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'[OT] Building a house - help me brainstorm!'
2006\09\18@210227 by M. Adam Davis

face picon face
So I'm moving to a bit of dirt about 15 miles south of ann arbor and
building a home.  I've long been interested in home automation and
other such projects, and it'll obviously be wired for 1000baseT,
phone, cable, etc with space for future wire runs.  It'll also be
suitable for wireless use, but frankly I hate moving DVDs across slow
wireless connections.

So I have a few questions to brainstorm about:

1) What would you change about your house if you could?  Or more
specifically, what would you change that is easier to do at the start
than it is to retrofit later?

2) Assuming unlimited "dreaming" budget, what would you build into a
custom designed house?

3) Any new or old homebuilding technology that I should really look into?

4) What would you do with 10 acres of land?

So for my first thoughts:

1) I like home automation.  Would be cool to be able to control
electrical items using more than just a switch on the wall.  Would be
nice to have whole house sound, security...

2) Theater, rooftop gazebo or sod roof, passive solar heating,
cooling.  Geothermal heating/cooling.  Skylights, lots of natural
light.

3) Insulated concrete forms, steel frame construction, pole
construction, log home...

4) Orchards, gardens, animals, wood/metal shop, english gardens (hedge
maze!), small landing strip (land is around 1200' x 350'), wind &
solar electricity...

Of course, I won't be able to implement much dreamy stuff(time and
money), but the more stuff I think about before designing/building it,
the better off I'll be in the long run.

This is brainstorming!  No negative stuff!  I really do want to hear
your wacky unobtanium ideas.

Thanks!

-Adam

2006\09\18@210929 by Jack Smith

picon face

>
> 1) What would you change about your house if you could?  Or more
> specifically, what would you change that is easier to do at the start
> than it is to retrofit later?
>
>
>  
Simple thing ... you can install cable, fiber, etc. into every room, but
you don't know what the favored medium will be 10 or 20 years from now.

I would do a run of empty conduit (maybe two runs) from every room to a
common distribution point. Works best if you have a basement and a
one-story house. If two stories, make the upstairs run to the attic and
then down a chase. Of course, put a pull rope into the conduit when built.

I'm sure there are code requirements for firestops so the details may
require a bit of diddling.

Also, I would go with a central vacuum cleaning system. Wish I had one
put in here when the house was being built.

Jack

2006\09\18@211920 by Jinx

face picon face
> 4) Orchards, gardens, animals

I've always fancied a half-indoor half-outdoor fish pond. With
lighting, waterfalls both inside and out. etc. Unfortunately this
house would be too awkward to do that, but very soon I'll be
making use of a nicely located 2m square concrete slab right
outside the lounge for an above-ground pond. And I want to
have at least one window in it, something I've never seen in a
pond

2006\09\18@212241 by D. Jay Newman

flavicon
face
> So I'm moving to a bit of dirt about 15 miles south of ann arbor and
> building a home.  I've long been interested in home automation and

Congrats!

I'm also interested in this topic because we're thinking about a new
house because my wife can barely walk anymore.

> other such projects, and it'll obviously be wired for 1000baseT,
> phone, cable, etc with space for future wire runs.  It'll also be
> suitable for wireless use, but frankly I hate moving DVDs across slow
> wireless connections.

I think that's a good idea.

> So I have a few questions to brainstorm about:
>
> 1) What would you change about your house if you could?  Or more
> specifically, what would you change that is easier to do at the start
> than it is to retrofit later?

Right now we need a single-floor home, with a basement for my shop.

One big thing we need is that the house must be wheelchair/walker friendly.

Another thing is that we have specific requirements for the master bathroom.

Make sure that your bathrooms and kitchen are the size you want. Changing
this later can be expensive.

And it would probably be a good idea to keep the kitchen hidden from the
front door and living room. Who needs their dirty dishes in plain sight?

> 2) Assuming unlimited "dreaming" budget, what would you build into a
> custom designed house?

I've always wanted a tower. :)

On a more serious note, I'd want a walk-out basement that can be easily
ventilated.

I'd want the house as low-maintenance as possible. I'm lazy.

A *dry* basement.

Room for *all* my books.

> 3) Any new or old homebuilding technology that I should really look into?

You might want to take a look at modular homes. I'd try the Haven Homes
site for information (http://www.havenhomes.com/).

> 4) What would you do with 10 acres of land?

Sell it and get a smaller plot so that I can build a better house.

On the other hand, I've always wanted an English Maze.
--
D. Jay Newman           ! Author of:
spam_OUTjayTakeThisOuTspamsprucegrove.com     ! _Linux Robotics: Building Smarter Robots_
http://enerd.ws/robots/ !    "A backward poet writes inverse."

2006\09\18@212256 by Marcel Birthelmer

picon face
A sound-proof basement, and floor heating in all bathrooms.

On 9/18/06, Jack Smith <.....Jack.SmithKILLspamspam@spam@cox.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\09\18@213708 by D. Jay Newman

flavicon
face
If not floor heating in the bathrooms, a small electric baseboard heater is
nice. This way you can get the bathroom toasty hot the way my wife likes
it without messing with the rest of the house's temperature.

{Quote hidden}

2006\09\18@215509 by Richard Prosser

picon face
1.Put as much of different cable types as you can  - conduit/ducting
also if at all possible
2. Photograph the walls prior to the gib. board (dry-rock in the USA
?) going on.3. 3. Don't loose the photographs!

I managed 2 out of the above 3 - guess which one I failed on.

Also try to make sure that key access points are going to remain
reasonably accessable in the long term. - e.g patch panel/switchboard
top, back, sides and bottom.

Taking key cables (e.g. data, audio, coax  etc.) to a central point
for patch panel access is a much better idea than hard wiring between
where yu think things are going to end up. It will use more cable but
plans change.

RP

On 19/09/06, Marcel Birthelmer <.....marcelb.listsKILLspamspam.....gmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\09\18@215940 by Rolf

face picon face
First, I assume home construction in MI would be similar to my
experience here in Toronto...

Two things ... insulate *every* wall in the house, inside as well as
outside walls... insulation makes great sound-proofing (but makes it
challenging to put cable-runs through existing walls.... ;(  )
I second the central-vac, but I add that the central-vac must be
exhaused through an outside wall.... I hate cleaning my car on Saturday
morning, then vacuuming the floor on Sunday, only to discover that all
the dust from the carpets is now deposited in a fine layer on my car....
(because the central-vac is installed in the garage....). Vacuum filters
are not perfect!

As for the "dreaming", I'd put in a model airplane runway... that would
be cool.... but I guess, with 1200'x350', the runway orientation would
force the house to be in the landing/takeoff path. Your neighbours may
be a tad upset too..... so, I revise my "dreaming" option to be "Buy the
neighbouring properties too!".

I guess a third thing just occurred to me.... Use the fancy new
"Engineered Lumber" 2x12's for the floor joists (they are basically
wooden I-Beams - 2x2 at top and bottom with fiber-board to make the I
part), and center on 12" not 16". This will provide a much stronger
floor, and there will be much less floor squeaking. I hate the various
squeaks in my flooring. You will also be able to install that grand
piano later on in the living-room instead of the basement.

Additionally, pre-plan the central-air with the installer so that you do
not get lots of "Under-the-joist" duct-work in the basement. I spent a
month of weekends with my brother re-routing the duct-work so that he
could put a higher ceiling in the basement. With a little bit of thought
it is very possible to get large areas of the basement to have nothing
below the bottom of the main floor joists. You will thank yourself if yo
have "clean" ceilings when you get to finnish the basement. Obviously,
there will need to be exceptions, but keep those in the "utility" areas.
This applies for the gas and plumbing as well! The electrical code will
automatically ensure that the power cables will be routed through joists
where required instead of under them (assuming US codes similar to
Canadian).

Rolf


M. Adam Davis wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\09\18@220953 by Sergey Dryga

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M. Adam Davis <stienman <at> gmail.com> writes:

{Quote hidden}

In addition to telecom, put at least a conduit to 2 walls in each room, and
also a conduit or wire to windows and doors.  Later you can install e.g. remote-
controlled blinds on windows, helps with heating/cooling bill.  Another us is
for security system.
>
> 2) Theater, rooftop gazebo or sod roof, passive solar heating,
> cooling.  Geothermal heating/cooling.  Skylights, lots of natural
> light.
>
Separately controlled HVAC for each room.  At the very least, pul a wire to
vents so that you can later install a remote controlled vents.

> 3) Insulated concrete forms, steel frame construction, pole
> construction, log home...
>
If you use concrete walls, it is possible to make them 2 layer ones
(concrete/air/concrete).  Then you can pump hot/cold air inside the wall for
heating/cooling.

Also, think about ventillation in the attic, just a simple fan help reduce
heating in the summer (not that summer is too long in Michigan. I know because
my son in at UM in Ann Arbor)

> 4) Orchards, gardens, animals, wood/metal shop, english gardens (hedge
> maze!), small landing strip (land is around 1200' x 350'), wind &
> solar electricity...
Basement is nice for a workshop, but if you have enough land, a workshop on the
same floor is better, easier to pull in all that wood for the shop.

{Quote hidden}

Best of luck on your dream house!

Sergey Dryga



2006\09\18@221749 by Randy Glenn

picon face
I've heard that engineered floor joists have an annoying tendency to
disappear very quickly in case of fire, leaving the floor there with
nothing supporting it.

Check into manifold plumbing systems with flex line - the parts are
more expensive, but I've heard that the difference in install time
almost covers the parts cost differential.

On 9/18/06, Rolf <learrspamspam_OUTrogers.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\09\18@222118 by Picdude

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face
W.r.t. my last house, the following come to mind...

(1) Master was at opposite corner of house from the water heater, so it took  a long time to get hot water.  I would've added a small heater near the master.

(2) Really wish I had high-amperage 220V wired in the garage.

(3) Glad I didn't wire it for ethernet.  Wireless worked well for me.

(4) Wish I had many more skylights.

(5) Waterfall shower?

(6) I used X10 automation, but wouldn't have minded a wired home-automation system to control other things, or plan in advance to have outlets where I needed them.

(7) House was wired for surround sound.  That was nice.

(8) Perhaps you might want to run wires for satellite in case you want it later.

(9) Didn't need it then, but probably would look into solar or some other alternative energy next time,

(10) Strip out grass and replace with turf. :-)  Lawn is a 4-letter word.

(11) Always wanted to build a nice complicated multi-level deck with somewhat of a high section (like a lookout).

(12) From scratch, my ideal house would be a 10-car garage with a room and bath attached, and an air-strip.  Actually the room and bath could be a tent and a port-o-let. :-)

(13) Doubt you'll be able to get a useful landing strip on there, but save some space for a heli-pad later.  A vehicle test track would probably be nice too.

(14) Waterfall in backyard (or in living room, if I didn't get the tent) would be nice.

(15) Moat.

(16) Wire for door/security cameras -- those 2.4ghz wireless cameras pick up noticeable interference.

(17) Used to have a roof-top patio back in the caribbean.  Neighbors seemed to dislike when I brought my friends over for band-practice up there, but my mom was happier than us practicing inside the house.

(17) On the subject of home-automation again, I got single-station voice recognition working decently, enough to consider multiple ceiling-hanging microphones with a gate-limiter.  But wiring that later would've been messy/ugly.

(18) Would definitely automate the bathtub to the phone line like I did last time.  Very useful.

Stick around, I'll think of more...

Cheers,
-Neil.



> ---{Original Message removed}

2006\09\18@222621 by Jim Korman

flavicon
face
M. Adam Davis wrote:
> So I'm moving to a bit of dirt about 15 miles south of ann arbor and
> building a home. I've long been interested in home automation and
> other such projects, and it'll obviously be wired for 1000baseT,
> phone, cable, etc with space for future wire runs. It'll also be
> suitable for wireless use, but frankly I hate moving DVDs across slow
> wireless connections.
>
> So I have a few questions to brainstorm about:

In-floor hydronic heating - A must
Solar assist - On demand boiler.
2x10 outside walls with expanded foam insulation
Real storm windows - They're a little hassle but I'm replacing
my "modern" storms with the old wood frame ones.
Empty conduit runs with oversize junction boxes
Consider building an earth berm for the north side
of the house. Thought about a hill, but 15 south
of Ann Arbor is pretty flat as I recall (around Dundee?)
Tree borders on the northwest through northeast

I've got an old house with knee walls on the second floor.
Great for accessing wiring and stuff behind the bedroom
walls.

