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#1 of 24 Old 02-27-2005, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wondering what others have done/are doing. Dh and I are currently discussing moving to an acreage, doing the kit-log-home deal, with solar panels etc. But I have some concerns . . . I don't know how environmentally sound the local log home manufacturers practices are (I have to look into this), for example. Dh wants a metal roof, which by all accounts is "environmentally friendly", but my gut feeling is that's propoganda.
Thoughts?

Mandy
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#2 of 24 Old 02-27-2005, 03:25 PM
 
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if you have the money to invest in solar panels and purchasing and kit...what about cob construction instead and buy some land out right so you dont have to get your construction plans approved by a bank.
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#3 of 24 Old 02-27-2005, 03:49 PM
 
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You don't say precicely where you're living or what your definition of 'cold' is, but I grew up in northern minnesota, where it gets pretty arctic in the winter. The big worry that I would have with a log home is insulation... wood isn't exactly the best insulator in the world. You can add insulation on the inside walls, but then you lose a lot of the charm of having a wood home, you know?

Also, the biggest thing that you can do in a cold climate as far as energy and heat efficency is to build your home to utilize passive solar heat, which means you let th sun in through the windows and capture as much of that heat as you can - great for the frozen north, because there are a lot of post-snow sunny days. It really works best when you have some thermal mass in your house to be warmed by the sun coming in from the windows, even if it's just a really good, thick interior wall. I don't know much about kit homes, but it seems like you're sacrificing control over the design, so it might be harder to make it work with passive solar.

You might think about geodesik dome houses, or potentially cob or straw bale, which have a lot more insulation potential than log frame.
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#4 of 24 Old 02-28-2005, 11:25 AM
 
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Regarding metal roofs...

I read once that Americans annually fill up a football stadium with old roofing materials. That's A LOT of roofing shingles! When we had to roof our house, we had a metal roof put on ("galvalume" was the trade name I think). It will last many more years than shingles, and is recycable at the end of its life span. I think the roofer said it would last at least 40 years, and it looks great too. BTW, it's a myth that metal roofs are loud when it rains... There is no difference.
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#5 of 24 Old 02-28-2005, 02:12 PM
 
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I have a friend who built an Earth Ship style home. Basically it's made of old tires that are filled with concrete and stacked to make a thermal mass wall. His home is built into the south side of a low hill with lots of windows facing the south so it takes advantage of passive solar heating and it's very light in there during the day. He heats with wood, but on the day I visited in February it had been high temps in the 40's for a couple of days and he had not used the wood stove for 3 or 4 days. The temperature inside was probably in the lower 60's.
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#6 of 24 Old 02-28-2005, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the responses so far.
greyskye-so far it's just dreaming, we still have a pretty big mortgage on our current house, so unfortunately we wouldn't be able to buy outright. However, it doesn't look like there are very strict building codes here (I'm in Saskatchewan, Canada), so we may be able to have some freedom even with the bank owning our house
Cob is a totally new idea to me - just heard of it for the first time yesterday. It's very intriguing, but I'm having a hard time finding internet info on how it would stand up to the harsh climate here, freeze-thaw cycles, very dry summers, etc.
Belleweather-passive solar is also a great idea. I don't know much about kit homes either, other than they're cheaper and more readily available than hand-designed log homes. Straw bale homes would be a concern because they're hard to insure, and dh is super-ultra-practical (an engineer) so that would never fly. I'll have to look into geodisk dome houses, don't know if I've ever heard of them before.
Bamboogrrrl-Thanks for the info. That makes me feel a bit better about metal roofs.
flutemandolin-that house sounds very interesting. Unfortunately the land is so flat here that the likelihood we'd even have a hill on our land is pretty low :LOL

Mandy
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#7 of 24 Old 02-28-2005, 10:06 PM
 
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Straw is hard to insure? Really? They are actually more fireproof than stick-built, according to the CMHC. They have tons of info on various straw-bale techniques so you may want to call them. A straw-bale house would be perfect in Saskatchewan, as it performs really well under wind loads and it has the equivalent of r50 walls.
What about a post and beam with infill bales? Come on, Engineer-types love p&b
I doubt cob would be do-able. It sucks for insulating, as far as I have heard, and can't take high snow loads.
We are also just dreaming right now.
OT: How the heck can you have a high mortgage in Sask? My dad is trying to convince us to move out there, and we were all marvelling over how inexpensive housing was. Of course, we're in BC so it's all relative.
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#8 of 24 Old 02-28-2005, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throkmorton
Straw is hard to insure? Really?
This is my dh's position - I guess I don't know for sure. We're definitely going to look into it though.

