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Old 10-15-2014, 05:13 PM
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The following link shows a very fancy concrete "bunker" house near Los Angeles if any are interested. I am sure it is still for sale.

It did survive well a wildfire / firestorm in 1993. And it is fairly well camoflaged as well as some other good aspects such as a pond, a huge food pantry and rooftop garden. The comments are also interesting >>> https://homes.yahoo.com/blogs/spaces...001618852.html

But that is a $4 million dream home and here is some of what I have built in a remote Wyoming mtn good survival and beautiful area and the new small cabin with steel beams, a greenhouse and storage etc. maybe finish it next summer. I need the steel beams
because of the heavy deep winter snowpack >



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Old 10-15-2014, 06:10 PM
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Some subtle things I would incorporate into a design: I would have a deep porch that is screened in with a half wall. This will keep the screen door (which is locked) about 10 feet away from the front door and is offset from the front door. So when someone comes to the front (screen) door they are far from the main front door. I would do this for the back door also. I would also have the driveway follow a lazy s curve so people can not see all the way down the drive. Fusable links on shutters in case of a fire.
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:40 PM
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These are some of things I wished I put into my home.

-Thermal conductive HVAC system. The type where they bury about 500' of Poly pipe. The fluid in pipe circulates in the ground about 10' deep and then goes through a heat ex-changer. The ground temp is a constant 50 to 57 degrees depending on where you live. This gives instant air conditioning. Warming the air for heat is minimal. Great savings in electrical and fuel costs.( A little expensive on the onset )

-Don't skimp on insulation. Foam spray in 2 x 6 walls with the void filled with cellulose gives about R-26. Foam seals the out the cold air. ( I did do this )

-Whole house electrical generator. Or pre-wired for portable generator. Battery backup even better. ( In process now )

-Large root cellar. Dirt floor with good ventilation. Could be part of the basement if so desired. ( I have a small 6' x 6' with cement floor, Hard to regulate air flow )
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:51 PM
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Whenever I use the Garbage Disposal, I think about all that waste that could be going into the compost or to feed the chickens.

Maybe get the big double sink as mentioned above with a third small sink that ran a garbage disposal to some type of reuse/recycle/compost method.

Paid good money for that food. Might as well get all I can out of it.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:18 PM
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People are covering lot's of good ideas already. Here's some things I would think about.
1) there are some newer materials out now that could be of interest even in a conventional stick built home. Fire resistant coatings, cement siding and roofing, higher R insulation, whole house automation,etc.
2) think low maintenance. After living in as in brick ranch,vinyl trim and windows, metal roof, etc. Nobody wants to scrape and paint when they could be doing something more fun.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by themadride View Post
You bet, but passive solar design is FREE. It's just an extra design consideration that gives you a benefit.
No, passive solar is NOT free. The solar collecting glass, itself, is a major expense.
You will also be constrained by the latitude and solar angle.
And you will spend a whole bunch more on backups to handle the contingencies of no sun, temp extremes, and so on.

In the 1970s, I was a charter subscriber to Rodale's New Shelter, and watched the parade of active and passive solar homes. Each one was hyped to the rafters on how they'd save or perform.
But when it came down to the details, those "solar" homes were money pits and poor performers.

But the superinsulation designs, like Gene Leger's or the Saskatchewan Conservation house, worked. Sure, they had backup "furnaces" (bake a batch of cookies), or "air conditioners" (a small window unit cooled the whole house!). Their energy consumption was a fraction of their contemporaries.

After three years, even the magazine's editors had to admit that superinsulation was superior to all the "solar" homes they had featured over the years.

