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 Post subject: Hill House
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:00 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
Having taken much knowledge from this site over the past few years I thought it time to contribute back by starting a long and drawn out thread about my long and drawn out house building adventure.

This is in no way the start point as this project has been going for a few years now since the initial purchase of our land. We spent 2 years with pads and pencils (on CAD actually), researching and developing our plans before we proceeded to climb the Great Wall of Red Tape that is created to eliminate the weak owner builders. I really only started actually building the first part of the house a bit over a year ago, so to catch up, I’ll start with barren ground and add updates over the next few weeks to get up to date.

By way of introduction our 12.5 acres of ex-dairy land is nestled in a quiet corner of the Bega Valley on the far south east coast of NSW.

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The house site is perched on the top of a fairly steep and somewhat rocky hill (large granite boulders) with views that sweep from Mt Mumbulla to the north over the Bega Valley, the coastal ranges, ocean, more coastal range to the south, a huge 180degree view. The elevation of 210m above sea level makes for a spectacular outlook. The steep and rocky nature of the site dictated a minimum foot print (pad footings), post and beam style (cross pole house) would make best use of the site. The house will eventually have three separate pavilions that will follow the natural contour of the hill and hopeful 'fit into' rather than sit on the hill.

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If I had to put a label on this house it would be something like 'a low impact, minimum foot print, passive heated and cooled, pavilion style, autonomous, post and beam house'. We are aiming to build the house with high visual amenity but low imbedded energy - high recycled material content (over 50%), waste minimization and are in building deconstruction to allow for material reuse at the end of the building life. On top of this we are also attaining organic certification and regenerating our acres with native plantings etc and practice sustainable land management. So....that is the start point, as I said I will post a few more updates to fill in the gaps in the project thus far. I hope you enjoy our story as it unrolls and I am sure many will be able to offer creative input and helpful solutions.

Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 2:46 pm
Posts: 320
Location: wycheproof
hey looks great unusual design cant wait for the updates.just a little advice regarding pics if you downsize them then reload them the page will read normally without scrolling across for us peps with small screens it becomes a pain. sorry just looking forward to your blog but not to the two way scrolling lol


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:45 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:43 am
Posts: 310
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Really nice design Steve, it has that simple minimalism that is only achieved with enormous time and effort. Tell me about Bed 2, which is a bit odd. Do you plan to use this as guest accommodation? Study?

Do you have a side elevation?

What are the materials, apart from glass and steel? What is the wall cladding? Are the poles timber or steel?

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Bruce
Draftie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
Bruce,

this is a fairly ordinary image but it gives an idea of the side elevations.

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Bed 2 is to be used as my work space/office as I run my business from home; it is designed so a wall can be added through the middle to make two bedrooms should that be required.

We are aiming to use at least 50% recycled materials in this house which is quiet ambitious but at the present time we are looking like we may exceed this target. The house is essentially bridge and store construction that deploys heavy section timber members and bolted connections, using primarily salvaged and recycled hardwood timbers. The large (ground to roof) posts are 150 x 150 (class 1 mixed h/w species) that we salvaged and recycled from bridge/wharf timbers, factory posts, telephone poles etc up to 8.5m long!!. I like recycled material, it has a history, a piece of other lives. The house will have an energy and a patina beyond its age and recycled timber is perhaps the most environmentally benign building material we can use.

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The entire 32m front of the house will be 3.6m high stackable glass windows (double glazed). The rest of the house is clad in a mix of hardwood weatherboard (remilled again) and gal corro. Salvaged hardwood timber floors. The window frames are steel, I don't like the high emboodied energy of steel but it was required to accomadate the weight of the double glazing and sliding track system for cross flow ventilation.

Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:48 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2005 11:43 am
Posts: 310
Location: Perth, Western Australia
SteveJ wrote:
The entire 32m front of the house will be 3.6m high stackable glass windows (double glazed).


Here is something that has always puzzled me. Following passive solar principles we put all our glazing on the Northen face, where it will get shade in summer and full sun in winter. If we use double glazing don't we lose the benefit of the Northern sun in winter? Double glazing is still very rare here in Perth.

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Bruce
Draftie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:55 am 
Bruce, I agree.

To me logic says that essentially double glazing slows down the transfer of heat IN AND OUT. Yes great to keep the warm air in in winter, but won't let heat in as quick either, and vice versa for summer.
This could probably go into a totally new discussion and don't want to take away from Steve's build "adventure".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 1:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
Chris I am more than happy to explore the side tracks.

The short answer is yes, there is reduced solar gain (radiant) with double glazing but…not all passive solar houses are created equal or even function in the same way.

Double glazing, more correctly called insulated glazing units (IGUs), has a significant effect on reducing heat loss and although IGU’s reduce some solar gain they do not eliminate it, so heat gain is still achieved.

In a conventional passive solar house, gained heat is stored in the thermal mass of the house, so prolonged heat gain (from whatever source) is required to heat up all the mass (slow process), Creating thermal mass is cumbersome and expensive. Heat can be captured, stored and moved fairly easily. Applying the principle of “Less is more”, we prefer to generate less volume of heat but keep it for longer, there is an tremendous efficiency gain in doing it that way. In this house we lack thermal mass so need retain heat in a different manner- super insulation i.e. like a thermos flask. This house design is basically like a glass fronted thermos, heat gain can be achieved but retaining it is of greater importance. The insulation value of the glass is of greater importance and value, heat gain is secondary, albeit still significant. We have incorporated a thermo-siphoning solar hydronic heating system into the house to boost heat gain. This system (which needs a whole thread of its own) is boosted by the wet back on the wood stove also .

