Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Building the walls

the walls have started!
It is so exciting to see the walls going up!  I'll take some photos this weekend with them complete...

Needless to say we considered many options when choosing a material to build our walls.  Here's a little rundown, in the order which we researched and eliminated each option:

siegel residence exterior bedroom
photo from Dwell Magazine

Hay Bale:  I believe this was the first structure we found really exciting.  Just the thought of building your home out of something so humble is pretty unbelievable.  We both still really like the idea, and maybe we will build an outbuilding one day out of bales.  I'm not really sure why this option got eliminated early on.  Maybe it just seemed too extreme and complicated (although I suspect it is neither).  Sustainable works is an example of a hay bale home building company out of Crescent Valley, BC.  The above home is one of the few examples of a modern hay bale home I have seen.  I think this particular home is beautiful, and sleek, and all of the things I love.

photo from solum builders

Rammed Earth:  Serious, serious cool factor.  The ultimate in cool.  Maybe somewhere, someday... though not in the budget this time.  To learn more about Rammed earth buildings check out solum builders.

AAC excellent thermal
photo from Modern Home Idea

Aerated Autoclave Concrete Block:  This is concrete block with air holes... which means it is inherently insulated... and lightweight (less costly to ship, lighter carbon footprint, quicker to install).  Again, a wonderful idea that is used all over the world, although not here in Canada.  We did a lot of research into this product, but discovered we would have had to get it shipped from the southern US, and that didn't make a lot of sense to us when there are locally available options.  Here is a link for a detailed definition of what it is.  Someone in Canada should seriously start supplying this product.  If it had been available nearby, we would have used it.

photo from icf dwellings

Insulated Concrete Form:  Now this is a product that is available locally... the reason we decided against it was that we wanted to minimize the layers of finishes we would require.  By doing concrete block, it allows us to leave it exposed instead of finishing it with siding.  Otherwise, my understanding is that it is an excellent option.. if you want to learn more, a local supplier is r-50 solutions.

Modern House Design, Eexposed Concrete Block Construction
photo from world house design

And so for us the final winner is...

8" concrete block wall
1" air space
2 x 6" steel stud framing (interior)

We chose this option above all else for practical reasons.  The block is readily available, produced in BC, cost effective, does not require an additional external finish, and is familiar to local trades.  Framing the interior with a 1" air gap allows a complete thermal break from the exterior.  We will be filling the block wall with concrete, so it will be incredibly durable.  On top of all that it's so cool... you may disagree, I know it's not for everyone (I'm sure images of public pools and penitentiaries are coming to some of you) but we love it, and after all... this house is just for us.

As Greg is a mason, he really is the one with the technical knowledge here, so if anyone has any specific questions, leave us a comment and  I will be happy to get them answered.

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