Have fun, Jim

2006\09\18@230749 by Marcel Duchamp

picon face
After seeing several replies, I have to say I agree with most of them.
I'm currently looking at moving and have given some thought to what I
like/dislike about houses.

Aside from the wiring/geek-stuff,  I want a well ventilated home.
Alternative heating/cooling systems also.

Low maintenance.  You have better things to do than upkeep.

A big one for me: privacy.  But on 10 acres, you probably have that one
in control.

Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.  Stargazing, watching sunsets,
having friends over for good food.  I once had a cousin with a two story
home and they could open the upper story windows with no screens and not
get invaded by insects.  (in day light, anyway)

Fountains are nice, but they do require some maintenance.  Probably
worth it.

If I could do it, I would also like an exercise room and lap pool.

Gardens, trees, rocks, water.  Do it right and you will never need to
"go on vacation".

Good luck!



M. Adam Davis wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2006\09\18@231154 by Bob J.

picon face
On 9/18/06, M. Adam Davis <@spam@stienmanKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
>
> So I'm moving to a bit of dirt about 15 miles south of ann arbor and
> building a home.  I've long been interested in home automation and
> other such projects, and it'll obviously be wired for 1000baseT,
> phone, cable, etc with space for future wire runs.  It'll also be
> suitable for wireless use, but frankly I hate moving DVDs across slow
> wireless connections.
>
> So I have a few questions to brainstorm about:
>
> 1) What would you change about your house if you could?  Or more
> specifically, what would you change that is easier to do at the start
> than it is to retrofit later?


Hi Adam, take your plans and lay out each room on the floor of your garage
or another area, so you can physically get a feel for the room dimensions.
You'll find that what may look big enough or have the right geometry on
paper may not work well once the walls are up.  I made some pretty drastic
changes in our home right after we poured the footers for the foundation,
and I'm very glad we did.  If we would have laid things out beforehand and
not assumed that some dimensions were good enough, it would have saved us
some effort.

2) Assuming unlimited "dreaming" budget, what would you build into a
> custom designed house?


A big play room.  For you!   With lots of workbench space.

3) Any new or old homebuilding technology that I should really look into?


Yes indeed.  In the USA its really silly how homes are built and insulated,
and the only reason why newer technologies haven't been adopted over stick
framed houses due to lack of experience on the builders' part...anything
they don't have expierience with they avoid.  I built our home using SIPS
panels.  Structural Insulated Panels are made from 5-1/2" polystyrene foam
block with 7/16" OSB bonded on both sides, in a sandwich.  I absolutely,
positively without hesitation recommend this route over any other
construction.  It will end up costing you less, are 3x stronger, don't have
to insulate, and have an R value that is hard to beat for the money.
Insulated concrete forms are only marginally better but cost much, much
more.   Its cost-effective to use sips panels for the walls, and use a
traditional truss roof with blown in celluose insulation.  My ceiling is
R-60 and my walls are R-26.  A good friend of mine has built a couple of
homes using tradition stick framing, ICF's, and SIPS panels.  On any houses
he builds now he only uses SIPS panels for the external walls.  He has said
that it will never be any cheaper than it is right now to insulate your home
and make it energy-efficient.  My heating and cooling costs are pretty low
for a 2700 sq. ft. house, last winter my most expensive gas bill was $120.

4) What would you do with 10 acres of land?


Build a runway of course!  I live on a residental airpark and am absolutely
spoiled by it.

So for my first thoughts:
>
> 1) I like home automation.  Would be cool to be able to control
> electrical items using more than just a switch on the wall.  Would be
> nice to have whole house sound, security...


Keep it simple, it all adds up really fast cost-wise.  But do go overboard
with outlets and lighting.  Four years ago I was buying rolls of 12-2 wire
for $17, those same rolls today are over $70.  I plumbed my house with Kitec
piping, which is a plastic pex-type plumbing with an aluminum core so it
holds its shape when you bend it.

2) Theater, rooftop gazebo or sod roof, passive solar heating,
> cooling.  Geothermal heating/cooling.  Skylights, lots of natural
> light.


I have several large skylights, and wouldn't do that again.  When it rains
hard it gets noisy and I am fearful of hail storms.  And they're not good
for energy efficiency.  Its hard to beat high-efficiency gas heating, and
electric air conditioning.  If you want a lot of natural light, then design
the house so that your windows face east or west. Geothermal is a crapshoot
due to the mechanicals, most folks who have these systems are lucky to get
seven or so years out of them without an expensive repair (pump goes bad,
loop springs a leak, etc.)  Buy good quality windows, like Andersons.  I
have Pella windows and if I had to do it over I'd go with Anderson, as they
are a bit easier to finish.  We love our cathedral ceilings.

3) Insulated concrete forms, steel frame construction, pole
> construction, log home...


Yep, SIPS panels and there's no need to look at anything else IMO.

4) Orchards, gardens, animals, wood/metal shop, english gardens (hedge
> maze!), small landing strip (land is around 1200' x 350'), wind &
> solar electricity...


Definitely a wood/metal shop!  I have a friend who has a 1400' runway, and
he gets in and out ok with his experimental airplane.

Regards,
Bob

2006\09\18@232212 by Bob J.

picon face
On 9/18/06, Randy Glenn <KILLspamrandy.glennKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
>
> I've heard that engineered floor joists have an annoying tendency to
> disappear very quickly in case of fire, leaving the floor there with
> nothing supporting it.


That could be true, but if a fire was burning hot enough to burn the
structure then what does it matter...

Check into manifold plumbing systems with flex line - the parts are
> more expensive, but I've heard that the difference in install time
> almost covers the parts cost differential.


The manifolds themselves are very expensive, and really don't offer much of
an advantage in labor because you end up running more tubing from them to
each faucet.  I ran one 1" trunk line for both hot and cold water down the
center of my house, and tee'd into that to go to the bathrooms and kitchen.
I also placed a small water heater near the bathrooms in the crawl space so
that we wouldn't have to wait long for hot water.  Nearly instantaneous hot
water.

Regards,
Bob

2006\09\19@004544 by Jinx

face picon face
> Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.  Stargazing, watching
> sunsets, having friends over for good food

"The plane ! The plane !"

Observatory ? Rotating tower ?

> Do it right and you will never need to "go on vacation"

Take a trip and never leave the farm

2006\09\19@011621 by D. Jay Newman

flavicon
face
> > Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.  Stargazing, watching
> > sunsets, having friends over for good food
>
> "The plane ! The plane !"
>
> Observatory ? Rotating tower ?

No. I've just always wanted a tall stone tower. Probably from a
facination with castles when I was younger. Even in my dreams I can't
afford to heat a castle, but one tower shouldn't be too difficult...
--
D. Jay Newman           ! Author of:
RemoveMEjayTakeThisOuTspamsprucegrove.com     ! _Linux Robotics: Building Smarter Robots_
http://enerd.ws/robots/ !    "A backward poet writes inverse."

2006\09\19@023906 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face

On Sep 18, 2006, at 8:07 PM, Marcel Duchamp wrote:

> Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.

Secret passages; say, between the kids' rooms...

Built-in bookshelves, perhaps using part of the wall thickness?
OTOH, we have a "real" library, and a major shortcoming is that
this seems to mean you can't put furniture in the logical places
against the walls.

Separate computer power wiring?  Our 5 active computers aren't THAT
atypical, and I'm starting to worry about the poor circuit breaker
that I think they all share...  Depends on to what extent you intend
to centralize your computers; I like having them all in one room; it
turns what might be time spent along into something closer to "family
time" (as much as say, watching TV together...)

BillW

2006\09\19@024313 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
> 1) What would you change about your house if you could?  Or
> more specifically, what would you change that is easier to do
> at the start than it is to retrofit later?

Trench and bury earth tubes for "free" cooling. Not terribly hard before the
house is built, but quite difficult after.
http://techref.massmind.org/techref/other/spac.htm#Vent

Roof designed for passive heating and cooling. Retrofitting is very
expensive... I'm finding... Sadly...

> 2) Assuming unlimited "dreaming" budget, what would you build
> into a custom designed house?

Integral PV panels as roofing material.

Cooling towers and ventilation chimneys to circulate air without fans
through the rooms and the earth tubes.
http://techref.massmind.org/techref/other/spac.htm

Rain catchments with massive cistern which can also provide thermal mass.
Perhaps on top of the earth tubes.

Zeolite adsorption refrigeration with a "root cellar" basement walk in cold
room.
http://techref.massmind.org/techref/other/solfrig.htm

Solar hot water. Trough parabolic collector.
techref.massmind.org/images/member/jmn-efp-786/sun/verticalcollector.
gif

Integrated solar cooker in the kitchen.
techref.massmind.org/techref/other/solar/Scheffler.htm
www.auroville.org/society/solarkitchen.htm
Including a heat storage system
http://techref.massmind.org/techref/other/solar/storage.htm

A complete waste treatment system
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/handouts/chippendale.htm

> 3) Any new or old homebuilding technology that I should
> really look into?

Straw bale construction. Low cost, excellent insulation, easy to modify for
cables, plumbing, etc... in the future.

Post and beam if you have access to your own trees. Those houses have been
standing for hundreds of years. Have to respect that.

Or a combination of the two.

> 4) What would you do with 10 acres of land?

Trade part of it for labor in developing the rest.

Try to create an edible landscape. One with natural and exotic plants mixed
together in many layers of  companion crops. Imagine a forest were every
plant is producing something edible, were natural selection decides what
grows best and where, but where un-natural selection has chosen only those
who produce a crop.
http://www.permaculture.co.uk/mag/Articles/Rainbow_Valley.html

Drill a well for my own water and a windmill to pump it.
http://techref.massmind.org/techref/other/wells.htm

Farm chickens in runs on hills, goats in paddocks on hill tops above the
chickens, and fish in ponds below the chickens. All brush and tree trimmings
go to the goats, who chew, trample and poop in them, then push them down to
the chickens who scratch for bugs, turn, and poop in them and finally push
them down to the pond where the water plants grow from the rich result and
feed the fish and bugs grow and feed the frogs. Water from the pond
irrigates the farm. No work, no smell, no disease.

{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\09\19@025045 by Jinx

face picon face
> > "The plane ! The plane !"
> >
> > Observatory ? Rotating tower ?
>
> No. I've just always wanted a tall stone tower

When I used to tramp around English stately homes, what
used to interest me were not the cavernous baronial dining
rooms or grand halls or galleries but the pokey out-of-the-
way places like towers and follies

2006\09\19@025045 by Jinx

face picon face

> > Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.
>
> Secret passages; say, between the kids' rooms...

And secret gardens too

2006\09\19@031014 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
> > Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.
>
> Secret passages; say, between the kids' rooms...

Absolutely! Towers and passages would be on my list. At least one must be
behind a bookcase. And a secret entrance / exit via a tunnel some distance
away from the house to the other side of a bush or rock.

Lofts are also good. And slides.

Dungeon? :) Actually, on a serious note, there should be a soundproof
extension to the master bedroom where mom and dad can slip away for an
afternoons delight while the kids are occupied watching TV or whatever. Also
where the closed circuit video system terminates so all parts of the house
can be monitored. The "safe" room.

Ohhh yes! Very dark and scary and control oriented. I love it...

MMMMMWWWWAAAAHHAHAHHAHAH!

---
James.


2006\09\19@031133 by James Newtons Massmind

face picon face
I forgot one "silly" idea that I have always wanted in a house:

A train that runs through the entire place; every room, the back porch,
yard, pool etc... AND through the storage spaces and refrigerator. With a
robotic arm that can pick up and place items on its flat cars. So I can ask
for a box of cereal and a carton of milk and have it delivered to me.

If it was quite enough not to wake people up, it would make the rounds at
night, checking the windows and doors and smelling for smoke.

And empty the trash from track side hoppers.

Better living through rail roads.

