Hi all. New Member...building house.

First off the lot is in Nova Scotia Canada. The Southwest part. On the Digby Neck. It has southwestern exposure. Lots of sun. It is moderately to heavily treed and largely Basalt rock. Ocean Frontage on St Mary's bay. (salt water air). Site is large. No concerns about neighbors or encroachments. There is a seasonal spring which runs down the center of the lot which might be best diverted via culvert. It is a steep slope. (18% grade).
I know most of you are in the US, so BAR HARBOR Maine, would be the most similar, climate and topography. I need to plan this out from square one. The driveway is already approved, the septic has approval, (but is bloody expensive). Approved for well, and theres reportedly plenty of water to be had.(well)
I need to decide on a house-plan that would take advantage of a pretty miraculous view, and still be designed on a steeply sloped lot. Its a retirement place so budget and size are considerations. I can't see needing more than 1500 square feet, plus walkout basement. I think I'd like to design the basement to have a couple of hotel like suites so I can do the BnB thing, as there is apparently a big demand in the summer months.
I'd like to have solar panels and because its windy, maybe even a turbine or more to get me less needy of living on the grid. Power is there but again, expensive, so if I could put some money into thinking this out, I may be able to survive in the long haul by keeping my bills as low as possible.
Looked at something called a Charmaster furnace which worked of wood and heating oil, and could be hooked up to in floor heating system which I really want. (Warm floor warm house) I just don't know enough about this stuff to make an informed decision. I've looked at the styrofoam block/concrete (ICF?) system and that looks really good to me, but again, I know nothing about it other than it seems the extra insulation, and bug resistance would be a big plus, not to mention a sturdy house, but don't know if a concrete pumper could get down to where the house would be, or if it could reach.
Anyway, I better stop, before this turns into a novel. I have tons of questions that I hope to put up as additions to this thread and am hoping any of the experts will grab any peice of it they know a lot about and answer away. I'm not even going to be there till September, so construction wouldn't begin till after then. I'd like to do as much as I can myself to both "feel" like its my house, and to save bucks. But I clearly will need lots of subs and help. Maybe this thread can end up being a help to others too. I'm sure it would.
Would appreciate any positive , knowlegeable comments, links, advice, etc.
Thanks in advance, group
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Appears to me that you're well on your way. I would suggest that you talk to as many folks in your area who have built their own houses or those who build houses. If you're trying to save money, construct your house the way it is normally done in your area. Talk, talk, talk: Read, read, read. Some of the advice will be crap but you will just have to figure it out. Tight budgets induce stress. Things will go wrong so be prepared. Sounds like a nice place; maybe you can show us a pic?
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Thanks Mike. Appreciate the advice. I don't know about well on my way, but "on my way" at least. I guess. :) You are probably right about doing the house the way its normally done, but this is in a recreational area. Many people just come out for the summer, and I want to live there year around. So some of the things that are acceptable to cottage owners or second residence owners won't be to me. I do plan on taking my time, so as to eliminate as much stress as possible. I have a Motorhome in which to live comfortably, while I do this thing. So I can live on site, and work it every day till I drop. I don't work so timing is good. I'll see about posting a pic. Do you have a quick instructions link on how to do that? Do you or any of the guys know if stucco is feasible in a seaside climate? I have it here in BC where I live now, and love it. Imasco not acrylic,so the woodpeckers bend their beaks when they try to assault my house. :)
If you have any bettter links for the "read read read" advice, please post 'em. I'd love to read stuff you guys consider worthy advice.
Dean
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If the place is sitting on rock, where's the effluent gonna go? That's why its so expensive, above ground effluent field. Bet that's interesting to put in place on such steep grade. And a challenge to build a home there for the same reason. Standing water should be not a problem. Dave
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Yup Right you are Dave. There is a mix of soil as well as rock, so the tank and feild will be below ground, but environmental concerns, being oceanfront, place some major restrictions. The septic plans must be engineered for example, and depending on where I place the house, I might have to pump sewage uphill into the tank. I have an early estimate of 25K for the septic system alone. Might be worse. The challenge part is correct too. I'm hoping some guys can send me links to houseplans that would suit such a site. I'm thinking of using solar panels and wind turbine and need sources and recommendations for that too.