Unfortunately, once the "Energy Crisis" was pushed back by the North Sea oil coming on line, builders reverted to their old habits of underperforming schlock.
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Old 10-15-2014, 07:33 PM
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More Things to investigate:
[] Superinsulation - developed in the 1970s, ignored when the oil crunch passed. Much better performance than solar (active or passive), and cheaper in the long run.
Superinsulation links.
http://www.passivehouse.ca/first-passive-houses-2/
http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/energy...nt_houses.html
http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...rgy-efficiency
According to an interview in New Shelter Magazine, the Saskatchewan Conservation House used $0.15 worth of electricity to heat it - the whole winter. That was the amount used to test the furnace to see if it worked.
Waste heat from occupants and appliances was sufficient to keep warm.
[] Dry composting toilet - aerobic digestion of wastes [see : Humanure] - much better than anaerobic digestion of wastes - unless you plan to capture the methane gas and re-use the effluent.
[] Rainwater collection into a cistern - nature's distilled - discard 1st 15 minutes (roof wash).
[] Stress skin construction - (Structural Concrete Insulated Panels - SCIP) - also known as concrete sandwich panels - insulation core surrounded by two concrete shells. If you have a source of recycled EPS, you can make EPScrete (ground EPS + cement). EPScrete core + 2 concrete skins is a nice DIY SCIP. [For thin shells, search on ferrocement, and Martin Iorns, for laminated ferrocement.]
When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and ... - Matthew Stein - Google Books
[] Helix fiber / wire reinforcement for cement / concrete - substitute for rebar.
Helix: Micro-Rebar | Helix Steel
[] Titanium dioxide catalyst - external treatment to improve concrete performance.
Titanium Dioxide “self cleaning concrete”
Smog-eating tiles gobble up air pollution - CNN.com
BBC News - 'Smog-eating' material breaking into the big time
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Old 10-15-2014, 10:07 PM
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I have designed and built all my homes since the 70's. Energy efficiency has been my guiding principle. Some things to consider:

Check out 'Structural Insulated Panels' for exterior wall and roof.

I strongly recommend trusses for floor and roof. You will appreciate the flexibility they provide for installation/maintenance of electrical, plumbing and ducting. Moreover, interior walls will not be load bearing and zero posts in basement.

Metal roofs are the best long term investment and prices are far better today.

Don't skimp on windows... I only use Lowen (made in Canada using duglas fir).

Plan your electrical so only 1 meter and main panel is used. Feed sub-panels (AC and/or DC) from it.

Put generator in climate controlled space - less maintenance and far fewer problems. Myself, I would only consider diesel/propane.

I would never consider a crawl space. Doesn't cost much more for full basement. Besides, you can use it for security vault, root cellar and mechanical room with proper planning.

When I built my shop, it was the first building erected on the homestead. I forgot to plan for a 2-post vehicle lift and I sorely wish I had.

If you have questions, you can send me a PM.
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Old 10-15-2014, 10:36 PM
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Think about where you will be putting or might want to put surveillance cameras and wire electricity and ethernet to those points before you sheetrock the walls.

Even if you don't connect it/use it from day one, buy some unterminated multimode fiber optic cable and run it to various rooms. The cable itself is not very expensive on ebay. (50 micron, OM4, tight buffered). You can just leave it behind the wall and when you are ready to use it, just cut out the sheetrock to access the cable and hook it up.
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Old 10-15-2014, 11:28 PM
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As batteries are in discussion, don't forget to consider the storage environment. Batteries are best when kept between 70-80F. To hot shortens the life cycle, and to cold reduces available AH. Im having a cellar dug this summer and will relocate my bank when completed, as it's currently in my freakin hallway...because I did not consider it when I was building!
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Old 10-15-2014, 11:51 PM
themadride themadride is offline
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No, passive solar is NOT free. The solar collecting glass, itself, is a major expense......
And you will spend a whole bunch more on backups to handle the contingencies of no sun, temp extremes, and so on.
We are clearly not talking about the same thing. It sounds like you are talking about ACTIVE solar design....collecting and using solar energy converted into electricity.

I am not talking about that. At all.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:24 AM
themadride themadride is offline
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The ancient Romans and Greeks built U-shaped passive solar design houses with the opening facing south. I don't think I would like a closed in courtyard but who knows?
Well, I want to avoid heat-gain as much as possible. Even in winter.

So, the most important factor for me is just making sure that have my biggest windows facing NE and things like that.

