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#1 2011-01-23 09:01:14

uno
I Love A.C.E.
From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 2927

house building

The recent post about stackwall construction got me thinking.

Hubby and I have been kicking around the idea of building again for over 11 years now. The older we get the more reluctant we are to bite off that much! When we did it last time we were too stupid to know what we were in for! And we didn't hire crews who called us when it was done. WE did it and it took us a year to do what a crew of builders could complete in 4 months. Now, 19 years later, we still don't have baseboards, which is lucky since we have to rip up the flooring and replace it, convenient that we don't have to pry off baseboards.

Here are my thoughts, feel free to jump in and enlighten me.

I think a stud wall, 2x6 is stupidly inadequate in this climate. It does not keep in heat well enough and here in BC, it does not keep heat OUT well enough! I also think rigid foam outperforms fibreglass. FIbreglass has a very low tolerance for incorrect installation and does not address the problem of thermal bridging through studs.

With this in mind I am liking the Nascor wall system, I-beam framing with rigid foam inbetween. I read they make up to a 12 inch wall, and while I think 6 inch is underbuilt, I think 12 inch is overbuilt. (and here is where I hope some debate happens) I feel that we do not loose all that much heat out through the walls as much as up through the ceiling/roof. Heat radiates/travles UP, not outward. So to overbuild a wall system is probably not as effective for the heat (in and out) as overbuilding a roof system. But I still maintain that standard stud 6 inch walls are better for FLorida than here.

Anyone have anything to say about ICF foundations? (insulated concrete forms)

I have looked into SIPs but find they do not stand up structurally like the Nascor wall and are more for infill in post and beam/timber frame applications. I am not in love with OSB either. If I was rich I'd wrap my house in one inch plywood. Man that stuff makes me jump up and down!

In ourt current house we have skylights. They let in heat all summer, let out heat all winter, and grow amazing cobwebs that I cannot reach! Our house has a ceiling that comes to an 11 foot peak, but not  hugely vaulted. I will not build vaulted. I do not want to heat vaulted. Remember, we have no natural gas up here so it is oil, propane, electric or firewood. We like wood but would like to use less of it so looking to build a better heat retainer.   Nor do I want to pay for air conditioning, would like to build a house that stays cool too. We lived in a log house once with massive roof overhangs. It was dismal and dark all winter but blessedly cool all summer. Where is the happy medium?

Strawbale, stackwall, rammed earth, cob, I find all this fascinating, but doubt in my lifetime I will attempt any of them. This makes me a sad, I really REALLY wanted to build a home that wouldn't see us working 50 years to pay off. People should not be indentured servants for a place to sleep at night. It is just wrong! BUt that is another post.

Does anyone have experinece with staggered stud construction with sprayed in foam insulation? I have no idea how Nascor walls compare to siteframed and rigid sprayed walls for cost, but know that both of them come in higher than site built  stick frame with fibreglass.

I have cut pictures out of mags. Read and re-read all my Fine Home Building magazines, drawn more plans only to have the roof truss boys say, uh...this house will fall down. (they are the FIRST stop! If the roof truss boys shake their heads, it's back to the drawing board) To that end I even consulted RapidSpan. A steel company who builds bridges and they assured me that if they can build bridges to support traffic, they could probably engineer a beam to hold up my livingroom. I have drawn myself into the proverbial corner. Oh...this all has to come in on a very small budget too!

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#2 2011-01-23 12:50:10

Fowler
I Love A.C.E.
From: New Brunswick
Registered: 2009-01-14
Posts: 3845

Re: house building

We have been replacing our old siding with cedar shingles.  Been taking a while, over half done now, but we figured out that we would spend about half as much doing it ourselves.  The old stuff was from the 70's.  Basically fiberboard with some sort of waterproof coating (masonite?).  As we do each wall, we put 1 inch styrofoam and then the shingles over that.

We heat mostly with electricity.  With every wall we get done, our power usage drops about 10 %.


