Building house

Other discussions not related to the Permanent Portfolio

Moderator: Global Moderator

User avatar
doodle
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 4246
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:17 pm

Building house

Post by doodle » Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:46 pm

Going to be starting construction on a new home in a few months. Looking to build something in the prairie style out of some type of concrete. I'm in Florida so I need a structure that can withstand hurricane force winds.

I'm curious if anyone has undertaken new home construction and if they have any advice? Money saving tips, things they wish they had known before they started building, mistakes they made etc etc.

Thanks!
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. - Blaise Pascal
User avatar
Xan
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 3191
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:51 pm

Re: Building house

Post by Xan » Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:47 pm

Congrats, man!

I'm afraid I'll have to leave it to others for tips; I've never done anything like that.  But I HAVE seen the classic Cary Grant film "Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House".  You should too.
User avatar
Pointedstick
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 8783
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Building house

Post by Pointedstick » Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:49 pm

My advice:

- Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) covered in cementitious stucco
- Cathedral ceilings formed from steel SIPs held up with a steel ridge beam and topped with metal roof sheathing

You will have a fireproof, termite-proof, hurricane-proof fortress with greatly reduced cooling needs.

Budget 20% more than you think, both money and time. Or maybe 50%!
Last edited by Pointedstick on Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
Human behavior is economic behavior. The particulars may vary, but competition for limited resources remains a constant.
- CEO Nwabudike Morgan
User avatar
I Shrugged
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 1061
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:35 pm

Re: Building house

Post by I Shrugged » Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:55 am

Contractors usually don't ask you questions early enough.  They are busy and wait till the last minute to ask you all sorts of things.  Then you are running around to look at materials and make decisions.  If you have a spouse, these rushed decisions will be even more trying. Such as:

Where do you want outlets?
How high do you want your light switches off the floor?
Almond?  White?  Something else?
Where do you want the dining light fixture exactly?
Which rooms are tile, wood, carpet?  Have you picked out same?
Which cabinets, countertops and hardware do you want?
Elongated toilets, or round?  Any special seat and lid?
Satin nickel faucets, chrome, brass...?
Same for doorknobs.
Do you want deadbolts, on which doors?  Same key on all locks, or some different... which ones?

And on and on and on.  Look around your present house, and in each room, write down the decisions that had to be made by the first owner or his contractor.  It will be a big list.

Otherwise, spend an hour's worth of expense to talk to your lawyer about how and when to disburse payments.  You can easily get burned when your contractor or his sub doesn't pay a supplier, then you get slapped with a lien.  Don't think it won't happen to you because it happens ALL THE TIME.  It has happened to me, and it just happened to a neighbor.  Contractors are used to having to get you the proper documentation before getting paid, but they won't do it if you don't require it.
Stay free, my friends.
User avatar
doodle
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 4246
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:17 pm

Re: Building house

Post by doodle » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:06 pm

Thanks for the info guys! Its been a big learning process so far and I haven't even broken ground.
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. - Blaise Pascal
User avatar
Pointedstick
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 8783
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Building house

Post by Pointedstick » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:18 pm

Post pictures of the process! Sounds exciting.
Human behavior is economic behavior. The particulars may vary, but competition for limited resources remains a constant.
- CEO Nwabudike Morgan
ns3
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 274
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2014 8:46 pm

Re: Building house

Post by ns3 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:07 pm

My advice would be don't use the same contractor that Vinnie Testaverde used....

http://tbo.com/northwest-tampa/testaver ... -20131230/

But serves him right for all those interceptions he threw when he played for the Bucs
User avatar
moda0306
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 7622
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:05 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Building house

Post by moda0306 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 2:40 pm

Pointedstick wrote: My advice:

- Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) covered in cementitious stucco
- Cathedral ceilings formed from steel SIPs held up with a steel ridge beam and topped with metal roof sheathing

You will have a fireproof, termite-proof, hurricane-proof fortress with greatly reduced cooling needs.

Budget 20% more than you think, both money and time. Or maybe 50%!
Is there a thread started that goes into why you advocate such a non-traditional approach.

I ask because it seems awesome. I love the idea of a fortress.  I live in mn though :).
"Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds."

- Thomas Paine
User avatar
Pointedstick
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 8783
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Building house

Post by Pointedstick » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:03 pm

moda0306 wrote: Is there a thread started that goes into why you advocate such a non-traditional approach.

I ask because it seems awesome. I love the idea of a fortress.  I live in mn though :).
It's not really so non-traditional; it's more of a culmination of the past few decades' worth of generally accepted masonry building practices in a way that I think makes most sense if your goals include things like minimized maintenance, reduced heating and cooling loads, and greatly reduced or eliminated susceptibility to fire, flooding, and termites.

