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Maison du Bricolage: Do it yourself house

 
steward & bricolagier
Posts: 5809
Location: SW Missouri
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David:
Thank you for feedback! If it's ok with you, I'll answer most of this in msg, since what is posted here on permies is basically JUST a quick sketch of the basics, to show what I'm doing. It was already too long of a post, I heard a LOT of  tl,dr.

Most of what you mentioned IS addressed in the actual design.

A couple of quick points:

After watching the house exterior wall video I finally noticed all those wonderful trees. They are going to affect the heat portion of the sun's rays striking the house walls

 That is not my house, or my property. I have no trees close to the site.

And going back over the drawings there seems to be an absence of a spot or place within the home with a large window - possibly two - to sit and watch the world on days when walking through it isn't motivating enough.

That one is priority! The basic windows are 3 foot wide by 5 foot tall, and there are 5 on the south side, 2 on the north side, a 6 foot wide by 3 foot high window above the sinks on the north side, and a 4 foot by... I don't recall right now, big enough for emergency egress, on the west side of the north bedroom, door on the west side on the south bedroom. The clerestory has 7 4 foot wide by 2 foot high windows (some of which open) and there are high windows in the wall between the bedrooms to bounce the light (but not the heat) into the north bedroom. The basement has more of those 3 foot by 5 foot tall windows. This house bounces a LOT of light around!!

Your seven foot ceilings may provide minimal benefit but in actuality will impede air movement and, in the event of a fire, reduce breathable air due to the forced fire gas cloud expansion and reduce time available to evacuate.

 The 7 foot high ceilings are only the pink rectangle on the floor plan, the bathrooms 10 foot of hallway, and the utility room. All the other ceilings are cathedral.

You have mentioned the first physical structure burned for unknown reasons. The second structure, a single wide model home, due to electrical issues. Both structures burned "into the basement". This tells me a number of things. Firstly the house was occupied by a financially and time limited person or persons. The house probably burned due to faulty fireplace, wood stove or chimney issues. The electrical issues were probably related to overloaded circuits - possibly in the winter time when we all consume more energy.

I have learned since I wrote that there WAS no first house, it was never built. The double wide modular was faked onto the foundations that were built but never used. It burned in summer, due to a faulty water heater, and took out just the bathroom and utility room. The modular was a rental, and it decided to move the tenants into another owned by the same landlord, and scrap that one, and sell the land.

Anyways. I would LOVE to have your advice and oversight on my plans, I'd LOVE it if you have time to talk to me about this, and look over my plans etc. Like I said, this was just the parts I thought permies might find interesting. I REALLY appreciate you taking time to write what you did!! :D
I curtsy nicely at you again!! :D
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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This post by this guy has bugged me for a couple of months. He has not posted again, nor answered PMs, so out of a feeling of a need to defend myself from misconceptions, I am replying to his post anyway. One of my major points is this thread is NOT my whole design. It's the parts I thought Permies types would be most interested in, the way the land and house work together and use the air, water and land forms to the best advantage.
All quotes from the same post  

David Boland wrote:
Having been a general contractor for more than 45 years - I can't argue your observations about - skilled contractors. As for the "current year" IBC-IRC - it is there for reasons. Yes, scaled detailed blue prints submitted to development appeal "boards" especially in rural areas do frequently work with and accept "original" ideas that are different. Unfortunately, there is nothing original in your plans.


No, there is not anything original at all. I have taken parts from many accepted design styles, and mixed and matched them for our needs.

Cheap, yes. Not economical - cheap ... and there are distinct differences.

 
Which he never defined.

You have mentioned two occupants both with mobility and visual impairments - said impairments are escalating. This is not reflected in the house design particularly when it comes to emergency evacuation or providing the time to evacuate.


Yeah, it is. There are 6 exterior doors, and multiple egress windows. The floor coverings are designed to make it easy to navigate with low vision.

You have mentioned the first physical structure burned for unknown reasons.


My error, I have, since writing this a couple of years ago, learned the first structure was never built, what I thought was fire debris from a house was fire debris from the guy burning trash in the foundations as they made a great burn pit. The intended building was never put up.

The second structure, a single wide model home, due to electrical issues.

