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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #50 on: March 23, 2013, 03:01:49 AM »
We received our first offer today. I have to recalculate their numbers, but it fits our budget, so that's good. Another contractor made a better impression, so I hope he's not (much) more expensive. My loam guy has returned from his three-week solitary wanderings through China, so I'm giving him a call tomorrow to ask about the water-heating loam oven.

Awesome stuff over there in Alaska, and I also take my hat off to you guys really discussing the details. It's the places where you have transitions, from windows to walls, walls to ceilings, roofs to walls, etc, that matter the most. I thought about delving into that, but first of all I have little hands-on experience (and I know about the shortcomings of theory), and second of all we're going to build with a contractor anyway. For a moment I thought about building myself, but I couldn't find a proper place or some old, experienced guy to help me (Austrians like to play it safe, especially with foreigners), and of course it would be suicide. Just doing the interior of the house, the flooring and the kitchen may finish me off.  ;D
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Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #51 on: March 23, 2013, 04:54:30 AM »
It's the places where you have transitions, from windows to walls, walls to ceilings, roofs to walls, etc, that matter the most. I thought about delving into that, but first of all I have little hands-on experience (and I know about the shortcomings of theory), and second of all we're going to build with a contractor anyway.
Neven,
You're right about the transitions being important...
Even if you won't be doing the work yourself, at least you have a good idea about what to look for and can keep an eye on your builder.

Oh, and I'm not a professional either - just a bit crazy  ;)

conrad

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #52 on: March 25, 2013, 01:33:08 PM »
I'm meeting with an agent from SolarCity today re my one family house. Does anyone know anything or dealt with this firm?

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #53 on: April 21, 2013, 11:26:56 PM »
A short update on the whole house building project: We've now received offers from six companies, three of which didn't appeal to us for various reasons. The offers weren't as high as feared, but not as low as hoped either. We now have to see whether there's room to get prices down a bit, at the same time I'm looking into options over the border. But I'd rather build with a firm from around here as they know the region best and can do all the paper work.

We have to decide who we want to build with before the month is out, than make a more detailed plan in May and hopefully build in August. It's going to be difficult to do it all within our budget, but isn't it always like that?

I've been talking and thinking about the whole loam stove idea a lot more, reading a couple of books and talking to the loam stove builder a couple of times. Unfortunately, the whole thing will cost too much, around 6000 euros, with another 1000 for the chimney, and another 1000 for the hot water tank with exchanger. So right now I think we'll go for the option where we prepare everything for a stove in case we definitely want one, and then try out a winter or two to see how it goes. I'm not worried about air temperatures in the house so much. I mostly wanted the whole thing to heat the water.

And so I'm looking into air-water heat pumps again. At first they didn't appeal to me because of the price and electronics (that could fail), but now I've found one with an exchanger built-in for solar thermal or wood stove, and it's not that much more expensive than the set-up I had in mind, but should save some electricity with a COP of 4. This would mean we need a bit over 10 kWh on a winter day instead of 15 kWh.
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GeoffBeacon

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Passivhaus - embodied carbon. Is it Large? Cause for concern.
« Reply #54 on: April 22, 2013, 08:00:14 PM »
Does anyone measure the embodied CO2 in Passivhaus designs? Last time I looked they didn't.

Embodied CO2 can be very large for new building. Even so-called "zero energy" developments can create large amounts of CO2 in constructing them. Building a 100 square metre flat in the Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZed) created 67.5 tonnes of CO2e. See: http://www.nohighbuildings.org.uk/wordpress/?p=3.

The Green Ration Book has more details and references in its Resources section http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/resources/.  Look under  Carbon Footprint of Building Construction.

I have recently had an email from someone using the methodology of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. The new house he studied had 91 tonnes of CO2e,  including external works.

Also: Do wooden houses store carbon? http://www.nohighbuildings.org.uk/wordpress/?p=40
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #55 on: April 22, 2013, 08:15:42 PM »
I believe it costs 20 times more energy to build a concrete and brick house than to build it with wood. I'll see if I can find a link for that assertion.

We first looked for a house to refurbish, but after almost three years of searching and a couple of failed attempts, we decided to go for the ecopassiveblahblah-house. Unfortunately, refurbishing isn't so easy, even if the conditions are good.