Should be quite the journey. Thanks for the post. Dean
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The market is new in the renewable energy resource niche. West Germany leads the world in both the agendas you're asking about. Many people want to, but don't want to be the guinea pigs for slow to engineer American entreprenaurs. Most people are sitting on their hands and waiting for the market to mature. Expense is the other major obstacle.
I wouldn't try to do it myself as there's more to it than just installing equipment that produces electricity. Dave
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On Sat, 12 May 2007 21:20:36 -0700, Jack wrote:

This is UK stuff but something there may help you. http://www.itsnoteasybeinggreen.org /
And another link to their TV programme. tp://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctwo/noise/?idsy_green
HTH
--
Registered Linux User 413057.
Both Mandriva 2007 and Ubuntu 6.06
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All very helpful Andy.
I have been pouring through these links until my eyes feel like sandpaper. I really appreciate all these links and posts. Thanks all. If I'm not posting, its because I'm still reading. I'll have tons more questions for this thread very soon, I'm sure.
Dean
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Jack, We are going to begin excavation within two months for the construction of a super insulated, passive solar home. I have been working on the design for several years, and have researched numerous material and technology possibilities.
Simply described, a passive solar design takes advantage of the different angles of the sun's path through the sky, summer-vs-winter. Ancient cultures took advantage of this - i.e. the Anasazi indians in the SW US chose erosion caves that had faced south and had deep overhangs to block the summer sun yet let the low winter sun shine directly on their adobe structures. Stone buildings all over ancient China were oriented the same way.
Build an airtight, well insulated building with the proper ratio of high quality glazing to thermal mass, with overhangs (extended roof eaves, porch roofs, trellises, etc.) that shade the windows in sumer but let the sunlight fall on interior surface in winter, and you can drastically reduce energy bill
My dad built a passive solar in Jamestown, NY almost 25 years ago. Even with the building technologies available back then, his 2500 sq. ft. home averages $700 a year in total utilities today...and Jamestown is not the sunniest place in the US. If you didn't know in advance, nothing about the architecture gives it away - it is a conventional looking home, although contemporary in its style with board & batten cedar siding.
Ours is Craftsman Style and will use a combination of siding, hard-coat stucco, stone veneer, dimensional shingles and a standing seam accent roof.
Initially the envelope for our design was 100% ICF's, but after getting some bids and talking with numerous contractors, I switched/redesigned to use a combination of pre-cast insulated foundation and SIPS. The high cost of ICF's in our area is purely a geographic thing - too few contractors with the skills to do it right so they can charge what the want. The SIPS we are using have comparable insulation values.
Heres a list of the major components: Superior Walls XI insulated foundation 6.5" SIP walls/ 8.5" SIP roofs (R24/R32) We're using Insulspan - geographic advantage. Weathershield Proshield high performance dual-glazed argon filled, low-U-factor / high SHGC fusion welded vinyl exterior/oak interior jambs cases and stops Water Furnace brand ground source reversible heat pump ( highest efficiency units available) radiant floors throughout / Carrier commerical water-to-air coooling coil/air handler for A/C, ERV for ventilation Energy Star rated fixtures and appliances Pressure assist low gpf toilets Aquasafe aerobic septic treatment plant - most energy efficient/ cost effective efflunt reduction system available (Orenco Advantext is more energy efficient, but much higher price affects payback)
Some sites to browse: http://www.ownerbuilderbook.com/ title says it all - lots of info for the owner-builder http://www.hallsnet.com/david/house/ great site chronicles the process and pitfalls of building like you plan to http://www.advancedbuildings.org/index.htm Canadian site with lots of good info on different building techs http://www.ourcoolhouse.com/ this site features a well thought out passive solar non-conventional appearance but lots of good info on systems, design, etc. http://www.sunearth.net/solar.html an architectural firm that specilaizes in passive solar http://www.greenbuilder.com/Sourcebook/PassiveSol.html (this site has fringe technologies - ie rammed earth, hay bale, etc. - but does have some good info on passive solar) http://www.sunlighthomes.com/nut/index-2.html a builder that specializes in conventional looking passive solar homes - lots of good info http://www.aerobicsystems.net/aquasafe.html septic ATU http://www.waterfurnace.com/ ground source heat pumps http://www.weathershield.com/windows.jsp?tier1=1&tier2=9&subNav=5 http://www.suretight.com/ordertracking.html info on SIPS http://www.pacemakerbuildingsystems.com/product-sips.cfm more SIPS http://www.homepower.com/files/beginner/SolarElectricBasics.pdf good article on PV
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VHZ, Wow, what a terrific post!! (for me). This is exactly the type of thing I had hoped for. Congrats on your scheduled groundbreaking.! Thanks so much for all the invaluable info. And the links. This post alone will have me buryed in paperwork for days.
