Gimmie a Break

Busy day, but not on the job site.  Sorry ProjectCam, I promise I’ll be out to check on you soon.  Poor little guy, probably figured I’d abandoned him.  I’ll bring a cloth to wipe off your lens and I’ll check to make sure you’re still running.

I haven’t shared much about the house design yet.  We hired a local architect, Joe Ferut, to design our home.  I’ll tell you more about Joe in the future, and the advantages of working with an architect as well.  Here’s a pic of the front of the house:

Front elevation of the house.

I call it a contemporary farm-house.  The goal is to mimic the concept of an old farm-house or mill, kind of New England-y (made that up).  Historically it should fit in with the Western Reserve architecture of the area, or at least in my mind it does and guess what, I’m paying the bills around here so what I say is the god’s honest truth.  No questioning my immense knowledge on this or any other topic for that matter.  But I digress.  I’ll tell you more about the house style in a later post.

One of the reason’s we wanted an architect was to implement some environmentally sustainable concepts / practices into our new home.  The plan is to live there for a long time and I absolutely hate writing checks each month to utility companies.  Some people enjoy it and I’d never begrudge them for that relationship they have.  I guess I’ve just got an independent streak.  Also I’m willing to spend more up front and reap the rewards long-term. 

Full disclosure, I don’t purposefully make stuff up but I’m no expert, double-check your facts before you attempt this at home.  I’m going to spout off a bunch of stuff that I probably have no intellectual right to spout off on, but this is the internet so….I pretty much have the free reign to act smart with virtually no ramifications.  Here we go, a lesson on thermal breaks (as they exist in my mind).

I can get more into tactics in the future, but to simplify it  we basically want to keep the cold air out and warm air in the Winter and vice versa in the Summer.  We’ll have a super tight house to prevent air transmission from in and out (unless we want it to via an open window).  Even then though heat or cold can penetrate the walls so we will employ “thermal breaks” to make it tougher for all those nasty cold air molecules to “pass through” (actually I think they rub each other but we’ll keep it clean here…..) our walls.  The thermal breaks, as far as I can tell act as speed bumps or roadblocks.  Usually they’re a dissimilar material sandwiched between to other materials.  Like air between two panes of glass.  Or insulation in your wall between the inside drywall and the oriented strand board on the outside. 

Today my crack team of designers, builders and random homeless people off the street tackled the design of the thermal break in my basement floor.  I know throw in some candle light and we’ve got the making of one of those trashy romance novels, but really it’s not as romantic as it sounds in this blog.  Here’s a pic:

Basement thermal break detail. Can you spot it?

We need to separate the cold outside concrete, stone and earth, from the warm inside concrete, insulation and air.  The Superior Wall system we’re using has its own break in the form of integrated foam built into the wall (colored blue in the pic above).  I’ll tell you more about Superior in a future episode but take a look at ‘Extreme Home Makeover’ on ABC on any given 2011 Sunday to see their handy work first hand.

 
Back to the break.  Yours truly gets to lay down 4″ of blue foam on top of the gravel in my basement.  Voila!  Thermal break, oh heck yeah.  I colored it blue (periwinkle) in the pic as well.  I’m an artist, don’t try this at home.
 
That just leaves the nasty connection between the concrete floor and the concrete on the Superior Wall.  I can’t run foam between the two because the concrete floor is going to lock the bottom of the wall system in place.  If it was just foam the walls would squish the foam in an effort to meet up (mate?) with the concrete floor.  Then I’d have to listen to blue foam dying in my basement for the rest of my life.  Instead I’m going to separate the two pieces of concrete (wall and floor) with a thermal break made out of, you guessed it, a different material.  In this case pressure treated wood.  That should slow down or stop the cold air molecules, camping out in the dirt, from getting into my house. 
 
If you want to get more technical than that read a book or talk to an expert, but I guarantee they won’t be as much fun as me, go off on any tangents, nor will their beer be nearly as cool and refreshing as my thermally controlled beer will be, even when it’s 100 degrees outside.
 
-Chris
Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Gimmie a Break

  1. Looks great. Daddy, a builder and I designed my house at the kitchen table over a case of beer. It survived five hurricanes and is still standing, but there are some things that could have been done better. Like what you’re doing. Keep us posted.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s