I wish I could live in a yurt, but I'm not that type.
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Vergent

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #56 on: April 22, 2013, 09:44:21 PM »
I believe it costs 20 times more energy to build a concrete and brick house than to build it with wood. I'll see if I can find a link for that assertion.
Difficult choice. Burn some coal or cut down the forest. Have you considered this?:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/making-adobe-bricks-zmaz81mazraw.aspx#axzz2RDt12PVa

A friend of mine lives on a family ranch. The adobe historical ranch house is over 300 years old, and is still in good shape.

V
« Last Edit: April 22, 2013, 09:53:27 PM by Vergent »

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #57 on: April 22, 2013, 10:02:10 PM »
I know a guy who built that way and he strongly advised me not to do that. Cost him 5 years of his life. I'm just not going to do that so that everyone around me can keep driving, flying, eating fast food, etc. as much as they want.

BTW, it's difficult to find numbers, but I believe 20 times less energy to build with wood is a bit exaggerated on my part.
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ivica

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #58 on: April 22, 2013, 10:10:10 PM »
Fast reading 7 pages of Making Adobe Bricks article I saw no mention of potential hazard working with asphalt.
"Hazard Review: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt"
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-110/pdfs/2001-110.pdf

Vergent

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #59 on: April 22, 2013, 10:53:05 PM »
I know a guy who built that way and he strongly advised me not to do that. Cost him 5 years of his life. I'm just not going to do that so that everyone around me can keep driving, flying, eating fast food, etc. as much as they want.

BTW, it's difficult to find numbers, but I believe 20 times less energy to build with wood is a bit exaggerated on my part.

Neven,

You deserve 100 tons of carbon credit for each of the following: ASIB, ASIG, and ASIF. Feel free to spend them building what suits you best.

Vergent


Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #60 on: April 22, 2013, 11:50:53 PM »
Neven,

You deserve 100 tons of carbon credit for each of the following: ASIB, ASIG, and ASIF. Feel free to spend them building what suits you best.

Vergent

Can someone send me the building plans of Al Gore's house?  ;)
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Vergent

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #61 on: April 23, 2013, 04:24:49 AM »
Can someone send me the building plans of Al Gore's house?  ;)

Which one?

http://infidelsarecool.com/2008/03/a-tale-of-two-houses/

Vergent

GeoffBeacon

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #62 on: April 23, 2013, 11:21:35 AM »
Neven

Quote
I believe it costs 20 times more energy carbon to build a concrete and brick house than to build it with wood.

What if wood stores enough carbon to offset other elements of the construction - and it's doesn't cause more rainforest to be cut down?  Baufritz claim their houses to be carbon negative (but they call it positive!)

Quote
The carbon balance in an average Baufritz house is approximately 50 tonnes positive. This means that if the house is run efficiently using, for example, a combination of gas and solar power, the house will take around 78 years to reach the carbon neutral stage.

But how does a Baufritz carbon positive house compare to a net zero carbon house as set out by the new Code for Sustainable Homes? The definition of net zero carbon in this instance focuses largely on the running costs of the house once built and places minimal emphasis on the amount of embodied energy already in the building which has the most significant impact on the environment. At Baufritz our carbon positive homes take into account the additional carbon emissions generated during its manufacture, construction and transport – a more realistic and holistic view.

Baufritz also say

Quote
Only the best quality larch and spruce wood go into making a Baufritz home, logged from sustainable forests to provide resource for future generations. Baufritz undertakes extensive tree planting schemes to mark its active approach to environmental protection.

http://www.baufritz.co.uk/sustainable_ecology.

Do we believe them? I'm tempted.
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #63 on: April 23, 2013, 07:43:31 PM »
Ahaa, I didn't understand that whole Baufritz text. Makes sense now.

I looked for some numbers, couldn't find anything, but 20 times less carbon makes more sense.
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #65 on: May 09, 2013, 10:17:39 PM »
Actually, I did. There's even a company in Austria that offers modular homes. In the end it wasn't really much cheaper, there's a lot of metal and polyurethane insolation involved (sandwiched between the metal sheets), and well, I'm a sucker for wood. I think it's an awesome building material that stores carbon for a long time.

