Sunday, September 5, 2010

the final plans

Ahhh... the plans.  They may not look like much at first glance, but there is so much going on below the surface.

We designed this house to function primarily on passive solar and cooling.  There are a number of things that contribute to this (which are explained much more thoroughly at the previous link) but I will walk you through a little of what we decided to do.

The first consideration was the orientation of the house.  I mentioned this before in looking for land with a southern exposure.   Without that you would not be able to gain enough heat in the winter.  The southern facing wall needs the most windows to allow heat gain.  Northern facing walls need minimal windows to prevent heat loss.  West facing windows need to be particularly well insulated to stop the blazing heat of the setting sun in summer.  There will be overhangs on the south facing windows (which are not shown) to shade them in the summer as well.  We will be supplementing the passive heating with radiant in-floor heat and a wood stove.  We will not be installing a/c.

The second factor was the thermal mass.  We decided to build with concrete block (filled with concrete) and a concrete floor.

The third  challenge was insulation.  The interior walls will be built of 2 x 6 steel stud framing with a one inch air gap between it and the concrete block.  Our insulation decisions are not yet complete, but we are looking at our options.

The fourth factor was the ventilation.. how do we keep it from being too hot in the summer?  To tackle this we are venting windows at the peak, and installing ceiling fans.  
The carport entry door and kitchen window will be used to draw cool air from the north side of the house, and hot air will be venting out the top on the south side.  We will be installing polycarbonate panels for light and venting along the upper portion of the south wall.  We are also looking at a make-up air system to prevent back-draft of the wood stove.  There are different ways to do this, and I am still researching it.

With the functionality issues tackled, we then had to sort out the floor plan.  We decided to include a loft area to increase the square footage and reduce wasted space.  We decided that we only need two bedrooms and one bathroom.  We need room for two home offices, a studio space, and a spacious living area.

Once again, there have been changes made to this final plan.  Some of the windows have been removed, and others made larger.  As we document each stage of the build I will go into much more detail about our choices. We can never really tell how a house will function until we are living in it.. but we are hoping this will prove to be an efficient little home for us.  Just enough space, lots of light, modern design, and easy to maintain humble finishes.  Can't wait.

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