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Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



Hello HCH (The forum formally known as DIY). I'm an AI regular and have just recently bought a plot of land with the intent to build a home on. I like to consider myself handy but I'm definitely more theory than practice at the moment when it comes to building and working on things that don't have wheels. If you're so inclined you can read about my exploits over in AI *CLICK HERE*

The purpose of this thread is to hopefully entertain all of y'all by sharing my home build adventure and to hopefully spark some discussions and hear your suggestions for things to consider.

To give some background on myself and my family, my wife has some mobility issues that necessitate the use of a walker and potentially a wheelchair in the future. We are also expecting our first child this summer. Due to our health situation we're planning a generational home with my parents moving with us into the new home, it'll work for us as we can better support each other. But with that our home has to accommodate 5 people, two couples and new baby. We're going for an accessible home to meet our current and future mobility needs, so we're planning to install a motorized stair-lift chair between the main floor and basement, and some provision for a future elevator if our needs change in the future. The main floor will be all one level with no steps to aid in getting around. Planning on things like in-floor heating via a boiler/hydronic system as well as forced air to get some fresh air and to allow for A/C cooling in the summers.

As mentioned, we bought what we feel is a gorgeous riverfront property a few minutes away from the city, just over 1.5 acres and sloped to the river. It was a risky purchase but thankfully paid off, we engaged an architect to design our new home and we made a conditional offer with our conditions essentially boiling down to us knowing that the land is buildable and being granted approved variances. The geotechnical report (because of the proximity to the riverbank and the elevation meaning it was within water managements jurisdiction) is quire onerous and had cost the seller $20k, through the negotiation we essentially split the cost if the results were favorable, which it turns out they were. Anyway, the below will be the base for where I will attempt to build my dream home. Or a winterized tent (depending how my budgeting goes...). I'll be lurking in DIY for a bit to learn a little bit more about home construction.











It's a roughly triangular shaped lot with just under 300' fronting the road, it's a very dreamy lot in my opinion which is why we bought it. Did our due diligence so I hope there's no big surprises that occur during construction. Plan is to finish the design this year and begin construction in 2022.

I'm a huge fan of exposed lumber and natural stone accents, and from what I gathered looking online at way too many different homes, I think what I really like is a modernized craftsman style. We shared about 200 idea photos with our architect as well as a sketched out floorplan we came up with and I compiled a set of room data sheets which helped explain what we had in mind in terms of rooms, their expected uses, and various requirements. Our architect went to work and got us a quick sketch to make sure we were on the same page.



This is definitely a style I can get behind, I love the large window wall into the common area which will give a great view of the river. We went ahead with some floorplans and after a number of revisions we have the following which we used to apply for some variances to allow us to build closer to the road and stay as much out of the flood zone as we could.



We're hoping to respect the topography and the natural beauty of the lot so our plan is to keep the existing trees on the lot and building around them where possible. The home is placed roughly perpendicular to the direction of the slope so that it evenly cuts into it.



We're planning a single story home with a walk-out basement. The section view below shows a crawlspace but now with the results of the geotechnical report we'll be going with a slab on grade approach.



We're still tweaking the floor plan but I think the exterior of the home will be roughly this shape with some tweaks to some of the spaces.

Our Architect is recommended looking at an 'ICE' panel construction (Insulated Composite Envelope panel). I haven't run into these in my professional life, but from going through the marketing stuff and whatnot it seems like a not terrible idea for the building envelope.

https://gsbp.ca/


Essentially it's expanded polystyrene with steel stud framing. So think styrofoam with metal studs throughout but not bridging interior to exterior.

quote:

The Greenstone ICE Panel is an Insulated Composite Envelope Panel Ė a new, technologically advanced building envelope developed in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. ICE Panels are an engineered combination of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) and steel stud framing used in residential and commercial construction applications. The panels use two independent structural frames bonded together with EPS to create a strong, durable building envelope with no thermal connections and a life cycle that will last generations.

There are many advantages to ICE Panels, including airtight construction, healthy air quality, less construction waste and they are really easy to build with.

Designed and constructed in a controlled environment, ICE Panels are the framing, insulation and vapour barrier of the building envelope combined into one simplified step. They are engineered and adapted to any home or commercial building design by our in-house design team. Projects that were built with ICE Panels are known to be:

Sustainable
Comfortable
Energy efficient
ICE Panels have no thermal connections. In a traditional lumber framed wall, a "thermal bridge" is created along each stud providing an access bridge for hot or cold temperatures to enter your building. This decreases the R-values and affects the consistency of internal temperatures. With the ICE Panel, there are no structural elements that bridge hot or cold temperatures into the building. No energy is lost through the building envelope. This creates consistent R-values and high energy performance.