Modular home, but yes. The electrical issues were due to a power surge that caused something to spark in the utility room, the fire was confined to the utility room with bits of the adjoining kitchen and bathroom damaged.

Both structures burned "into the basement".

The basement referred to here is the foundations, that had burn debris in them. They are 3 feet deep, not full basement, and the burn area is limited.

This tells me a number of things. Firstly the house was occupied by a financially and time limited person or persons. The house probably burned due to faulty fireplace, wood stove or chimney issues. The electrical issues were probably related to overloaded circuits - possibly in the winter time when we all consume more energy. The other thing it screamed out was ... the fire department is NOT around the corner ... but rather like most rural areas they are volunteers and the fire hall is not close and response times are such that they contain not extinguish the fire(s).

Lot of interesting (and baseless) speculation there. The modular was a rental, the people who lived there were healthy, young, tenants. Any maintenance issues were the landlords failings, I suspect. No wood burning was involved. The fire was in  summer, during a thunderstorm, power surge in the lines. There was a loud BANG up in the transformer, and the fire was called in about 10 minutes later. The fire station is 1 mile away, and has full time people as well as volunteers, and there is a fire hydrant right across the street from my driveway. The house will be about 100 feet off a hydrant. They were there quickly, and the fire was put out. The modular was not worth repairing, as they are built badly, the tenants moved to another of the landlord's rentals, the modular was pulled, and the property sold.

Your home does not provide for restricted mobility exits.

All of the exits except the window egress exits required by code are handicap accessible.

The lower 7 foot ceilings insure the reduction of breathable air in the event of a fire.

The 7 foot ceiling is a section 12 feet long, with no doors, that goes up to a cathedral ceiling on both ends. There will not be smoke build up in there.

Yes, "handicap" appliances are more than awkward, no question but there is a difference between awkward and ... lethal.

No clue what he meant there.

Your current air flow design and methodology regardless of season - won't work in your favor when you most desperately need that air.

See above. Fire hazard is very low to start with, the construction type is classified by insurance companies as type 2 noncombustible, and it passes more stringent testing that any wood framed building could ever pass. Insurance rates on these buildings are MUCH lower than standard construction. The air flow in the lower ceiling hall area goes straight up to the ceiling, and the rest of the house is vaulted cathedral ceiling.

With everything attached to your home - garage, greenhouse, "elevated" deck - finding safe shelter in an emergency ... is non-existent. The barn is too far. Winter is when the most homes burn - physically handicapped, outside without proper clothing ... waiting for fire trucks is something you can't afford.

Garage is attached, also type 2 noncombustible. Every garage in this area is attached, the whole point is to make it so you can avoid inclement weather as you get in and out of your car. Greenhouse is not attached, it may end up with a hallway or breezeway to it, but it's probably 10 feet or more away from the house, exact placement depends on exact location of the house due to underlying rock structure. Elevated deck has easy ways down off of it, the ground will be higher there, it's a walk out basement, with a retaining wall on the high side. Deck will have a walkway out to the high part, as well as stairs to the lower part. Barn is going to be so close I may have remove part of it to have a driveway. Neighbor's houses are 120 feet away on the south, 200 feet away on the west, and 200 feet away on the east. Fire station is 1 mile, and staffed 24/7.

Your seven foot ceilings may provide minimal benefit but in actuality will impede air movement and, in the event of a fire, reduce breathable air due to the forced fire gas cloud expansion and reduce time available to evacuate.

See above.

The reduction from 10+ foot ceilings to 8 foot ceilings is purely economical reasons directed towards the sawmills. The reduction from 8 foot ceilings to just under 8 foot is yet another move by sawmills to make more money. The "whatever year" IBC / IRC stopped further reductions in ceiling height due to the consequences of gases generated and/or created in open heated spaces.

The bathroom code allowable height is 6 foot 8, that is more a fire issue than than doorless halls. The bathroom ceilings are 7 foot also. The high point of our ceilings is about 16 feet, and it's steel on the underside, not sheetrock and wood.

And, I am sorry, but the basic construction material chosen for the house may provide slightly greater insulation values than a wood framed house with fiberglass batting but ... when heated, NOT IGNITED, the off gasses are lethal. Today, there is so much talk about insulation rates, vapor barrier sealing and costs it is a fertile ground for limited litigation lawyer-ed wording for product description.  