Quote:
They are actually more fireproof than stick-built, according to the CMHC. They have tons of info on various straw-bale techniques so you may want to call them. A straw-bale house would be perfect in Saskatchewan, as it performs really well under wind loads and it has the equivalent of r50 walls.
What about a post and beam with infill bales? Come on, Engineer-types love p&b
I doubt cob would be do-able. It sucks for insulating, as far as I have heard, and can't take high snow loads.
We are also just dreaming right now.
Awesome! I'll have to let dh know. We're just beginning to investigate (which is exactly why I posted here - I knew I'd get a lot of things to think about )


Quote:
OT: How the heck can you have a high mortgage in Sask? My dad is trying to convince us to move out there, and we were all marvelling over how inexpensive housing was. Of course, we're in BC so it's all relative.
That's just it - it's all relative. We're paying way more in interest right now than on the principal. My point was sort of more that we can't afford to just buy land outright. Although from what I understand BC's cost of living relative to wage is higher than SK. At least among people we know in BC who don't necessarily make much more than dh.
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#9 of 24 Old 03-01-2005, 01:19 AM
 
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I'll bet you could get your DH interested in straw bale. Mine was exactly the same as yours, he kept saying "You want us to build a house out of WHAT, exactly?!?" but once I showed him a book with specs in it, he was able to see the practical applications of it right quick! "The Natural Home Book" is a great one to spark ideas and construction, since they cover a bunch of different ecologically friendly construction methods and have good details on pros and cons.

A couple of wesbites to check out about geodesic home kits are: www.domehome.com and www.aidomes.com, or of course, you can google -- and see the goofy e-bay ad saying that they have plenty of used geodesic homes for less.
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#10 of 24 Old 03-01-2005, 11:53 AM
 
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I am researching sustainable housing myself. Look at this site,
http://mha-net.org/html/sblinks.htm

It is called Surfin' Strawbale. It will give you lots of ideas and also has links to cob construction. They also have links to articles about testing strawbale and how it holds up to fire.

For a type of construction that sits between cob and strawbale, check out econest.com They use light straw clay. More insulation then cob, less thermal mass then strawbale. Along the human scale, from what I have been able to find, again between cob and strawbale.

For climates with extremes, hybrid houses are very popular. For example, walls of strawbale but a southern facing wall of cob with a sun room on that side so the cob wall can radiate heat during the night.

I hope this helps.
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#11 of 24 Old 03-01-2005, 11:55 AM
 
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Just a couple thoughts:
I stayed in a log cabin kit in Montana in the winter and it was soooo warm with just a tiny little space heater. I think some of the kits include a strip of insullation in between the logs. I think they can be expensive though for what you could get for the same price or less with another method of building. The only hardship with that is that kits are usually quicker. My DH found a company that sells compressed straw S.I.P. pannels. He has had 2 jobs where that is what the people want the house built with. I think it stands for set in place.
He built both of those houses really quick and they were pretty cheap.

I have also lived in a yurt and a dome in the cold weather. Not as cold as Canada but it was high in the New Mex mountains and they were ok. They were insullated and required a fire to be comfortable. They are pricey too for temporary shelter but are really well built and are a nice space to live.

I think metal roofs are great. I don't have one being that i have a traditional adobe house with the flat slanted roof but lots of people around here have metal and they are beautiful and last long.

Good luck with your project, keep us posted.
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#12 of 24 Old 03-01-2005, 11:59 AM
 
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Forgot to add that any passive solar you could include in designing your house would be great. Look into it.

Be aware that if you find older books on earthships that some of the current findings regarding how much glass they used was waaaay toooo much. My friend lives in one and her office is 110 degrees in the winter because of too much glass.

Even slanted glass isn't necessary, just south facing.
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#13 of 24 Old 03-02-2005, 03:18 AM
 
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I plan to build an earthship on my land in Alaska. You don't technically need a hill as you can berm. Check out www.earthship.com
the tires are usually packed with earth dug from the site. The 3rd book has info on an earthship building code, and they talk about the engineering a lot.
Strawbale appeals to me too, but straw actually isn't a local cheap resource up here.
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#14 of 24 Old 03-02-2005, 11:50 AM
 
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Another method to look into is Cordwood, or Log End building. This has its origins in cold climates. Basically you take firewood & stack it up with a homemade cement mixture, with insulation in between the inner & outer layer of cement. (if that makes sense.) It's a do-it-yourself type of building that you could do with post & beam or without & it can be very energy efficient. Maybe a good alternative if you really like the look of wood. Rob Roy is the modern guru on this. Otherwise there is loads of info at www.daycreek.com, a guy building his own home in SE Minnesota & using solar & a metal roof. I did gobs of research on this method & we even set aside some wood, but then I got pg &, well, if we build our own home, it'll be a while Otherwise, I'd second strawbale. The dreaming part of it all sure is alot of fun!!
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#15 of 24 Old 03-05-2005, 06:23 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Throkmorton]Straw is hard to insure? Really?

my parents built a straw bale house here in northern alberta about 10 years ago. no one would insure them. they were without insurance for many years, i believe they finally found a company to insure them. of course, it may be much easier now.