ICE Panels are 100% recyclable. Our plant can re-purpose the EPS from old panels by grinding it down, and reusing the materials in the Greenstone R-Panel. This is another Greenstone product we created for insulation applications. The steel can be recycled as well and used in new panel fabrication.

Building with ICE Panels also ensures nearly zero onsite waste. As the panels are designed and engineered specifically to the design specifications of each project, virtually no additional materials are needed on site. This keeps the job site cleaner and more efficient throughout the building process.

According to them, the effective R value is pretty stellar.



And it gets better once you look at the full wall system.



Our Architect is telling us the material cost is higher but the labour cost is much lower. Supposedly you get a factory trained tech and a group of 4 people can put up an entire house fairly quickly as it's all premanufactured and it's like very large sized lego.



For our home we'd be looking at a similar construction to the example 'Sturgeon Lake House" with the roof and envelope being these ICE panels and then some larger lumber for supports and structure.



I really like the look of exposed timber, and I like the idea of the simplicity of putting it up and the good thermal perfomance, as well as being an all-in-one style without a discrete vapour barrier.



Any thoughts or experience with these sorts of products? Our current home is traditional stick construction and so far everything I'm seeing is positive for this 'ICE' panel construction. Just don't want to get caught up in marketing hype or if there's some glaring flaws I'm not seeing with such a system. In my AI thread a poster brought up pests seemingly liking to burrow into the EPS, which looks like the risk can be mitigated with careful planning and some physical barriers like a thin metal plate to prevent pest intrusion.

I know I will have a ton of questions, and my post is light on info, so if you want to know something, just ask!

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Queen Victorian
Feb 21, 2018



Ooo new house thread! Congrats on putting the horse before the cart in that you have already completed two crucial steps: acquiring land on which to build and retaining an architect!

I donít know anything about ICE construction, but I can talk a lot about design.

From the architectís sketch and you wanting a modernized craftsman style, seems like prairie school is what youíre after. Itís basically proto-modern Craftsman, often with flat/shallow hipped roofs, lots of natural stone and wood details, cool windows everywhere, and emphasis on integrating with the natural landscape. If you havenít already gone through prairie school inspirations and discussed using these influences with your architect, I highly recommend doing so.

I know itís still early in the process so stuff is subject to change and evolve, but a few remarks layout: the basement stairs seem kind of in the middle of everything. If these were stairs going up to a second floor, thatíd be one thing, but with them going down it opens up a weird chasm in the middle of the living room. And a note on master bedroom 2, if this is going to be a multigenerational house, Iíd try to put it on equal footing with master 1 and give it an outside entrance. I think having direct access to outside for both masters is a good thing as it gives both adult couples more autonomy and separate access to their own little zone and theyíre not captive to the rest of the house, if you get what Iím saying. I think whatís preventing that right now is that too many bathrooms have riverfront views instead of bedrooms.

Those things said, itís already vastly superior to your average stock plan.

Also itís awesome that youíre able to build a house from the ground up to appropriately accommodate mobility issues. Designing from scratch for accessibility seems way more ideal than retrofitting an existing structure. The circles in the floorplan are wheelchair turn radiuses, right?

Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



Queen Victorian posted:


From the architect’s sketch and you wanting a modernized craftsman style, seems like prairie school is what you’re after.

Looked this up and it looks we have it covered in our inspiration photos, but it's good to know what the proper terminology is for this.

Queen Victorian posted:

Also it’s awesome that you’re able to build a house from the ground up to appropriately accommodate mobility issues. Designing from scratch for accessibility seems way more ideal than retrofitting an existing structure. The circles in the floorplan are wheelchair turn radiuses, right?

We quickly deduced that building from scratch was the way for us, we checked out home listings but the renovations to adapt the homes would end up costing us more in the end than just building it ourselves with accessibility in mind. Especially considering the housing market here is rather hot at the moment and prices seem blistering high.

The circles are indeed the wheelchair turning radii.

We'll have to figure out how to shuffle stuff around, the casm of the basement stairs should likely move as you commented, going to have to sit down with the family this week with the plans and see what we can come up with and markup. I appreciate the input!

sharkytm
Oct 9, 2003

Gimme Gimme Swedish Fish...



