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Old 08-09-2010, 01:06 PM   #81
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Certainly one could get tired of wallpaper with a bold pattern, or flocking, but there are other types. My parents have a sort of grass-cloth looking wallpaper in their front hall, which has been there more than thirty years, including several years when the house was rented out. It's very unobtrusive and still in excellent shape. What I might well end up doing is using paint at first, and then when/if painting gets to be too much work, switch to wallpaper.
Grass cloth wallpaper collects dirt. I used to have to vacuum my walls. Most wallpaper is nearly impossible to clean.

Paint can last for years if you don't have little ones around messing up the walls. Use semi gloss in the kitchen where greasy dirt can collect on the walls.

I don't know what you are thinking about for flooring, but I do not like ceramic tile because of the grout maintenance. I like wood. I am staying at a place that has a natural linoleum floor, put together with click together tiles. Meh. Doesn't look like the linoleum of the good old days. Cleans easy though.
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Old 08-09-2010, 06:38 PM   #82
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Interesting to note that southern termites are so respectful of state lines.
This is because of their good blood lines and superior upbringing.

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Old 08-09-2010, 06:39 PM   #83
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Smaller than you are considering but some good ideas:
Tiny House Blog - Small House Living

Ideas for efficiency:
https://earthship.com/systems
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:02 PM   #84
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Chuck is a tough sumbitch with good pyramid building genes and handy tractors and such. He also has more than a few construction skills. See Chuck lay out corners and build forms and jigs. See Chuck roof.
+1

Chuck got me beat. I can't hold a candle to Chuck. All I would be able to build is a small TumbleWeed house. But if I ever downsize like that, I would not even do that. I would simply build a roof to cover my small motorhome, kind of like a stand-alone carport.
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Old 08-09-2010, 11:18 PM   #85
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(snip)
Seems like a complete house (even a small one) would be a lot to bite off. I'd really want to work side-by-side with someone who is actually doing this to better understand just what it would take, and how much 'supervising' would be required for things you probably need to hire out (electrical, plumbing, some cement work?).
The wiring is the one thing I've always planned to farm out, even if a licensed electrician is not required by code. I just don't understand electricity!

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It's probably been mentioned, but dealing with inspectors can get very 'interesting' and stressful with any non-standard construction, regardless how good it appears to be.

-ERD50
That's one reason the load-bearing vs infill question is still up in the air. I've heard it's easier to get a permit for infill, because to the building inspectors it will just look like a post & beam structure, which is familiar to them, only with weird insulation. You are making me nervous. Will building departments OK your permit application and then yank you around by refusing to sign off on the required inspections even though the house is built per the approved plans? Oy vay!
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Old 08-09-2010, 11:47 PM   #86
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That's one reason the load-bearing vs infill question is still up in the air. I've heard it's easier to get a permit for infill, because to the building inspector it will just look like a post & beam structure, which is familiar to them, only with weird insulation. You are making me nervous. Will building departments OK your permit application and then yank you around by refusing to sign off on the required inspections even though the house is built per the approved plans? Oy vay!
I don't think a free span structure, drawings stamped by a local structural engineer, will be a problem at all.

Building Inspectors: <warning, attitude here> Some are very territorial.. particularly electrical inspectors who may feel that only a member of IBEW knows ground from hot (although not true of the Kitsap County electrical inspectors I met), some building inspectors know their stuff, others will pick one or two inconsequential 'issues' and miss major defects. I would hire an anal retentive local architect or home inspector to 'observe' the construction in process. You need someone who is on YOUR SIDE, can help you enforce your contract and resolve the inevitable issues that crop up.

The OP lives in Washington. If the home were built on Bainbridge Island I can tell you the name of the home inspector to hire - sellers hate to see him coming. He isn't perfect, but he is a whole lot better than the City inspectors.
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Old 08-10-2010, 12:01 AM   #87
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Have you ever considered a small condo?
Not for more than a microsecond. I want a place with a garden, and where I can potentially resume my hobby of breeding pedigreed cats, and my ideal for neighbors is the same as for children in the Victorian age: they should be seen, but not heard. I'm not going to get that in a condo.
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For someone who doesn't want to push a vacuum around a couple of times/week you sound like you're setting yourself up for a huge amount of work.
Sheesh, give me credit for at least half a brain! I want to build a house because it's on my list of "things-I want-to-do-before-I-die", not because I think it'll be less work than buying one ready-made, or having one built to my design by a contractor. What I want to avoid is expending all that effort building a house that's a lot of work to take care of when it's finished. For example, I've written about this house of mine on other lists I follow, about natural building and related topics. Invariably when I say I'm going to use metal siding, someone will suggest that I use lime plaster instead. I'm not going to, because lime plaster needs regular (at least every few years) inspection and touch-up, but on my previous house, I never did a lick of maintenance on the exterior in the twelve years I owned it, and the metal siding looked just the same, and to the best of my knowledge was just as weather-tight, when I sold the house as when I bought it. All through the house and grounds, there are similar choices: carpet vs hard floors, linoleum vs tile, composite vs wood...etcetera, etcetera, etcetera—and the sum of those choices will determine whether the amount of maintenance and housework that I'm likely to do will suffice.