Yes, one would probably spend more time unjamming, picking up spills, fixing
derailments, etc... Than if you just did it by hand, but the point is this:
All of it now becomes playing with your toy train!

Oh, and another thing:

An automated kitchen. Like a bread maker but expanded to cover all food
preparation tasks. Dispensers in both the pantry and refrigerator that dump
raw materials in measured increments into a bowl on the back of a train (!),
which can then move to stations for mixing, folding, rolling and baking. It
could make everything from rice to rolls. And an industrial robot that I
could spend hours training to cook. I would rather program a robot to cook
than cook myself... Even if it took longer... :D

I'd go on with the garden robot, but it's getting late...

---
James.


2006\09\19@042923 by Lee Jones

flavicon
face
> So I'm moving to a bit of dirt about 15 miles south of ann arbor and
> building a home.

> So I have a few questions to brainstorm about:
>
> 1) What would you change about your house if you could?  Or more
> specifically, what would you change that is easier to do at the start
> than it is to retrofit later?

Install conduits and junction boxes throughout the walls.
Probably 3/4" EMT; maybe bigger.  Put conduit to everyplace
you think you might _ever_ want to put a wire.  Maybe two
conduits; one for power, one for data/fiber/pneumatics/etc.

> 2) Assuming unlimited "dreaming" budget, what would you build
> into a custom designed house?

Observatory with heliostat.

> 4) What would you do with 10 acres of land?

Build a 40' x 30' (at least) 4 car garage with dual layer
materiel storage, machine shop, wood working shop, welding
area, automobile lift, etc.  Cars wouldn't be parked inside
except when being worked on or during restoration.

> 3) Insulated concrete forms, steel frame construction, pole
> construction, log home...

I find 2x6 frame walls, either wood or steel, with fiberglass
insulation works fine -- but then I live in southern California
where climate is quite temperate (or warm, which I like).

> 4) Orchards, gardens, animals, wood/metal shop, english gardens
> (hedge maze!), small landing strip (land is around 1200' x 350'),
> wind & solar electricity...

50' or so wide landing strip is fine; but 1200' (with overrun)
is on the short side for almost any aircraft with long enough
"legs" and decent speed for cross country travel.  But a landing
strip would be quite nice along with a hanger.  Explore entering
an agreement with an adjacent neighbor to have a longer runway
with an overrun and a bit of area for final approach & climb out.

                                               Lee Jones

2006\09\19@083229 by John Ferrell

face picon face
I have 7 acres in North Carolina in the Piedmont region.
I have:
   10 foot ceiling in basement. Outside entrance ramp with French doors at
the bottom. White vinyl tile on the floor. NO ceiling installed (leaves
plumbing, electric and joists readily exposed). Inside stairway to basement
is minimum code size. HVAC in basement. Laundry in kitchen. Continuous
running ceiling fans in basement along with dehumidifier. Dehumidifier only
runs when you are neither heating or cooling.

My dream house was implemented by making modifications to a modular designed
1500 sq-ft ranch style house. I intend to grow old and die here. It is built
to standard housing code. My modifications included an oversized shower
along with a standard tub. The house was placed to take advantage of the
winter time morning sun. Black roof shingles will not show stains and proper
insulation will negate the heating effects of the sun. The advantages of an
off-site built structure are several. Cost containment, predictable time
table and less weather exposure during building are a few.

The attached garage would have been better not attached. The difference in
building cost is small. The insurance cost is great. Unattached garages are
simply safer. I was unable to design in a direct entry from the
house -garage. The garage is 28 feet wide and 32 feet deep with a double
garage door on the end. I choose not to insulate it because I do not
heat/cool it. There is a 20 foot square of concrete in front of the overhead
door. The overhead door is equipped with an opener. It has been proven by
experience that a maintenance agreement is worthwhile on the opener over the
last 15 years. The garage has a 9 foot ceiling. I would have preferred 10
feet, but local zoning would have put the entire structure out of the
residential code. Also the roof line would have been in conflict with the
house.

Bear in mind that conditions may change and you may need to sell this dream,
don't get too weird!

My "estate" is about 4 acres of woods & 3 acres of open field. I put the
house in the middle of the field. Trees present a real threat from wind &
storm damage. I have a Ford tractor with a six foot mowing deck. I recently
needed to upgrade to a new one to get power steering due to an increasing
shoulder problem. I choose to "maintain" my woods in a park-like fashion
which adds to my needs for other equipment. My dogs & I walk several time
each day in the woods. I keep a four foot graveled space all around the
house. Easy maintenance (Round-Up).

What ever you focus on you need to be concerned with maintenance. It is easy
to get over run by chores that are pure drudgery.

I did not plan for but need: Handicap ramp to house. Elevator to basement.

John Ferrell    W8CCW
"My Competition is not my enemy"
http://DixieNC.US

{Original Message removed}

2006\09\19@094928 by Dave Lag

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Adam...
Jim Korman wrote:
> 2x10 outside walls with expanded foam insulation

Insulation would be key, Solar gain can be iffy -don't know your weather
pattern specifically  but when I installed a skylight on my first home I
quickly realized how much I was affected by proximity to a "great lake".


> Real storm windows - They're a little hassle but I'm replacing
> my "modern" storms with the old wood frame ones.

Not sure what modern means?  Good thermal panes with argon gas, double
or tripple lites, low-e coatings. Vinyl or vinyl clad wood frames

Beadwalls are fun and effective.
Whole house fan for when you "almost" need the air on.

Hate bouncy floors, make sure they/you go conservative on those span tables.

Basement "electronics lab" might be OK but have lived with a basement
woodshop- never again.

Groundlevel 3 bay garage with 3 bay space partitioned behind for a
workshop. Woodwork, welding, drag an engine(or big heavy stationary
tool) to the heated back shop thru double doors (insulated). Now we're
talkin',.. woodstove to burn the scaps for heat, PV panels on all  that
roofspace...mmmmm.


2006\09\19@095927 by Dave Lag

picon face
Rolf wrote:
> Two things ... insulate *every* wall in the house, inside as well as
> outside walls... insulation makes great sound-proofing

Definitely, cast pipe thru noise sensitive areas is nice too.
Solid or filled doors are a huge help here too.

> Additionally, pre-plan the central-air with the installer so that you do
> not get lots of "Under-the-joist" duct-work in the basement.

We used to build basements with an extra course or two of block, made
the above a non issue. If getting it poured by a forming company
investigate if they can do 16 inches (or so) higher?


2006\09\19@101653 by Dave Lag

picon face
M. Adam Davis wrote:

> 3) Insulated concrete forms,
Love those, many choices nowadays

Suggest subscribing to Fine Homebuilding, maybe Architectural Digest
and take a trip to T.O.
http://www.constructcanada.com/attendee/home.asp

Dave

2006\09\19@102537 by Hazelwood Lyle

flavicon
face

Maybe a bit "Geeky"..

I always thought that Home automation would benefit greatly
from two-beam IR detectors across each doorway at about
waist-height.

If you can detect direction of passage, you may be able to
estimate room occupancy, and then apply smarter controls to
lighting and HVAC zones..

But installing these after the fact, and wiring each doorjamb,
makes it much more difficult to do.

In any case, have fun. That's a beautiful part of the country.
I understand they're building a water theme park in Dundee.

Lyle

2006\09\19@103945 by gacrowell

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face
Electrically operated main water shut-off valve, and water sensors at
appropriate points; laundry room, under sinks...   Smoke detector
network, rather than just individual detectors/alarms.  And, I have
never understood floorplans that put the bedrooms on one side of the
house, and laundry rooms on the other side, or another floor, usually
through the kitchen.  Laundry room - bedroom proximity would seem
logical.  New laundry appliances are remarkably quiet, but such a room
could still probably use some extra sound/vibration isolation from the
bedrooms.

A rooftop observatory would be neat - how's the light pollution in your
area?  If the 1200' is marginal for a runway, how about a firing range?
Neighbors still might be a problem.

GC


2006\09\19@111318 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> An automated kitchen.

Or maybe even a "real" kitchen. One with a door to close, and big enough to
have a real table in it to sit around. That's probably something European
(or at least old-fashioned :) but it's really nice (if it's a cozy
kitchen).

Another thing from my German background: the entry door doesn't go into the
living room, there are two "thermal DMZs" between. When you go into the
door, you are first in a small hallway that is not heated, where you
typically leave dirty clothes etc. Then you come into another that's half
heated, from where the doors go into kitchen, living room, other rooms etc.
I've never lived in the US in a cold area, and in SoCal you don't really
need this. But I can imagine that in Michigan something like this could be
useful :)

Gerhard

2006\09\19@114901 by John Ferrell

face picon face
The X-10 devices perform poorly in more than a few installed. Each one drops
the signal level a bit.
High maintenance!

John Ferrell    W8CCW
"My Competition is not my enemy"
http://DixieNC.US

{Original Message removed}

2006\09\19@120209 by Patrick Murphy

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face
Hi Adam,

Monday, September 18, 2006, 8:02:26 PM, you wrote:

> what would you build into a custom designed house?

A Japanese style bathtub - they are great for soaking in. The one I liked was as
wide as a tub but not as long, and deep enough to sit with water up to your neck
- there was a low seat on one side. I don't know how available they are outside
of Japan; I don't have one now, and sometimes toy with the idea of making one.

A "stink fan." Imagine 2" PVC plumbed to the toilet, and the end squashed almost
flat to fit under the seat. The squashed end is not glued to the rest of the PVC
for ease of cleaning. The other end has a fan and is vented outside. The fan is
on a timer. A louder fan, if installed near the bathroom can give some privacy.
I don't have a link, but at least one toilet manufacturer (from British
Columbia, Canada, I believe) is making their toilets with under-the-rim venting
and a hole in the back to attach the PVC. Or use stainless steel, rather than
PCV to go under the seat. Stink fans are found in Hutterite bathrooms, as well
as the common ceiling vent fan, which is not used as a stink fan, since it
doesn't work nearly as well.

In many Japanese homes, the toilet water is plumbed as a sink - when it is
flushed, clean water comes out of a pipe so you can wash your hands, and this
water is saved to flush the toilet the next time. Is this feasible as a
do-it-yourself project?

An unheated, separate storage area in the basement is nice for fruits and
vegetables. Build this as a part of the concrete foundation under the front
porch with concrete on all four sides and a door to the basement for access.
It should not freeze in winter, and is cool in summer.

If you are going to go with a central vacuum, consider adding floor-level
sweep-ins throughout the house. They have a foot switch to turn on the vacuum,
and you simply sweep the dust into them. Those that have them tell me they work
well.

A built-in dirty laundry hamper in the bathroom - with an access door(s) in the
hallway - or, if the washing machine is next to the bathroom, have the access
door open right into the laundry room. The hamper opening in the bathroom can be
small. If you had an upstairs bathroom above the main floor bathroom, the
upstairs hamper could be connected to the main floor hamper.

Half, or split doors may be handy for keeping children out of work areas (or
keep them in play areas) but not isolating yourself as much as regular closed
doors do.

I hope you work with an experienced home designer; my brother designs houses and
he has told me about the issues he takes into consideration. Tour a few houses
that person has designed and ask why he or she did things the way they did, and
ask the owner what they like, or would change, and why. I don't think you will
regret the time.

Just my two cents.

--
Best regards,
Patrick Murphy
James Valley Colony

2006\09\19@120417 by Alex Harford

face picon face
Have a look at MisterHouse:
http://misterhouse.sourceforge.net/

http://misterhouse.sourceforge.net/features.html


For the garden situation, I would look for naturally damp areas to
make a pond/rain garden if you don't already have one.

http://www.raingardennetwork.com/raingardenis.htm


I'd also look into a cistern for storing rainwater for use during the summer.


Alex

2006\09\19@121011 by Hazelwood Lyle

flavicon
face
> The X-10 devices perform poorly in more than a few installed.
> Each one drops
> the signal level a bit.
> High maintenance!

It's been my experience that the performance of X-10 systems is
has an inverse relationship with the number of switchmode power
supplies in use. And that is a LOT more than it was when X-10
was first released to the public.


