently in their intended functions, rather than building a larger and ultimately less useful space.

I'm not current on the energy efficiency front, but the "passive house (http://www.passivehouse.com/)" approach has a number of folks rooting for it. Not least because it's rooted in actual metrics and design recommendations for how the structure performs in terms of energy efficiency.

I went and got "The not so big house" out of the library, it had some interesting thinking in there but the pictures and designs that she has chosen as examples of her thinking suggest that she and I are on very different pages. The pics are of houses or spaces which are to my eye very visually cluttered, overdecorated and overly complex. The highly detailed work makes the spaces look very small, far too "busy" and complicated. There was only a couple of places shown in the whole book that I could bear to live in.
That plus her idea of a "not so big" house is about 3 times what I'm aiming at which is a comfortable single person with occasional visitors home, and 80 sq metres is plenty when a 40 ft motor cruiser boat has been home for quite a few years.
The other issue is that all that complication and fine detail costs, and costs big. But it was worth looking through the book, there are a few ideas in there that I'd not seen before and even though it is very different to what I'd prefer, it helped confirm my tastes in living spaces.
So thanks for recommending that, it was a useful read.

On the "Passive house" front, I've been researching that for some time, have some experience there and am now puttering around with "thought experiments (to quote LF Herreshoff) on Trombe walls and reflector pools pumping heated water into a high mass reservoir from which heat can be drawn at a later time. Thats sort of a hybrid between passive and active in that some outside energy is needed to run the pump system but a solar panel will take care of that.
The other prospective method of gathering and holding heat is to put several tons of high density concrete into an insulated box just inside some north ( southern hemisphere remember) facing windows that will be shaded in the summer and in full sun in the winter. The top surface stained a dark colour which will pick up the heat and release it overnight. I've done that with a plain concrete slab and it worked a treat, this would be a long step further along that path.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-16-2017, 06:59 PM
Dad kept putting eco tiny/ alternative house under my nose. I remember one was a big black barn that had a large downstairs work area, I'm trying to find the details John. Based on agricultural steel framing etc as your familiar with, it was around £40k, it might have been the Barhaus.

The UK self build association runs an annual competition for architects for lower cost more radical/ atypical housing in the 40k-75k range depending on the year...

This Barnhaus (Ed Green Pentan architects) could be live upstairs work downstairs. He has a few variable in form. This one (100 sqm) was costed to £41k, but depends on what you buy, and what things cost in NZ.

http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/10/19/16/3985A46000000578-3848174-Former_winners_of_same_competition_include_the_Bar nhaus_based_on-m-14_1476891776183.jpg

The costs breakdown is quite usefull:-

http://www.nacsba.org.uk/images/shoestring/18_shoestring13_ed-green.pdf



http://www.pentan.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Barnhaus-1-1200x776.jpg

http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/client_media/imagecontent/xselfbuild2_620px_1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.NlpX3EKbuC.jp g



2013
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring/12-shoestring/39-shoestring2013top16

2014 (city site)
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring/12-shoestring/55-shoestring2014

2015
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring/12-shoestring/73-shoestring2015top16

2016
http://www.nacsba.org.uk/selfbuildonashoestring?id=77

There are some very good ideas among these, thanks Ed. The "dream" is "Long driveway, small house, big shed". I've a town in mind, one that is far enough from the noise of the big city but which has enough in the way of facilities to be liveable, and a decent harbour with a good mooring field. I've been researching big sheds, and the cheapest way to do those is to just buy one of the steel framed barns as you said. Erected they're surprisingly cheap per area and very low maintenance.
The house though, I've a bit of a bee in my bonnet about doing something that is somewhat removed from the ordinary three bed box, most homes I visit make me just shake my head and I'd prefer to do better.
The project is some way off yet and researching layouts, systems and construction is more of a hobby than a reality until a couple of trigger events occur, but I'm hoping to be well informed by the time the decisions are to be made.


JohnWelsford

Beowolf
10-16-2017, 07:12 PM
I haven’t seen it yet, but my mother just finished her home. She’s going for LEED Platinum certification.

R42 in the walls and floor. R68 in the ceiling.

john welsford
10-16-2017, 10:57 PM
I haven’t seen it yet, but my mother just finished her home. She’s going for LEED Platinum certification.

R42 in the walls and floor. R68 in the ceiling.

I've been reading up on LEED certification, its not used here but there are some interesting guidelines for insulation and air circulation.
We have a very mild climate here, 30deg C is big news at one end, and we dont have frosts, at least in the area where I'm planning to be. Not tropical but not cold either. Insulation and passive heating is desirable but not nearly as necessary as is the case in much of North America. I have to say I'm pleased about that, pics of deep snow give me the shivers and its not that common to find any form of aircon in a Kiwi house, just open the windows.

I'd be interested though in your impressions.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-16-2017, 10:59 PM
I like this floor but for two points.

1) The master bedroom should have a private entrance to the bath, and

2) The two bedrooms should share a Hollywood bath.