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Midwifery student , Mama to my 4 amazing kids. treehugger.gif

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#16 of 24 Old 03-06-2005, 01:56 AM
 
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Hey Mandib50...a great uncle of mine also built a strawbale in Northern Alberta about 10 years ago. What are the chances we know each other?

He is a distant uncle I think his name is Dennis. Anyhoo...caught my eye.
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#17 of 24 Old 03-06-2005, 02:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamboogrrrl
BTW, it's a myth that metal roofs are loud when it rains... There is no difference.
IMO thats no myth, they are louder. Metal roofs are IMO very pleasing to sleep under as I love the sound of rain.
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#18 of 24 Old 03-09-2005, 11:16 AM
 
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Momto: Truly, our metal roof is no louder than the previous shingled one. But if there's no insulation, or the roofer failed to put the right felt underneath the roof, I'm sure it would be louder. A metal roof on a house in the Northeast is differently prepared than a metal roof on a barn where the roof is uninsulated over open space...
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#19 of 24 Old 03-26-2005, 05:42 PM
 
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I live in what I call a cold climate but it is all relative for sure. We're using timber from macrocarpa in old farm shelter belts to build our house. Not native trees so no worries there. For insulation we are using eel grass from the harbour & wool. We're having some of the house in cob too. Not that it snows that much in England, but there are cob houses over there that are very very old & are still fine. I have a copy of the ultimate straw bale book & that put me off strawbale. It can rain a bit here at times & I worried about moisture getting in the walls. Plus it is only a very recent construction technique. They wanted all sorts of wall linings & bits on it here to get a building permit which virtually reduced the straw bales to just being insulation. I am planning to do my new chook coop in strawbale but I think the cost of the amount of bales I will need could work out prohibitive.

An interesting link on sustainable housing. It is very cold & wet in Wales - or was when I was there.

http://www.thatroundhouse.info/

We have a tin roof with no insulation. The sound is so peaceful. One of those zen sounds. I feel very disconnected with my surroundings if I can't hear the rain on the roof. It is possible here to get good roofing iron from a demo yard. You need to re-use or patch the old nail holes so it doesn't leak but many a house has been re-roofed quite fine with it.
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#20 of 24 Old 03-26-2005, 05:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamboogrrrl
Momto: Truly, our metal roof is no louder than the previous shingled one. But if there's no insulation, or the roofer failed to put the right felt underneath the roof, I'm sure it would be louder. A metal roof on a house in the Northeast is differently prepared than a metal roof on a barn where the roof is uninsulated over open space...
Having lived in a home with rolled roofing/ wood shingles and later metal put on we noticed a huge differance in noise. Though its not a bad noise as we love the sound or rain. Of course being out in a barn in a rain storm is even better
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#21 of 24 Old 03-26-2005, 07:13 PM
 
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The only problem I have had noise-wise from rain on a tin roof is if you have one of those really really heavy downpours when you are on the phone. But I can live with that. My kids make way more noise!
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#22 of 24 Old 03-27-2005, 03:54 AM
 
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Be wary of building the house out of metal materials. It can block the electromagnetic resonance of the earth etc. In Japan, it was found that a certain group of sicknesses in the Japanese were because they worked in steel office buildings, while the people in the other office buildings did not suffer from it. It is similar to the "space sickness" astronauts suffered from being away from the earth's atmosphere. They now use a machine to simulate the earth's resonance in the crafts.

Of course, the more of these materials the house is made of, the worse it is, so I am not sure how bad just a roof would be. However I have heard that it shouldn't even be a steel frame. Our bodies require this connection with electromagnetism generated by the earth for health, as the whole body works out of electromagnetism like a circuit.

For what that is worth. If anyone is open to this stuff, it would be MDC mamas.

Hunger is political.  Wherever there is widespread hunger, it is because people with guns are preventing other people from bringing in food.  
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#23 of 24 Old 03-27-2005, 04:19 AM
 
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None of the houses I've lived in with tin roofs have ever had steel frames. Only wood. On this train of thought, I think electromagnetic pollution is a big factor to watch out for as well. I am planning to have the sleeping areas in our new house able to be individually totally depowered at night.
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#24 of 24 Old 03-28-2005, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've got dh reading "The Straw Bale House" right now, and it's putting some great ideas in his head. We're going to have switches to prevent power getting to the outlets to avoid all the electromagnetic problems. And he's really liking the idea of the concrete foundation with straw bale instead of rebar (crossed rebar can cause some kind of effect, can't remember the name of it, but it's also bad on an energy level). Being all for going way above and beyond minimum standards, he's thinking post and beam as opposed to load-bearing bales, but we found a place nearby that actually reclaims wood! Also we were thinking that we may end up buying land with an about-to-fall-down house that we may be able to reclaim wood from (of course, it all depends on what's available).
So, can anyone tell me about geothermal heat? What about roofs made from recycled tires? Or should I start some new threads, do you think?
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