I feel sorry for the trees though. Maybe a bit crazy to say that, but they're so majestic, and Carl Sagan says they're our cousins, and they helped defeat that crazy wizard from Mordor.
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johnm33

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #66 on: May 09, 2013, 11:35:32 PM »
I've no idea what the building regs allow in Austria, or in the UK anymore, but strawbale houses rendered with lime mix are growing in popularity [?]. This is my favourite ever building show http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grand-designs/pictures/sussex-woodsman-house-gallery/651d9cc5-037d-4b0a-a4c1-b640120dc8d4 but very labour intensive.
 There are numerous suppliers of prefabricated homes in Germany and Scandinavia, where all the local builder does is lay the foundations, and they go from foundation to completion in a couple of weeks, once delivered.
This forum http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/forum114/ seems very informed and level headed you don't have to join to search, but if you have specific questions its worth joining. I remember a long exchange ala ick/ick that completely changed my opinion on wooden buildings, much to my suprise wood, by volume, seems to be a much better store of heat than dense concrete, all comes down to hydrogen bonds! [saline water's better].
This site http://www.viking-house.co.uk/index.html considers all sorts of possibilities, with detail drawings.
As to finding the right builder I suggest you look for someone who's  'run off his feet'.

Laurent

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #67 on: May 10, 2013, 09:55:33 AM »
Have you ever consider the GREB method ?
http://www.approchepaille.fr/pdf/straw-bale-building-greb.pdf
Very smart !
Strangely I find nearly nothing in English (I know it does come from Quebec) !?

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #68 on: May 10, 2013, 10:16:47 AM »
Johnm33, I saw that house in a series I watched called The World's Greenest Homes. It was one of the few interesting buildings there.

I considered building with strawbale, but as it was too much of a hassle with organizing the bales (make sure they're the right size and density, etc) and very labour intensive, I decided against it. Although straw bale is great, in my view it's not as green or eco as made out to be. First of all a lot of biomass is removed from a field which has to be replenished, and as conventional straw is better than organic chances are that this replenishment will have the form of synthetic fertilizer. Straw is still a very green building material though.

I will use a lime plaster though on the exterior walls, and a loam plaster on the interior walls.

Laurent, that looks like an interesting building method, never saw it before. If I'd had the knowledge and experience to build with straw bale I probably would've taken it on. Unfortunately when you don't, it's an expensive way to build over here in Austria. Only a few people know how to do it and they also know how to charge green city people with a rural fantasy.

---

Update on our building project: We've found a contractor to build the house. In coming weeks we're making a more detailed design for the building permit, and then the house will probably be built somewhere in August/September. We now know approximately how much the whole thing is going to cost, which is why I have to let go of a couple of things like the wood stove, the battery storage system and probably some other stuff as well. I'm adamant about building a compost toilet though!
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Laurent

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #69 on: May 10, 2013, 10:27:43 AM »
There is also the method cst (cellule sous tension) (constrained cell)
Invented by Tom Rijven (I think) http://www.habitatvegetal.com/
I don't find english docs !!! There is plenty in french !!!
I see you did already choose someone ! In strawbale building like this they generaly invite people to work freely (food and accomodation (tent) ) (I did that a few time).
The greb is build with some concrete (that is the problem), they seem to have tryed different materials (i would not recommend plaster (with greb), it won't be strong enough)

Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #70 on: August 27, 2013, 02:36:03 AM »
Hey Neven,
How's your project coming along?

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #71 on: August 27, 2013, 12:57:47 PM »
Hi Lucas,

The foundation work is almost done, there's just some piles of soil that need to be redistributed on the plot. After the weekend they're going to start prefabbing the house, and it will be constructed from the 10th to the 14th of September. They will then put the windows in and a lime mortar comes on the outer walls. The house will be more or less finished on the outside, and I will then continue on the inside.

Most things have been prepared now, but I still need to find a good plumber, and have to solve some problems with the green roof.

I'll post some images later tonight.

N.
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #72 on: August 27, 2013, 09:50:14 PM »
Okay, so this is what it looked like a couple of weeks (there's more images in the resuscitated field thread):



They dug a bit and then drilled twenty-one 1 meter deep holes:





These holes were filled with concrete:





On top of the concrete in the holes they put kind of like a big toilet paper roll filled with rebar and some more concrete:



Then we had to put in the different pipes for all kinds of stuff, which was a bit complicated:



And this is how things look as of today:



All the dirt (still some more coming from the rain water tank and the pond) now has to be rearranged around the house to compensate for the slight slope. This needs 1-2 days more work. In the meantime they're going to start pre-fabricating the house next week. It will be built mid-September, which leaves us two weeks to get the outside ready for fall/winter.