Thats one of the nicest small house plans I've seen, thanks for posting it.

John Welsford

johnno
10-17-2017, 01:21 AM
Hello John, I'm an architect here in Oz and have long admired the art of building small. For many centuries, one of the tenets of good architectural design has been the idea (myth) of the 'primitive hut'. Though global warming and energy crises have put the tiny house back in popularity amongst those who are well aware of the need to respond to those issues, I have enjoyed reading many architectural books and treatises written over the centuries which have extolled the tiny or primitive hut as a sensible reaction to the excesses of their time, and a good way of re-grounding fanciful ideas of architectural fashion and excess.

The classic book on this theme is Joseph Rykwert's 'On Adam's House in Paradise', which is a great read. However, my personal favourite among these books is a more recent one by Ann Cline called A Hut of One's Own: Life outside the Circle of Architecture. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/hut-ones-own I highly recommend this read. What is nice about these books, to my mind, is that they tackle the poetics of the simple and good life, and of the importance of one's dwelling place as a powerful stimulant of the soul.

Your particular site, location, orientation, climate etc are all additional issues, as are likewise, the technological accessories that can assist in living in an environmentally responsible way. You are already onto some good possible solutions there, and new technologies are appearing every day. I would also add my support for Duncan's suggestions about using recycled materials wherever possible. However, I don't see the environmental issues as being the primary drivers of the design of the ideal small house, as I don't see the house as it was once famously described: a machine for living in. I must say, I also loved Bruce's pictures of his great house. It's a beaut.

One thing I think is that for sure, when things get smaller and simpler, and life more precious as one ages, the character, feel, and poetics of the little houses and gardens we inhabit become more important to our physical and spiritual well-being.

Good luck with the project and I look forward to seeing the eventual outcome. Cheers
John

Seabeau
10-17-2017, 07:55 AM
https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1216441645i/2966862._UY630_SR1200,630_.jpg

I took this book and another more in-depth book by the University of Minnesota Press, designed and built a passive solar, earth sheltered home in 1984. Very good read, I still have my original copies of both books around here somewhere.

Dave Wright
10-17-2017, 11:14 AM
My house is 20 feesquare. 2 story shed roof. Floor is 6 inches of cement on top of 6 inches of styrofoam.6 inch walls,10 inch overhead.(fg insulation).small woodstove.foam inserts for windows.
Dead simple.No pipes in the slab. One door.cost $6000 to build in 1980.
Over time we tiled the floor ,made the window treatment nicer and installed a heat pump.

In 1985 I built a twin, 2 miles away.
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4486/37623758072_58562e5943_z_d.jpg
https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4468/36945550104_d0de6da233_z_d.jpg
..also tacked on a160 sq ft bedroom. Built of the doug fir that grew here.
Folks often ask me how I can afford to live half the year on my boat in the Caribbean. Living below my means, like this house, is the answer.

Thats the way to go. I slapped this one together in 1976, back when you could buy a sling of cedar fencing for peanuts - fencing boards 20 feet long and a full one inch thick, better than anything you can find these days. I'd love to go back and salvage the 4X10 fir beams I put in this one.

I started out with a 24 foot cube, then expanded here and there. Put it in the middle of 5 acres. I cleared just enough room for the house with a swede saw - a stupid endeavor - then got smart and rented the biggest chain saw I could find to clean up. Never had a mortgage, just kept trading up after selling this one. Living simply and below one's means is a great way to create wealth.

https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/22491868_1253977541373921_8596796543685142753_n.jp g?oh=9faa9e1ce627148286c3f01d9aae88d3&oe=5A39C49D

Dave Hadfield
10-17-2017, 12:11 PM
We did this. We had a house built in 1994. We hired an retired architect who used an early CAD program and he drew up the dimensioned sketches we built from.

But we were very involved in that design. The thing he had NEVER heard a client say before was my request for, "the smallest house you can design that fits these criteria", and gave him a list. I did not want a large house.

A house is a cost, a liability, until you sell it.

You don't have to get carried away -- there are simple things. The first is SITING -- where do you put the house on your property, and which way do you point it? THERE IS NO REASON TO ORIENT YOUR HOUSE TO THE ROAD. The road is irrelevant. Site your house for the sun, and the wind. And perhaps the view or the ground features. You want lots of sun in winter, and lots of shade in summer. Trees can help with this -- don't cut them down "to let some light in" without mapping the path of the sun in winter or summer.

The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and goes through south at noon. Sailor/Navigators all know this, but most city people don't. And the sun is high in the sky in summer, and low in the sky in winter. This influences your windows, skylights, and soffets.

Figure out the prevailing winds, winter and summer. You want ventilation in summer, and protection in winter.

If you have a basement, go extra deep into the ground. Dig a 9 foot hole instead of 8. This acts as a temperature moderator -- you can circulate air from the basement in summer to reduce your AC bill.

We kept the trees, built wide soffets to shade the walls, dug a 9 ft basement, and thus have never had to use air conditioning in 23 years -- a huge savings of money.