If I could arrange it so there were zero windows facing south or west, that would be ideal from that standpoint.

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Originally Posted by sarco2000 View Post
I dislike whole-house generators because they suck fuel like you would not believe. You are building for survival, not for the occasional power outage so I think I would stick to the plan. I would (and do) have solar power and have adjusted my lifestyle to live with less power.
Well, the plan includes things like theater rooms and other things that could easily be left unpowered in a SHTF scenario, but draw way too much power to try to utilize solar now. But I don't want to adjust my lifestyle and lose that now.

I am a big power user. Running 6 monitors on my computer at this moment. 4 computers in my house, 2 in my office, lots of lights over the billiard room, etc.

That's why I am going with utility service to start with. It would cost a fortune to set up solar for a 5000sqft house full of big screen tvs, computers, playstations, etc.

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Originally Posted by sarco2000 View Post
I would consider ICF concrete walls and earth berm around them on the north east and west.
….
If you do go with stick-built, use 2x6 walls so you can put more insulation in there. I had a 2 story house with 2x6 walls (in Montana) and even on 100+ degree days it was bearable upstairs (though much cooler in the earth-bermed lower floor). Window orientation helps a lot.

You could also use concrete and earth berm on the north and part of the east and west walls, and 2x6 for the rest. This is not uncommon, sort of like a walkout basement without a second story.
I'm not sure how the bermed look would go with a U shaped house. Might look a bit like a crater. Lol

I am definitely going with 2x6 and heavy insulation. It's almost no more money with a single story house because you can put the studs a little further apart.

I actually grew up in a half/concrete + stick built bermed home just exactly like you described.

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well....termites....humidity....earth tubes.
I think I've got a pretty decent handle on the basic construction techniques that should make avoiding termites and humidity no problem. The code here is now much more strict than it was even 5 years ago, and that takes a lot of flexibility out of the equation.

Earth tubes are interesting...but I don't think I will probably include them. Not sure how they would work in a ranch house with a crawl space.

I really like having the capability of hand-pumping water. If it's not efficient or reasonable to integrate it with my main well, I will dig a second well for the hand pump.

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Originally Posted by sarco2000 View Post
You live in a perfect climate for solar hot water. A hundred years ago it was very common. You could simply keep a black water tank on your roof, or get more technical.

Use a metal roof to gather the rainwater. Put most of your insulation under that roof or in the ceiling.

Even though you're in SC, I would have a small wood stove and a woodlot. It does get cold sometimes, and better to have it and not need it, etc.

I would get some chickens. They don't require much work or maintenance, they eat bugs (which you have a lot of) and in your climate they could free-range most of their food for most of the year. You could set up an automatic watering system that will operate year-round, maybe throw them some food once a day, and collect the eggs.
Def +1 on chickens and the “chicken tractor” even though I have a regular tractor.

The plan already has a centrally located wood burning fireplace, but I really do want to add another wood stove somewhere. I just haven't decided where yet.

Why metal roof? Can I not collect rain water off regular shingles? FWIW I don't plan to use rain water for drinking or cooking (unless the worst should happen and then I will filter it).

Solar hot water is a cool idea. I don't want it on the roof though. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 10-16-2014, 12:46 AM
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wood stove.....hidden passage.....Shutters
I really want a wood stove but there is definitely no room for one in the kitchen plan I have become quite fond of.

What about having one in a bedroom? I was thinking about putting one on each end of the house in the master suite and in-law/guest suite to augment the wood burning fireplace in the great room.

Hidden room for sure...but a Hidden Passage, like between rooms? That's pretty involved.

Shutters are a great idea I didn't even think about. I imagine getting replacement glass after a storm post-SHTF could be a real problem.


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Originally Posted by TekGremlin View Post
A damn good door and door frame.... Emergency lighting for power outages.....good neighbors.
Good neighbors is so important. I've had some of the worst, and I would trade just about anything to be surrounded by at least some people you can trust and enjoy the company of.