We haven't surpassed our budget by much so far, and hopefully it'll stay that way. I've had to put a couple of ideas in the fridge (like a compost toilet, constructed wet land, greenhouse, etc), but managed to make preparations to keep options open for the near future.

How about your house, Lucas? Any changes there? Didn't check out your blog lately, sorry to say. I'm going to have a look right now.  :)
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #73 on: August 27, 2013, 09:55:57 PM »
Nice chicken coop, Lucas! We hope to have one of those two years from now.
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Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #74 on: August 28, 2013, 09:48:06 PM »
Looks like a nice setting you have there Neven - a pretty landscape.
I'll bet it's exciting to be breaking ground after all your planning.

By the look of things, your house will be built on top of a pier foundation...
Is this common in your area?
Looks like you're building on clay...
Is it an "expansive" clay?
Pier foundations are not uncommon on the Canadian prairie because of expansive clay soils, but usually these piers are much deeper than 1m.

As for my own house, things have been moving a bit more slowly than I would like...
C'est la vie.
And there's nothing wrong with putting some of your ideas "in the fridge" for now - my own fridge is chock-a-block full of ideas waiting for their time ;-)

Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #75 on: August 28, 2013, 09:51:12 PM »
Oh, and I highly recommend the "chicken experience".
It was a fair bit of work to get the coop set up but it has also been a lot of fun.
Now we're just waiting for the eggs!

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #76 on: August 29, 2013, 08:01:30 AM »
Looks like a nice setting you have there Neven - a pretty landscape.
I'll bet it's exciting to be breaking ground after all your planning.

You bet. I'm so tired of thinking about everything, reaching conclusions, find out some problem with the conclusion, re-thinking it, again and again and again. Literally ad nauseam.  :)

Quote
By the look of things, your house will be built on top of a pier foundation...
Is this common in your area?

Not really, no. We were in fact lucky to find a company who can and was willing to build such a foundation. They did it twice elsewhere, but not in this region.

The reason we preferred to do it like this, is that it takes a lot less concrete than a slab (which is by far the most popular way of building here in Austria) and you don't need any synthetic insulation material to cover your concrete slab from below. Another advantage is that your floor is really well insulated, because we're putting a 14 inch thick insulated wooden 'slab' on the piers, with about 5 inches of air below it.

The only big disadvantage is that the floor of your house is pretty high up from ground level, which means you need a couple of flights to get into your house, and to have a view of the garden you need to get close to the window etc.

And of course the foundation needs to remain stable!

Quote
Looks like you're building on clay...
Is it an "expansive" clay?
Pier foundations are not uncommon on the Canadian prairie because of expansive clay soils, but usually these piers are much deeper than 1m.

I'm not an expert on differences in soil, but in the region where we live soils are very loamy. The firm that lays the foundation, said that the piers need to reach below the frost line, and 1 metre is enough. The frost line is probably lower on the Canadian prairie.

Either way, the soil is very compacted because of decades of agriculture and heavy machines running over it. The guy who drilled the holes needed quite a bit of time to drill those suckers. The farmer who tilled this field had already told me that the subsoil was very firm. So hopefully it will be enough for our house.

Yesterday all of that soil lying around has been re-arranged around the house, and so the whole thing is getting more of a definite structure:



Now it's onto the house!
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ghoti

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #77 on: August 29, 2013, 11:12:32 PM »
Yeah the frost line in eastern Ontario is about 2m deep (or was before climate change). Water and sewer lines have to be installed 2m below grade to ensure they don't freeze. The Canadian prairies are colder so likely need even deeper foundations.

I'm excited about my latest project! A PV array on my house roof was just completed this week. I had a solar hot water system installed up there in 2009 to preheat my domestic hot water to reduce natural gas usage before PV was affordable here. The PV is covered by Ontario's feed in tariff so 100% of the power generated is sent into the grid and the income will (I hope) pay off the system reasonably quickly. So far it has been pretty cloudy but I'm still generating at least double the electricity I consume.

