Building a home

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This forum is for discussions that are NOT related to the US Hawks. This area is provided for the convenience of our members, but the US Hawks specifically does not endorse any comments posted in this forum.

Building a home

Postby Craig Muhonen » Tue Jan 03, 2023 8:43 pm


Watching the piece on, “Hawks feeding their young”, I saw the “Home” they had to build before anything else.
As a Plumber in the mountains since 1974, I was part of many families trying to build homes.
We were first on a building site, and last to leave, so became keenly aware of the whole process.

I would like to pass this to my “Hawk” friends for future reference if
they ever decide to “build a nest”” for their families, or even remodel an old nest.

25,000 dollar foundation with an unusable crawlspace.png
25,000 dollar foundation with an unusable crawlspace.png (164.04 KiB) Viewed 89 times

Many “crawlspace type” houses are built on this type of excavation and foundation which requires so much extra work to dig out the ground, to frame, strip and pour concrete footers and then stem walls, then drain waterproof and insulate the perimeter, then backfill, THEN build an unusable, uninsulated, crawlspace partially above ground directly below the new house. It has no mass to it and can never be radiant heated, (55 degrees radiates), it has air vents letting in cold, Plus the crawlspace must be dehumidified or mold will grow, not to mention it can become a lost place for boxes of “stuff”, accessible by a small, hidden trap door in a closet somewhere.
All negatives for the unknowing home owner over the lifetime of the house, because they are expensive to heat and cool in the long run.

Other typical ways that general contracting builds,
typical slab on grade HO HEAT TUBES.png
typical slab on grade HO HEAT TUBES.png (101.36 KiB) Viewed 89 times

typical slab and stem wall construction.png
typical slab and stem wall construction.png (113.01 KiB) Viewed 89 times

These subdivision, non solar “curb appeal type houses” seem to dominate the market place.

In comparison,
A home built on a "well engineered heated pad” as it's foundation, will provide radiant heat for the home for a lifetime.
4" pour with 1/2" hot water tubes
half inch heat tubes.png
half inch heat tubes.png (272.45 KiB) Viewed 89 times

This is new from Sweden,
8" pour with 4" pvc "warm air tubes" by Legalett
35,000 dollar combination foundation and heat.png
35,000 dollar combination foundation and heat.png (280.43 KiB) Viewed 89 times

We've been doing floor heat since 1978 and it's a great way to retrofit a thin slab into an existing house or garage.

thin slab construction diagram.png
thin slab construction diagram.png (106.79 KiB) Viewed 89 times

absolutely needs no “extra” heat above the floor, and will greatly cut utility and maintenance costs to the bone. Heat is not needed above our heads, so the beauty of a radiant floor, it heats only the things that are touching it, and not the air per say.
We always would suggest that the contractors tie off tubing to their mesh and rebar and do double duty, even if they had no plans on heating the slab.
(warm air or 120 degree fluid) to get it to 77 degrees, with utility costs, and it varies as to type of energy used,
solar, gas, electric, wood, any will do,
the slab doesn’t care how it’s heated.

This little inexpensive hot water (120 degrees) heating system heated a 1,200 sq ft slab, 4' thick, very effectively.
1, 50 gallon water heater, 1 circulating pump, 1 timer. 1 manifold to slab.

Of course people went crazy and had me install the latest "high efficiency" boilers and control systems, for their mega houses, but plumbing is plumbing.

Once the slab/floor is at 77 degrees it will slowly release it’s charge in exactly 60-70 hours, which among other things, gives the house many hours of “radiant heat” in a power outage or failure.
This is BIG for the home owner when a 20 below blizzard takes out all the power and feet of snow are building up, or
People with forced air heating or boiler heating or electric heating, have just a few short hours to figure out how to keep the house from freezing and then,
flooding the house when it comes back on, (uck …),
where our heated floor will give us plenty of time, Using no moving parts.

During the heating season, this house battery will stay at about 77 degrees for pennies on the dollar compared to “crawlspace houses” with no battery.

This warm floor will always keep the home owners (and their plants) in the comfort zone, and far out last the house, so why not use this system on all new homes, you don’t see the heat or feel it, but it’s always there, and it has very few moving parts to go wrong.
it’s as Green as you can get, and here’s the kicker,
if you build a house (any size) on an already functioning system, (hardly ever done)
heat, water, sewer, elect and landscaping, the jobsite will flourish from day one, the trades and your bank will love you, and using this method of heating a house, especially one “off the grid”, is very, “user friendly”.
One fallacy of a south facing solar house is that so much sun comes through the glass that it has to be actively shaded from time to time, and it is a heat loss at night, so there are temperature swings, which end up costing money. To me, “forcibly moving air” is wasted money and dries out the environment.
If the site is oriented to the Sothern sun, and a “passive” design..
(using cross ventilation and fresh air make up for any flames in the house, is super important) used to build the future “home”, the affects on the indoor environment are just plain healthy for the life of the house, the radiant mass of the floor(s) keeps everything even.

These Legalett systems from Sweden, have come to North America by way of Canada, where it has been used very effectively in cold climates. As soon as I saw it I fell in love with it because now an average homeowner can put one of these systems together and no hot water to mess with. Warm air is easy to make and blow through tubes, cheaply. Check them out.
These warm air or hot water heating systems are more expensive to build initially, but well pay for themselves is short order.
To show you how simple it can be, a roller skating rink put in collectors and manifolds on it's south wall and just the people skating in a circle drew warm air in. Solar works best to heat stuff, not to make electricity. in panels that take up a lot of space for relatively little power, are electrically complex, degrade and then can not be recycled, our landfills are filling up with them.

It’s like spend 80% of your money up front then 20% thereafter,
unlike the way they do it now, where you pay 20% up front and then pay 80% forever after, and get an inefficient house too boot, but the bank and the general contractors and the utility company made allot of money.

If you can build a house that pays attention to the Earth it's built on and to the southern sun, it will provide a nest for generations, but like the nest it has to be designed properly from the start.

I never had any disgruntled owners using this old school warm floor method, because they were understanding of the simplicity and logic of it, and they had my phone number. Ha..

Like the Hawk, pick a good foundation.
Build small, and insulate well.

You gotta' push the stick forward while you're lookn' at the ground
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Craig Muhonen
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Location: The Canyons of the Ancients

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