"building An Eco Home" Series

Discussion in 'Permanent Shelters' started by GateCrasher, Nov 17, 2019.

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  1. GateCrasher

    GateCrasher Expert Member
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    Eight part series on building an eco-friendly and self reliant home:
    https://commonsensehome.com/building-an-eco-home-part-1/

    And a bonus article on the pros/cons of ICF homes:
    https://commonsensehome.com/icf-construction/

    Just found this series this morning although it's almost 7 years old now. This couple built their home just about the same time we did, and in very similar style and construction. ICF, passive solar, wood heat, comfort cooling, etc. Likely we were both influenced by the same factors that were occurring back in the 2005-2007 time frame, the build-up to the housing market crash, recession, falling interest rates, and rising commodity prices. Their writings suggest a more Earth-friendly motivation than survival/preparedness, but then part of that may be a ruse given their root cellar, pantry, and some comments about earthquake, tornado, radiation, and ballistic protection against small arms fire. We've claimed this same "green living" motivation before when asked about our home and offgrid lifestyle before too. Wish I had heard of this couple and their plans while we were planning ours, would have been nice to bounce ideas off each other as even our climate is similar to theirs.

    For those looking to do something similar, the economy could shortly be lining itself up for another good opportunity to do so. Home builders in rural areas usually get hit first by fears of recession, so with proper timing and a little luck you might be able to get a good sale price for your urban/suburban home and a rock bottom price for construction in a more rural area. "Keep your powder dry" by saving as much money as you can, delaying major purchases, and moving money to safer investments now. Then wait for your opportunity to "buy when there's blood in the streets" to get the best bids/lowest price on your forever home.
     
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  2. GateCrasher

    GateCrasher Expert Member
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  3. CountryGuy

    CountryGuy Master Survivalist
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    I just read the intro and this does look very interesting. I look forward to reading thru the series. I wonder if they have done a follow up or if they might consider one now that they are 7 years down the road. Be interesting to get their impressions if the "theories" proved out true and to see what they would and wouldn't do again and what things they would tweak if they could.
     
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  4. CountryGuy

    CountryGuy Master Survivalist
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    I did just reach out to the author thru the messages feature there asking if she can direct to a follow up article or if they might consider doing one.

    Oh and if you look at the main link headers on their page she does list Preparedness so I'd say they are indeed part of the fold...
     
  5. poltiregist

    poltiregist Legendary Survivalist
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    I read most of the first series and noted the quest for mass to retain temperature . While this is undoubtly true it would likely demand putting the house foundation on a concrete slab . While most houses are built this way it has a major flaw . If the structure has indoor pluming , it will demand the pluming be buried beneath the floor in concrete . If there is ever a pluming problem under that concrete slab you have a major problem . That is why I have built all my houses so that I have easy excess to all my pluming . This raised house technique does present a problem however . The water lines are more prone to freeze in below freezing temperatures and require extra percautions . --- Because of temperature loss through glass my present home has only three windows . My adjacent son's house has three windows . Our temperature control is much easier than my adjacent daughter's house that was built conventionally and has many windows . Her cost of heating and cooling over three thousand a year . My son and i 's cost about one thousand per year .Just thought I would throw out some things to consider . Of course me and my son are prepared to instantly go into a zero cost if an E.M.P. should occur today .
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  6. poltiregist

    poltiregist Legendary Survivalist
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    Another thought on a prepper's home . A raised structure allows a prepper to install a trap door in the floor . This could be an advantage in a house fire . The last thing to crumble would likely be the floor . Another plus if your home comes under fire you can drop underneath your home and return fire from an unexpected location . Perhaps you simply want to escape and evade an assault . Whenever the law "whomever that might be " tries to invade your home you can quickly drop through the floor . A trap door is easy and cheap to install .
     
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  7. GateCrasher

    GateCrasher Expert Member
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    In our area all the plumbing is buried under the frostline until it enters the house. One reason basements are common up here, digging 5' or lower already so why not dig another 3' and add the extra living space a basement affords.

    They did go with in-floor radiant heating, but if I understand your concern correctly then I do agree with you - if something breaks/bursts you need to be able to access it to fix it. We went with hot water heat as well, but with baseboard radiators for this reason since all the plumbing it exposed and fixing a leak is a couple fittings and sweating a pipe. We don't even turn the boiler on unless we're leaving for a couple days or more. For internal mass, which doesn't include the concrete in the ICF walls since we're insulated from it, is largely made up of a 3" raised concrete slab between the two floors. The concrete slab for the basement floor, insulated from the earth, helps some but the upper floor gets a lot more heat due to more windows on the upper level. The raised slab is about 7 yards of full strength, not lightweight or aerated, concrete or about 14 tons of internal mass under ceramic tile.

    Pic from the basement showing the supports (every 6') and I-beams (16" centers) required to support 14 tons of concrete.

    22a334a5c52952eb5e66cdda641005d3.jpeg

    Our woodstove chimney can be seen in the lower right corner, the heat off the stove warms the slab above and keeps the inside temp very steady. It's difficult to calculate the amount of energy savings from the ICF/passive solar design, but I'd estimate over the course of the year it's probably 30% or so. A sunny day in January with outside temps in the 20's (F) and we don't even need to light a fire until a couple hours after the sun goes down.

    Might be informative to invite them here and ask what they think they got 'wrong' in their design. After living in mine there's some things I learned that made me wish I'd done some things differently, and besides just the good stuff there's a lot to be learned from other people's mistakes.
     
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  8. CountryGuy

    CountryGuy Master Survivalist
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    Care to expand on what you'd have done different and how?
     
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  9. GateCrasher

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    Sure, there's many. Leaving out the expensive ones I'd have liked to have but couldn't really afford, a few things I wish I'd done differently that wouldn't have added much, if any, extra cost during construction. A few that bother me the most in hindsight:

    Less windows on the lower level and more backfilled dirt around the home, would lose some windows and solar heating but better security/defense.

    Should have used commercial windows, with aluminum or steel frames, with tempered glass. Adding shatter resistant film to the windows afterwards would be much easier, and I'd actually be able to get the performance they show in their marketing videos with the film not just stuck to the window glass but secured to the metal frames as well. Seen the video of the guy that can't break through the window with a baseball bat? You don't get that level of protection without tempered glass and the film secured to the window frame (and I really, really would like it now :) )

    There's a couple windows on the lower level on the north-facing wall I should have used glass block, just needed a little natural light and a small vent, not full operable windows. Same for the windows in the garage too.

    Dedicated electrical circuits for exterior lighting and the security system, and wired to switches / breakers for control from a central location, like in the kitchen. And electrical junction boxes under the eaves/soffets at each corner of the roof, and Cat-6 ethernet wire, to add exterior lighting and cameras more easily later.

    Deeper appliance alcoves, propane appliances are deeper than typical electrical ones due to the tubing/plumbing in the rear - so our frig sticks out further than it should.

    More thought/design on how to add an air filtration system afterwards. The hole for it through the ICF, it's location, and a method to close off airflow from the inside to change the filter.

    One internal ICF wall in the basement to make a small saferoom, secure storage area, tornado shelter, etc.

    Plumb a (drainable) water line to the attic/roof, to be able to add a roof sprinkler system for forest fires more easily.

    Pull down staircase for attic access, preferably concealed or hidden.
     
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