Fallen Rib

Ground floor in this thread. Great poster, cool cars, baby on the way, what could be better?

I grew up in a SIP house (a geodesic dome with 2 wings), and my father had a 30x60 SIP shop. Not quite exactly the same, but very similar. This was in WV, where termites and carpenter ants are a real issue. We solved it by injecting permethrin around the foundation and deep into the soil around it's, using a proper-height foundation, and maintaining the requisite vertical separation between landscaping and siding/trim. The energy efficiency was incredible, but there were some issues. If you're interested, I'll write a long form post about them.

Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



I'd love to hear about it, effort-post away! My current take is that it would be worth using the 'ICE' panels for the benefits and being mindful of their drawbacks and designing around them.

The better informed I can be, hopefully the better I can mitigate the risks.

Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



Updated Floor Plans incoming!

Main Floor Plan:



We were presented with some options and we like this one the best. We give up the walk in closets for reach-in to give MasterBed 2 access to the deck, but from an accessibility standpoint I feel reach in might actually be better and easier. Double door entrance into MasterBed 1 is gone as well, but I'm fine with a standard 36" door into the room.

Other notable changes are some added space on the far side of the garage to allow for toolboxes and workbenches to go in, Stair has been relocated, and it makes sense to do a rough in for a future elevator by where the stairs start. I think with this the main floor update we are getting really close, maybe a minor tweak around the ensuites but otherwise I'm happy with it.

Onto the basement!


This was their first stab at the basement with a few options presented around this layout.

For the home theater I am wanting to have a golden trapagon room for the setup. I've always liked nice sounding theaters and we have a current home theater with a projector and 120" screen and good speakers, but acousticly our current room is not ideal. This should be a huge step up. Not sure if the modified golden trap suggestion is going to affect acoustics too much, any audio goons in the house?



With us liking the other option for the stair location, this is what the entrance to the basement will look like:



And last but not least, one thing I really really enjoy is a spa circuit, alternating between hot and cold, dry sauna, wet steam room / shower combo, soaker tub for cool soak, and access to the outdoors to jump in the snow for the full nordic experience. I think with our budget this is mostly going to be rough-ins at this time. We have a third Master Bed shown down here to provide options and potential family expansion.



What I've noted in red is what I think of the particular spaces. Critiques, comments, concerns all welcome. Help me not make mistakes!

Queen Victorian
Feb 21, 2018



Oh cool, updates! I have some comments and questions. Too lazy to do fancy multipart quoting so Iíll just go in sections.

Main floor: I like the changes. Stairs are no longer making a big hole in your living room and master #2 doesnít feel so obviously second fiddle because it now has its own deck access. The bedroom exterior doors are all French doors, right? Because river view and all that. (Of course youíd have blinds on them for privacy and sleeping in.)

On the walk up closet, yeah it feels more accessible because you wouldnít have to navigate a walker or wheelchair into a separate small room. For the folding doors on the walk-up closet, can you get motorized ones? Iíve encountered so many suboptimal folding/sliding/accordion closet door styles that suck to operate as an able bodied person and would no doubt be inoperable for someone with a walker or in a wheelchair, but I guess if you have the folding doors on high quality hinges (without tracks that can get jammed) and weak/easily operable catch mechanisms then youíd be just fine.

Home Theater: Iím no audiophile or home theater expert, but would the room shape even matter that much for a relatively small space like this full of people and seating as long as you have good surround sound thatís optimally placed and configured? I always figured that room shape and placement of reflector things and whatnot were concerns for huge symphony halls and poo poo.

Also, what is the use case for the home theater? Is it just for movies or is it for all your TV screen needs like news, mindless TV watching (HGTV et al), video games, etc? Will there be another TV in the house? Multiple others?

Iím curious because Iíve always lived in a single TV household. My parents built a sweet home theater/glorified TV den in their basement and it is now the location of their one TV, so the room is set up very conventionally (couch + coffee table) rather than having theater seating, so it feels like a normal room rather than a special purpose room thatís reserved for viewing films exclusively. My husband and I are doing a very similar setup - normal TV den couch + coffee table configuration with high end surround sound and a good flat panel.