To reveal my ignorance and demonstrate the light years I am behind you in research and study, I know what ICF's are but what are SIP's and Insulpan? Maybe I'll learn that from the links you provided.
Again, thanks very much, and I would love to stay in touch as your own home unfolds.I'm hopeful you'll follow this thread and jump in when your time allows. Also, if theres anything I can be of help with from Canada, let me know.
Dean
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Here is how I built mine with SIPs.
http://www.asberry.net/home_building.htm
--Andy Asberry-- ------Texas-----
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Nice post. Now I know what SIP's are. Very interesting. Good information.
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You've gotten some excellent replies so far. Here's my 2 cents. If you're serious about going with some alternative energy, check the "wind resource maps" for your area. If the average wind speed is 15mph, there's tremendous potential for a wind turbine that can offset a good fraction of your electric needs, especially if you're somewhat frugal with appliances and lighting. Check out this site: http://www.skystreamenergy.com/skystream /
This system was designed as a utility-tied wind system. It's relatively small and puts out a couple kilowatts at windspeeds of ~25mph. More realistically, at wind speeds of ~15, it's good for 800-1000w, which still can offset 20-25kwh/day.
Since you have a good source of groundwater, you probably have an excellent opportunity for a ground source heat pump. They are ideally suited for radiant heating because they very efficiently heat water to the temperatures needed for radiant. If you don't have to go deep to hit water, then consider an open loop system, where you're taking water, typically about 10 gallons/minute from one well, extracting heat in the heat pump, and sending the water to another well. It's a clean process because the water just passes through heat exchangers, but it's extremely good for ground source heat pumps as long the water doesn't have too much minerals which can clog or damage the exchanger.
See: http://www.geoexchange.org/index.htm for details on ground source heat pumps.
In any project like this, the devil's in the details. Make sure that whomever is constructing the home is experienced with the technology you're using. Whether it's SIPS or geothermal or just high efficiency building in general, your home will only be as good as the installer/ builder. I've personally been burned by competent, well meaning contractors that just didn't have the specialized knowledge needed to do the job right.
good luck. This sounds like a really exciting project.

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Astro, thanks for the insights. I appreciate the links and the advice makes a lot of sense. I think the last point may be the most valuable. I tend to take peoples word, and trust the "well-meaning". I think that may become my biggest obstacle to overcome. I need to learn how to select the right contractor not the nicest guy. Not sure I'll be very good at that.
Dean
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Look through these images. The titles are indicative of content.
http://www.citlink.net/~wmbjk/images /
He built a SIP house and powers it totally with solar and wind.
--Andy Asberry-- ------Texas-----
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Jack wrote:

When I lived in that area, I noticed that most homes had an airlock entry porch, with a sliding door, due to the pervasive wind.
Also, it seemed to be rude to lock your door... The habit was to knock and enter and announce at once. Things may have changed in 35 years :-)
Brian Belliveau
formerly Church Point & Meteghan, with a few relatives in Belliveau's Cove, and now Edmonton
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Hmm... thats really interesting to me.. Luckily I have always liked an "airlock entry porch", so much so in fact, that of the hundreds of sketches I've done, I don't think a single one didn't feature one. :) I'm a little weirded out about the "knock enter announce" thing....... I might not be too popular there then... I'm from the big city.... thats going to take a lot of getting used to for me. Where I live the "knock, enter announce " would go more like this..... Knock, enter , BLAM. thud, woo wooo woo (sirens). Haha well, sort of.
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Hey, Jack! Welcome to the neck! We've been here since last September; formerly from Winnipeg. How far out the neck are you?
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