How much house is "enough"?

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

what's wrong with code? code is great. it ensures quality, it increases property value, it guarantees insurability, it keeps residents and workers safe, it prevents lawsuits.

as a former cabin dweller and wood burner for years i was going to say a bunch of things about the problems with wood burning but she got most of it with the asthma. so, skip that noise and prevent fires. i can argue it extensively if required.

#1 starting point should be thermonuclear fusion heating: passive solar! don't bother with solar electric till you sort passive first, for both summer and winter.

i like electric because unlike gas it doesn't explode, and old furnaces will explode, or kill you in your sleep with carbon monoxide. but depending on where you live electric can be too expensive and gas might be the way to go.

hydronic heat can be a solution, and electric baseboards can be an economic and easy to install option.

for the gold standard i'd look into radiant floor heating, which can be done with gas or electric, and since you're down to concrete slab you can just pour more concrete over it or do a clay floor or something.

here some local resources for you, perhaps worth looking into:

http://www.usfloorheating.com/electric- ... c=michigan
https://builders.crawfordsupply.com/rad ... s-builders

if you have so much acreage maybe a geothermal heat pump is an option? (but i prefer radiant heat to forced air. also i hate mini splits lol)

https://www.arcticheatpumps.com/radiant ... -pump.html (that's not geothermal but shows heat pump feeding floor setup)

gubmint rebates: https://www.michigan-energy.org/hvac/heatpumps

anyway i applaud the focus on electric. get a good breaker box from the outset, so that it gives you the option to expand in the future should you decide to add electric solar or build a greenhouse or additions for more people should you want to keep a harem at some point :lol:

and stick to code code code, so that your computers don't get fried and your house doesn't catch fire and all your work is not destroyed.

also remember while you build to heat people not spaces. you can be in a cold house with a 250w parabolic radiant heat source, an electric blanket, and some pipe heaters. of course some things might freeze :lol:

of course may be a good idea to have alternative energy backup in case of power failure. (eg honda generator :P )

but passive solar! yeah...

ps- you said hotplate. i wholeheartedly recommend induction--so efficient, so fast, a real game changer!

Married2aSwabian
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Married2aSwabian »

@7W5, Congrats on the purchase! For plumbing, I’d look at either Pex or copper with Sharkbite (or equivalent) fittings. Both eliminate the need for sweating copper and relatively easy DIY. Downside is that the fittings and or tools are pricey, but you can eliminate expensive plumbers.

We owned a 100 YO farmhouse for 14 years with five acres (goats, chickens, a horse, veg garden), so little time to spend in the hammock, but you learn a crap ton about DIY and small farm management!

Your idea with the wood burner seems great, if it will fit the house. Don’t skimp on safety with chimney if you go that route - If it needs a new liner, etc. I discovered last year that sweeping chimney yourself is easy and saves over $200 ea time.

Enjoy! ;)

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Ego wrote:Would off-grid be an option? Maintain it as officially vacant with the city. Stealth water catchment in the 2-room shed -or- dig an unpermitted well -or- fill cisterns from a friendly neighbor's hose bib -or- carry containers of water in your smart car. Solar that doesn't look like solar from the street or from Google satellite view. Propane tanks for stove and heat. A PO box so no mail arrives. No internet or cable tv.
It's not the sort of neighborhood where I can get away with stealth, and I wouldn't want to inhibit my ability to build social connections in that manner anyways. Worst case scenario I could openly just use it as glorified gardening shed assemblage and officially reside elsewhere. I accepted this worst case scenario risk since I am buying this tiny house on a very big lot for less than $7000 including closing costs. I was budgeting up to $20,000 for initial purchase while I was shopping, so I won't start getting grouchy until/unless I have to invest more than $13,000 to get it up to bare bones "human habitable" status. Although, obviously, the less I have to spend, the better. My main concern is the condition of the sewage line to the street. The roof and the electric are good and I've got a natural gas guy. The city is big enough that the inspectors are specialized, so I might be spared some amount of collateral grief. Also, it is my impression that they are mostly out to get slum lords and they are much more willing to work with owner occupied.
Alphaville wrote:what's wrong with code?
It increasingly tends towards total protection of lowest common denominator of competence. Also it doesn't keep up with the times in relationship to functions such as greywater re-use, because the law makers and inspectors don't want to have to think too hard either.
#1 starting point should be thermonuclear fusion heating: passive solar! don't bother with solar electric till you sort passive first, for both summer and winter.
Agreed, but remember that I live in Michigan, and I am doing a retro-fit, so this potential is somewhat limited. Also, natural gas is (currently) quite inexpensive, and the house is quite tiny, so I might be dead before I can possibly recoup the initial embedded energy/expense of an expensive system such as geothermal. I would like to close loops as much as possible, but I also have to be realistic.
also remember while you build to heat people not spaces. you can be in a cold house with a 250w parabolic radiant heat source, an electric blanket, and some pipe heaters. of course some things might freeze :lol:
Yup, this is where I am going to start. I am also going to take your advice on single burner induction plate. My utility company is starting a new solar installed program this year, so I'm going to have to look into that before I install any roof solar elements to tie into the system, which I definitely plan on doing eventually.