Personally speaking (and please tell me to gently caress right off if you disagree), Iíve never liked the idea of home theaters set up to mimic real movie theaters with the little rows of theater seating and such. It feels restrictive and kinda pigeonholes the room. I vastly prefer a glorified TV den setup in which there is a monster sectional with tons of cushions and detachable ottomans and fuzzy throw blankets, end tables and maybe a coffee table for drinks and snacks, counter height beer fridge (high end ones are silent) and possibly a wet bar in the back, etc. Much better optimized for social viewing (i.e. sports and multiplayer video games) in my opinion, and also gives you the option to watch something lying down snuggled up under a blanket if you just want to veg, to cuddle as a couple, have some shared snack bowls everyone can reach for, have a ton of floor space for kids, and so on. Or this could just be me - like I said, I grew up in a house with one TV, and said TV was shunted off to the den and forever banned from the living room, and I still think in terms of one TV, so I want the environment for that one TV to be super indulgent and comfy and unapologetically media-centric, because I donít want to compromise my living room (also I have like the worst living room for trying to place a TV). BUT if you also have a TV in your living room for casual/social watching, then that covers a lot of your bases and the full blown theater with theater seating makes more sense.

General basement floor/sauna: so is that third master suite going to be built out initially? Or is the mention of roughing in just for the sauna?

Honestly I would not swap the bathroom/sauna location with the downstairs bedroom because it would turn the bedroom into a drat cave by putting it mostly below grade (from the looks of that side elevation) - itís already underneath the upper deck so you need all the light you can get. If you move it to the corner and donít change any outer walls, you reduce natural light. What about swapping the tub and sauna so the sauna also has direct outside access? Or do you generally not want two doors on a sauna? (I am not familiar with saunas)

Speaking of being under the deck, Iíd try to make that whole area feel ďfinishedĒ and welcoming - you want a snazzy covered patio vibe and not underside of a deck/crawlspace vibe. Good looking rafters/columns, permanent lighting, etc.

As for that seating area, whatís the use case? When my dad was designing our family house rebuild, he originally had some little sitting area/reading nook in the upstairs hallway. An architect friend laughed at it and told him to just add another bathroom instead. Now one of the bedrooms has an en suite bathroom that it didnít have originally, which makes it a fine guest room, and never in 25 years since the house was (re)built has anyone at any point ever had the thought, ďgee I wish there was a sitting area in the hallwayĒ. Since you donít seem to need any additional bathrooms, what Iíd do is give that space to the bedroom so you can have a sitting area in the bedroom (and so itís bigger and feels more apartment-like to compensate for it being in the basement), or if you donít need to have it as a bedroom yet, dress it up like a library or wine cellar or whiskey tasting room or something. Doing that will make indoor access to the sauna not feel like traipsing through a private space. And I guess an additional idea would be to add a hookup to the sitting area that is now in the bedroom so you have the option of easily turning it into a kitchenette in the future in case you ever need a self-contained in-law unit and/or your folks want additional autonomy down the road. Some of our friends bought a relatively new construction house with an unfinished basement, but the basement came equipped with a proper egress window and capped off hookups, which makes it extremely easy for them to build it out as an additional bedroom with full bath or in-law suite or whatever. This was a huge plus for them when buying the house. I love the idea of literally building in additional options for rooms in case you want to add/change functionality later. Not that much of an extra cost when youíre building and if you find you really do want that extra bathroom/kitchenette/whatever in the future, itís way less of a headache to install because itís just fixtures, finishes, and millwork and not ripping poo poo apart to install necessary plumbing after the fact.


Wow that got long. Hope itís helpful and not a rambling pile of nonsense.

Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



Long is good and appreciated!

Main Floor

Our experience with folding doors has been decent. Our current house has some rather cramped walk-ins that are more like a really deep reach in and have the french folding doors. The ones we have in the main bedrooms are decent quality and haven't given us trouble. The ones in the basement we got at a later time and they are much more problematic, and tend to fall off their rails. Will have to figure out what we're doing exactly for doors, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Sliding doors might be an option as well but I don't know how much I like the look of them.

Home Theater
We're huge into watching movies and 'prestige' series (to give you an idea, we have racked up about 1500 hrs a year between us and my parents). In our current home we have a home theater setup in a relatively large room (20'+ x 13') with a 120" screen, projector, HTPC, and 7.1 paradigm reference speaker system. We have two rows currently with a couch in the front and a loveseat in the back. The couch sees the most use but we do occasionally use the loveseat. I agree about the laying down and cuddling, we'd be looking at a more of a 3-seater that can also recline rather than what you traditionally think of as those individual 'home theater' seating. Our architect seems to have just shown those for reference, and dimensionally they're not that different so meh. This room would be 100% focused on movies, "prestige" series, and maybe the rare game if I ever upgrade from my Xbox 360. We're not huge into televised sports but on occasion do get into it.