If you are interested in seeing the output there's a public website. http://goo.gl/qJp1mv

Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #78 on: September 01, 2013, 08:39:22 PM »
Neven,
You'd know if you are building on an expansive clay - it's a pretty extreme soil type (very unstable).
Wetting/drying cycles in the soil cause it to expand and contract significantly and can ruin concrete foundations in only a few years time.

If you have time, I would be interested to see pictures of how the floor is framed over those piers.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #79 on: September 01, 2013, 08:48:44 PM »
So far it has been pretty cloudy...
ghoti,
I hear ya.
This has been the rainiest summer I've ever seen here on the northwest shore of lake Superior.

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #80 on: September 01, 2013, 08:57:51 PM »
Neven,
You'd know if you are building on an expansive clay - it's a pretty extreme soil type (very unstable).
Wetting/drying cycles in the soil cause it to expand and contract significantly and can ruin concrete foundations in only a few years time.

If you have time, I would be interested to see pictures of how the floor is framed over those piers.

In that case, I'm pretty sure this isn't expansive clay.

I'll make those pictures as soon as they start constructing the house, and post them here.
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JimD

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #81 on: September 16, 2013, 07:04:25 PM »
Here you go Neven.

$10M house ready for wrecker

One of the evil empire Cargill heirs has bought an 8500 st ft house for 10 million and is going to tear it down to build a 9095 st ft home with a 2086 sq ft guest house (you could trade up to the guest house  :)  Not only that but the house to be demolished was designed by a world famous architect. 

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/210720631.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #82 on: September 16, 2013, 10:00:53 PM »
I have seen a similar thing happen near my father's summer house in Croatia. A quite nice villa was bought by a Canadian pizza millionaire (with Croatian roots), torn down and replaced by a horrible white cake. The guy built a tennis court, b-ball court and his own private harbour which he wasn't allowed to do. Crazy stuff...

Things are going slow, slow, slow over here. But today we finished the water tank, and pre-fabrication starts tomorrow. They should start building by Friday. I'll post some pics.
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #83 on: September 23, 2013, 08:53:23 PM »
Past three days have been very intense. It's insane how fast they're building this thing now that they have finally started.

Here's some images:















A lot still needs to be done, but I've decided to take things as slow as I can afford to. Mistakes slip in easily, especially due to sloppy communication. The firm building the house, all of a sudden decided to overrule my wishes for the small green roof, without notifying me. That's a bit of a fait accompli now, as they say in French.

But anyway, roof will get finished this week, as well as the windows put in, etc. I'll post some more images to give an idea, but I'm looking forward to start implementing some of those ideas I've been planning and perhaps post some images/drawings/data.
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JimD

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #84 on: September 25, 2013, 06:27:57 PM »
Hey Neven

What is the orientation of the house?  I notice one side has lots of windows (South?) and the others less to only one.

Is the top level also livable space?

Do you live in a heavy snow region?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #85 on: September 25, 2013, 10:51:14 PM »
Hey Neven

What is the orientation of the house?  I notice one side has lots of windows (South?) and the others less to only one.

The side with the windows is about 25° to the West (where South is 0°). We decided to turn the house a bit, because 1) the view is nicer, 2) we have more space in front of the house, 3) it can get quite foggy over here in autumn and winter. Because the fog dissipates after noon, it's useful to be oriented more towards the west for the PV solar array and solar gains through the windows. One minor reason is that there's a train track running along the back of our plot (just 20 small trains a day, going slow), and the house is now parallel to that.

Quote
Is the top level also livable space?

It will be after I've insulated and decorated it coming spring, but it's not part of the extra well-insulated living spaces below (85 square metres) where we live and work. Upstairs we have 65 square metres that will be used as a guest room/my wife's Alexander Technique practice.

Quote
Do you live in a heavy snow region?

Not really, though it has been more snowy in the past couple of years (or so I've been told, as I've been here for 3 years now). This year there was quite a bit of snow, for quite a long time as well. Southern Styria is supposed to be the warmest and driest part of Austria.

---

Today the outer walls have been filled up with cellulose, and the roof has been closed and made ready for the roofing tiles which will be installed tomorrow, together with the windows and front door. Things are still going really fast.

Off to bed early tonight. Finally an evening where I don't have to work.  :)
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JimD

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #86 on: September 25, 2013, 11:28:47 PM »
Neven

Re:  Alexander Technique

I had never heard of that.  After looking it up I have a question for your wife if you don't mind.

