Friday, May 20, 2011

Lots of words

I've been linked to on a yahoo group, and they had some quetions about the insulation. So I guess I'll repost it here, and it's long...

"Hi guys! Sorry this is so long...

Well, the main way we're going to avoid it is with building/window placement, and a small swamp cooler. After all, it's only 320 sqft-- It doesn't take that much to cool (or heat) that space, and you don't need to keep it arctic in the summer- just livable. For us, this has been 80 degrees in our current apartment.. Feels downright balmy if you step outside and it's 110!

But we will also have an average of R16 insulation (polyurethane spray foam) in the walls (due to the ins and outs, some will be r21ish and others r12, an additional r5 thanks to insulated sheathing. Total of r21-- r15 is what's recommended for new construction here, both wood and metal framing "wall cavities" . The only downside to this is we do lose some floor space.

The building is going to be oriented lengthwise N/S. This is the opposite of what you would do to passively solar heat a home. There will only be one window on that end, further reducing the direct effects of sun getting in the house. The east end will be partially covered by an awning over the porch, meaning that sun won't hit the walls of the container for most of the day.

We went with the piers partially in order to better insulate the bottom--we also did it this way so that the piers can cure while we construct the inside of the container, and then just pop everything together, instead of having to wait a month to set the container then start work. When everything's placed and finished, there will be concrete knee walls on all four sides, with a door for access under the container. The air under the container won't change in temperature much, and it gives us the ability to slide on under there and spray foam the heck out of it. Sprayfoam insulation has an r-value of 6 per inch, more depending on the application technique and formula.

As far as the roof goes, we will be putting a "party deck" up there (read: you can walk on it and not be walking on your ceiling), which will be 6" above the roof of the container. For now, we're leaving the outside uninsulated. The inside will also be spray-foamed and sheathed, probably to the depth of 6-8" (r-value 49). This also allows us to build out the inner ceiling for can lighting. As that's going to be the largest part of the container receiving direct sun until the late evening, we will have the option of insulating under the party deck as well if it becomes an issue.

All of this will add up to a perfectly normally insulated home for this area, and the placement will help a great deal. It will also mean we can pretty much heat it with a match in the winter!

As far as the other concerns-- It's not going to look like a steel box from the inside, I promise! It will utterly conventional (..if decorated by people who are a little weird), just small. The only thing we're leaving original is the wood floor. It's going to have the heck sanded out of it and be varnished like crazy. We're putting in nice, big windows and will have plants on the patio, and if I can get out from under this massive pile of research papers any time soon, a veggie garden. The outside is going to be painted blue with white trim like the shop on the property so everything matches.

This is going to sound so cheeseball, but..happiness for us is a place where we can be around one another, be safe, and have the few things we love with us. That's our dog, our cats, our hobbies, and not much else. We'll have plenty of room to go on walks and rabbit hunts with the all the dogs, plenty of room for my knitting/sewing things, and enough room for books.

What enables us to do it that's a little 'unfair'-- it's going on someone else's property. There's the biggest cost, and we don't have to pay it. We're hooking into existing septic and an existing well.If we had to do this from scratch, there's no way in heck we could afford it. Ideally, people who were interested in container living could by a biggish plot of land (3-5 acres), everyone chips in for well, septic/sewer, the costs of getting power to every lot, etc and puts in a container community. The odds of getting something like that approved by your city are slim to none, though, which is quite sad. Most of these buildings are considered too small to be habitable, and can actually be condemned if found by the city. It says a lot to me that "we" can't consider a safe, insulated building with running water, a toilet, and a full kitchen to be okay to live in-- and it's not like you have to look to a third-world country to see others living with far, far less. Look to reservations, and rural Appalachia. But the permitting system is a WHOLE 'NOTHER Rant..


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