Lyle

2006\09\19@121428 by Alex Harford

face picon face
On 9/19/06, Patrick Murphy <spamBeGoneluke631spamBeGonespammts.net> wrote:

> In many Japanese homes, the toilet water is plumbed as a sink - when it is
> flushed, clean water comes out of a pipe so you can wash your hands, and this
> water is saved to flush the toilet the next time. Is this feasible as a
> do-it-yourself project?

Something like this?

http://www.gaiam.com/retail/product/02-0334

2006\09\19@145403 by D. Jay Newman

flavicon
face
> Electrically operated main water shut-off valve, and water sensors at
> appropriate points; laundry room, under sinks...   Smoke detector

Even just separate shutoffs for each floor of the house would be useful.
Having to shut off your entire water to fix a single leak is a problem.
--
D. Jay Newman           ! Author of:
TakeThisOuTjayEraseMEspamspam_OUTsprucegrove.com     ! _Linux Robotics: Building Smarter Robots_
http://enerd.ws/robots/ !    "A backward poet writes inverse."

2006\09\19@145909 by Brooke Clarke

flavicon
face
Hi Adam:

When it did this some years ago I hired the architect before buying the
land and he was able to point out the advantages and disadvantages of
each lot.  Of course the main value of the architect is giving you the
most house for the money that's customized for you wants.

Get a copy of the book "A Pattern Language" and study it.  I've found
that most the the multi-star rated patterns are quite correct and
promote your well being.  I now live in the forest and this time of year
the light shining through the trees is a very pleasant sight.

Energy costs are going nowhere but up.  So the insulation should be
maybe twice or more times what code might suggest.  Passive solar is
also a good thing.  Don't forget about the cooling effect of plants and
lawns or shading from deciduous plants.  Using outdoor water misters in
hot climates might also be a way of saving on air conditioning costs.

I've been thinking about building another house where all the wiring and
plumbing would be outside the walls.  But that may not be an option for
those who want the house to look "nice".  Running conduit where it can
be seen makes changes and repairs very easy.  It also allows for adding
new conduit when and where needed.

When a car is made in high volume most of the bugs get fixed, so cars
like the Taurus or Civic have excellent owner satisfaction ratings.  
I've owned a number of very low production number type cars and they
tend to have bugs (independent of the price).  So expect to have bugs in
a house where there's only one of them made.

Have Fun,

Brooke Clarke

w/Java http://www.PRC68.com
w/o Java www.pacificsites.com/~brooke/PRC68COM.shtml
http://www.precisionclock.com


2006\09\19@153545 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
If you are over 50, these things are important:

1. Do NOT build a house with stairs. As you age, stairs become
a serious safety problem, even when you are relatively healthy.
Ranch style homes are also easier to heat and cool; the second
story either gets too hot or too cold vs the bottom level.

2. Get a walk-in bathtub. Getting in and out of bathtubs is another
serious safety problem. We own a walk-in tub that has built-in
high pressure jets. The result is a relaxing yet safe bath. These cost
3x normal tubs, and they are worth every dime.

Otherwise:

1. Install piping for solar water heating. Much gas/electricity is wasted by
heating water for washing. It is also the easiest and cheapest way to
utilize solar energy.  It will pay for itself in no time, and has very
little
maintainance.

2. If you have a fireplace, be sure to install heat exchangers. Otherwise,
fireplaces USE more heat than they provide.

3. Always wire all the rooms for background music, to drown out the
sounds of neighbors..., even if you don't have any now. I regretted this
twice.

4. Use double-pane windows and doors.

--Bob

2006\09\19@160918 by alan smith

picon face
Having designed and built my house, pretty much everything I wanted...I got.  
 
 1. Tie all your gutters to a drain, and if you have a basement, tie the drain into the window wells.  That way, no water can get in thru the windows, and also the gutters
 wont flood the foundation.  Determine the water flow thru the property (topo map)
 and perf where water will hit the foundation and allow it to flow into the pipe.  If you cant drain to a storm sewer...drain it far far far away from the house.....if you do tie into a storm sewer, add a backflow valve.
 
 2. Run plenty of power OUTSIDE the house as well.  Run the largest power feed to the house, with a large panel.
 
 3. Power to entertainment areas (tv,stereo,etc) on a seperate and be able to run it off a UPS, so you dont lose settings.
 
 4. double up coax feeds and ethernet to the entertainment so you can feed to and from.
 
 5. Basement...make the stairs wide.  I am always getting compliments on mine.
 
 6 Make your utility room big enough to work in...if and when you have to replace the furnace and water heater.  Pipe external capacity for solar and alternate feeds for
 eventually adding.  Conduit to the attic, 2" conduit min.   Use at least 2 water heaters
 in parallel (pre-heat...and main draw).
 
 7. Plenty of eve outlets, remote switched for xmas lights, etc.
 
 8.  Prewire for camera's at the doors.
 
 9.  Prewire for alarm system.
 
 10. Minimize stairs to upstairs doors, when you get old...3 stairs are alot.  Design for
 possible ramps in the future.
 
 11. Garage ...... big as you can, extra wide doors.  Plenty of power, and run network there as well.
 
 12. walk out basement...tie the drains to the main drainage system.
 
 13.  bury a ground plane in the backyard for your antenna farm
 
 14. Let your wife pick the colors
 
 15. dont skimp on the carpet quality
 
 16.  attic fan(s)
 
 17.  Extra quality shingles (depending on weather conditions) don't skimp on them
 
 18.  water in the garage, drains in the garage
 
 19.  radiant floor heating
 
 ....and im sure there are other things....

               
---------------------------------
Do you Yahoo!?
Everyone is raving about the  all-new Yahoo! Mail.

2006\09\19@163856 by Mitch Miller

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alan smith wrote:
> Having designed and built my house, pretty much everything I wanted...I got.  
<snip>
>   eventually adding.  Conduit to the attic, 2" conduit min.   Use at least 2 water heaters
>   in parallel (pre-heat...and main draw).

Wouldn't that be in series?  The output from the pre-heat feeds the main
heater, right?  Our neighbors have that and they *REALLY* like it.  He
says they NEVER run out of hot watet.  And, because the first one is not
heating the water ALL the way, you don't lose as much energy to the room.

-- Mitch

2006\09\19@170816 by David VanHorn

picon face
Dad did a rotating bookcase that has gun storage behind it.
Room for a pretty good arsenal.

2006\09\19@174447 by alan smith

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yes..series....my bad......least I explained it correctly.  I have two 50 gallon in *series*

Mitch Miller <RemoveMEmitchspamTakeThisOuTmdmiller.com> wrote:  alan smith wrote:
> Having designed and built my house, pretty much everything I wanted...I got.

> eventually adding. Conduit to the attic, 2" conduit min. Use at least 2 water heaters
> in parallel (pre-heat...and main draw).

Wouldn't that be in series? The output from the pre-heat feeds the main
heater, right? Our neighbors have that and they *REALLY* like it. He
says they NEVER run out of hot watet. And, because the first one is not
heating the water ALL the way, you don't lose as much energy to the room.

-- Mitch

2006\09\19@174542 by John Ferrell

face picon face
I can agree with that as well...
John Ferrell    W8CCW
"My Competition is not my enemy"
http://DixieNC.US

{Original Message removed}

2006\09\19@174719 by alan smith

picon face
And...i think your building in cold climates....I will second the insulation.  I first sprayed in insulation (foam) that sealed, insulated and noise barrier...THEN...put bats in.  Did all the downstairs ceilings as well...for noise and temperature control.  Two furnaces...up and down, only one AC for the upstairs.  Ceiling fans in main room and bedrooms.

David VanHorn <dvanhornEraseMEspam.....microbrix.com> wrote:  Dad did a rotating bookcase that has gun storage behind it.
Room for a pretty good arsenal.

2006\09\19@204945 by Aaron

picon face


Bob J. wrote:

{Quote hidden}

Bob,

Very expensive?

I did some remodeling last year and nearly have the entire house
converted from galvanized to plastic pex.  I installed a Manabloc.  At
$125, I thought it was cheap.  Yes, we used more pipe, but most
everything is 3/8" and we get hot water pretty fast even in the far
corners of the house.  There is much less cold water to empty out of
that 3/8" line than in a 1" trunk line.  :)  I also like having the
ability to individually shut off each fixture.  One can even use the red
and blue pipe for hot/cold respectively, but the roll lengths didn't
work out well for me as there would have been too much left over.  I
ended up using all white.

http://www.bright.net/~agarb/manabloc.jpg

Only disadvantage I've noticed is that if I turn a faucet on/off very
quickly the water hammer will cause some pipes to bang against the floor
joists.  I need to get down in the crawl space and secure them better.

Aaron

--------------


_______________________________________________________________________________

Quoted for           Quote Date Expr Date Ship Via         Frght Warehouse
xxxxx xxxxx        06/03/05   06/30/05                   No    Shp
7421Prc 742
_______________________________________________________________________________

Writer               Salesperson           Release #     Terms
xxxxx xxxx        House Sales Person                  CASH
_______________________________________________________________________________

Quote Qty    Part #  Product Description                    Unit
Price       Net  
      *    WE OFFER THE FOLLOWING VANGUARD
                  PIPING
   1ea   733184   VANG PX2C5 WHITE VANEX PEX, 3/8IN          91.330    
91.33
                  CTS, SDR-9, 500' COIL
   3ea   821160   VANG PX3C1 WHITE VANEX PEX, 1/2IN          20.515    
61.55
                  CTS, SDR-9, 100' COIL
   1ea   692870   VANG PXR2C5 3/8X500 RED TUBING             91.330    
91.33
   3ea   211554   VANG PXR3C1 1/2X100FT COIL RED             20.515    
61.55
                  TUBING
   1ea   692846   VANG PXB2C5 BLUE VANEX PEX, 3/8IN          91.330    
91.33
                  CTS, SDR-9, 500' COIL
   3ea   210407   VANG PXB3C1 1/2X100FT COIL BLUE            20.515    
61.55
                  TUBING
   1ea   687832   VANG MXBD6-30 30 COMBINATION PORT         125.605    
125.61
                  STANDARD MANABLOC

                                     TAXES NOT INCLUDED
                                                     
----------------------
T H I S  I S  A  Q U O T A T I O N                    
Prices are firm for 30 days, subject to    
change without notice after 30 days.
A P P L I C A B L E  T A X E S  E X T R A !

2006\09\19@220048 by Jake Anderson

flavicon
face

>   17.  Extra quality shingles (depending on weather conditions) don't skimp on them
Why use shingles at all? all we ever seem to see in news coverage of
America is people nailing the bleeding things back on after any kind of
storm ;->
We have a corrugated iron roof and have never had a problem with it,
Hail is just noisy. The "old dear" across the road has done no
maintenance to the roof for about 30 years as far as I can tell, And our
neighbours are about the same. She did get it painted however, problem
being the guy who did it was as shoddy as they come and trampled the
bull nose until it had a big trench in it allowing water to pool and leak.

2006\09\19@225513 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face

On Sep 19, 2006, at 7:00 PM, Jake Anderson wrote:

> Why use shingles at all?

Much of the US seems to mandate a particular appearance of roof
for ... appearances sake.  This includes things like requiring
(flammable) cedar shingles in housing developments in hot and dry
southwest, where it's not uncommon for house fires to start from
sparks landing on the roof.

BillW

2006\09\20@002421 by Jon Chandler

picon face
Lots of great ideas!  A couple suggestions I haven't seen:

Tankless gas hot water heater.  We installed one a few years back and
love it.  The only problem with it is I never know when to get out of
the shower, since the hot water never runs out :)

For installing grab bars, check out the Wingits web site:  
http://www.wingits.com/

These "super toggle bolts" will support several hundred pounds on a tile
& sheetrock wall, so you can install full-strength grab bars where you
need them without worrying about building in blocking or trying to fit
the grab bar to the studs.  Their nylon grab bars are wonderful
too....the look great and they are never cold to the touch.  Installing
a grab bar in a tiled shower told all of 15 minutes.


Jon


2006\09\20@060354 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
> So I have a few questions to brainstorm about:

I would suggest going down to your local magazine shop, and get a
subscription (for a while at least) to Home Power magazine, and Mother Earth
News. Even if you don't want to go the whole green living way of things,
these will give you good info on making your home energy efficient.