There's more... but the thing is to adapt your house to the site -- not the other way around.

Dave

john welsford
10-17-2017, 01:32 PM
Thats the way to go. I slapped this one together in 1976, back when you could buy a sling of cedar fencing for peanuts - fencing boards 20 feet long and a full one inch thick, better than anything you can find these days. I'd love to go back and salvage the 4X10 fir beams I put in this one.

I started out with a 24 foot cube, then expanded here and there. Put it in the middle of 5 acres. I cleared just enough room for the house with a swede saw - a stupid endeavor - then got smart and rented the biggest chain saw I could find to clean up. Never had a mortgage, just kept trading up after selling this one. Living simply and below one's means is a great way to create wealth.

https://scontent-sea1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/22491868_1253977541373921_8596796543685142753_n.jp g?oh=9faa9e1ce627148286c3f01d9aae88d3&oe=5A39C49D

"Living simply and below ones means is a great way to create wealth". Very wise, not a common view but so very true.

I like both of those houses, they're about the right size, simple and a good fit for their surroundings.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-17-2017, 01:36 PM
Hello John, I'm an architect here in Oz and have long admired the art of building small. For many centuries, one of the tenets of good architectural design has been the idea (myth) of the 'primitive hut'. Though global warming and energy crises have put the tiny house back in popularity amongst those who are well aware of the need to respond to those issues, I have enjoyed reading many architectural books and treatises written over the centuries which have extolled the tiny or primitive hut as a sensible reaction to the excesses of their time, and a good way of re-grounding fanciful ideas of architectural fashion and excess.

The classic book on this theme is Joseph Rykwert's 'On Adam's House in Paradise', which is a great read. However, my personal favourite among these books is a more recent one by Ann Cline called A Hut of One's Own: Life outside the Circle of Architecture. https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/hut-ones-own I highly recommend this read. What is nice about these books, to my mind, is that they tackle the poetics of the simple and good life, and of the importance of one's dwelling place as a powerful stimulant of the soul.

Your particular site, location, orientation, climate etc are all additional issues, as are likewise, the technological accessories that can assist in living in an environmentally responsible way. You are already onto some good possible solutions there, and new technologies are appearing every day. I would also add my support for Duncan's suggestions about using recycled materials wherever possible. However, I don't see the environmental issues as being the primary drivers of the design of the ideal small house, as I don't see the house as it was once famously described: a machine for living in. I must say, I also loved Bruce's pictures of his great house. It's a beaut.

One thing I think is that for sure, when things get smaller and simpler, and life more precious as one ages, the character, feel, and poetics of the little houses and gardens we inhabit become more important to our physical and spiritual well-being.

Good luck with the project and I look forward to seeing the eventual outcome. Cheers
John

Out library system doesnt have Ann Clines book, so I'll see about getting an ebook copy, at present I'm making a bit of a hobby of "designing houses" to suit imaginary locations, its fun incorporating ideas as they come, and looking back over the series of drawings to see the progression of style and method. This thread ( thank you to all who've contributed and please keep the ideas coming) has been great fun and quite a help.

Thanks Jonno,

John Welsford

mmd
10-17-2017, 01:49 PM
John, if you are able, get a copy of the 'pooter program "3D Home Architect". While not as powerful as, say, AutoCAD, it is a nice, easy, fast, and inexpensive program for doing preliminary house designs. Here in Canada, it costs about CDN$50. When I was considering building, I found it to be a wonderful tool for modifying existing floor plans that I was interested in, and it has a lovely feature that gives you a breakdown of materials and costs for your project. I have also found it great for "rearranging the furniture" when I moved from one house to another. I have even used it as a modelling tool at various boatshops to determine how to move hulls and molds in and out of the shop without encountering fixed structures. If one were an experienced builder, it can be used as the sole design tool, but I viewed it more as a tool for preparing detailed 'sketches' to take to a builder or architect for further refinement. It includes 3D views from any angle plus 3D 'fly-arounds', and integrates with AutoCAD seamlessly. Besides all that, it is rather fun to play with.

Flying Orca
10-17-2017, 01:55 PM
I'll second that - great tool.

Gib Etheridge
10-17-2017, 02:02 PM
Well, no reply to my double wall construction suggestion, but I'll go ahead with another, and that is that I agree with Dave's suggestion about a deep basement. The basement is the cheapest floor space in a house, and in many ways the most useful. It provides storage, a place to put the washer, water heater and pressure tank where water on the floor is of little consequence, room for the drier and freezer, ready access to most of the plumbing and electrical and, as Dave pointed out, temperature modulation. It's also a good place to stash a few water tanks for solar heat storage. You can heat the house (and the water tanks) with a wood stove in the basement as well, no mess upstairs, and it heats the entire upstairs floor evenly. A wood stove is good backup heat in the event of power outages and fuel shortages, and the water tanks provide a reservoir in the event of same. If you put just a small amount of bleach in the water it will stay clean and potable, or at least as potable as that yucky chlorinated city water so many consume.

mmd
10-17-2017, 02:10 PM
Gib, I agree with your double-wall suggestion, but would opine that it really isn't necessary in John's little slice of heaven. It sure would be good where I live, though. All that stuff about basements is good, too, except for it being cheap. At least around here, the costs of excavation, concrete, waterproofing, insulation, and back-filling can be daunting.