Black Ameraucana

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#3 2011-01-23 12:55:08

AuntieEvil
Moderator
From: New Brunswick
Registered: 2009-03-07
Posts: 1945

Re: house building

Hard to beat straw bale construction for insulation and cost, but in a wet climate, it becomes a huge issue keeping things dry while building.
ICF buildings are exceptional. My boss lives in one. It is warm in winter and cool in the summer. It is quiet too.
You definitely lose a lot of heat through your ceiling, which is why R50 is the recommended insulation value for a flat roof and R28 for a sloped (cathedral). Flat attics are cheap to insulate, but must be vented properly. One thing we see is people installing cathedral ceilings and then using tongue and grove pine over the ceiling for the interior. The ceiling then becomes a huge, air leaking surface since each piece of wood is held in place by nails that have now penetrated the vapour barrier. Brrrr
People also forget how much heat is lost through the foundation. Up to 30% depending on the house. We see a lot of houses where half the basement is finished. When you plug in a 50% R 12 and 50% R0, you'd think it would give an R6 rating. Nope, it drops to around and R2. For insulation to be really effective, it needs to encompass the entire house, have a proper vapour barrier on the warm side and be allowed to breathe on the cold side. Spray foam is wonderful. It is great for retrofits, as it fills in gaps and air seals while insulating. it doesn't need vapour barriers as it is a closed cell product.
Air sealing is critical. People often have well insulated, cold houses because they have places where air infiltrates. Attic hatches, windows and doors, punctures in vapor barrier, unsealed headers; we see it all. Our job is inspecting homes for energy consumption, and we always tell people, you can be wearing a super thick sweater, but when the wind blows through it, you'll be cold.
There is an excellent publication from the Government and it is available online: Keeping in the heat.
Here's the link: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/pers … cfm?attr=4


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#4 2011-01-23 14:43:08

ooptec
Banned
From: Hafford, SK
Registered: 2008-05-25
Posts: 1047
Website

Re: house building

hey,

When I redid my house which was 2X4 const, I sprayed in (DIY) 1 inch of med density polyurethane foam insulation on the outboard side of the inside cavity to stop any draft before it entered the cavity. Then I got 2in square furring strips made and put them horizontally on the 2X4 studs. This stopped the thermal bridging and then filled the rest of the cavity w/pink insulation to bring the total up to almost R30. R7 for the spray foam and R20 for the fiberglass. Added bonus of the spray foam was that there is no vapor barrier on the inside (warm side) under the drywall but is the foam on the outside stopping the cold before it reaches the fiberglass batts.

I used a std poly vapor barrier in the ceiling and a roof ridge vent system for ventilation of the attic.

I didn't install any ceiling lights, rather used wall sconces in the bedrooms and one outlet in the receptical's in the living room is switched for lamps. The other is always on like a regular receptical.

Also I removed the attic hatch that was inside in ceiling and moved it to a gable end w/access from outside.

I sprayed the 1 inch foam in basement to stop infiltration between the foundation and the floor plate

Worked a charm

cheers

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#5 2011-01-23 16:33:26

coopslave
I Love A.C.E.
From: Crossfield AB
Registered: 2010-02-10
Posts: 2456

Re: house building

Uno, this is a very interesting thread and one I know very little about so it has been interesting reading everyone's replies.  Because we have never built a house or actually really even ever lived in out own (job always supplies a house) these are things I have never really had to learn anything about.
We have had a few friends that have built and a couple of things have stuck with me.  Under floor heating is something that always seems very efficient to me.  You don't need much heat in a house if the floors are warm and as you say, heat rises.  We know 3 people that have done this and say they will never go back to anything else, they both have wood as well cause they like the feel and option of it. 
The other house that sticks in my mind was one that had a wrap around verandah that would be like the overhang your log house had.  Instead of being a solid cover though, it was louvred on an angle so the summer sun did not get in the house, but the summer sun did.  This house was very eco friendly, had lots of natural light and many other features I probably should have paid attention to, but it was this letting in of winter light and not summer heat that really struck me as a great idea.  They really got a passive solar heat in the winter the way it was set up, but had not sun and a shady place to sit in the summer.
Well, I didn't have very technical help for you, I look forward to hearing if you decide to build again.  I think it is a great adventure!


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#6 2011-01-23 17:16:42

Rosewood Farm
I Love A.C.E.
From: Barriere, BC
Registered: 2009-02-25
Posts: 4840

Re: house building

I have looked into building myself and there is a house going up here.  Houses are very expensive to build these days, but at the end of the day are not constructed to last a hundred years are more.  Most are big piles of OSB type materials.  I looked briefly at the Nascor construction but if I were building I would use SIP construction which is basically the same foam with an OSB overlay.  I like timber framing combined with SIP and ICF for the basement.  If I wasn't to use SIP I would use a studded wall on 16 inch centres with plywood sheathing, but foam sheathing could be used for greater insulation.  Foam as used as the main wall means that the vapour barrier is not needed.  SIP can be used for the roof as well.