Emergency lighting is a good idea and something I need to think about. I assume you mean short term like in a storm or something.

Long term I plan to have an actual power source.

DOOR FRAMES.

Check these out. What do you think? Some glass, but both the door and frame is cast iron. There are lots of different variations of them.

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/eyebr...651614043.html

http://www.houzz.com/photos/floors-w...iron-bed-frame
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:38 AM
Onlooker Onlooker is offline
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I second ICF construction; all the better homes seem to be going that route up in the North East. (Wood is better in earthquakes I hear). If you do wood frame(think of the termites and carpenter ants);

I like the enclosed court yard idea,failing that one of my fav. home designs is a concrete(solid not stave) silo home. Not super high or anything just 'round', basement, garage door on 1st floor(possibly only entry door and re-enforced(security drop down gate)), then rooms and nice windows on upper floors, with a flat roof you can access(antennas/dishes, small solar. etc. Short of going underground it has superior wind protection, with a place to go in a flood.

http://www.wisconsinsilo.com/special2_UW-gallery.php
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Old 10-16-2014, 01:54 AM
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Welp, you asked for the dream scenario. As far as the generator and/or solar sizing goes, computers and monitors don't use that much power compared to many other things like microwaves, hot water heaters, or anything that uses a heating element. I live off-grid and have a 1080p projector from my old house and I want to get it going at some point in my new place. Believe me I will do it when I find a place to put the screen, and I won't need a whole-house generator to do it. I will figure out how to do it with my 3300 watt or at most my 7000 watt generator. You are planning on getting grid power now and there is nothing wrong with that. But you can save a lot of electricity by using more efficient refrigerators, LED lights, etc. Since you are in the planning stage now, it would be easier and won't affect your current lifestyle. If the grid goes down you will be more prepared. At that point you won't care about running 6 monitors on your PC or stadium-lighting the pool table. So my point is, figure out what you will actually want or need if the grid goes down and plan for that and keep in the back of your mind that it cold be permanent. In the mean time, enjoy using all the power you want, but prepare for the worst.

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....Earth tubes are interesting...but I don't think I will probably include them. Not sure how they would work in a ranch house with a crawl space.
The earth tubes are buried and don't need a basement or slab. They are simply long tubes (example 200' 4" PVC) buried at a depth where the earth is at a constant temperature which is I think 50-60 degrees. The air in the tubes will absorb that temperature. They can be buried as close to or as far away from the house as you want. They are buried at a slope for drainage. The higher end of the tube can come up through the floor and enter into the house. Lower end to a drain to remove condensate. They can zigzag to save excavating. Put a fan at the point where they enter the house. Ranch house or crawl space doesn't affect the concept. I haven't tried it myself yet, so can't speak from personal experience. I might try it out when I get my backhoe fixed.

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Originally Posted by themadride View Post
I really like having the capability of hand-pumping water. If it's not efficient or reasonable to integrate it with my main well, I will dig a second well for the hand pump.
If your well is less than 250' deep and your casing is big enough (6" I think) it can be integrated. No point in digging a second well if it is going to be the same depth. I think the Simple pump can be installed in conjunction with a conventional pump. Check out those engineer 775 videos.

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Originally Posted by themadride View Post
Why metal roof? Can I not collect rain water off regular shingles? FWIW I don't plan to use rain water for drinking or cooking (unless the worst should happen and then I will filter it).
Like I said plan for the worst. Shingles have petroleum chemicals or something in them and I wouldn't even use that for watering my garden. There may be a point when you need to drink that water and you can't filter those chemicals out. Also, conserving water can get you some karma points. And I like metal roofs. I remember the nice old houses in Summerville, SC where I lived had copper roofs; that would be a nice way to go, but I like the look of painted steel also. And it is easy, cheap and quick to install which is why I put it on my cabin.