I have a bunch of testing on these panels that disagrees with that. This is commercial construction stuff. They built restaurants and freezer warehouses out of it. I have no idea what he thinks I'll be doing that heats it, the walls are steel, and in order to get to any of the foam inside, you have to go through steel. I'll be detailing the steel so no wood is attached to the panels directly, like a screw though a board that then goes into the panel. It will all be angle brackets of metal, the bracket is screwed into the panel (metal on metal) the wood is then attached to the bracket. That is overkill and paranoia on my part, no one else does that.

The climate in Southern Missouri is, well to us Eskimos up north, just downright balmy. Balmy, though I might like it, isn't great. Firstly, you have humidity - moisture - wetness - and water. Each of these have different physical properties. Your main house construction material - Styrofoam - sucks up all three at incredibly fast rates. Draining and/ or drying takes so very much longer than the uptake. Once wet, unless removed to an isolated protected location, probably won't dry. And, when wet once, will absorb water/moisture even quicker with each successive opportunity. With the moisture comes swelling and the consequential loss of physical structural abilities. Mildew, mold, algae and other green through black life forms without legs love your weather. Check out the barn in corners sheltered from light - that's mold. Warm sunny corners - that is algae and/or mildew.  And with your winters being so warm, it isn't cold enough to kill any of those life forms - they just go dormant. And the sealed house provides so many pockets for growth.

Again, lots of test results that disagree with that. The foam is sealed into steel panels, it will not get wet easily. And it doesn't absorb water, or foam docks wouldn't float. Lots of data on that. I know about the mold, that part of why I chose this stuff. Makes me wonder what this person wants me to build out of. Steel IS the best mold proofing out there. If we have any issues, it will be due to the airflow through the house, between our vents system and the fact we open windows. The walls don't leak air, but we are both high air flow people. We are just choosing where our air flow is, not through the walls.

Your drawings are more focused on the slope of the property rather than prevailing wind direction and higher wind limits.

Did he miss the wind drawings on the other thread of prevailing directions? It's well above code, I have all the information, charts and angles and roof slope, etc. The house sits down the slope a bit, and the wind will be mostly bouncing right over it.

Wind pushing snow or rain has a serious physical energy which takes a lot of strength to push aside or brute force to stand up to. An ability that is needed for decades and decades - not a couple of unpleasant winters.

Um, ok... this is hurricane proof construction. I have NO clue what he means here.

Other suggestions would include separate the greenhouse from the home. This provides more options to develop uses and provide space to access different areas.

It is.

Separate the garage from the house. Garages burn and all too often - take the house with them. And the cost to heat them is ... a financial hindrance. It is amazing the amount of materials that accumulate in a garage that are flammable or toxic whether liquid, solid, heated or ignited. And then there are the compound chemicals created with the introduction of heat.

Will not be heating it directly, it will get the PEX hydronic system in the floor, and some passive solar things, and overflow from the house. I don't keep chemicals in the garage, that's what the barn is for. The animals will have a barn of their own. I am chemically sensitive, and use very few, and keep the rest far away from me.  

As for low maintenance, there is nothing low maintenance about your design. Most, when it comes to maintenance, are invasive, which is another word for very expensive for experienced contractors and bankruptcy expensive when using causal labor.

Um. Steel. No painting to avoid rot, no gutters to clean, easy to access plumbing and systems that are all in interior walls. I have no idea what he meant.

 The elevated deck is a high maintenance item and a terrible heat robber from the house structure.

Heat robber? It's a screened in porch, it doesn't get heated. If anything, it blocks the north winds from hitting the house straight on.

If you had designed an attic, there would have been an enormous amount of heat to recycle. The other air movement paths ... may become expensive as most won't quite work out the way you have drawn and you may chose to try something different.

I am willing to take that chance. I didn't detail out any of that in this thread, he's speculating again.

Wheels under cabinets - is a great idea, seriously. But, unfortunately, is one of those ideas that develops issues over time. If on a wood floor - oh dear. If on a concrete floor, I hope it is a steal reinforced 3 to 4 inch slab without tiles or carpet. Otherwise the compression of a book case full of books rolling on two wheels probably less than 5" diameters exerts a serious amount of weight on an extremely small space - 1/4" by the width of the wheel. Most floors are 5/8" or less plywood. 550 pounds equals approximately 3.82 pounds per square inch based on 144 square inches per square foot. 550 pounds on .25 square inch equals 2,200. It's one of those "whatever year" IBC / IRC thingees.