Concrete building has been catching on for all the obvious reasons, and it's already pretty well-accepted in places like Florida which has hurricanes. Building a house out of wood there is just stupid. Then again, building a house out of wood in the foothills of L.A. is stupid as well, but apparently there are a lot of stupid builders there.

Such a house would work in Minnesota with only a few minor tweaks. For your climate, I would advocate reducing the thickness of the concrete part of the wall and increasing the thickness of the insulation part, and also adding a bit of interior insulation too. Say, 6 inches exterior insulation (about R-27), 4 inches of concrete, and maybe half an inch of interior insulation (R-2.25) The interior insulation keeps the thermal mass of the walls from getting too cold, but the thick exterior insulation keeps the mass more affected by the interior temperature than the exterior temperature.

A radiant floor heating system would provide all the heating you'd need, with an optional supplemental wood stove being easily sufficient for deep freezes.

FYI I am not a builder, but I am really hoping to become one soon, which is why I've been trying my best to learn all this stuff.
Last edited by Pointedstick on Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Human behavior is economic behavior. The particulars may vary, but competition for limited resources remains a constant.
- CEO Nwabudike Morgan
User avatar
moda0306
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 7622
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:05 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Building house

Post by moda0306 » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:30 pm

PS,

Quit it. You've got me dreaming now. I was content with my stick home in the burbs.  Now I want a fortress, defended by an AR-15, and with a 3d printer fabricating many household stuff I need.

You might turn me into a heartless, reclusive libertarian yet...
"Men did not make the earth. It is the value of the improvements only, and not the earth itself, that is individual property. Every proprietor owes to the community a ground rent for the land which he holds."

- Thomas Paine
User avatar
Pointedstick
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 8783
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:21 pm
Contact:

Re: Building house

Post by Pointedstick » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:51 pm

moda0306 wrote: PS,

Quit it. You've got me dreaming now. I was content with my stick home in the burbs.  Now I want a fortress, defended by an AR-15, and with a 3d printer fabricating many household stuff I need.

You might turn me into a heartless, reclusive libertarian yet...

Muahahahahahaha! Embrace the law of the jungle!

To get back to doodle…

Since Florida is a pretty consistently hot place without large seasonal or diurnal temperature shifts, you don't get as much benefit from thermal mass and keeping cool is important almost all the time, so you'll need to protect your thermal masses (walls and foundation slab) from heat originating both inside and outside, and you want the building envelope well-sealed to keep in your precious refrigerated air.

To do this, I would insulate both the interior and exterior of the mass walls with about 2 inches of insulation, which will also help your house cool down faster since the air won't have to spend so much time cooling down the mass walls. You'll also want wide roof overhangs to protect your windows and walls from the sun, and with a well-sealed masonry building envelope, you'll definitely need a mechanical ventilation system capable of circulating some air so you don't get stuck breathing in unhealthy stale AC air all day. Double-glazed windows will be nice, but low-e coatings on however many panes you have may well have a bigger impact in preventing solar irradiance from heating up the interior of the house.

In a maritime climate, make sure everything made of steel is stainless, including the SIPs for the roof structure. I would not trust zinc-galvanized steel in a wet and salty place.

There won't be anything in the structure of this house for termites to eat, but they can still dig tunnels in exterior insulation foam if they get confused. Make sure it's flashed properly.
Last edited by Pointedstick on Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Human behavior is economic behavior. The particulars may vary, but competition for limited resources remains a constant.
- CEO Nwabudike Morgan
User avatar
doodle
Executive Member
Executive Member
Posts: 4246
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:17 pm

Re: Building house

Post by doodle » Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:35 am

PS,

Couple of questions....how does one attach roofing to an SIP? Also, how does one dress up the underside of one in a cathedral type ceiling?

As with most things in my life I believe in function over form, but I also need to conform to the architecture of the neighborhood and hopefully build a structure which will have some resale value. If none of that mattered I would probably just build a concrete dome. Ughhh...the tyranny of convention.

Anyways, on the topic of roofing, I'm leaning towards a flatish hip roof 3 or 4/12 slope instead of a steep gable one like you advocated. Although the gable roof would be better for a hot climate like Florida, especially if I could open some ventilation at the top to blow out the hot air, I think they are less resistant to high winds.

As far as insulation and having a sealed building, I am also a bit worried about moisture. I have heard that really tight buildings in damp climates can develop mold issues.

I'm thinking of going with precast or regular block construction and just using trees, largish eaves, and intelligent window placement to cut down on heat. I'm a big fan of passive solutions rather than sealing things up tight and air conditioning my space.....thoughts?
All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone. - Blaise Pascal
Post Reply