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Originally Posted by themadride View Post
Solar hot water is a cool idea. I don't want it on the roof though. Thanks for the idea.
No pun intended

Yep, I getcha. It doesn't have to be on the roof. I'll probably go with the copper pipe under glass type solar hot water. I tried an experiment with the vacuum tube type and I wasn't too impressed.
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Old 10-16-2014, 02:48 AM
themadride themadride is offline
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If the grid goes down you will be more prepared. At that point you won't care about running 6 monitors on your PC or stadium-lighting the pool table. So my point is, figure out what you will actually want or need if the grid goes down and plan for that and keep in the back of your mind that it cold be permanent. In the mean time, enjoy using all the power you want, but prepare for the worst.
Okay, exactly. We are on the same page. I thought you were suggesting I scale back my lifestyle now (in advance of any real problem) so that I am used to living with that "lesser" amount of electricity that I will have permanently in the event of the worst.

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The earth tubes …...simple pump
So, what keeps the critters out of our house in these tubes? It's a challenge to keep things like gnats out of your house where I live unless you have very tight construction.
And how many of them are required? Do you branch them like AC duct work or what?

I had 99% decided on attic ducts and ceiling openings. So, this would be a major adjustment.


I researched a lot about the pumps some time ago. There were several manufactures and I think they all had different specs in regards to maximum depth and pipe diameter, etc. But the basic premise of all of them was that they were IN-LINE with your regular plumbing. So, even with no other power source...you could still pressurize your tank and flush toilets, etc.

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….I like metal roofs.
Ugh...I really don't, except for on small structures. I will have to think about it. I will have some other smaller structures on the property and maybe I will use them to gather water with metal roofing.


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Originally Posted by sarco2000 View Post
Yep, I getcha. It doesn't have to be on the roof. I'll probably go with the copper pipe under glass type solar hot water. I tried an experiment with the vacuum tube type and I wasn't too impressed.
The problem I have is a pretty severe fear of heights. The less I have on the roof that might need fixing or adjusting the better.
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:03 AM
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TekGremlin TekGremlin is offline
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Originally Posted by themadride View Post
I really want a wood stove but there is definitely no room for one in the kitchen plan I have become quite fond of.

What about having one in a bedroom? I was thinking about putting one on each end of the house in the master suite and in-law/guest suite to augment the wood burning fireplace in the great room.
Whatever works for you. Mine is right in the middle of the house and effectively heats the whole place with not so much wood. In addition my daughters room is right above it and the chimney basically runs through a corner in her room. The brickwork around the chimney (metal tube) is vented in order to allow the extra heating of her room.

(Before anyone tells me this is dangerous or something, my whole house is brick so she has several layers of protection and a carbon monoxide/smoke detector in her room right above one of those vents)


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Originally Posted by themadride View Post
Hidden room for sure...but a Hidden Passage, like between rooms? That's pretty involved.
Ours was a natural consequence of the stairs. Instead of sealing the area under the stairs off we just put doors (one hidden one) on both sides of the area underneath. Hidden storage is nice, but for us as kids it was the passageway that was fun.


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Shutters are a great idea I didn't even think about. I imagine getting replacement glass after a storm post-SHTF could be a real problem.
Ours are the kind that roll down from above the window and we close them every night. They are basically standard in homes here (my part of Spain), People here don´t usually have curtains it is just not done here. They add an small extra layer of protection/privacy when your sleeping and prevent idiots from breaking your windows with stones or something. And if they are automated they can help control temperature, and add security as it becomes hard to tell if the house is lived in or not. Also if you have power and others don´t shutting them will 100% mask lights being on where curtains wont really do that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by themadride View Post
Emergency lighting is a good idea and something I need to think about. I assume you mean short term like in a storm or something.
I built my own from red leds, to use as night time vision, the idea was to provide enough light to see but not make my house overly visible. They are low power and mounted at the bottom of the wall not the top and can be modified as a long term solar charged light source of needed. The idea backfired though as the little red lights freak my daughter out (she thinks they are rats eyes or bad ghosts) so they have been removed for now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by themadride View Post
DOOR FRAMES.

Check these out. What do you think? Some glass, but both the door and frame is cast iron. There are lots of different variations of them.