Doing things like having a broad expanse of windows that can catch the
winter sun, to heat an indoor stone wall that acts as a storage heater
during the dark hours is the sort of thing I'm thinking here.

Both are available on the web.
http://www.homepower.com/
http://www.motherearthnews.com/

MEN will probably help with planning what to do with the rest of the acreage
as well, as it really is the whole alternative lifestyle magazine (c.f. the
other thread here that interleaves with this one).

2006\09\20@062128 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>I forgot one "silly" idea that I have always wanted in a house:
>
>A train that runs through the entire place; every room, the back
>porch, yard, pool etc... AND through the storage spaces and
>refrigerator. With a robotic arm that can pick up and place items
>on its flat cars. So I can ask for a box of cereal and a carton
>of milk and have it delivered to me.

With 10 acres it would probably be a not so silly idea to have a 5-1/4" or
7" gauge railway running around it to transport stuff around the property.
taken to the extreme one could run live steam, but for utilitarian purposes
a small diesel or petrol loco - maybe even run off "home grown" sunflower
oil or alcohol - would be a viable workhorse. Even an electric loco, but
that would involve battery maintenance, which could be a pain if that was
the only use for the batteries, unless they were also part of a solar
collection scheme when the loco wasn't out on the track.

2006\09\20@064743 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>I did not plan for but need: Handicap ramp to house. Elevator to basement.

Probably a good reason to plan for over code sized stairways to allow for a
chairlift for when one does get old and doddery ... or at least enough room
at the top and bottom for the chair to swing around out of the way of normal
traffic paths at each end.

2006\09\20@065317 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Hate bouncy floors, make sure they/you go conservative on
>those span tables.

Agreed, nothing much worse than "ground bounce" in the top story ...

>Basement "electronics lab" might be OK but have lived with
>a basement woodshop- never again.

Any specific reason? Or was it the specific way the particular building was
organised?

>Groundlevel 3 bay garage with 3 bay space partitioned behind
>for a workshop. Woodwork, welding, drag an engine(or big heavy
>stationary tool) to the heated back shop thru double doors
>(insulated).

All the more reason to have strong floor joists on the floor above ... ;)


2006\09\20@070807 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
> 14. Let your wife pick the colors

and plan the kitchen layout - especially if she is going to do lots of
cooking. As with most work areas, the person using it should have a lot of
say in that area.

2006\09\20@094941 by Bob J.

picon face
hmmm, that's interesting.  You're right, that is cheap.  I was quoted
somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 for the Kitec manifold.  Do you have
valves at the faucets?  If not then the manifold system at that price would
have a great advantage, the quarter-turn valves from Kitec were about $15
apiece IIRC.

Regards,
Bob

On 9/19/06, Aaron <EraseMEaaron.piclistspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\09\20@101539 by alan smith

picon face
OK....true.....sometimes its the look your after.  Steel roofing can look very nice, just slippery to work on!   I've yet to lose a single shingle after 5 years, the roofer I used...he lives at the mouth of a canyon that gets 100+ winds every year.  He said....havent lost a shingle yet.....I hired him  :-)

Jake Anderson <RemoveMEjakeEraseMEspamEraseMEvapourforge.com> wrote:  
> 17. Extra quality shingles (depending on weather conditions) don't skimp on them
Why use shingles at all? all we ever seem to see in news coverage of
America is people nailing the bleeding things back on after any kind of
storm ;->
We have a corrugated iron roof and have never had a problem with it,
Hail is just noisy. The "old dear" across the road has done no
maintenance to the roof for about 30 years as far as I can tell, And our
neighbours are about the same. She did get it painted however, problem
being the guy who did it was as shoddy as they come and trampled the
bull nose until it had a big trench in it allowing water to pool and leak.

2006\09\20@132053 by John Ferrell

face picon face
Metal roofs are gaining in popularity in North Carolina.

John Ferrell    W8CCW
"My Competition is not my enemy"
http://DixieNC.US

{Original Message removed}

2006\09\21@085127 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Bob Axtell wrote:

> Ranch style homes are also easier to heat and cool; the second
> story either gets too hot or too cold vs the bottom level.

Where I come from, the traditional way is to heat the ground floor with
kitchen and living room up to normal temperatures, and heat the (mostly)
sleeping rooms upstairs only with a reduced temperature (traditionally only
the "waste" heat from downstairs, but nowadays all rooms have usually
individually temperature-controlled heating and it's just set to a lower
temperature). This helps reduce heating costs.

I've always wondered how you can live in a house that has not a controlled
temperature for every individual room. (At least in an area with cold
winters.)

Gerhard

2006\09\21@114202 by Aaron

picon face


Bob J. wrote:

>hmmm, that's interesting.  You're right, that is cheap.  I was quoted
>somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 for the Kitec manifold.  Do you have
>valves at the faucets?  If not then the manifold system at that price would
>have a great advantage, the quarter-turn valves from Kitec were about $15
>apiece IIRC.
>
>Regards,
>Bob
>  
>
No valves at faucets.  Pex comes straight out of the wall and is crimped
onto an inexpensive fitting which screws directly onto the faucet tails.

Why did you use Kitec?  I thought it was normally for use in systems
that need an oxygen barrier, like a pressurized boiler heating system.

The items I bought came through my father's HVAC company with no
markup.  Perhaps your source has significant markup?

Aaron

2006\09\21@141843 by hgraf

picon face
On Thu, 2006-09-21 at 09:49 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
> Bob Axtell wrote:
>
> > Ranch style homes are also easier to heat and cool; the second
> > story either gets too hot or too cold vs the bottom level.
>
> Where I come from, the traditional way is to heat the ground floor with
> kitchen and living room up to normal temperatures, and heat the (mostly)
> sleeping rooms upstairs only with a reduced temperature (traditionally only
> the "waste" heat from downstairs, but nowadays all rooms have usually
> individually temperature-controlled heating and it's just set to a lower
> temperature). This helps reduce heating costs.
>
> I've always wondered how you can live in a house that has not a controlled
> temperature for every individual room. (At least in an area with cold
> winters.)

I'm not sure what you think makes living in a house with a single
control more difficult, we just end up wasting energy heating the whole
house. The heating system (forced air is most common in my area) is
designed to heat the house evenly. A well designed system accomplishes
this task quite well, with perhaps a degree of deviation from the
warmest to coldest area of the house. Unfortunately designing the system
well isn't that straightforward, and is NOT the cheapest way to do
things, so you'll often hear of houses where one room is always much
colder then the others.

My house is a good example. It is designed very well from a heating
point of view except for ONE room, which is always 2 degrees colder then
the rest of the house. The reason being it's the furthest from the
furnace and it's vent bends so many times the air velocity at the
register is quite small. We tried a few things (i.e. putting an inline
fan) but settled on a separate electric heater just for that room.

Forced air heating has one MAJOR advantage over almost any other heating
system: adding central air is a breeze. In many areas of the world that
need major heat in the winter AC isn't much of a concern in the summer.
However where I live (Toronto, Canada) our humidity is very high in the
summer making AC almost a necessity.

The only thing I wish my house were different were fuel choice. My dad
(in Europe actually) decided to build his house with forced air (very
rare in Europe at the time). The neat part is he has duel fuel. He has a
wood furnace and a natural gas furnace. Whichever furnace is active
heats water that circulates through a heat exchanger in the duct work,
heating the house. The benefit is he can heat with wood (about half the
price) when he's home, and the system automatically switches over to the
gas furnace when the wood is burnt up (good in the middle of the night
on really cold nights, or when they are away from home).

TTYL

2006\09\21@162606 by Michael Rigby-Jones

picon face


>-----Original Message-----
>From: Gerhard Fiedler [RemoveMEpiclist-bouncesspam_OUTspamKILLspammit.edu]
>Sent: 21 September 2006 13:49
>To: RemoveMEpiclistTakeThisOuTspamspammit.edu
>Subject: Re: [OT] Building a house - help me brainstorm!
>
>
>I've always wondered how you can live in a house that has not
>a controlled temperature for every individual room. (At least
>in an area with cold
>winters.)

Wear warm clothes!

Regards

Mike

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2006\09\21@172401 by John Ferrell

face picon face
A chair lift is not enough... my dog is getting old too. Need elevator.

John Ferrell    W8CCW
"My Competition is not my enemy"
http://DixieNC.US

{Original Message removed}

2006\09\21@181205 by gacrowell

flavicon
face


> -----Original Message-----
> From: EraseMEpiclist-bouncesspamspamspamBeGonemit.edu
> [RemoveMEpiclist-bouncesKILLspamspammit.edu] On Behalf Of hgraf
> Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 8:14 AM
> To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
> Subject: Re: [OT] Building a house - help me brainstorm!
>
> On Thu, 2006-09-21 at 09:49 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
...

> The neat part is he has duel fuel. He has a
> wood furnace and a natural gas furnace. Whichever furnace is active
> heats water that circulates through a heat exchanger in the duct work,
> heating the house.

Just a comment on a similar system, I needed a new furnace a few years
ago, and coincidently needed a new gas water heater at the same time.
So we installed a system that uses the water heater as the thermal
source, with a heat exchanger in the air handler.  Had it about five
years now and no complaints.  It cut the heating costs in half, but it's
hard to judge efficiency, since the furnace it replaced was crap.  We
bump up the water heater temp in the coldest part of the winter to get
enough heat out of it (dial-a-btu), but the domestic water is kept
constant by a tempering valve.

Gary

2006\09\21@185930 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face

On Sep 21, 2006, at 5:49 AM, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:

> nowadays all rooms have usually individually
> temperature-controlled heating

Really?  I would think that happens only if you have pure electric
heating, which isn't particularly efficient (nor quick to change
your mind about what temperature you wanted.)  Gas or oil heat
tends to have a central furnace, and it's moderately difficult
to get more than even a single thermostat or "zone."  And it seems
that central air conditioning is more efficient than individual
room air conditioners as well (or is that just an impression.)

Multiple HVAC "zones" are something to think about before
starting construction; we've had suggestions to replace our
single furnace with multiple units to achieve this, but I gather
it would have been a lot easier to plan for that in advance!

BillW

2006\09\21@190946 by peter green

flavicon
face
> Really?  I would think that happens only if you have pure electric
> heating, which isn't particularly efficient (nor quick to change
> your mind about what temperature you wanted.)  Gas or oil heat
> tends to have a central furnace, and it's moderately difficult
> to get more than even a single thermostat or "zone."
here in the uk (where wet central heating is the norm and aircon very rare
in homes) we use thermostatic radiator valves for that, a little slow
responding but normally adequate.

i can't see any reason why hot air couldn't be controlled in a similar way
though the size of the pipework may make designing the valves tricky.

2006\09\21@201528 by D. Jay Newman

flavicon
face
Agreed. Luckily our last old dog was a Sheltie (oversized true, but still
easily carried). That was back when my wife and I could easily climb
stairs also.

> A chair lift is not enough... my dog is getting old too. Need elevator.
>
> John Ferrell    W8CCW
> "My Competition is not my enemy"
> http://DixieNC.US
>
> {Original Message removed}

2006\09\21@204839 by Bob J.

picon face
No markup, got it direct from the distributor.  Its a bit more expensive
than the non-aluminum cored tubing (pex).  It was recommended to me by my
friend who helped me with the plumbing, and I do like it.  The tubing is
rigid and stays bent when you bend it.  I've run pex plumbing into another
crawlspace and it was a pain in comparison.  Either way its a compromise.

Regards,
Bob


On 9/21/06, Aaron <aaron.piclistSTOPspamspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2006\09\21@205022 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
hgraf wrote:

>> I've always wondered how you can live in a house that has not a controlled
>> temperature for every individual room. (At least in an area with cold
>> winters.)
>
> I'm not sure what you think makes living in a house with a single
> control more difficult, we just end up wasting energy heating the whole
> house.

Besides the waste, it's exactly the fact that it heats all rooms with the
same temperature air that I find very uncomfortable. I like it that my
sleeping room is cooler than the living room, the kitchen (which often has
additional heat sources) doesn't need as much heating, and so on.

Individually controlling each room's temperature may not be popular in
North America, but I think it's quite comfortable. (And wastes less energy,
of course.) I don't think you have to abandon forced air to do it.