I broke my back really badly in an accident about 16 months ago.  As you might imagine I have a lot of pain from the lower disks which are located below the set of vertebrates which are now held together with rods, screws and bone grafts.

I read on the Wiki page that it helps with chronic back pain, but mine is not just normal back pain though such phrasing does usually refer to disk problems I think.  Does this technique work on things like painful disks in situations similar to mine?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #87 on: September 26, 2013, 01:16:32 AM »
Hi Neven,
Thanks for sharing those pictures - very cool.

They reminded me of this old Lumar video which was a great inspiration to me early on, when I was still planning my own project:


Prefab has so much to offer when it comes to energy efficient building.
It really seems a shame that it hasn't ever taken off here in N.A. like it has in Europe.
In my opinion, Europeans are light-years ahead of us here when it comes to energy efficient building.

Clare

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #88 on: September 28, 2013, 11:26:10 PM »
Wonderful to see your house growing so quickly, how exciting for you all. Yes I know exhausting too. I know this has nothing whatever to do with your house but these pics reminded me of the prefab house Scott took to Antarctica & erected at Cape Evans.
 I make quilts so was very interested in seeing the 'quilted' insulation they inserted into the walls, it had seaweed as padding. & When I visited the hut, I saw it for myself!

Clare

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #89 on: September 28, 2013, 11:27:57 PM »

Plus they used hay bales too( + food for the horses!)

Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #90 on: September 29, 2013, 08:31:39 PM »
Quote
After looking it up I have a question for your wife if you don't mind.

I broke my back really badly in an accident about 16 months ago.  As you might imagine I have a lot of pain from the lower disks which are located below the set of vertebrates which are now held together with rods, screws and bone grafts.

I read on the Wiki page that it helps with chronic back pain, but mine is not just normal back pain though such phrasing does usually refer to disk problems I think.  Does this technique work on things like painful disks in situations similar to mine?
Hi Jim, sorry to hear about your back.  :'(

My wife gave me permission to tell you about the Alexander Technique.  ;)

AT is a tool that helps you become aware of certain patterns in the way you move and behave. Most of how we do things, is done unconsciously, but because of things that happen to us and influence us (conditioning), the way we use ourselves becomes detached from the way we were designed to function. We often don't notice this until later, or if we have to be proficient at some form of repetitive movement, which is why Alexander Technique is widely known amongst professional musicians and dancers. If for example you're a cellist who has to practice several hours a day to be able to play in some high-profile orchestra, and you use yourself (an AT expression) the wrong way, you might not be able to reach the necessary level because of pain, repetitive strain injuries, etc.

In your case the back pain might be influenced because you're used to using yourself in a certain way and now subconsciously try to compensate because things changed due to the accident. This might make things worse.

I don't know whether the AT could help relieve your back pain, but as a tool it's very useful in general. As you learn to become aware of the way you use yourself (which is conditioned), you then slowly start to learn from scratch how to improve these ingrained patterns. This is a fascinating (physically as well as intellectually) process, but not easy, of course, especially in the beginning.

Basically, an AT teacher guides you through very simple movements like sitting down in a chair, and also does work while you lay on a table. AT is pretty big in the UK, but also has quite a big society in the US. Maybe you could check if there's a teacher somewhere near you and do a couple of lessons (not treatments, because you're learning the technique so that you can apply it yourself) to try it out.

Personally, I think Frederick Matthias Alexander was a genius, a slightly eccentric one at that. The thinking behind his technique influenced my philosophy a lot. At the time when I met my wife, I was reading a lot of books by Aldous Huxley. At one point we chatted at work (that's how we met), I asked her what she did, and she said she was learning how to become an AT teacher. She told me a bit about what it was (feeling slightly embarrassed because it's difficult to explain in just one sentence) and somehow it reminded me of Aldous Huxley's last book, called Island.