Gib Etheridge
10-17-2017, 02:20 PM
Most of the excavating needs to be done anyway for the footings and foundation. Plus, one can live in the basement while building the rest of the house.

The double walls or thick hay bale walls are worth it just for the aesthetics, and just because it isn't as necessary, it will still save oodles of energy in the long run. Just above freezing is still cold, and 30 degrees C. is way too damned hot for this dog.

http://www.ntvet.com.au/uploads/3/7/2/7/37271139/7827377_orig.jpg (http://www.google.ca/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwidx4ufsPjWAhUH-mMKHYoSDT0QjRwIBw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ntvet.com.au%2Fnews&psig=AOvVaw2c9k0BxFXpYPoUycuJU2KF&ust=1508354362039879)

mmd
10-17-2017, 02:33 PM
Gib, with respect, I gotta push back on the post above. Firstly, you must live in an area in which it is much, much easier to dig a hole in the ground. Secondly, you can't live in the basement of an unfinished and under-construction house where I live (and many others that I know of) - municipal regulations 'n' all. Thirdly, the extra-thick walls cost money and the savings therein become victim to the laws of diminishing returns. I crunched the numbers for a SIP-walled house for 6", 8" and 10" thick walls (which, in principle, can stand-in for other insulation types), and found that there was significant heat-loss reduction between 6" and 8", but the additional costs of going from 8" to 10" were enough that pay-back period by the savings in heating costs was something like 25 or 30 years. So in my calcs, the thicker walls would become merely aesthetics, and expensive ones at that. Sorry.

Gib Etheridge
10-17-2017, 03:08 PM
Nothing to be sorry about, it's not like you hit me.

I bet those insulated panels are pretty expensive. I wonder if the numbers would come out the same if the walls were built with 2 of 2x4 walls 16 inches outside to inside with 3.5 inches of glass in the outer wall and 9 inches of glass between the 2 walls.

It's not legal to live in an unfinished house here in the Gulf Islands either, but no one would know if one were sleeping there, and it saves a lot of time and money to do so. It may even be legal where John is, or at least possible if he were careful. What's to lose? I don't know if he's contemplating doing the building himself, or if he would even be interested in living in a basement for a while, but the idea may be good for some one else somewhere else, I've seen it done a few times.

AnalogKid
10-17-2017, 03:59 PM
An interesting Grand Designs last night, I though John. Pavilions constructed with SIPs, lightly touching the ground with no concrete. I liked the way the buildings created the inner courtyard-like space.

https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/m/b/y/g/z/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349. 1mbhc4.png/1508271734231.jpg

I wonder if that method would be permitted in Christchurch - the flood defence aspect seems to ring a bell with Seanz's rebuild requirements.

Dave Wright
10-17-2017, 04:12 PM
It's fun to look at the current "tiny house" craze. I see otherwise intelligent people spending over $60 K for a completed 200 square foot (or less) tiny house. Something so small that inevitably they will give it up after a year or so. Something so simple that they could have built it with their own hands for one tenth or less of the purchase price.

A reasonable small house of 800 to 1200 square feet can be comfortable and a pleasure to live in and build. The secret is to do everything yourself, and I mean everything. Most semi rural county building departments are helpful, and there's a wealth of infomation available for preparing and submitting your own plans for building permits.

If your site isn't too precarious you can rent a tractor with blade and backhoe for a few days. When you're young, concrete work isn't hard, electrical work and plumbing is relatively easy, and lumber yards will deliver truckloads for free. We made it a matter of principle not to hire a single contractor. I put in the septic system by hand, the tank company placed the tank into the hole I dug, probably a silly application of hand labor, but I never paid a cent for hired labor. When you're finished you know exactly what you have, and plenty of satisfaction to go with the money you've saved. We lived in a $1500 travel trailer while building, and sold it for $1400 when we finished.

Back in 1979 the architect Leslie Armstrong published "The Little House," a nice "how to" manual for variations of a basic 20 foot square house, quite similar to the one posted by Wizzbang. It's the sort of thing that shows what can be practically done, and minimally but comfortably lived in, in contrast to some of the current "tiny house" abominations or McMansion follies.

http://lesliearmstrongarchitect.com/publications-the-little-house

john welsford
10-17-2017, 04:46 PM
John, if you are able, get a copy of the 'pooter program "3D Home Architect". While not as powerful as, say, AutoCAD, it is a nice, easy, fast, and inexpensive program for doing preliminary house designs. Here in Canada, it costs about CDN$50. When I was considering building, I found it to be a wonderful tool for modifying existing floor plans that I was interested in, and it has a lovely feature that gives you a breakdown of materials and costs for your project. I have also found it great for "rearranging the furniture" when I moved from one house to another. I have even used it as a modelling tool at various boatshops to determine how to move hulls and molds in and out of the shop without encountering fixed structures. If one were an experienced builder, it can be used as the sole design tool, but I viewed it more as a tool for preparing detailed 'sketches' to take to a builder or architect for further refinement. It includes 3D views from any angle plus 3D 'fly-arounds', and integrates with AutoCAD seamlessly. Besides all that, it is rather fun to play with.