Maybe I'm nuts to think I can build a house all by myself, but I'm not crazy enough to build a house which I know up front is going to require more upkeep than I'm willing to do.
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Old 08-13-2010, 11:33 PM   #88
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In your situation I would buy an RV and build a carport. I also hate cleaning (and also hate a messy house.) I loved when I used to live in an RV - I would clean every night for 15 min and the whole thing was done. In my house now I would have to clean about 1 every night to get it to the same level. (Same kid, same dogs :-) But then, I am pretty odd.
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:52 AM   #89
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The glass tray in my above-the-range micro is broken, and a replacement from the original manufacturer costs $80. I could buy a whole new countertop microwave for less.)[/LIST]
Threads kinda dying out, I don't know if you are still looking for help, but...

we just put in an over-the-range micro/hood, and the glass tray and that little roller wheel are the exact same size as our old inexpensive countertop microwave. Looks like they have standardized on these over the years. As evidence of my 'pack-rat-ed-ness', I actually have the glass platter from our micro previous to that one, and that was a slightly larger diameter. I'd suggest try a Good Will or check freecycle for used/broken microwaves, I think you will find a cheap/free replacement easily. There might be a few 'standard' sizes, so don't give up if the first is a no-go.

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Old 08-18-2010, 09:16 AM   #90
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Threads kinda dying out, I don't know if you are still looking for help, but...
I'm looking for all the good ideas I can get. Barring unforeseen circumstances, start of construction is still at least three years off so I'm in no hurry.

Quote:
we just put in an over-the-range micro/hood, and the glass tray and that little roller wheel are the exact same size as our old inexpensive countertop microwave. Looks like they have standardized on these over the years. As evidence of my 'pack-rat-ed-ness', I actually have the glass platter from our micro previous to that one, and that was a slightly larger diameter. I'd suggest try a Good Will or check freecycle for used/broken microwaves, I think you will find a cheap/free replacement easily. There might be a few 'standard' sizes, so don't give up if the first is a no-go.

-ERD50
There's no roller wheel, it's >$80 for a plain glass tray! Abolutely outrageous! How do I tell whether a tray in the freecycle or thrift store is OK for a microwave? Is there anything special about the glass those trays are made from (e.g. tempered or something)?
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:54 AM   #91
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It's going to take you a long time to build this place by yourself. You are already committed to downsizing to a very small place. What about living in a singlewide mobilehome on site while you do the building? You could get a used one very cheaply, and living right there is going to make things much easier during construction. It might also reduce the risk of having your tools and supplies stolen. You've got to have utilities at the site for the new home anyway, so hooking up the MH is no problem. When you are done, you'll be able to sell it for approximately what you paid, the only significant costs would be moving and set up (maybe a couple thousand bucks) and you'd save much more than that by not having to have another house somewhere else. You'd also get a very intimate feel for the way the sun, winds, etc affect the site year round, which might affect how you design the house and certainly what you do with the landscaping.