Back to the glass and its key function “insulation”. With north facing elevations you need to achieve passive solar heat gain through winter and insulation (all year round), to achieve this you need to use glass with a low U-value and high solar heat gain coefficient. The best option for this is inert gas filled double glazing with clear glass on one side and Low-E glass on the other i.e. the glass I have has a U value of about 1.7 and a SHGC of 0.7. In summer there is protection on the north elevation with the use of extended eaves and a variable pitch solar pergola and a whole bunch of cross flow ventilation stuff also.

Just for interest sake, we have already purchased the glass for the house, it was surplus glass from a Skyscraper project in Melbourne, it is (6-E/12N/6) industrial glazing. Paid a fraction of the value - saved over $56K :shock:

Steve


Last edited by SteveJ on Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 2:36 pm 
It sounds like you know a thing or two about window glazing. How do those values compare with the claims that some people are making about just applying a film coating to normal windows?

What are you going to make your floor out of and how are you going to insulate it?

Are you planning on using radiators for your hydronic heating?

Great saving!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 4:12 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
Na I know nothing, but have done a lot of reading and research about how the windows work specific to our project (our needs)

As for applied films...with solar gain we are dealing with two differing wavelengths, the short-wave radiation (light), this can pass through the double glazing and then hits things and re-radiates at longer infrared wavelengths (heat), because of the insulation value of the double glazing and the lowE interior glazing the heat is trapped. The applied films can not replicate the insulation of the double glazing so the heat (infrared) goes back out the window. Films that block visable light (SW radiation) will reduce solar gain (and UV) but they won't insulate (prevent heat loss from inside). Not sure if I explained my poor understanding of it but..... I am not convince the films have a great deal of value in my situation. I think you are right we need a window/solar gain thread :shock:


The floor is salvaged brushbox (25mm) from the Westons Biscuit factory in Glebe that was demolished. They will have sarking type insulation foil slung over the joists with polyester batts below. Bottom of the joist are boarded and joint sealed.

Yes I think we will be using radiators. I am hoping to find some used ones (there seems to be a good supply around). It depends on whats available when I am looking at purchasing them. That is the down side of aiming for a high degree of salvaged or recycled materials, one must be vey adaptable.

Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
By way of a catch up....our block was pretty much a cow paddock when we first moved up a year and a half ago. We put an old $1000 caravan on the hill, plugged in the generator and knocked up a rough shed to house a shower and composting toilet and we moved in ready to build....

We decided to stage our building to spread the cost and avoid going into debt. This means living a pretty basic camp style life for a bit but also saves a lot of interest in the longer term despite the short term inconvenience. As a 'warm up' and to improve our living conditions, the carport was to be stage 1. This was to be followed by the main (living) pavilion (stage two), the bedroom pavilion stage 3 and the final pavilion last.

Stage 1 - the carport.

First step, clear the site for the carport and three pavilions. After set out, the careful top soil removal took about five afternoons with an excavator. I decided to do all the earth works whilst I had the excavator on site. All the soil was kept and used to re dress the disturbed areas immediately which were then sown with a heavy crop of oats which was up in about 4 days stabilising the site. I would highly recommend doing this.
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I dug the raft slab and pier holes, placed reo and post anchors and poured the carport slab fairly quickly. The tank had to be in place before I started on the carport as the access would be blocked by building.
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The first couple of posts and rear brace walls went in first
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Once the rear wall was in I installed the front 2 posts and the 2 steel beams.
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Rafters (LVL's) where painted up and installed ready for the steel cross bracing, battens and roofing iron.
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I have since fitted cuboards across the rear of the carport, fitted the smartflow gutter, rendered the blue board and finished off the painting and had the power connected and fitted the lights/GPO etc and....moved the van.
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Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 9:49 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
Stage 2 - Living Pavilion

The steep nature of our site and need for accurate footing and anchor placement meant that I lost a bit of sleep over the set out for the first pavilion (also the largest of the three). Having not done such a set out (on a steep site) I was cautious and spent a lot of time checking and rechecking the post anchor positioning and square.
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With the pad footing holes dug and formwork in place and supporting the anchors, I poured the first round of pad footings.
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Sub floor posts in...
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I needed to fit the sub floor posts and some of the floor beams to allow us (5 very strong mates) to manoeuvre and stand the larger posts.
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more floor beams and posts added
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With all the posts in position the remaining floor beams and steel work (joint connectors) were fitted ready for the sub floor cross bracing.


Steve


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:44 am 
The view that your going to have looks great - definately going to be worth all the hard work.

Looks like it would have been one big step from the original van location!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 8:07 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:34 am
Posts: 148
Location: Bega
Chris, woking on a steep site has proved be the most difficuly thing. The house is 400mm of the ground at the back but 4 meters off at the front!! I am currently fitting deacking to the front and back so I have a flat platform to scaffold off for fitting the roof beams. Like you said it will be worth it, I always believed that such sites call for unusual houses and that always requires effort

Steve.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 2:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 9:15 am
Posts: 44
Location: SA
Amazing already Steve, thanks for the inspiration. I hope to see more in the future!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:23 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2006 1:00 pm
Posts: 76
Location: lowood, qld
Wow what a view and what great progress you're making. Can't wait to see more pictures
Toni


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