Thanks for the helpful suggestion Mike, I've got Sketchup which will I think do for a start, but I do get real pleasure from actually holding a pencil in my hand and there seems to be a much better connection between my brain and the paper that way. Your point is valid though and would for sure be useful a bit further along with the process.
I like the idea of "fly around" and "walk through" views, thats not easy to do with a pencil.
Costings, while Canadian costings will inevitably be different from ours, it would be handy to be able to make comparisons between one design and another.

John Welsford

obscured by clouds
10-17-2017, 04:58 PM
I designed an earth sheltered home system for my architectural thesis in design school; I still think the idea has merit given the right site. .

Surely earth sheltered houses would be a viable way forward in areas of the US such as 'Tornado Alley'. Aerial shots of acres and acres of exploded wooden houses sacre me to death.

AnalogKid
10-17-2017, 05:00 PM
Costings, while Canadian costings will inevitably be different from ours, it would be handy to be able to make comparisons between one design and another.

John Welsford

Just watch out for that dodgy Canadian tempered hardboard weatherboard!

john welsford
10-17-2017, 05:00 PM
It's fun to look at the current "tiny house" craze. I see otherwise intelligent people spending over $60 K for a completed 200 square foot (or less) tiny house. Something so small that inevitably they will give it up after a year or so. Something so simple that they could have built it with their own hands for one tenth or less of the purchase price.

A reasonable small house of 800 to 1200 square feet can be comfortable and a pleasure to live in and build. The secret is to do everything yourself, and I mean everything. Most semi rural county building departments are helpful, and there's a wealth of infomation available for preparing and submitting your own plans for building permits.

If your site isn't too precarious you can rent a tractor with blade and backhoe for a few days. When you're young, concrete work isn't hard, electrical work and plumbing is relatively easy, and lumber yards will deliver truckloads for free. We made it a matter of principle not to hire a single contractor. I put in the septic system by hand, the tank company placed the tank into the hole I dug, probably a silly application of hand labor, but I never paid a cent for hired labor. When you're finished you know exactly what you have, and plenty of satisfaction to go with the money you've saved. We lived in a $1500 travel trailer while building, and sold it for $1400 when we finished.

Back in 1979 the architect Leslie Armstrong published "The Little House," a nice "how to" manual for variations of a basic 20 foot square house, quite similar to the one posted by Wizzbang. It's the sort of thing that shows what can be practically done, and minimally but comfortably lived in, in contrast to some of the current "tiny house" abominations or McMansion follies.

http://lesliearmstrongarchitect.com/publications-the-little-house

My brother in law has a little backhoe digger on tracks that is available to anyone in the family he thinks can operate it, and seeing as I taught him ( I was an engineer earthmoving machinery operator in the NZ army) digging holes or making flat spaces will be no problem.
The last house I designed and built was 75 sq metres, thats about 800 sq ft and daughter with her husband and two kids live in there very comfortably, so your point about size is right on the button. I make a habit of going to real estate open homes when I see one that looks interesting, and most of them are way too big for my taste. There would be spaces that I'd never visit, just more housework for no benefit.
My wife and I dont share a home at present, I live on my old ship and she has a 12ft x 36 ft not quite tiny home in the town where she works, and loves the small and cozy space. So both of us are accustomed to small homes, my "soul" lives out in the workshop so that eases the pressure on the house space as well, she is contemplating a business where she'll be travelling most of the time, quite possibly towing a custom built travel trailer so she's got a familiar and comfortable space with her and we're following the "tiny house" fad with real interest.
I do appreciate the comment about the money being paid for some tiny houses, I built that house that I mentioned for about $75k including the septic and water systems. I cant for the life of me see how I could spend that much money in a 20 ft x 8 ft space.

By the way I've lived in a travel trailer for a while while building, bought it at the end of summer, sold it in springtime when the demand was up, made money on the deal.

Also, I have the advantage that my dayjob background was in sawmill machinery so I've contacts that enable me to go direct for lumber which is a saving.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-17-2017, 05:04 PM
Just watch out for that dodgy Canadian tempered hardboard weatherboard!