The 'primary' place to watch mindless TV and whatnot in a more a social setting will be in the great room. The box that's shown on the right side is meant to represent a stone wall feature that will house a TV on the project north side, and to the south is an indoor/outdoor fireplace. We also have a fireplace in our current home and a firepit and we regularly sit by the firelight. We have about a cord of oak for burning in our fireplace and about 2 cords of pine for the outdoor pit, so I forsee us using this quite a bit.

In terms of effect, I couldn't tell you truly. Hard to tell how much of it is audiophile woo or reality, but supposedly this shape of room helps with dispersing the reflections and gives a very nice acoustically performing room. You can mitigate a lot of it even in a standard walled room by picking appropriate dimensions which helps avoid 'beating' where at certain frequencies the rooms resonates which in turn affects how it sounds. I did get the idea from reading too much of the AVS forums and this: http://www.cardas.com/room_setup_golden_trapagon.php and while I hope to be relatively immune to the bullshit, I realize I might have fallen into a pit here. From my physics background it makes sense in terms of how it will affect dispersion and wave reflections but whether it actually has an appreciable difference for the listener vs a more square room with some treatments, who knows.

General

This is from an earlier render the architect sent through, but the current grading plan would result in a good amount of that portion of the basement being above grade and the opportunity to put in some more windows on the front and side. I also hope to maintain the deck access which should help with ensuring it doesn't feel too 'cavey'



With that, those are some great suggestions and will have to look at it in more detail. The sitting area was something the architect threw in as it was a space they werent sure on, and it was shown as part of the option for moving the stairs. I do think it's likely to be a less used space as you mention and that it likely would be best to reconfigure things. The plan is to get as much of done as the budget allows, but the first cuts will be happening in the basement if budget will be tight (from my professional experience, it likely will be. There's always something that pops up or is more than you expected).

The deck for sure will need to have some lighting underneath, I'm planning on engaging my firm and I chatted with one of our most talented lighting designers and she seemed pretty excited about the project. I've done a number of comercial lighting designs but she's got a lot more experience with residential and architectural style lighting vs my experience that has been focussed more on industrial and office fitups.

I'll re-read your post to ensure I digest everything but these days I have been light on time, so if I missed responding to anything I appologize. I do appreciate the effort for the long posts and the great suggestions and comments!

Tezer
Jul 9, 2001



Great project!

You mentioned an elevator and a preliminary location near a staircase. I'd recommend treating that as an option that you want priced out and designed when you discuss it with the architect/builder and then just take it out of the project near the end if you don't want to put it in yet.

The reason for doing this is simple - you want to make sure the home is designed for an elevator that actually exists. Twice I've been asked by an aging client to price out installing an elevator into an existing home that was 'designed for an elevator' just to find out it wasn't really designed right. In one case the floorplan area for 'future elevator' was not large enough for any stock elevator. In another there was room for an elevator, but the equipment closet wasn't accounted for.

There are also circular non-ADA (are you in Canada? This still kind of applies - I'm sure you have some regulation that guides elevator design) elevators that are easier to retrofit - but you still need to plan for them. And I'm not sure they're even a good idea, since the 'non-ADA' part of the equation means 'wheelchair does not fit'.

Have your architect design into the home a specific elevator, that way you know at least the bare minimum requirements are being met for the future.

Having your kitchen, bathrooms, etc. designed in detail for wheelchair use is a good idea. Or, at least understand what portions you will alter if that time comes. For example, you might specifically design the kitchen island to be replaced with a lower height one in the future, without replacing all the perimeter shelving. Sames goes with bathroom vanities, perhaps you install some cabinetry that a wheelchair can tuck under while using the sink now, or at least plan the vanities so part of it can be replaced without requiring the room to be taken apart.

The EPS panels look pretty cool - they solve the issue with SIPs where moisture from air leakage would de-laminate the OSB. Neat looking product.

Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



I appreciate the feedback, I did some reading online and found an elevator I like the look of and should work for our purposes. Turns out the architect has worked with a local vendor that sells the particular model I chose so we'll be reaching out to them and get a better idea of costs involved.

Yes, we're in canada, but in terms of codes a lot of canada is just "---> whatever the US is doing, with maybe some small changes" from what I hear.