Gerhard

2006\09\21@211715 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
peter green wrote:

>> Really?  I would think that happens only if you have pure electric
>> heating, which isn't particularly efficient (nor quick to change your
>> mind about what temperature you wanted.)  Gas or oil heat tends to have
>> a central furnace, and it's moderately difficult to get more than even
>> a single thermostat or "zone."
>
> here in the uk (where wet central heating is the norm and aircon very rare
> in homes) we use thermostatic radiator valves for that, a little slow
> responding but normally adequate.

That's what I was talking about. This is also the norm in Germany. Usually
the not too old houses have a two-staged control: one central control takes
care of the water temperature (which can be lower at night or eg. during
work days when nobody is at home), and individual radiator valves
(sometimes with remote sensors) take care of the flow through each
individual radiator.

> i can't see any reason why hot air couldn't be controlled in a similar way
> though the size of the pipework may make designing the valves tricky.

I think one difference is that possibly forced air flow heating doesn't
work with hot air that heats up the rest of the air in the room, but with
air that is at the target temperature and gets forced around the house. I
don't know. If the latter is the case, you'd need a controlled air mixer
(hot and cold air) at the inlet of each room, which shouldn't be impossible
either.

The "valves" could be something like rotating shutters.

Gerhard

2006\09\21@214428 by hgraf

picon face
On Thu, 2006-09-21 at 17:59 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
> hgraf wrote:
>
> >> I've always wondered how you can live in a house that has not a controlled
> >> temperature for every individual room. (At least in an area with cold
> >> winters.)
> >
> > I'm not sure what you think makes living in a house with a single
> > control more difficult, we just end up wasting energy heating the whole
> > house.
>
> Besides the waste, it's exactly the fact that it heats all rooms with the
> same temperature air that I find very uncomfortable. I like it that my
> sleeping room is cooler than the living room, the kitchen (which often has
> additional heat sources) doesn't need as much heating, and so on.

But that's why I have a programmable thermostat, the furnace is
basically off all day, turns on when I get home, and turns down to 19
degrees C again a few hours before I go to sleep so by the time I go to
sleep my room is nice and cool. A few hours before I wake up the
thermostat goes back up to 23C and the bathroom is nice and warm by the
time I wake up.

As for rooms that have their own sources of heat, that's what the
louvres in the vents are for, rooms like the kitchen or the "sun" room
have their vents almost turned off. It takes a while to figure things
out the first time, but once you have everything set it works quite
well. Of course in the cooling season all the settings are inverted.

My "problem" with individual controls is that it can take quite a while
to warm up a room, so if your plans change one evening you are stuck in
a cold room for a few hours (admittedly if I get home from work early
for some reason I'm in the same boat).

> Individually controlling each room's temperature may not be popular in
> North America, but I think it's quite comfortable. (And wastes less energy,
> of course.) I don't think you have to abandon forced air to do it.

It becomes quite difficult with forced air to dynamically change things.
The reason being any setting change in one vent will affect many other
vents. It's very common that turn off one room results in another room
going 3 degrees above the rest of the house. I'm not saying it's
impossible, but with a well insulated house I don't think it's worth the
effort.

TTYL

2006\09\21@220807 by Lee Jones

flavicon
face
>>> Really?  I would think that happens only if you have pure electric
>>> heating, which isn't particularly efficient (nor quick to change your
>>> mind about what temperature you wanted.)  Gas or oil heat tends to have
>>> a central furnace, and it's moderately difficult to get more than even
>>> a single thermostat or "zone."

>> here in the uk (where wet central heating is the norm & aircon very rare
>> in homes) we use thermostatic radiator valves for that, a little slow
>> responding but normally adequate.

> That's what I was talking about. This is also the norm in Germany. Usually
> the not too old houses have a two-staged control: one central control takes
> care of the water temperature (which can be lower at night or eg. during
> work days when nobody is at home), and individual radiator valves
> (sometimes with remote sensors) take care of the flow through each
> individual radiator.

Commercial offices HVAC in US (southwest, where I've worked) uses
a central blower installation with radiators in each air flow zone.
Radiator get thermostatically controlled amount of hot or chilled
water to regulate temperature in that zone.  They look like small
automobile radiators (and sometimes leak too).

I've also never seen such equipment in a residential site.


> The "valves" could be something like rotating shutters.

I've always heard them called dampers.  They're usually manually
adjusted.  They are flaps in the ducting to adjust the overfall
airflow into each zone or subzone.

These are common in better grade residential installations (though
frequently difficult to access).  Easy adjustment is thorugh the
louvers on the wall/floor/ceiling vents.

                                               Lee Jones

2006\09\22@073708 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
hgraf wrote:

> But that's why I have a programmable thermostat, the furnace is basically
> off all day, turns on when I get home, and turns down to 19 degrees C
> again a few hours before I go to sleep so by the time I go to sleep my
> room is nice and cool. A few hours before I wake up the thermostat goes
> back up to 23C and the bathroom is nice and warm by the time I wake up.

You seem to live alone, right? Take a typical weekday from my childhood: We
get all up. At that time, all room thermostats except the kitchen are on
lower temperatures, so the only room that is warm then is the kitchen. It
gets warm because the central control of the warm water is set to heat it
up higher a bit before we get up. The room thermostats all stay that way
when we all go our way (work and school). The central warm water control
goes down a bit at that time, because comfort heating is not required.
Around noon, a bit before I come home from school, it goes up again.
Kitchen is warm. I turn up the thermostat in my room. (I may have done so
in the morning, or not...) In the afternoon, the only one who is in the
house is me, and the only rooms heated are my bedroom and the kitchen. Late
afternoon my mom comes home, with my sister. Her room gets now also heated,
and maybe also the laundry room if my mom's going down there (in the
basement) to do something. Only in the evening the living room gets also
heated. At that time, it's still not everything heated equally: my parents'
bedroom is only at sleeping temperature, most or all rooms in the basement
are only at maintenance temperature, bathrooms (except for the main
bathroom) are at a lower than comfort temperature.

This is a lot less heating than with only one central control. Before the
individual room thermostats, up to the 60ies, there were only manual valves
at the radiators in Germany, similar to the shutters (louvres? is that the
same thing?) in the air outlets. But when the radiator thermostats became
reasonably available, people soon realized that a few bucks more for the
radiator thermostat are easily made up for with energy savings due to less
overheating and increased comfort due to less overheating and less
underheating. So from the 70ies on, most people added these to their older
installations, and new installations are since then pretty much all
equipped with individual thermostats.

> My "problem" with individual controls is that it can take quite a while
> to warm up a room, so if your plans change one evening you are stuck in
> a cold room for a few hours (admittedly if I get home from work early
> for some reason I'm in the same boat).

Well... it seems that it's just as easy to heat up one room when plans
change than it is to heat up a whole house.

> It becomes quite difficult with forced air to dynamically change things.
> The reason being any setting change in one vent will affect many other
> vents. It's very common that turn off one room results in another room
> going 3 degrees above the rest of the house.

We are here in a high-tech discussion group where many people deal with
complex control issues, right? Come on... controlling something like this
can't be /that/ difficult :)  You seem to forget that the "other room" also
has now a controlled inlet, so if it gets warmer, the inlet closes down
more, automatically -- so it wouldn't get warmer. Your argument is based on
your current experience with a system without individual room control, and
is in fact an argument for using individual room controls rather than
against it. You can also control the pressure of the air flow in the main
duct, so you have always the same pressure. Closing one vent then won't
affect the others (or at least not that much), because the duct pressure
won't change as a consequence of this. This of course presumes that the
ducts are wide enough so that there are no significant pressure changes
along the individual branches due to shutters opening or closing. Or you
work with controlling the temperature of the air flow into each room with
local, controlled air mixers (like the high-end cars do it). All kinds of
ways to tackle something like this... where there is a will there is a way,
or so the saying goes.

> I'm not saying it's impossible, but with a well insulated house I don't
> think it's worth the effort.

Here we come back to the differences in energy consumption between
different cultures. If heating is a major energy consumer (as you stated
earlier, in another thread), and heating energy consumption is proportional
to the difference in temperature between inside and outside (no matter how
good the insulation is, this is more or less the case), keeping as many
parts of the house as cool as possible definitely reduces the amount of
energy needed for heating -- and since this is a major contributor, it
reduces the overall amount of energy needed per person. Whether this is
worth it or not is a subjective judgment, and it seems that different
people and different cultures (being an average of the individual people)
come to different conclusions. (Maybe as a function of energy prices,
average infection with NIH syndrome and other factors :)

Gerhard

2006\09\22@081733 by Howard Winter

face
flavicon
picon face
Bob,

On Mon, 18 Sep 2006 23:20:07 -0400, Bob J. wrote:

> I ran one 1" trunk line for both hot and cold water down the
> center of my house

That would be "warm", then?  :-)

> I also placed a small water heater near the bathrooms in the crawl space so
> that we wouldn't have to wait long for hot water.  Nearly instantaneous hot
> water.

On the Continent of Europe it's apparently quite common to have the hot water pipes in a circuit from the hot tank, around all the taps and back to
the tank, with a pump to move the hot water around so that it comes out of the taps hot almost instantly.  I don't know the details of how this works
(I'm sure the pump doesn't run 24/7 but not sure how you control it sensibly) but it would solve the problem with long runs.  As well as the saving of
time waiting for the water to go hot, it also saves water, but at the expense of some energy.  The return pipe from the furthest tap could - should! -
be small-bore to reduce the capacity of the circuit and thus the heat wasted in the return leg.

Traditionally water pipes in the UK have been copper (depending how far back you measure tradition - before that it was iron and before that lead,
hence the name "plumber").  But recently plastic piping has appeared and is gaining in popularity.  The name HEP springs to mind, but I don't know if
that's a trade name or a generic one.  You can buy it in a roll, and it is very quick and easy to install, with no joints except where they're needed for
tees and such, it just bends by hand round corners, is very unlikely to split if it freezes, and it has a level of self-insulation, which copper obviously
doesn't.  How is it done in the US these days?

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@083536 by Howard Winter

face
flavicon
picon face
Jinx,

On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 18:42:59 +1200, Jinx wrote:

> When I used to tramp around English stately homes, what
> used to interest me were not the cavernous baronial dining
> rooms or grand halls or galleries but the pokey out-of-the-
> way places like towers and follies

Me too!  And low-tech equipment like dumb-waiters (manually-operated lifts for taking the food from the kitchen in the basements up to the dining
room above).  I had the good luck to live in a house that was built in 1837, which had one of these, and under the floors you could find the remains of
the mechanical bell-pull system for calling the servants from the basement to the living- and bedrooms.  That's when I realised why a "bell crank"
was so called!  :-)  Sadly the bells on curly springs had all gone, but you could see where they had been mounted high on the basement wall.

The mechanical system had been replaced by an electrical one at some point, with a display showing where the call originated that used a solenoid
for each call button, which attracted a pendulum while the button was pressed, which then swung for some time afterwards.  

The house had loads of nooks and crannies to explore, the like of which just aren't included in houses these days.

Sadly the house has now gone, replaced by a block of characterless flats :-(

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@084254 by Howard Winter

face
flavicon
picon face
Jinx,

On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 18:43:48 +1200, Jinx wrote:

> > > Someone mentioned a tower; I like that.
> >
> > Secret passages; say, between the kids' rooms...
>
> And secret gardens too

When planning my dream home, which sadly will almost certainly never happen now, I was going to include a basement under the house, and a secret
underground tunnel to a summerhouse in the garden.  Handy as a way to get out in cases of seige...

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@084715 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>Sadly the house has now gone, replaced by a block of characterless flats
:-(

Probably because it doesn't have characters like you living there no more
... ;)

2006\09\22@091834 by hgraf

picon face
On Fri, 2006-09-22 at 08:36 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
> hgraf wrote:
>
> > But that's why I have a programmable thermostat, the furnace is basically
> > off all day, turns on when I get home, and turns down to 19 degrees C
> > again a few hours before I go to sleep so by the time I go to sleep my
> > room is nice and cool. A few hours before I wake up the thermostat goes
> > back up to 23C and the bathroom is nice and warm by the time I wake up.
>
> You seem to live alone, right?