Formerly known as Survivor"
Rosewood Farm, breeder of Highland Cattle.
Hope to breed Black Cochins, White Chanteclers, Blue Laced Red Wyandottes and Gold Laced Wyandottes for 2014.
Blue Slate and Beltsville turkeys for 2014.

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#7 2011-01-23 17:48:21

AuntieEvil
Moderator
From: New Brunswick
Registered: 2009-03-07
Posts: 1945

Re: house building

ooptec, are you sure the 1" polyurethane is R7? As far as the program is concerned, the high density polyurethane is an R6. Medium density is an R5. Some companies give higher ratings to their products then they have actually been tested to. Spray foam is far superior to fiberglass batt, but also far more expensive.
One thing you want to watch for is condensation issues within your wall cavities. The vapor barrier is used on the heated side to prevent moist air from entering the wall from inside the house and condensing on the cooler outer wall surface. You prevent air infiltration with the spray foam you've used, but it doesn't prevent moisture issues from arising within your walls from inside the house. A good HVI certified HRV system would likely help prevent problems, but as far as I am told, would not stop it completely. The polyurethane is likely not thick enough to prevent condensation becoming a problem. By no means am I an expert, but everything we are taught, says the same thing. Hopefully it won't be an issue where you are...
Survivor, my friend builds all kinds of building using SIPs. Currently they are building a subdivision with them near Airdrie Alberta. They also build lots of oil rig and natural resource buildings. All R30 or greater construction. They use a huge CNC to computer cut the panels. Quite a neat idea and set up...


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#8 2011-01-23 17:50:38

Roots
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Calahoo, Alberta
Registered: 2011-01-11
Posts: 563

Re: house building

The house I'm building has 8 inch Sips wall that gives a R value of 32.  The panels are factory built to individual sizes and and even the window holes are cut out.  It is a lego type of system that each pre made panel has a number and it is placed where the prints say.  I'm not sure of the R value of ICF blocks but it seems to be very popular around here.


Starting to build on our 12 acres but still living in the city.

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#9 2011-01-23 18:04:38

prairie dog
I Love A.C.E.
From: Where the wind blows
Registered: 2010-05-13
Posts: 1817
Website

Re: house building

Our house is on a slab with water lines that are coming from a outside boiler that heats the water and the floor is warm all winter , in the summer it cools off with out the water being heated .If the temp's stay normal the house is quite comfortable , if temps stay normal !!!. The second floor is a different story ! heat rises and this becomes quite uncomfortable . Walls are two by six , and I wish I had staggered the studs and used two by fours instead of two by six's ! .Our house is very tight and keeps the heat and cool in rather well , but if I had to do it again there would be a few changes that I would make . We use the ground as a heat reserve and if I did it again I would put in piers and then tie the floor onto the piers plus  put styrofoam insulatation down  before pouring the concrete, this way I could heat the house with a sixty gallon hot water tank instead of a boiler .I would use two by eight plates and two by four studs staggered for all the outer walls ( no transfer of heat or cold ), no second floor !! and cover the outside with styrofoam  ( 2 inch ) Air conditioning would come from pipes that would circulate underground and then the cool water would go thru a rad and be circulated through out the house ..........and I might get a wind power plant seeing as to how it never seems to stop blowing these days . For the cost of a basement I wpould rather go bigger on one floor , I've always said that the only hole I'll pay for is the one that they will put me in ..LOL...


“Don't mistake my kindness for weakness. I am kind to everyone, but when someone is unkind to me, weak is not what you are going to remember about me.”.

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#10 2011-01-23 18:38:22

Fowler
I Love A.C.E.
From: New Brunswick
Registered: 2009-01-14
Posts: 3845

Re: house building

If we ever build, I plan to get a quote from an outfit that makes the prefab houses (after reading an article about them).  They can build from pretty much any plan (just changes how many pieces it is assembled in) and apparently they tend to be made better than on site constructions because they have to be able to ship them.   I would be curious to see if we could request certain things like no carpets or extra insulation.  Wouldn't hurt to ask anyway.


Black Ameraucana

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#11 2011-01-23 19:08:53

Roots
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Calahoo, Alberta
Registered: 2011-01-11
Posts: 563

Re: house building

My house is a 3 piece modular with the SIPS walls.  The builder is local and is very flexible with omitting items like flooring, kitchens, and bathroom fixtures. This helps if you know a person that can give you a good deal.  However, some builders will not let you change things like insulation and flooring or hire your own trades to do finishing.  Must cut into the profits.