Anyway, not long after our relationship started, I was flicking through one of her AT books and in the introduction it said that Huxley was one of Alexander's illustrious students. So it wasn't a coincidence that we met and took a liking to each other! Huxley wrote a great book called Ends and Means (here are a couple of quotes from the book) that was heavily inspired by the AT (though he only mentions on a couple of pages) where he predicted/warned about World War II. A couple of years ago I coincidentally found a copy of a first print of Ends and Means, signed by Huxley for FM Alexander, which I gave to my wife as a present:



Oh, if only Huxley were alive today to say something incredibly smart about AGW... He later became friends with Jiddu Krishnamurti. Huxley, Alexander and Krishnamurti are my own personal holy trinity. I can't wait to finish this house and garden and get back to reading their writings.

But to return to your back problems. I think the AT can definitely help, but you'd have to try it out. It's a very useful technique. It might not relieve you completely of your back pain, but it will definitely help in not making it worse. Maybe combine it with a good osteopath?
« Last Edit: September 29, 2013, 09:04:54 PM by Neven »
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #91 on: September 29, 2013, 08:54:50 PM »
Back to the building. Here's how things currently look, roof and windows added:



Most big things are done, now it's about the details to get the outside of the house ready for winter. This weekend I've been busy preparing the pipes going into the house for insulation. This is something I've been asking the firms that built our foundation and house right at the very start. They didn't answer at the time, and it now turns out they don't really know (never having built a house like this before), so it's time for improvisation. Luckily, the pipes are all at the edge of the house, which makes it possible to still get to them. I cleared all the gravel around the pipes:



I put in some smaller gravel for drainage and put reductions on the pipes to make more room for insulation:



This is how it looks from inside the house:



Basically they're going to build an installation shaft around the pipes and fill that up with insulation material, probably rock wool. If I had known they would improvise at the very end, I would've planned this myself in advance. But that's how it goes.  ;D

I've also been busy preparing the installation of the ventilation pipes for the heat recovery ventilation system I wrote about at the start of this thread. It's looking like this on the outside:





I'll post images of details tomorrow (I really gave my best to get that part right, as it's so important), as they're on the camera that I left in our house.

Today and tomorrow there's quite a bit of rain, and because our green roof isn't ready yet, there's a leak right over our front door, not looking too good. Luckily, the contractor is coming tomorrow to do the pipe installation shaft stuff, and so he can have a look at that as well. I hope the insulation is still dry!  ???
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Neven

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #92 on: September 29, 2013, 09:01:48 PM »
Quote
They reminded me of this old Lumar video which was a great inspiration to me early on, when I was still planning my own project:

That's funny! I actually talked to Lumar as they were offering relatively cheap passive houses and I'm within 100 km of their main office. Unfortunately, they had just started a partnership with an Austrian prefab firm (who is offering their houses at a much steeper price, of course) and so they weren't allowed to deal directly with me.

Quote
I know this has nothing whatever to do with your house but these pics reminded me of the prefab house Scott took to Antarctica & erected at Cape Evans.

Amazing what those people were capable of at the time! Really incredible. But now that all of our beautiful Earth is explored, we must return to our gardens, further explore our minds and conserve what needs to be conserved...
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idunno

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #93 on: November 02, 2013, 10:26:39 AM »
Hi Neven,

Haven't seen fit to contribute to this thread so far, as I baulked at the adjective; the concept of an "interesting" building project is a new one for me - looks like a category error.

From the Guardian, on passivhauses;

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/01/cutting-energy-bills-oldham-passivhaus

Personally, I can't afford to do anything like this. Instead I make a virtue of necessity by using the maximum amount of recycled/reused materials from the local tip; and reviving old pre-fossil fuel techniques, such as cob building.

On greenhouses, continuing from another thread...

1. If practical, consider building an internal solid wall at the north end, to act as a solar storage heater.

2. You are likely to lose a lot of plants to 1. mould and 2. scorching. For the first, try to work in a system of ventilation. For the second, I highly recommend using a vine, eg grape or kiwi, trained underneath the roof supports to provide deciduous shade, i.e. none in March, near total in August.

3. Rainwater harvesting is essential.


Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #94 on: November 04, 2013, 01:52:42 AM »
idunno,
I'm not sure I would call it a "category error" - unless things simply must be filed according to how each category is labeled...

In any case, "interesting" (as I intended it) only means different.
Cob building would certainly qualify and I would like to hear more about your experiences if you're intereted in sharing...

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #95 on: November 04, 2013, 02:11:33 AM »
idunno,
I'm not sure I would call it a "category error" - unless things simply must be filed according to how each category is labeled...