@Married2aSwabian;

Yeah, I did quite a bit of plumbing in my old house and with my landlord "ex", so i feel reasonably competent to do the small run required in this house. I am going to give myself until the end of the summer and/or until I cover slab with flooring to decide on wood burner. The masonry chimney is in terrible shape, so that could be another factor. I do like the picture of me sitting in a cozy chair next to my little stove with a kettle on and some muffins baking, looking out my tiny bay window at the snow and whatever pretty things I have built/planted to obstruct my view of light industrial building across the street :lol: I could switch to outdoor kitchen by my shed and vegetable garden in the summer, and just use an old school electric turkey roaster for Thanksgiving in the mini barn/garage/library/gathering room.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:36 am
Also, natural gas is (currently) quite inexpensive, and the house is quite tiny, so I might be dead before I can possibly recoup the initial embedded energy/expense of an expensive system such as geothermal.
gotcha. yes natural gas is cheap and abundant. under those conditions, hydronic heating works with a gas boiler. it's just the modern version of the old radiator, so you can either do floor or baseboards. will be nicer and quieter and more efficient than forced air. the pleasures of radiant floor heat can't be overstated :)

a masonry chimney can be retrofitted but imo they're a pain and a huge energy leak and an insurance risk. id shut down initially till more can be fathomed. from the top, so shit doesn't fall in...

white belt
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by white belt »

@7WB5

Ah yes, I forgot to mention that the condition of the chimney is paramount for using any type of wood burning appliance. If that wasn’t inspected as part of the initial home purchase then it might be worth having someone come out and take a look at it. Those repairs can be expensive so it might not be worth it.

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

Yeah, I like hydronic. Will have to see if I can get expense down if I DIY.

@ white belt:

I would have to give wood stove its own dedicated pipe chimney out through the roof. Maybe I will just incorporate fire into outside 3 seasons garden processing kitchen design. Will come in handy for boiling down maple sap and making hominy and woodchuck-that-decimated-my-broccoli stew.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:03 pm

Yeah, I like hydronic. Will have to see if I can get expense down if I DIY.
you could pour new floor on top of it yes? that would be ideal.

https://www.infloor.com/products/hydron ... /concrete/

ofc i don't know every particular, so your research might say otherwise.

but if that fails, hydronic baseboards are the economical option.

(me i'd do hydronic electric baseboard which is cheap and easy install and 100% efficient: https://www.homedepot.com/b/Heating-Ven ... nlZ1z0uks9
or radiant floor mats for a more luxurious feel: https://www.homedepot.com/p/SunTouch-Fl ... /100027475 cuz i'd avoid an extra utility installation that way. but different geography/weather/prices/etc change the equation for you)

i'm sure you 'll get it sorted!

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Ego
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Ego »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:36 am
My main concern is the condition of the sewage line to the street.
Is there a reason you believe there is a problem with the line?

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Ego:

Not really. Just top of my list of possible major expenses which I can’t DIY.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 5:14 am
:
Not really. Just top of my list of possible major expenses which I can’t DIY.
i was mulling over the cash situation yesterday with respect to utilities and i wondered if you might not want to use the same rules as the nearly bankrupt brazilian railroad the heath bros discuss in "switch."

assuming you will continue to work in the future, you might want for now to hang on to as much cash as possible rather than invest in "the best". so eg no geothermal.

and in that vein, electric baseboards may not be the best, but they might be the cheapest to install today as they can be diy'ed and just piggyback off the electric rather than require a separate utility, a boiler/furnace, etc.

sure, gas may be cheaper in the long run and you might want to install it in the future, but electric lets you live to fight another day with minimal cash outlay today. tomorrow... you can revisit.