I know about that stuff, was on the team that Fletcher building materials had fixing problems with a very similar product, similar problems! We were recladding houses with plastic "Masada" brand weatherboard.
I'll probably be using shiplap grooved plywood or baby corrugated iron, or a combination of same. Both the houses I've built have that and its working well both in visual and liveability.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-17-2017, 05:05 PM
An interesting Grand Designs last night, I though John. Pavilions constructed with SIPs, lightly touching the ground with no concrete. I liked the way the buildings created the inner courtyard-like space.

https://resources.stuff.co.nz/content/dam/images/1/m/b/y/g/z/image.related.StuffLandscapeSixteenByNine.620x349. 1mbhc4.png/1508271734231.jpg

I wonder if that method would be permitted in Christchurch - the flood defence aspect seems to ring a bell with Seanz's rebuild requirements.

I dont have a TV so missed that, I'll see if wife saved it, she sometimes does when there is something that she thinks will interest me when I am at her house.
Thanks for the heads up.

John Welsford.

john welsford
10-17-2017, 05:10 PM
Nothing to be sorry about, it's not like you hit me.

I bet those insulated panels are pretty expensive. I wonder if the numbers would come out the same if the walls were built with 2 of 2x4 walls 16 inches outside to inside with 3.5 inches of glass in the outer wall and 9 inches of glass between the 2 walls.

It's not legal to live in an unfinished house here in the Gulf Islands either, but no one would know if one were sleeping there, and it saves a lot of time and money to do so. It may even be legal where John is, or at least possible if he were careful. What's to lose? I don't know if he's contemplating doing the building himself, or if he would even be interested in living in a basement for a while, but the idea may be good for some one else somewhere else, I've seen it done a few times.

I've built two houses myself, lived in caravans or on the floor in the only half finished room in the place, and this time I want to carry my groceries in and put them in the fridge, sit down with a mug of tea and look out over the harbour. I've been there and done the build it myself thing, I'd rather be out in the shed building boats or in the drawing office that will be part of the shed complex. Lifes too short to be doing stuff that I am not interested in. Much easier when the years have not added up to where I'm at, but like I say, I've been there and done that.

John Welsford

Todd D
10-17-2017, 05:23 PM
When I lived in rural Manitoba back in the early 80s I had a super insulated house. The house was double 2x6 construction and had all triple glazed windows. It was 1,200 sq. ft and had ONE 1,500 watt electric baseboard heater for heat. This was in Manitoba where it got to -40 in the winter. I liked that house a lot. So 12 years ago when I decided to build a work shop, I built along similar lines. Since it is a lot warmer in Maine than in Manitoba, I used double 2x4 construction. The floor has 10" of closed cell foam and the roof is insulated with 18" of fiberglass. The windows are triple glazed and I have two insulated doors. I can keep it comfortable with a 250 watt electric heater. The shed is 12x16. It is also cool in the summer if you keep it closed up.

If I was building a new home for my retirement I would go with a super insulated house of about 800 sq. ft.

AnalogKid
10-17-2017, 05:25 PM
I dont have a TV so missed that, I'll see if wife saved it, she sometimes does when there is something that she thinks will interest me when I am at her house.
Thanks for the heads up.

John Welsford.

You can stream it from TV3 here: https://www.threenow.co.nz/shows/grand-designs-nz/S1347-654

Seabeau
10-17-2017, 05:43 PM
Surely earth sheltered houses would be a viable way forward in areas of the US such as 'Tornado Alley'. Aerial shots of acres and acres of exploded wooden houses sacre me to death.

Actually, their very simplicity is a very viable alternative to energy efficient homes of more complex design. For instance, several have survived intense wild fires, relatively unscathed. They are generally unaffected by extremes of temperatures, both high and low. One they are constructed, there is little or no maintenance.

john welsford
10-17-2017, 08:08 PM
You can stream it from TV3 here: https://www.threenow.co.nz/shows/grand-designs-nz/S1347-654

Thanks, its cuppatea time so I'll go and look.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-17-2017, 08:14 PM
Nothing to be sorry about, it's not like you hit me.

I bet those insulated panels are pretty expensive. I wonder if the numbers would come out the same if the walls were built with 2 of 2x4 walls 16 inches outside to inside with 3.5 inches of glass in the outer wall and 9 inches of glass between the 2 walls.

It's not legal to live in an unfinished house here in the Gulf Islands either, but no one would know if one were sleeping there, and it saves a lot of time and money to do so. It may even be legal where John is, or at least possible if he were careful. What's to lose? I don't know if he's contemplating doing the building himself, or if he would even be interested in living in a basement for a while, but the idea may be good for some one else somewhere else, I've seen it done a few times.

I've had a look at a comparative quote on two very similar sized and layout houses, these from a building company touting for business from one of my nieces who's looking to have a home built.
One was conventional stick built structure using prenails and trusses, the other SIPs, the materials cost of the latter was a little higher than the former but the labour cost was much less making the SIP house slightly cheaper. Even the plumbing and electrical was cheaper as the SIP factory put in ducting for all that.
The really interesting thing was the time from foundation work to completion was about half.

John Welsford

Garret
10-17-2017, 08:51 PM
I took this book and another more in-depth book by the University of Minnesota Press, designed and built a passive solar, earth sheltered home in 1984. Very good read, I still have my original copies of both books around here somewhere.