Got the updated plans from the architect and I think we have settled the floorplans, I'm very happy with how things have turned out so far.





It's a very nice open floor plan, plenty of space for our growing family (and some room to grow if things change in the future).

I'll be going through the fun process of applying for all the permits and figuring out what the next steps are. I am thinking it makes sense to try to get the foundation poured this year and let it sit over the winter to allow us the maximum time in the spring to get going with construction, but just having to flesh that plan out and be more certain of what we would need to do in terms of coverings / where in the build process to pause for the winter so that we don't end up with issues of thawing and freezing water causing issues...

devicenull
May 30, 2007



Grimey Drawer

Bajaha posted:

I appreciate the feedback, I did some reading online and found an elevator I like the look of and should work for our purposes. Turns out the architect has worked with a local vendor that sells the particular model I chose so we'll be reaching out to them and get a better idea of costs involved.

Yes, we're in canada, but in terms of codes a lot of canada is just "---> whatever the US is doing, with maybe some small changes" from what I hear.

Got the updated plans from the architect and I think we have settled the floorplans, I'm very happy with how things have turned out so far.





It's a very nice open floor plan, plenty of space for our growing family (and some room to grow if things change in the future).

I'll be going through the fun process of applying for all the permits and figuring out what the next steps are. I am thinking it makes sense to try to get the foundation poured this year and let it sit over the winter to allow us the maximum time in the spring to get going with construction, but just having to flesh that plan out and be more certain of what we would need to do in terms of coverings / where in the build process to pause for the winter so that we don't end up with issues of thawing and freezing water causing issues...

Maybe swap the mechanical room and cold storage room? If that's just going to have your HVAC and stuff (not laundry), then having to go through the storage room to get to it sounds less annoying then having to go through a storage room to get to a different storage room?

PCjr sidecar
Jan 26, 2011

dude, you gotta end it on the rhyme



Bajaha posted:

I appreciate the feedback, I did some reading online and found an elevator I like the look of and should work for our purposes. Turns out the architect has worked with a local vendor that sells the particular model I chose so we'll be reaching out to them and get a better idea of costs involved.

Yes, we're in canada, but in terms of codes a lot of canada is just "---> whatever the US is doing, with maybe some small changes" from what I hear.

Got the updated plans from the architect and I think we have settled the floorplans, I'm very happy with how things have turned out so far.





It's a very nice open floor plan, plenty of space for our growing family (and some room to grow if things change in the future).

I'll be going through the fun process of applying for all the permits and figuring out what the next steps are. I am thinking it makes sense to try to get the foundation poured this year and let it sit over the winter to allow us the maximum time in the spring to get going with construction, but just having to flesh that plan out and be more certain of what we would need to do in terms of coverings / where in the build process to pause for the winter so that we don't end up with issues of thawing and freezing water causing issues...

How do you get from the outdoor seating on the top level to the outdoor bbq kitchen under it? Does it matter?

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Bajaha
Apr 1, 2011

BajaHAHAHA.



Cold storage should be in the corner, the idea is that it's an uninsulated room so I would want to maximize its exposure to the concrete walls. Primarily it's for keeping preserves, dry goods, and an overflow for storage, one of the previous plans had the wall of the storage room pushed back a little so that when facing the front of the house you would have cold storage to your left, storage straight ahead, and mechanical to the right, but I felt that just added a corridor like space that wasn't very useful.

My thinking is that cold storage is more rarely accessed and with the setup of the doors you aren't losing too much space, functionally both spaces are 'storage' so I like having it all together. Mechanical space will be boilers, hrv, air handling, hot water tank, and pump equipment. It's rural so we will need a well, and there is municipal sewer but it's low pressure so will require a 2 stage holding tank and pumps, and depending on the elevation of the tank may require pumps to handle the waste water from the basement floor. It's a generous space so if we turn out to not need it the we'll have to see what to do to reduce it.

Regarding deck access, the only planned method is either through the house, or around the north side where the grade lets you walk down the slope to get to the lower deck. I do like the look of spiral staircases, but they are terrible in terms of being usable, and with the difference in elevation a traditional stair is going to be quite long. Potentially might be able to get something in on the south end, but will need to mull it over. We would also likely have some lounging chairs and whatnot on the lower deck which should allow for a laidback bbq on the lower deck, and the table at the upper deck can be used mostly for having a normal family dinner outdoors, as it has good access to the kitchen.

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