Thursday, February 7, 2013

Challenges in Designing an Energy Efficient Home - on vacation at Big Sky Montana

My family and I are on vacation in Montana. Most of the family is skiing, but my knees are being troublesome so I have only skied a minimal amount for 2 days.

Randy, my trusty contractor and good family friend, says  "Next year I’ll be hosting Randy’s Ski Training camp. We can do it in John’s shop. I’ll crank up the music and we’ll all do Hindu squats, power skips, jump rope, planks, roll outs, and turbo lunges just to name a few! Skiing is serious fun and it requires serious prep." 

One advantage of being a little gimpy, though, is that we actually have made some strides in designing John's home. You may recall that we are buying a kit from Shelter Kit which is basically the shell of the home. My motivation for doing that is twofold, I want to actually use a hammer and have sweat equity in the home and the second reason is that I feel like we can control the quality better if I am involved daily.

I've been a paying member of Green Building Advisor for 3.5 years. I have subscribed to both the Journal of Light Construction and Fine Homebuilding for several years. In that time I have worked hard to understand principles of building science and develop ideas on how I would want to build an energy efficient home. I've learned the importance of air sealing, vapor control, methods of insulating a home, ideas about heating and cooling a home. As a result of this study, I think I need to be onsite during the building to make sure the home is done the way I want it to be. That's a little more detailed explanation of why I want to use a kit to build the home.

Anyway, we've got most of the layout done. My brother John has an old student version of AutoCAD which we used to draw up the plans. 

This is the first floor. We are trying to group the plumbing in one corner to minimize penetrations in the roof with plumbing stacks and to simplify the plumbing. The front porch is enclosed and will be the "Cat Porch". The kitchen is to your right as you enter from the Cat Porch. On the other side of the wall from the kitchen is the downstairs bathroom. On the other side of the wall from bathroom is the laundry/utility room. 
Upstairs with full bathroom and 2 bedrooms. The house is not really a 2 story house . It is more like a  1 1/2 story Cape Cod with a 10' shed dormer to fit the bathroom better. What is drawn as the sides of the bedrooms along the long axis of the room is the 5' line. These areas may be open or they may be enclosed for storage. John could line the rooms with drawers and cabinets for a really clean look. 
I've asked Randy and the kind people at Shelter Kit to look at the plans to see if they can see ways to simplify the plumbing and for advice on window sizes and placement. Or if they see glaring problems that we have overlooked. It's not like we have the code memorized.

Carlton, our carpenter, is recovering from his horrible accident last fall where John's old pool house came down on him and he broke his right lower leg in several places (and ribs and a vertebra or two). He has pain and limps a little bit, but he is getting back slowly. He has been helping out with the plans. He researched to find out if we could use John's septic tank or did we have to install a sewer line. Thanks to Carlton's homework, we get to use the septic tank saving probably $10,000!! Whew. That is a relief. 

Another great thing about Carlton is that he knows people where you get building permits. So we have an inside connection.

So even on vacation in the beautiful state of Montana we are getting stuff done on the house.

No comments:

Post a Comment