In any case, "interesting" (as I intended it) only means different.
Cob building would certainly qualify and I would like to hear more about your experiences if you're intereted in sharing...

I've been wondering for some time about the title, but more under the building projects bit.

Does it count if it isn't a house? Everyone else seems to be speaking about houses. Do boats count as building projects, if one is doing enough construction and amateur engineering projects on a pre-existing hull?

TerryM

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #96 on: November 04, 2013, 02:40:11 AM »
Ccg
I for one would be very interested in your nautical protection. I've always thought that the mobility offered could prove a huge asset in chaotic times.
Terry

Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #97 on: November 04, 2013, 04:16:15 AM »
Hmm,
Sorry, I suppose I didn't really think about the title of this thread as something that needed to be categorized.

Ccg,
While a boat isn't a house, it can of course still be a home.
I would also be interested to hear what you're building.

idunno

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #98 on: November 04, 2013, 10:24:25 AM »
Well, there's the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." And in that sense of the word...

My feeling is that there are two possible approaches to ecological building;

1. Modernistic: which is the approach more discussed above on this thread, and about which I can contribute little.

2. Traditional.

I look more for inspiration to very traditional approaches. I would guesstimate that my great-great-grandparents, all 16 of them combined, had a carbon-footprint similar or lower to a single individual living today. Yet evidence suggests that they all survived to reproductive age.

Before World War Two, say, the transport of building materials was much more difficult and expensive. It was a huge advantage to source materials locally.

If you look at virtually any traditional charming country cottage, with roses growing around the door, you can usually find the source of the stone used to build it within a kilometre or so. It is extremely rare to find one without a fresh water supply within a few dozen metres.

Traditionalbuilding techniques were often also quite energy-effective, with solid thick walls providing both good insulation and acting as thermal storage heaters; smaller window openings conserving heat better. Shutters and curtains are more efficient insulators than blinds.

Cob, or torchis(French),

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cob_%28material%29

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torchis

...is the traditional building material par excellence. Ur in Mesopotamia was built of cob.

I stumbled across it while working on a half-timbered wall in France, which I was repairing. I started by scraping back the old torchis, then applying a thick layer of modern crepi (lime-based render) over the top. As I continued with this, I began to find that the 200 year old torchis, sieved and remoistened, was a much easier material to use than the modern, expensive, high-carbon equivalent. As this saved me several trips to ther tip, reusing the old material actually saved me money on fuel, in itself.

Altogether, I've now used old cob, scraped down off old walls, etc, to reface around 50 squared metres of wall, and as mortar, to rebuild a couple of cubic metres of masonry. I think its a fantastic material, and with cement/plaster production accounting for around 5% of CO2 emmissions, its use is very highly commended.

I have never mixed my own from scratch; and therein lies a problem. I find that there are definite local characteristics to the old materials I am reusing. "Mud" varies from place to place - and presumably local traditions have grown over time regarding the correct additional ingredients to add to make the local mud better-behaved.

Among these additional ingredients; lime, straw/hay and horse/donkey droppings.

The presence of the last I find especially notable, and gloriously pragmatic. You turn up on site in the morning, having corralled the draft animals on site overnight, and find that they have produced more building materials while you slept.

Anyway, I now have to get back to scraping shite up the walls. "Interesting", my arse!

;(





Lucas Durand

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Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
« Reply #99 on: November 05, 2013, 07:43:24 PM »
idunno,
I've never heard that curse before, but I do find that interesting...
If someone said to me "May you live in interesting times" I would probably respond "Thanks" - thinking that (as someone who enjoys some adventure) this person was wishing me a good time.
Cultural differences maybe...

Anyway, yes, there are definitely two different schools in "ecological" building as you have described; "modernistic" and "traditional".
Personally, I think the world needs both schools, though post-collapse I think "traditional" skills and experience will be more in demand and useful.

For a long time I have had an interest in strawbale and rammed earth construction, but I lack experience with either of these techniques.
Do you have any pictures of a cob structure you are working on?

In the climate where I live, rammed earth has a drawback in that these structures are difficult to insulate.
While having a large thermal mass can work quite well on its own to buffer temperature variation in some climates, that is not enough in winter here - unless the occupants are also prepared to wear layers of outdoor clothing inside or are brining in many other people and/or animals to share warmth.
Is this an issue with cob construction as well?