timber frame

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A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 3

Framed walls and several layers of rigid foam enclose the frame of this owner-built home

Posted on Mar 31 2016 by Rob Myers

Rob Myers is building a timber-frame house in Ontario, Canada, at a site on the Bonnechere River an hour and a half west of Ottawa. The first installment of his blog series was A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 1.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Rob Myers

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A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 2

An owner-builder enjoys the challenge of creating a hand-crafted timber frame

Posted on Mar 22 2016 by Rob Myers

Rob Myers is building a timber-frame house in Ontario, Canada, at a site on the Bonnechere River an hour and a half west of Ottawa. The first installment of his blog series was A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 1.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Alison Steele-Myers

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A Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 1

An owner-builder comes up with a plan to enclose the frame in an energy-efficient shell without breaking the bank

Posted on Mar 10 2016 by Rob Myers

Rob Myers is building a timber-frame house in Ontario, Canada, at a site on the Bonnechere River an hour and a half west of Ottawa. This is the first installment of a blog series.


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Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Alison Steele-Myers

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Unity Homes: Pushing the Boundaries of Home Building

Tedd Benson's latest initiative tries to reinvent home building with lower-cost panelized construction

Posted on Apr 25 2013 by Alex Wilson

A few weeks ago I spent a half day with my good friend Tedd Benson learning about his new company Unity Homes. This Walpole, New Hampshire company is on the cutting edge of home building today, with its focus on energy performance, building science, green building, and (relative) affordability.

This week I’ll describe some of Tedd’s work that ledLight-emitting diode. Illumination technology that produces light by running electrical current through a semiconductor diode. LED lamps are much longer lasting and much more energy efficient than incandescent lamps; unlike fluorescent lamps, LED lamps do not contain mercury and can be readily dimmed. to the creation of Unity Homes, and next week I’ll go into more detail about this new company and the state-of-the-art green homes that he and his team are cranking out.


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Image Credits:

  1. Alex Wilson
  2. Bensonwood

Straw-Bale Home in the Minnesota Woods

North Branch, MN

Jan 16 2009 By Jesa Damora | 3 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: North Branch, MN
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2

House: 2560 sq.ft.
Cabinetry shop: 1,900 sq. ft.
Total cost: $150,000 (mostly volunteer labor)

Architect/designer: Jonathan Query, III AD
Builder: III AD, Ken the Rickettes Builders, plus lots of lively volunteers
Engineer: David Morris

Construction

Foundation: perimeter grade beam (shallow frost-protected foundation with 2-in. XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation. rigid foam apron; slab on grade for both structures (R-10); straw bale cast in slab for house (R-45)
Walls: Straw bale (nonload-bearing, with modified box columns of 2x4s sheathed on all sides with 1/2-in. plywood); some 2x6 framing; timber frame interior columns, 4x4 cedar columns in stair tower; bale walls, R-45; 2x6 with fiberglass batts and 1-n. XPS foam on exterior (R-45); timber frame infilled with 4-in. polyisocyanurate rigid foam (R-21)
Windows: argonInert (chemically stable) gas, which, because of its low thermal conductivity, is often used as gas fill between the panes of energy-efficient windows. -filled, low-eLow-emissivity coating. Very thin metallic coating on glass or plastic window glazing that permits most of the sun’s short-wave (light) radiation to enter, while blocking up to 90% of the long-wave (heat) radiation. Low-e coatings boost a window’s R-value and reduce its U-factor. (Marvin Integrity)
Roof: timber frame with structural steel decking covered in 5-1/2-in. polyisocyanurate rigid foam and standing seam metal roofing (R-45)
Garage: detached carport

Energy

Heating/cooling/water: radiant floor heat, zoned; Combi-core hydrojet propane water heater (46-gal.) for radiant heat and domestic hot water (Bradford White); wood stove (Jotul); passive ventilation; back-up split-system air-conditioning unit with dehumidifier (Goodman);
Annual energy use: 92.5 MMBtu; approx. 2 cords of mostly red oak; 400 gallons propane and 2500-kWh electricity

  • Long east/west axis optimizes solar gain
  • DaylightingUse of sunlight for daytime lighting needs. Daylighting strategies include solar orientation of windows as well as the use of skylights, clerestory windows, solar tubes, reflective surfaces, and interior glazing to allow light to move through a structure.
  • Generous eaves (3 ft. to 4 ft.) to augment thermal massHeavy, high-heat-capacity material that can absorb and store a significant amount of heat; used in passive solar heating to keep the house warm at night. gradient
  • Energy starLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners. appliances
  • Some CFLs

Water Efficiency

  • Low-flow showerheads

Indoor Air Quality

  • Low-VOCVolatile organic compound. An organic compound that evaporates readily into the atmosphere; as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are organic compounds that volatize and then become involved in photochemical smog production. finishes
  • Whole-house passive ventilation
  • Heat-recovery ventilator(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. (Broan)

Green Materials and Resource Efficiency

  • Straw-bale construction
  • Reclaimed timber framing
  • Job-site recycling close to 100%
  • Advanced hybrid framing
  • 30% fly-ash stucco
  • Minimal site disturbance
  • Natural materials used wherever possible
  • No MDF or particleboard

Certification

First code-approved straw bale residence in Minnesota

Like an old fashioned barn-raising, this home was built with many hands

Built before LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. and most green guideline programs existed, this largely straw-bale house in Minnesota established new building codes with its creation. Its biggest sustainable attribute may well be its collaborative approach.

Lessons Learned

Building your own house by hand is not for the faint of heart. The straw bale construction did not really result in cost reductions. But the volunteer work did, and they found it was joyous, arduous fun. An early and brutal winter blew away the hope of getting the house closed in before bad weather. They struggled to keep the straw bales dry and finish it under a heated tent that storms periodically ripped away. Come spring, they were forced to drill thousands of holes in the stucco to dry it out, and in places, remove decayed, rotten straw. Ken says the most important thing he wants to share about straw bale building is that in northern climates, the top of a wall has to be directly vented to the outside or an attic, even if moisture never touches the straw.

The inventive and artistic owners love the thick, shapeable walls, which they sculpted for playfulness and drama. They are pleased that many reclaimed elements in their house, like the magnificent creamery beams, may one day live in a third incarnation. They hope that the house itself will endure, like Nebraska’s 19th century straw bale homes—many with only a little flaking plaster, some 200 years on.


Jesa Damora is a freelance writer in Somerville, Mass.

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Image Credits:

  1. Jonathan Query, IIIAD design/build

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