Floor structure is AvatanTech 7/8 inch floor on steel joists. I figured out the dead weight once, don't recall it right off, something like 120 ft pounds when code is 40. Concrete floors in the basement are 4 inch, steel reinforced, yes. A case of books on two wheels? Um. Each case is 4 foot wide by 5 foot high, 18 or 24 inches deep, and on 6 wheels. The math here is inaccurate speculation, I have a test module (checking for tip problems at the 18 inch width, it's very stable) loaded with books and heavier objects than I will have in them, in this rental, where the floors bounce alarmingly, and it's not being an issue.

There was mention of "building mass" being used to an advantage however, other than potentially a small amount of concrete floor which has not been defined as to measurement and density there is no building mass available for use. Building mass takes space, almost evasively so and an expensive square foot cast even for salvage DIY efforts. I learned this lesson the hard way a coupe of years ago.

No, it's not defined, so speculation is pointless. The basement is 4 inch slab floor, filled concrete block walls, filled block walls making a tornado shelter in the basement, there is a central spine wall though the house that is still iffy (depends on some other factors) minimum is filled concrete block (with the air flow piping through it) possibly double blocks thick for logistical reasons. Tall, and designed as partition wall, air flow, and floor joist support. The only thing that isn't mass in the place is steel panels and windows.

After watching the house exterior wall video I finally noticed all those wonderful trees. They are going to affect the heat portion of the sun's rays striking the house walls. And then there is the greenhouse and how much it will be sheltered or affected by the trees - winter and summer.

That isn't my house. It's a house that was built about 200 miles from here. It was posted to show how the panels go up. No trees in the way, of house or greenhouse.

And going back over the drawings there seems to be an absence of a spot or place within the home with a large window - possibly two - to sit and watch the world on days when walking through it isn't motivating enough.

Didn't look close then. The basic window style in the house is 3 foot wide by 5 foot tall units, that the sill is 24 inches off  the floor. There are at least 9 of those in the house, as well as multiple windows that are 3 or 4 feet tall by 5 or 6 feet long. And a sliding glass door out to the deck. (As well as clerestory windows, and light tubes down to the basement) Most people who have looked close at the plans comment on "ew, too much glass to clean!" We LIKE light and sun and the outside in the house. Every single room has at least two windows you can sit at and look out.  

It seems so much has been directed towards cost without consideration of consequences. How so much of that cost direction isn't providing you and your mom with comforts - creature or otherwise.

 Still no explanation of this statement by him. All of the structural stuff in the house is incredibly over-structured for the area. The nonstructural stuff we have chosen, after lots of study, looking, and debate. We think it will do what we want. It comes down to that, what do WE want, it's OUR house. We think it will be incredibly comfortable. And we have thought on it a LOT.

Compared to my first message, yes, this appears harshly negative. Your multiple reasons mentioned and not mentioned for disliking contractors are extremely valid without question or argument - but many of those concerns could be addressed with contract clauses and penalties.

I'm not going into that. It's not happening, he hasn't met the local people. To get people who do contracts etc, I'd have to import them from one of the big cities.

And, I can also see where a simple accident can have extremely unpleasant consequences for body and mind.

Yes, this is VERY true, I agree  with that whole heartedly.

Your thought processes are excellent, extensive and well connected to what is around you ... with the exception of you. Your pocket book may be attached to you - as is mine attached to me - BUT it is not you or your Mom! One of the problems of following the construction path you are on - there is no resource to fall back on if things go south. Unskilled labor does not have liability insurance, performance bonds or breadth of experience. And, if one of those development board personal doesn't like what is coming together - ahhh, the delays that can create are ... just plain nasty.

This is true too. Again, I'd say he is not aware of the actual experience on the ground here. He is assuming there are big, well organized companies around, who do good work, and have very experienced crews. That is not reality. To get a contractors license here is 20.00 for the fee. No testing, no experience required, and lots of folks have that 20.00. I may end up getting one. Insurance is not required, and few people carry it. Handshake deals are normal, asking for contracts is seen as pushy and untrusting. And the codes folks are a different issue. Current codes guy is very nice, and all the structural work is designed WELL above code. Well above the 2018 codes, when 2009 is the one in force here.