Nope, it's my brother and myself, but we have similar schedules.

{Quote hidden}

Perhaps it's a house size thing? My house is simply too small to "shut
off" certain rooms at certain times. Most rooms in the house are "multi
purpose", and due to the open concept there are certain rooms that are
so open to other rooms it wouldn't make sense to heat one and not the
other. My bedroom functions as my entertainment room and office, my
brother's bedroom functions as his office as well. There are only two
rooms we aren't regularly using in the course of each day: the spare
bedroom and the laundary. In both cases those registers have been shut
off.

{Quote hidden}

What are the savings to individual control compared to the way I do
things (programmable thermostat) for a WELL insulated home? Considering
how long it takes my home to drop just a degree I'm not convinced the
savings are that great.

> > My "problem" with individual controls is that it can take quite a while
> > to warm up a room, so if your plans change one evening you are stuck in
> > a cold room for a few hours (admittedly if I get home from work early
> > for some reason I'm in the same boat).
>
> Well... it seems that it's just as easy to heat up one room when plans
> change than it is to heat up a whole house.

Exactly, which is why my whole house starts getting heated before I come
home.

{Quote hidden}

Actually, it can be impossible, in the case of my brothers rooms. As a
test we closed down ALL the outlets in the house except his room. The
result? His room STILL was colder then the rest of the house, and my
room (two outlets and right above the furnace) was still a few degrees
above the rest of the house. Room to room control of more then a few
degrees simply isn't a good idea with forced air. That is one benefit of
a radiator type system, individual control is "guaranteed" to work.

{Quote hidden}

Actually my system IS designed with some individual control, it's just
that forced air isn't that great for individual control.

In my case, where basically every room is used in my house is used when
I'm home, individual control just doesn't make much sense. Aside from
this, more of the house you cut off, the less air flow there is through
the cold air returns, I'm sure this will affect how well the furnace can
heat the home.

{Quote hidden}

I'm not debating that SOME savings might be had, what I'm debating is
the savings aren't worth the annoyances of walking into a frigid room
when plans change (damn, didn't plan to do the laundry today but I gotta
take the car in). Of course, my utility costs are about half of the
average utility cost (as I've seen) so "worth" is certainly relative. I
am curious though, does anybody have info on the following: same size
house, one with forced air, the other with radiators, which is more
efficient and by how much?

Personally I've lived with radiators and after buying a house with
forced air I'll NEVER go back. With radiators there was always areas in
the room that were warmer then others, and the smell of that metal
heating always annoyed me. I'm VERY sensitive to smells (I can tell the
model of subway car in my transit system based purely on the smell of
the air conditioning) and that was one thing I always hated about
radiators.

TTYL

2006\09\22@095205 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> On the Continent of Europe it's apparently quite common to
> have the hot water pipes in a circuit from the hot tank,
> around all the taps and back to
> the tank, with a pump to move the hot water around so that it
> comes out of the taps hot almost instantly.

That's more or less how a CV works, but I have never seen this for tap
water.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\09\22@102340 by gacrowell

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face

> On the Continent of Europe it's apparently quite common to
> have the hot water pipes in a circuit from the hot tank,
> around all the taps and back to
> the tank, with a pump to move the hot water around so that it
> comes out of the taps hot almost instantly.  I don't know the
> details of how this works
> (I'm sure the pump doesn't run 24/7 but not sure how you
> control it sensibly) but it would solve the problem with long
> runs.  ...

> Howard Winter


Here's a control gadget just for that: http://www.redytemp.com/

Gary Crowell

2006\09\22@103547 by gacrowell

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{Quote hidden}

And another one here: http://www.chilipepperapp.com/Default.htm

>
> Gary Crowell
>
> --

2006\09\22@160134 by Howard Winter

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picon face
James,

On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 00:11:29 -0700, James Newtons Massmind wrote:

> I'd go on with the garden robot, but it's getting late...

I heard a strange noise from next door's garden a couple of days ago.  Went upstairs for a peep, and saw a large yellow plastic tortoise-shaped
device wandering around the garden, apparently at random.  He's got a robot lawnmower!  Never seen one before - I must ask how well it works.

Cheers,



Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@170418 by Howard Winter

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Bill,

On Tue, 19 Sep 2006 19:55:11 -0700, William "Chops" Westfield wrote:

{Quote hidden}

I don't suppose there's much slate around there - looks rather like shingles, and never been known to catch fire!  :-)

Howcome nobody's developed something that looks like cedar (which I seem to remember has a high natural oil content) but doesn't burn?


Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@180511 by Howard Winter

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Wouter,

On Fri, 22 Sep 2006 15:52:01 +0200, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:

> That's more or less how a CV works, but I have never seen this for tap water.

CV?  What's that?

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@183615 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> > That's more or less how a CV works, but I have never seen
> this for tap water.
>
> CV?  What's that?

Sorry, Dutch: Centrale Verwarming: central (hot water) heating.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\09\22@190626 by Peter van Hoof

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--- Wouter van Ooijen <@spam@wouter@spam@spamspam_OUTvoti.nl> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

One of the main differences with the system we use in the US is that
the radiators are usually all in parallel so every heater has it's own
manual or thermostatic valve. In the US all radiators in a zone are
usually connected in series, radiator size, water flow and pipe
dimensions are ( or should be ) chosen so temperature in all rooms in a
zone are close to the same. each method has its advantages , the US
system being cheaper the other better controlled.

Peter van Hoof

2006\09\22@193940 by Howard Winter

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Wouter,

On Sat, 23 Sep 2006 00:36:12 +0200, Wouter van Ooijen wrote:

> > > That's more or less how a CV works, but I have never seen
> > this for tap water.
> >
> > CV?  What's that?
>
> Sorry, Dutch: Centrale Verwarming: central (hot water) heating.

Ah, OK.  Yes, central heating is almost always done the same way here, but as I said I understand that sometimes on the Continent there is what I
think is called a pumped "secondary circuit" with the hot taps on it.  I don't think it's ever done here.  It makes most sense in large single-storey
buildings, because the pipe-run distance from one side of the house to the other can be very large, so the waiting time and the waste of water are
large too.

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\22@195149 by peter green

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> buildings, because the pipe-run distance from one side of the
> house to the other can be very large, so the waiting time and the
> waste of water are
> large too.
i think the general feeling in the uk was that the wasted water from having
a normal system was less significant than the wasted heat from a secondry
circulation system like this and it stopped being used in new installations
(at least residential ones). I've seen lots of commercial setups that seem
to use this method though.

2006\09\23@184705 by Gerhard Fiedler

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hgraf wrote:

> Perhaps it's a house size thing?

Probably not.

> [...] and due to the open concept there are certain rooms that are so
> open to other rooms it wouldn't make sense to heat one and not the
> other.

I think that's the main difference. In Germany, typically all rooms have
doors. No entry hall/living room/kitchen/den open space on the first floor.
Smaller living rooms, with doors. Kitchens with doors. Outside entry
doesn't go into any room; it goes into a ... I don't know how to call this,
I've never seen it in the US and therefore it never has came up :) Anyway,
it goes into a small hall or so, which is usually on a lower temperature.
>From there, the doors go into kitchen, living room etc.

Having different rooms on different temperatures is a very old concept (in
Germany, at least); it comes from having individual ovens in each room. So
the building style is adapted to that, which is IMO a requirement for the
whole thing to make sense.

> What are the savings to individual control compared to the way I do
> things (programmable thermostat) for a WELL insulated home?

I think this is not only a function of insulation, it is also a function of
how the house is laid out. And of course a function of the insulation
between internal areas that will be on different temperatures. With
brick-and-mortar buildings, there is possibly more natural insulation than
with a typical woodframe house, but I'm not sure about that.

> Actually, it can be impossible, in the case of my brothers rooms. As a
> test we closed down ALL the outlets in the house except his room. The
> result? His room STILL was colder then the rest of the house, and my
> room (two outlets and right above the furnace) was still a few degrees
> above the rest of the house. Room to room control of more then a few
> degrees simply isn't a good idea with forced air. That is one benefit of
> a radiator type system, individual control is "guaranteed" to work.

I'm reasonably sure that a forced heat system can be made working, too --
but it probably needs to be designed in to avoid such irregularities.

> I am curious though, does anybody have info on the following: same size
> house, one with forced air, the other with radiators, which is more
> efficient and by how much?

That would be interesting. But probably difficult to compare. There are
many things that affect this: insulation, room layout, use of the house,
how much you open the doors and windows, etc.

> Personally I've lived with radiators and after buying a house with
> forced air I'll NEVER go back.

For me it's the contrary. I don't like the classical radiators very much (I
prefer radiation heaters like stoves rather than convection heaters like
radiators :)

> I'm VERY sensitive to smells (I can tell the model of subway car in my
> transit system based purely on the smell of the air conditioning) and
> that was one thing I always hated about radiators.

I'm sensitive to dust, and every house with air heating gave me bad
problems. The first thing I always did was to tape the shutters closed :)
The convection caused by radiators also causes dust to rise, but it's
usually possible to find a calm spot (which is one of the downsides you
mentioned :). The best in that respect are radiation heaters (and no
carpets).

Gerhard

2006\09\23@203801 by Herbert Graf

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On Sat, 2006-09-23 at 19:46 -0300, Gerhard Fiedler wrote:
> > I'm VERY sensitive to smells (I can tell the model of subway car in my
> > transit system based purely on the smell of the air conditioning) and
> > that was one thing I always hated about radiators.
>
> I'm sensitive to dust, and every house with air heating gave me bad
> problems. The first thing I always did was to tape the shutters closed :)
> The convection caused by radiators also causes dust to rise, but it's
> usually possible to find a calm spot (which is one of the downsides you
> mentioned :). The best in that respect are radiation heaters (and no
> carpets).

Well dust certainly is an issue, however I believe the REALLY expensive
electrostatic filters now available may help in that area, not sure.
Depending on how sensitive you are even the hepa filters would probably
not be enough.

Thankfully my only allergy is ragweed in the fall, and it's a relatively
mild case. TTYL

2006\09\23@212426 by Howard Winter

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It's interesting how many different items are being mentioned by Americans that are unheard-of over here - Attic fans, for example!  Do attics have
very open venting from the rest of the house, so that that evacuating them causes air to flow up from the house?  Insulation has been a big thing
here for quite some time, and the Building Regulations insist on quite high levels of insulation these days.  I've never seen a house with shingles for a
roof - slates or tiles are the norm.  Central Heating is usually by hot water, either with radiators (often with a thermostatic valve on each one) or
increasingly these days underfloor.

I've been thinking of building myself a house for some time - here are some of the things that I've thought of including:

Basement, divided into separate rooms for woodwork, metalwork, painting and glueing, electronics, a "computer room" where central storage is
housed, along with house-control equipment, CCTV recording, and switching of audio and video signals.  An exercise area with TV screens to take
away some of the boredom of exercising!

Whole-house sound system with opt-in switches by the light switch in each room, so you can switch it on as you enter a room.

A whole-house intercom rather like in Star Trek :-)

Kitchen/dining-room arranged such that the cook isn't shut away from the crowd while preparing a meal - a breakfast-bar would separate the two
areas so people could sit and talk to the cook without getting in the way.  A snack-preparation area away from the main cooking area so that tea
and coffee, sandwiches, and so on can be made by others without getting in the way of the cook.

A storage room between the garage and the kitchen, to allow bulk-buying without cluttering up the kitchen.

A "cloakroom" for storing outside clothing, umbrellas, shoes, boots etc. and space to put them on and off, with stools, footrests etc. to make this
easier.

Outside storage rooms for garden equipment, rather than cluttering up the garage with it (since everyone keeps so much stuff in garages, why not
have the space designed-in elsewhere so you can get cars in the garage?  :-)

Laundry room on the ground floor with a laundry chute from above to save collecting clothes upstairs and gathering them up later.

Dumb-waiter (goods lift) between all floors.

Fireman's pole for quick descents (growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional :-)

Home cinema room with a gallery at one end, and a dance-floor under an easily-removeable section of carpet.  Great for parties!

An office equipped with everything for dealing with post, paying bills, storing financial records, printing, photocopying, letter-writing, etc.  The
letter-box would discharge into this room, so it would most likely be beside the front door.  A delivery safe on the outside, so that delivered parcels
could be left safely.