To add on to this, I did exactly the same thing, except 30+ books & 1988-90. 1600 sq ft - tall ceilings, earth bermed more than earth sheltered, passive solar (carefully designed - which is absolutely key*) & I loved living in that house. Brightest house I've ever lived in, so quiet the old refrigerator starting up would make me jump, and cheap to heat/cool. In Vermont (Zone 5 - a # of below zeroF days & 5 full months of winter) - most houses of this size would take 4-5 cords of wood to heat. With th earth, good insulation & the passive solar, I never used more than 2 cords - usually less.

In summer, roof overhang shades the windows (this must be calc'd based on latitude), so there's little direct insolation & the house stays very cool.

I'll have to dig up pics (which aren't digital) - but it looked somewhat like the top left pic in 30 Energy Efficient Houses You Can Build, without the big cube.

* Properly designed passive solar is critical. It's a careful balance between cubic footage, glazed area and thermal mass. You'll be shocked how much thermal mass you need: many tons - IIRC, my place was 16. I can't tell you how many house I've seen that didn't have enough mass & the owners would have to open up windows to cool the house in the evening & then it'd be cold by the morning.

Garret
10-17-2017, 08:55 PM
...

I bet those insulated panels are pretty expensive. I wonder if the numbers would come out the same if the walls were built with 2 of 2x4 walls 16 inches outside to inside with 3.5 inches of glass in the outer wall and 9 inches of glass between the 2 walls.

....

I recently priced SIPS & they are less expensive than stick framing & equivalent insulation here in VT. They also have big advantages insulation-wise (no studs to transmit cold/heat). They also work really well with post & beam construction - just wrap 'em around the frame, cut holes for windows & doors & throw on siding.

Ron Williamson
10-17-2017, 09:03 PM
Costs around here start at $200-odd/sq.ft.
R

PeterSibley
10-17-2017, 09:09 PM
Were I building again, if it was on a slab I'd use aerated concrete blocks, Hebel brand. A neighbour built that way and it's been very good...... this despite me being a carpenter and very much at home with wood.

David G
10-17-2017, 09:34 PM
I'm re-reading 'Home by Design' right now. I like how she's popularized the sometimes arcane and opaque presentation of the principles in 'A Pattern Language'. And I'm struck again how she's been able to build a practice by selling the marvelous people-friendly patterns to upper-income folks. Most of the fotos of her work I've seen can only be described as 'opulent'. But setting aside the acres of cherry millwork, and the lovely custom casework & millwork... the patterns and principles remain. They are perfectly suited to a simpler, but no less convivial, presentation.

As someone who dismantles, repairs, and reassembles everything from cigar boxes to schooners... I always think about future modifications, repairs, and remodeling. For that reason, I'm leery of several 'green' building types. Straw Bales, SIP's, Cob construction. Not 'down on'... just a bit unsure.

mmd
10-18-2017, 06:41 AM
John, the pricing provided by the '3D Home Architect' program is not based on any particular currency. The program creates a spreadsheet of materials by quantity, and a list of each material type. You use this list to contact your local suppliers for prices and fill in the cost-per-item column, and the program then spits out the total cost broken down by material type.

Regarding your use of pencils, I whole-heartedly agree. I approached the process in the same manner as I do with boat design - pencil sketches to start, refined with manual drafting tools to scale, then into the computer for accuracy, reproduction/transmission and engineering. WRT the house program, (though I did not get to this point because we found a nice house to buy) it does not do the detail bits such as trim profiles and railing styles, so I expected to take the bare bones of the design into AutoCAD and detail it there because I am comfortable with it. In your case, it would be easy to print the views you wish (it will even allow printing of perspective views) to scale and embellish & detail them on the drafting board.

TomF
10-18-2017, 06:51 AM
I'm re-reading 'Home by Design' right now. I like how she's popularized the sometimes arcane and opaque presentation of the principles in 'A Pattern Language'. And I'm struck again how she's been able to build a practice by selling the marvelous people-friendly patterns to upper-income folks. Most of the fotos of her work I've seen can only be described as 'opulent'. But setting aside the acres of cherry millwork, and the lovely custom casework & millwork... the patterns and principles remain. They are perfectly suited to a simpler, but no less convivial, presentation.I agree, and like this book better than her others for that reason. The principles she tries to explain can work in any aesthetic style, and while they are obvious to architects and others working in the field, they are invisible to the rest of us till someone points them out.

Gerarddm
10-18-2017, 11:28 AM
My current home which I am about to sell is just a hair over 1,100 sq ft. Laid out a bit differently and that is more than enough room for a couple of people. I grew up in Levittown NY and all the homes were similarly sized and we lived in it as a family of four until my sister and I went away to college.

One of the amusing things was that when my parents retired to Vermont, they built a home just under 2,000 sq ft. Amazingly, all the stuff from the small home expanded to completely fill the larger home. It was the darndest thing.