Starting to build on our 12 acres but still living in the city.

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#12 2011-01-23 20:44:56

Deltamaq
Growing Member
From: North of the Arctic Circle
Registered: 2009-12-08
Posts: 90

Re: house building

We went with SIP's on a two storey. Have been in for over six years through blizzards over 60 kph with - 38 today and summer heat +30 with no night cooling (it does not get dark here in the summer).  It is a 28' x 32' box with the trusses spanning the 28' with no internal partitions / supports for 20' in the living area.  We were originally concerned about structural stability but have found the only time there is any movement is when the snow load avalanches off the roof in the spring. 

6" thick Emercor SIP's R44 rated. Floor is radiant in-floor (7 zones) made of 1.5" of concrete on top of 6" SIP, (because of the permafrost we insulate build on pilings to prevent the building heat from melting the ground). The attic has fiberglass batts, access is outside on the deck. The only penetration is the sewer exhaust stack, the high efficiency boiler & hot water are sided vented through the wall. A boiler loop is hooked onto the HRV warm side to add more heat to the fresh air.

The Emercor panels are made at a plant near Calgary from our blueprints. We used the plywood for the floor and got the OSB / drywall for the walls but would not do it again, the walls would be OSB / OSB then drywalled after being closed in. The summer we built is rained continuously ruining much of the drywall. Also nothing gets attached or hung on an exterior wall because there are no studs/wood to hold it.

Cost was high but we wanted the higher R-value, no thermal bridging and ease of putting it together without a lot of contractors.  A single storey should be easy with a reasonable over hang on the south for allowing the winter sun while blocking the summer heat.

Was considering straw bales but transportation cost this far was prohibitive. The spray foam used by Emercor is supposed to have a higher R-value than the rigid foams others are using. We checked insulative values per inch of product before choosing. 

There is a lot of information on energy efficient building technology.

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#13 2011-01-23 21:02:01

spruceburnranch
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Red Deer County, AB
Registered: 2010-05-04
Posts: 495
Website

Re: house building

This is the house I would build, if I had a chance. Earthsheltered. Fireproof, earthquake proof, only maintenance is on the south window wall, and mowing your roof occasionally. When you have an insulated waterproof umbrella over the house and for 20' around, with several feet of dirt on top, it will stabilize after a year or so, and stay within about 5*F of 70*F. Your house will never freeze up, even if you leave it unattended over the winter. Can post more websites and have info I can email if anyone is interested.  Donna

http://www.norishouse.com/PAHS/UmbrellaHouse.html

http://paccs.fugadeideas.org/tom/index.shtml


Breeding Fleckvieh Simmental cattle (40 yr.), Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs ( 25 yr.) Berkshire pigs, Buff Orpington chickens, guinea fowl, Bourbon Red turkeys, and critically endangered Beltsville Small White turkeys.

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#14 2011-01-23 21:20:23

AuntieEvil
Moderator
From: New Brunswick
Registered: 2009-03-07
Posts: 1945

Re: house building

spruceburnranch wrote:

This is the house I would build, if I had a chance. Earthsheltered. Fireproof, earthquake proof, only maintenance is on the south window wall, and mowing your roof occasionally. When you have an insulated waterproof umbrella over the house and for 20' around, with several feet of dirt on top, it will stabilize after a year or so, and stay within about 5*F of 70*F. Your house will never freeze up, even if you leave it unattended over the winter. Can post more websites and have info I can email if anyone is interested.  Donna

http://www.norishouse.com/PAHS/UmbrellaHouse.html

http://paccs.fugadeideas.org/tom/index.shtml

Those are awesome....


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#15 2011-01-23 22:01:33

smokyriver
I Love A.C.E.
From: Tangent, AB
Registered: 2010-12-06
Posts: 2431
Website

Re: house building

Fowler wrote:

If we ever build, I plan to get a quote from an outfit that makes the prefab houses (after reading an article about them).  They can build from pretty much any plan (just changes how many pieces it is assembled in) and apparently they tend to be made better than on site constructions because they have to be able to ship them.   I would be curious to see if we could request certain things like no carpets or extra insulation.  Wouldn't hurt to ask anyway.

You can definitely request to have certain areas omitted.  Friends of ours ordered a prefab home and they had no flooring installed and no ceilings finished as they wanted the old wood look for both.  Their home has turned out beautiful.


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