so that could be one rule to guide your decisions rather than reevaluate everything and would get you there fast.

there was more to the railroad system but it's an interesting case study, see if you could borrow that book and find it (under the section "script the critical moves" if i recall correctly.)

the railroad also had to increase revenues, use whatever they had before buying, etc etc. best read than heard 2nd hand.

but i've used a similar approach in lean times and it's been a useful heuristic. my cabin was outfitted that way for example. so my original "passive solar" cooling was a shade cloth hanging from the west side rafters in summer. and i got more uses out of a $40 roll of reflective insulation than one can shake a stick at. :mrgreen:

7Wannabe5
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

@Alphaville:

Yeah, that's kind of how I'm leaning myself. I think I am only focusing hard on HVAC at the moment because we are in the middle of a long cold snap here. In my ideal lifestyle, I could always just leave on just enough electric to keep the pipes from freezing and vacate to Southern climes. Also, by the time I am 85, it might be more like Missouri here anyways.

I am now going to move discussion of my new project to my journal since it will likely produce volumes of typing.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:00 am
I am now going to move discussion of my new project to my journal since it will likely produce volumes of typing.
ok but you can't delete the journal then :mrgreen:

(this is why i like specific topics over journals. they're subject-based not person-based.)

ok then! "see you" there. :D

__

btw what in do in my cabin is just flush the pipes and water heater for the season.

https://www.economical.com/en/blog/econ ... your-pipes

Kriegsspiel
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Kriegsspiel »

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Feb 04, 2021 2:28 pm
my take is kitchens are workshop/lab space. . . one can have a great functional easy to clean kitchen if you model somewhat after a restaurant--steel counters, open steel shelves (even on wheels), etc. chromed wire shelves hide nothing and wipe easy.
these you can get inexpensive and new at home depot /target/costo/ etc, or used professional quality at restaurant auctions. steel tables are fire and chemical resistant, clean easy, disinfect easy, keep a fair resale value, require no installation, and harbor no roaches.

same thing with the sink: you can get a new standalone utility sink for $100, more if it's steel, with enough room to splash with a hose instead of the usual focus on "brass finish" or whatever nonsense. no cabinet/no installation required. i used to moonlight as a restaurant dishwasher in my hitchhiking days, and those setups are far superior to the overpriced domestic decorative nonsense.

as for appliances: these days i use my kitchen stove as an extra counter. most of my cooking is either done on:
-a single induction cooker (was $60 new?) which saves a ton of electricity
-an instant pot with the "air fryer" attachment which acts as: yogurt maker, pressure cooker, and convection oven with slow roast/bake/broil/airfry settings. yes you can make cookies in an air fryer, for one or two people, with little waste.
-a microwave.
-an electric kettle

these are all high amperage but none of them require special circuits and installations (or gas), so you might want to have enough available circuits and bring them up to code, but no need for 50amp cabling etc. and no danger of explosions.

same thing with fridges: fancy fridges suck, a chest freezer is cheaper/better and a small simple fridge can be had for cheap.
Great paradigm! It never occurred to me to buy some stuff that I could bring with me to always have a standard kitchen set up to use during a live-in flip situation. The idea of gutting a kitchen and using my modular, functional setup until I wanted to sell the house, and THEN spending the money to install a "re-sale value" kitchen is a good idea.

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Alphaville
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Re: How much house is "enough"?

Post by Alphaville »

Kriegsspiel wrote:
Sun Mar 07, 2021 3:24 pm
Great paradigm! It never occurred to me to buy some stuff that I could bring with me to always have a standard kitchen set up to use during a live-in flip situation. The idea of gutting a kitchen and using my modular, functional setup until I wanted to sell the house, and THEN spending the money to install a "re-sale value" kitchen is a good idea.
hah, glad to be of use, thanks for letting me know.

btw i recently purchased one of these (tools/stool not included)

Image

i got it for making and repairing small items but it occurred to me it would make a fantastic prep table with a large drawer for knives etc and all colanders graters etc hanging from the pegboard. even has an led light for 24/7 clarity. work top is 48"x22" sheet metal wrapped over mdf. has a shelf on top for lightweight items. with the right tools you could make one, i don't have in my apt so i had to buy.

this is better than a camp kitchen altough it would be heavier to move >100lb. nevertheless great for semi-permanent. just don't cook on it or the lamp will get sticky with grease. adjacent table could hold your pressure cooker and hotplate.

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