Give me a well deigned home of around 1,000 sq ft, a shop of about 500 sq ft, and a garage, and I am happy.

john welsford
10-18-2017, 01:28 PM
My current home which I am about to sell is just a hair over 1,100 sq ft. Laid out a bit differently and that is more than enough room for a couple of people. I grew up in Levittown NY and all the homes were similarly sized and we lived in it as a family of four until my sister and I went away to college.

One of the amusing things was that when my parents retired to Vermont, they built a home just under 2,000 sq ft. Amazingly, all the stuff from the small home expanded to completely fill the larger home. It was the darndest thing.

Give me a well deigned home of around 1,000 sq ft, a shop of about 500 sq ft, and a garage, and I am happy.

I like that but would have the spaces the other way around! I can live in 500 sq ft, my ship is probably around 320 and I find it quite comfortable, but a 1000 sq ft shop would be just about right.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-18-2017, 01:37 PM
John, the pricing provided by the '3D Home Architect' program is not based on any particular currency. The program creates a spreadsheet of materials by quantity, and a list of each material type. You use this list to contact your local suppliers for prices and fill in the cost-per-item column, and the program then spits out the total cost broken down by material type.

Regarding your use of pencils, I whole-heartedly agree. I approached the process in the same manner as I do with boat design - pencil sketches to start, refined with manual drafting tools to scale, then into the computer for accuracy, reproduction/transmission and engineering. WRT the house program, (though I did not get to this point because we found a nice house to buy) it does not do the detail bits such as trim profiles and railing styles, so I expected to take the bare bones of the design into AutoCAD and detail it there because I am comfortable with it. In your case, it would be easy to print the views you wish (it will even allow printing of perspective views) to scale and embellish & detail them on the drafting board.

Sounds good, I'll give it a try.
Right now though my drawing work is still at the "thinking aloud" stage, last week I spotted a nice piece of dirt, not even for sale but just something to hang a dream on, and drew up a house concept to suit. View angles, sun angles, entry, garden layout, on and on. Its a fun thing, I've done several, Denny and I go for weekend drives to explore new territory in depth so when the time comes I'll know more about the places in which I'll look for a patch of dirt.
The family all live in or around one city, and I want to be within a couple of hours of them but sufficiently far from the bigger city just north of them to not be able to hear the traffic on cold clear nights or to see the glow on the horizon.
Hopefully its still a few years away yet, mum needs her home and I"m happy living here on the river.

Its 7 30 am as I write, the tide will be slack high water in half an hour or so, the water is like a mirror and I'm about to slide SEI into the water and go for a row. Thats hard to beat.

John Welsford

john welsford
10-18-2017, 01:38 PM
Were I building again, if it was on a slab I'd use aerated concrete blocks, Hebel brand. A neighbour built that way and it's been very good...... this despite me being a carpenter and very much at home with wood.

I had a look at Hebel, interesting stuff. I've not ruled it out.

John Welsford

mmd
10-21-2017, 12:01 PM
I knew I had this book, but didn't know where it had gotten to...

John, when I was considering building a new house, I wanted it to be as energy-efficient as possible without going completely off-grid. I needed to get educated about what methods, materials, and technology was 'out there', as the last time I looked at this kind of stuff, energy-efficient houses were being built by hippies living in communes. I read quite a bit, but found this book to be very comprehensive and factual, without a lot of hype:

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS8wL1ypsYKjml1TmkJBf1DawpiBaNy7 T-2Rja0hw9LOAo2ww6S

This revised edition of The Renewable Energy Handbook focuses on the unique requirements of off-grid living as well as using "green" energy for homeowners who remain connected to the electrical utility. The book contains chapters on:
•Energy efficiency and economics
•Home heating and cooling and domestic water heating
•Photovoltaic, wind, and micro-hydro energy generation
•Battery selection and inverters
•Backup power, wireless communications, etc.

It includes comprehensive specifications for many of the products available in the market today.

Whether you are just curious or an industry expert, this handbook will show you how to stretch your energy dollars (doing much more with less) while powering your home with renewable energy. And, unlike fossil fuels or nuclear energy, renewable energy frees you from worry about dumping today's pollution on tomorrow's children.

Since its release in 2003, The Renewable Energy Handbook has been a top-selling technology book and is recognized as the best in its field.

William (Bill) Kemp, is V.P. Engineering of an energy sector corporation where he leads the development of low environmental impact hydroelectric and agricultural biogas systems. Bill is a leading expert in small and mid-scale renewable energy technologies. He is the author of four books and numerous articles. He and his wife live off-the-grid in Eastern Ontario.

Publisher: Aztext Press, 2009, ISBN 098101321X, 9780981013213, $30 is USA/Canada

amish rob
10-21-2017, 12:15 PM
https://youtu.be/mEriiroPBuA
I should have put this here. This is neat, to me. Floating trash island homestead thing. An eco-boat, it I started apparently known as, in leagalese.

Peace,
Robert

mmd
10-21-2017, 12:25 PM
^ I saw that in a different thread. Pretty cool, but not for everyone, nor for all locations.