Firstly, I am only minutely younger than your mother. I have been extremely fortunate in that the accidents and injuries I have experienced on the way to here in my life I have healed from where many have not. You and I will never meet beyond what we have here - so, I have no gain being unkind without warrant-able reason. From what I have read of what you have written concerning ground water management - you are someone this world will miss and you are someone who has a great deal to contribute. I do not want your departure to happen any quicker than it should. It is the description of your home I have taken exception to - not the intent of the author nor the author!

I still bow to you and your contributions to all of us.

Thanks
Dave

 I appreciate the nice thoughts. I really do. I would LOVE good feedback, based on the actual detailed design (which I'm mostly not even drawing out, as it's being really complex to draw, I'm only drawing up what codes needs, and if I need to detail out an area, I will do it as required) the whole problem here was he wasn't seeing the actual design, only the stuff I thought Permies might find interesting, and was speculating on the rest with no data, and reaching inaccurate conclusions. All of the techniques are standard for one type or another of passive house type construction, and if I wanted to pay the money to have it certified, it will pass LEED certification easily. I'm not bothering to, I don't require a piece of paper for that much money. The only thing distinctive about the design is how I have worked it into the land, and into the realities of our lifestyle. The low expense of building is more in the fact the materials are easy to work with, and do not require a lot of skilled tradesmen for much of it. The panels are NOT cheap, but they are cheaper than hiring a lot of skilled workers for each part of the process.

All in all, this was just a rant that I felt I needed to write up. I felt the design being judged on lack of accurate information was not fair, and wanted to defend myself. I REALLY appreciated the time and energy he put into his write up, I wish he had asked for more information first though. It did make me look at things and say "is he right?" and that is a good exercise for me. I'd love to have the reality picked thorough like that, instead of speculation.

Anyone who has read all the way through this, thank you, you are a brave soul!!

 
master steward
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I just want to see the build thread photos and come visit when you're done
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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Mike Jay wrote:I just want to see the build thread photos and come visit when you're done


I'll be posting them, and you ARE invited
 
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My reaction while reading.."Damn Dave... this is getting personal..." Lol If he heard my plans he would for sure have a heart attack!! Cost is a huge factor for me but I'm still considering safety first because ...what I have planned is to not end up homeless and theres no house less safe than that. 💚 It's just perspective. Dave has got some very different concerns than I do. Fo sho.

My mom will be moving with me too, after I get things set up. Good luck to you both!!

To me it sounds like it will be an amazing, beautiful, practical, comfortable home! You have done a crazy amount of planning and thought of everything!! I love it. I hope you've gotten some replies for help. I also would love to see progress photos.
 
Pearl Sutton
steward & bricolagier
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Location: SW Missouri
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Natalie Lawrence wrote:
My mom will be moving with me too, after I get things set up. Good luck to you both!!

To me it sounds like it will be an amazing, beautiful, practical, comfortable home! You have done a crazy amount of planning and thought of everything!! I love it. I hope you've gotten some replies for help. I also would love to see progress photos.


Thank you! We are excited! We want an amazing, beautiful, practical, comfortable home, instead of this rental we don't like that doesn't work for our lives.

I have had health stuff going bad, I'm doing my best to get it going this year, no good helpers right now, and that is a problem. BUT since it's not going yet I couldn't do much with help if it knocked on my door right now (actually I could USE them, but I couldn't pay them for what I need done right now.)

There will be photos happening when it happens, this is the funnest thing I have ever done :D It's just scary beyond words and and my health has been horrifying. I'm doing better, so I'm assuming this year, being an optimist! :D
 
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I am very curious. What is the status of this house?⁰
 
Pearl Sutton
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Location: SW Missouri
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I was ready to go this spring, and covid hit. Status is on hold till things stabilize. Too many factors can get messed up beyond redeeming if I start now.
 
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Was working on my own signature links and just had to fallow yours.
bricolage:
something constructed or created from a diverse range of available things. Add ier to a french word means one who does that activity.
 
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