A "snug", a small room which is fully cushioned, with music facilities, for snuggling together!

A sheltered but semi-outside sitting space for watching wildlife, rain, thunderstorms etc.

A rooftop "room" with an openable roof/walls (?), for stargazing and summer-evening meals.

An underground tunnel that leads into a summerhouse in the garden.

When working out the design, rather than think of what rooms etc. are needed, I did a functional specification - I listed all the things I *do* in a
house, rather than just putting rooms together, and it gives you a different result.  For example, the bedrooms would be equipped with places to put
clothes that you've taken off and are going to wear the next day (anyone who changes all their clothes completely every day is not from my planet!
:-)  In the bathrooms there would be places to hang clothes while you're in the bath/shower, proper hanging rails away from the wet area, rather
than just a hook on the door that most people seem to make do with - am I the only person who's had trousers fall onto a wet floor?

The kitchen would have waste and recycling chutes built in to the worktops - it amazes me that most kitchens are designed without even a
waste-bin, which then ends up standing in the way somewhere!

>From the garage the route into the house passes the storage room and the cloakroom so that shopping can be put away and outside clothes taken
off and hung up without traipsing through the rest of the house first.

There would be a lot of "green" features - excellent insulation, all outside doors would open into a lobby to give an "airlock" effect, solar
water-heating panels, rainwater harvesting, photovoltaic roof (with both grid-tie and battery-backed inverters), heat-pump recovery of waste heat,
possibly a wind generator, passive ventilation-stack, maybe underground heat storage.

There's a lot more but I think I may have waffled on too much already...

And if I achieved my ultimate goal - being the sole winner of a triple-rollover on the lottery - I'd have a hangar and a runway!

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\23@225302 by Rolf

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Howard Winter wrote:
> It's interesting how many different items are being mentioned by Americans that are unheard-of over here - Attic fans, for example!  Do attics have
> very open venting from the rest of the house, so that that evacuating them causes air to flow up from the house?  Insulation has been a big thing
> here for quite some time, and the Building Regulations insist on quite high levels of insulation these days.  I've never seen a house with shingles for a
> roof - slates or tiles are the norm.  Central Heating is usually by hot water, either with radiators (often with a thermostatic valve on each one) or
> increasingly these days underfloor.
>
>  
[snip]
{Quote hidden}

Hi Howard, others....

here's a run-down on the building mechanisms required in some of the
colder clime's in North America... I live in Toronto, and I believe I
understand why things are the way they are.

Working from the bottom up... water. Water is supplied to the house in
pipes. If the pipe is too close to the surface, it will freeze in
winter. Freezing water may burst the pipes, which is a Bad Thing(c). In
Toronto, it is about 4' underground that the pipes come in to the house.
Thus, pretty much *every* house has a basement, which allows the water
to enter the "warmer" house and not freeze in winter. Because the
basement is a requirement of the water supply, it has become a large
part of the practicality of the house, and is used for all sorts of
things. Specifically, all the utilities (Electricity, Cable, telephone,
Gas, and potentially other things) all come in to the basement typically
in one place, where there is a board mounted on the basement wall for
the distribution of the utilities, and a breaker/fuse box. Expanding on
the theme of the basement, there is also all the heavy mechanical things
in there, such as the furnace, hot water tank, etc. The furnace involves
a few other things that take space such as all the distribution and
return duct-work, and gas lines. Many houses also have a water softener,
and other things (humidifier, heat-exchange, etc). The space in the
basement that is not used for the utilities is either used as storage,
workshops and playrooms. Many houses have "finnished" basements which
are most often "granny flats", bedrooms, or alternate living rooms. New
houses seldom have finnished basements because there may be moisture
leaks through the basement walls, and also heaving may crack the walls
while the ground outside the house settles (heaving is earth movement
caused by the freezing/thawing cycles in the ground). Thus, it is
normally recommended that basements should only be finnished after at
least one full year.

Regardless, the basement is a big feature of most houses. So much so,
that an attic is not needed for storage, etc.

The attic is a critical component of the winter durability of the house
as well, although most Canadians do not understand why. It comes down to
moisture. In the canadian winter, the air is really dry. No humidity.
This is because whatever humidity there is freezes, and falls out of the
air. The air inside the house is warm, and much more humid than the air
outside. If the air inside the house comes in contact with a cold
surface, it will condense, and potentially freeze. This moisture *must*
*never* condense inside the walls, etc, or there will be mildew/fungus
problems in the house. A plastic vapour barrier is used to wrap the
house up, and *outside* the barrier you will find the insulation. This
keeps the moist air inside the house walls, and always insulated. The
same thing happens in the ceiling of the house. Just abouve the ceiling
is a plastic vapour barrier, and above that is about a foot of
insulation. This keeps the warm moist air inside the house, and more
importantly, it keeps the moist air warm (no condensation).

You may ask "Why don't they do that in the roof, rather than above the
ceiling?". The answer is Snow! Insulation is not perfect, some heat
escapes from the house, and warms up the air above the ceiling, but
below the roof (the attic space). If this air gets warm, then the snow
resting on the roof will start melting. Specifically, it will melt, then
freeeze, melt, and freeze, etc as the days cool, weather changes, etc.
This causes the roof to get damaged. It is *much* better for the roof if
the snow never melted, so, you ventilate the attic so that the freexing
air from outside the house circulates through the attic, and displaces
the air that has been warmed by escaping heat from the house. Houses
with poorly insulated ceilings and poorly ventilated attics have icicles
hanging from the roof. Well insulated houses/ventilated attics do not.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but in winter it is desirable for the air
in the attic space to be as cool as the air outside the house. The
purpose of the roof in winter is to keep the snow from melting!

In summer, the attic space can become incredibly hot (heated by the
sun). It is very important to circulate this hot air outside in order to
keep the temperature under control inside the house. Again, the attic
needs to be ventilated. In both summer and winter it is important to
have very good insulation between the house and the attic, and to have a
very well ventilated attic space. An attic fan is a great idea if there
would otherwise be poor ventilation.

The roof is designed with soffits (where the roof meets the walls of the
house) that are perforated allowing air to flow thorough from under the
eaves of the roof to the attic. many newer houses also have "ridge
Vents" which allow the heat to escape though the top of the roof in
summer/winter. Many roofs have other ventilation mechanisms (spinning
chimneys, etc).

Here is a reference to the sorts of issues we face:
www.joneakes.com/cgi-bin/getdetailscals.cgi?id=621
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_dam

Rolf

2006\09\24@021649 by Vasile Surducan

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On 9/19/06, M. Adam Davis <spamBeGonestienmanspamKILLspamgmail.com> wrote:
> So I'm moving to a bit of dirt about 15 miles south of ann arbor and
> building a home.

  I do not want to poison this beautifull brainstorming with negative
stuff. I'll just tell you a true story about building my house in a
third world country, very near to become an EU country in 2007. I've
built it myself (please understand this word as "with own hands") a
small house of about 70 square meters ground surface (with a basement,
two floors and attick). I need for this about 6 years and I'm not
shame at all telling you this because a house here is more expensive
than anywhere in the Europe or US. BTW the style of building here is
totally different than in US for example, everything must be made
"forever" with concrete, bricks and so on, so you'll see only a few
buildings made by wood.
 Finally I can say I've finished it (more or less) and now I have
pains on my back everytime the weather is changing...
 So, my advice would be, if you care about your nerves and still want
to play in the future with yours electrical engines, buy a ready build
house...
 You see, I didn't used any "no" in my story...
:)
greetings,
Vasile

2006\09\24@084859 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Rolf wrote:

> here's a run-down on the building mechanisms required in some of the
> colder clime's in North America... I live in Toronto, and I believe I
> understand why things are the way they are.
> [...]

FWIW, this is pretty much how houses in Germany generally are built, too,
for the same reasons. There are some different techniques for solving
individual problems (with different side effects, costs, materials used
etc), but that's just as always in engineering.

Gerhard

2006\09\25@042516 by Alan B. Pearce

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>An exercise area with TV screens to take
>away some of the boredom of exercising!

You going to be one of these bods with surround TV screens so you can feel
like riding the Tour de France or just cruising your local country lane
while exercising ...

2006\09\25@071228 by Howard Winter

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Alan,

On Mon, 25 Sep 2006 09:25:11 +0100, Alan B. Pearce wrote:

> >An exercise area with TV screens to take
> >away some of the boredom of exercising!
>
> You going to be one of these bods with surround TV screens so you can feel
> like riding the Tour de France or just cruising your local country lane
> while exercising ...

This was just a dreamed-up plan - I'm much more likely to be one of those bods who does no exercise at all, just like I am now!  :-)

Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2006\09\26@120725 by Aaron

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Howard Winter wrote:

>It's interesting how many different items are being mentioned by Americans that are unheard-of over here - Attic fans, for example!  Do attics have
>very open venting from the rest of the house, so that that evacuating them causes air to flow up from the house?  Insulation has been a big thing
>here for quite some time, and the Building Regulations insist on quite high levels of insulation these days.  I've never seen a house with shingles for a
>roof - slates or tiles are the norm.
>

Howard,

We have a "whole house fan" which is sometimes called an attic fan.  It
is installed in the attic with a moveable-blade louver (maybe 30 inches
by 30 inches square) is directly below the fan in the upstairs hallway.  
When turned on, the fan sucks the louver blades open and draws air in
through open house windows and up through the attic.  If we run this at
night, it can cool the house considerably.  I crawl up in the attic
twice a year (spring and fall) to cover/uncover the fan with large bats
of fiberglass insulation.

Aaron

2006\09\26@193251 by Carey Fisher

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I haven't read the entire thread so forgive me if either of these has
already been brought up:

1.  Safe room - a hardened closet you enter directly from your bedroom
that you can securely lock, set off an alarm and have a cell phone to
call the police.  Maybe keep a shotgun in there.  Maybe a video monitor
with cameras in different parts of the house.

2.  Severe weather room - a basement room made of reinforced concrete
walls and ceiling with maybe a battery powered radio and some blankets.  
Run into this room if a tornado warning sounds.  It could also be a
shelter in the event of nuclear...  nah - let's not go there...

Carey

2006\09\27@160646 by Herbert Graf

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On Tue, 2006-09-26 at 19:32 -0400, Carey Fisher wrote:
> I haven't read the entire thread so forgive me if either of these has
> already been brought up:
>
> 1.  Safe room - a hardened closet you enter directly from your bedroom
> that you can securely lock, set off an alarm and have a cell phone to
> call the police.  Maybe keep a shotgun in there.  Maybe a video monitor
> with cameras in different parts of the house.
>
> 2.  Severe weather room - a basement room made of reinforced concrete
> walls and ceiling with maybe a battery powered radio and some blankets.  
> Run into this room if a tornado warning sounds.  It could also be a
> shelter in the event of nuclear...  nah - let's not go there...

I don't know how widespread this is/was in Europe, but for the longest
time all houses built in Austria HAD to have a bomb shelter in the
basement, built with "breathable" bricks and having a large filter.
Houses generally didn't have the filter installed (a large pit filled
with some sort of sand) since the filter "expired", so the idea was
you'd fill the "filter pit" when told too...

I think that requirement has now been removed, but as of about 12 years
ago it still existed (at that time there were some requirements lifted
with regards to the filter and "breathing" bricks).

Not quite the "panic room" you describe, but it would be a good
start! :) TTYL

2006\09\27@162923 by Luke Sheridan

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face

On Sep 22, 2006, at 2:04 PM, Howard Winter wrote:

>
> Howcome nobody's developed something that looks like cedar (which I  
> seem to remember has a high natural oil content) but doesn't burn?
>

Someone has, gargoyle 'cement cedar shingles,' unless you count  
cement as burnable.

2006\09\28@103949 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face

On Sep 26, 2006, at 4:32 PM, Carey Fisher wrote:

> 2.  Severe weather room - a basement room made of reinforced
> concrete walls and ceiling with maybe a battery powered radio
> and some blankets.
>
Heh.  Build one of these as shelter from tornadoes, and the
next natural disaster to hit your area will probably be a flood.

BillW

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