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/eyebr...651614043.html

http://www.houzz.com/photos/floors-w...iron-bed-frame
Those look like nice doors, but I think the issue is not just that they have a good frame, but how the frame is installed. I am no expert on these matters though, my door was installed by my stepfather. It is crazy strong, and the frame is attached with huge screws direct into the bricks. When you lock it with the key, a bolt is thrown in the middle and also a thick pin goes up into the top of the frame, and another one goes into a hole in the floor. As a result of it´s construction every side of the door is connected on all four sides to the frame when locked. This type of door is not uncommon here in Spain (of course we also have big metal bars on the windows and homes look like prisons so maybe you don´t want to go that far).
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:14 AM
DWwolf DWwolf is offline
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U shaped dome home. Extra concrete/stucco exterior over the airform. Quick exterior build (= less likely to have cost overruns). incorperate passive solar design principles as well.
Long lasting, low maintenance, low utilities and insurance rates.

If traditional form is a must...ICF with brick/stucco facing.

Dome homes are pretty much disaster proof however. ICF easier to bulletproof due to flat surfaces, dome home yer stuck with increasing rebar and concrete thickness.

1/4" Steel shutters as window covers. bonus points for AR500 or 3/8 mild steel. Get uv proof polycarb sheets cut to size and store as replacement windows.
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Old 10-16-2014, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics
No, passive solar is NOT free. The solar collecting glass, itself, is a major expense......
And you will spend a whole bunch more on backups to handle the contingencies of no sun, temp extremes, and so on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by themadride View Post
We are clearly not talking about the same thing. It sounds like you are talking about ACTIVE solar design....collecting and using solar energy converted into electricity.

I am not talking about that. At all.
I am not referring to "Active" solar designs (that use pumped air or fluid to transfer heat).

Passive solar simply means that there is no powered devices involved with the collection of sunlight and the transfer of the warmed air.

Passive solar designs I am familiar with generally have a large glazed sunward wall and some storage medium.
Ex: [] Trombe wall [] Double Envelope [] Phase Change Salts [] Water wall
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive...uilding_design
"Passive solar technologies use sunlight without active mechanical systems (as contrasted to active solar). Such technologies convert sunlight into usable heat (in water, air, and thermal mass), cause air-movement for ventilating, or future use, with little use of other energy sources."
All that glazing costs. And requires expensive insulation. Even the Zomeworks "Beadwall" wasn't cheap... nor durable. If you don't insulate the glass, then you wind up with thermal losses, when the sun isn't shining.

In contrast, a superinsulated house (R40+ walls, R60+ ceilings) has minimal glazing (R2 to 4), and the better designs have insulated shutters. They don't require special alignment to the sun, either. They work well with both extremes - hot and cold.

In terms of thermodynamics, any "passive solar" house must have a large "hole" in it, to allow the radiant energy of the sun to enter. That "hole" is a major expense. Whereas, a "superinsulated house" relies on its very low thermal transfer function to use minimal power to keep comfortable.

The difference is not unlike sitting naked before a roaring campfire versus wearing a down filled garment.

You might also look into "Autonomous buildings" -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_building
An autonomous building is a building designed to be operated independently from infrastructural support services such as the electric power grid, gas grid, municipal water systems, sewage treatment systems, storm drains, communication services, and in some cases, public roads.
. . . Off-grid buildings often rely very little on civil services and are therefore safer and more comfortable during civil disaster or military attacks. (Off-grid buildings would not lose power or water if public supplies were compromised for some reason.)
Zero-energy building (only deals with power consumption v. generation)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_building

Addendum:
Passive COOLING (essential for hot / humid climates)
http://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-d...assive-cooling
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Old 10-16-2014, 05:55 AM
bigtexan99 bigtexan99 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetgraphics View Post
Zero-energy building (only deals with power consumption v. generation)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_building

Addendum:
Passive COOLING (essential for hot / humid climates)
http://www.yourhome.gov.au/passive-d...assive-cooling
Interested in the Passive cooling information but I get an error at that link...can you check/repost it?
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