I know you wouldn't want to live in one forever, but a small mobilehome happens to incorporate a lot of the things you've identified as desires. It has much lower environmental impact than any other construction method discussed (it is built already, so additional environmental impact is zero. That's better than recycling, using natural materials, or anything else.). It is compact, and some of the floorplans are very efficient. A 10-15 YO MH has very much reduced VOC levels compared to a new one--the outgassing is just about done. What you'd not have is wheelchair accessibility (though being on one level would the be "good enough" if you had less severe mobility challenges) and you wouldn't get to build it or incorporate unusual labor-saving features (though many could certainly be retrofitted easily). A shed roof (pole-barn style) over the top could significantly improve energy efficiency in the summer and the life of the roof and all other leak-prone areas, and give you a place to park a car and store things. Again, it's not what you are looking for, but it could be a very good, very economical answer for some folks with similar goals.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:07 PM   #92
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I know you wouldn't want to live in one forever, but a small mobilehome happens to incorporate a lot of the things you've identified as desires. It has much lower environmental impact than any other construction method discussed (it is built already, so additional environmental impact is zero. That's better than recycling, using natural materials, or anything else.). It is compact, and some of the floorplans are very efficient. A 10-15 YO MH has very much reduced VOC levels compared to a new one--the outgassing is just about done. What you'd not have is wheelchair accessibility (though being on one level would the be "good enough" if you had less severe mobility challenges) and you wouldn't get to build it or incorporate unusual labor-saving features (though many could certainly be retrofitted easily). A shed roof (pole-barn style) over the top could significantly improve energy efficiency in the summer and the life of the roof and all other leak-prone areas, and give you a place to park a car and store things. Again, it's not what you are looking for, but it could be a very good, very economical answer for some folks with similar goals.
This is really common in rural WA. Overbuild the shed roof, and give lots of overhang so that car, various implements and firewood can be stored more or less dry. Be sure it can withstand much higher winds than one normally sees in Seattle. Orient the entire structure so that the low winter sun gets to your southern exposure windows, but not the higher summer sun.

Cut a year or two wood supply, plant a garden. Rest.

Getting this right will be more than enough for almost anyone who isn't just looking for a perpetual project.

Ha
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Old 08-18-2010, 04:33 PM   #93
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The price quoted by Blue Sky probably included the solar system, they needed a crane. If you look closely, and know construction/architecture you can see where those $$$ went.

My DH worked with another architect to develop CAD programs that enabled modular light frame steel residential construction about 15 years ago. I believe there are a number of modular steel light frame contractors today (assuming the market hasn't killed them). The general contractor puts in the foundation w tie-downs and underground utilities, the steel frame manufacturer goes to the job site to confirm the site conditions (sometimes the general isn't as precise as the drawings and they are known to do their own thing) and the framing is typically on the jobsite in about a week stacked in the order of assembly. A framing assembly is designed to be lifted by two construction workers- it goes together like an erector set. Wiring, plumbing all pre-punched.
I am fascinated by this type of housing - a lego-like mechanism. It was a side show on the This Old House once and they showed the pre-fab housing designed in Europe at the time - amazing stuff and fairly good quality. I've kept some files on different designers and have a dream to build a house this way one day.
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Old 08-18-2010, 06:37 PM   #94
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Here is one light gauge home firm, notice that you can't tell the difference from stick-built: House Plans by OneStopDesignBuild, Inc. We design/build custom homes.

Another useful link: http://www.cssbi.ca/Eng/_pdf/CSSBI-54-94.pdf

Basically you can take a set of drawings to a LGS fabricator and they can convert the framing to LGS (most have a consulting engineer who can stamp the drawings). Take that plan to your building department (along with all your other material) and after they do their thing you should be good to go.
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:06 PM   #95
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It's going to take you a long time to build this place by yourself. You are already committed to downsizing to a very small place. What about living in a singlewide mobilehome on site while you do the building? You could get a used one very cheaply, and living right there is going to make things much easier during construction. (snip)
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This is really common in rural WA. Overbuild the shed roof, and give lots of overhang so that car, various implements and firewood can be stored more or less dry. Be sure it can withstand much higher winds than one normally sees in Seattle. Orient the entire structure so that the low winter sun gets to your southern exposure windows, but not the higher summer sun.(snip)
Ha
If I can find a piece of suitable land with an older mobile home that I could live in while building, that would be ideal. I've heard it's often less expensive to get a septic system and utility hookups by buying a "tear-down" house or mobile than by starting from scratch on completely raw land. After the main house is finished I could either sell the mobile home, or keep it for an outbuilding or guest cottage (if it's not too run-down) or use it for a workroom or cattery. Even a piece of land that someone had partly developed for parking an RV on might work.

Ha is absolutely right about solar exposure. Due to the geography of the land it sits on (a relatively narrow strip between the Sound and Lake Washington) Seattle and many of its streets are "facing the wrong way"—the avenues run north and south, so the houses frequently face east/west rather than the more advantageous north/south orientation. Both my current residence and my previous house suffer from summer overheating due to west windows, and I've taken a vow never to live in a house with a west window after I move out of here. I will definitely keep solar orientation in mind, because I'd like to have a photovoltaic power system if I can possibly swing it. I don't plan to be off the grid, but I'd like to aim at generating as much electricity as I use, taken as a total over the course of a year.
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Old 08-19-2010, 06:10 AM   #96
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Old 08-19-2010, 10:13 AM   #97
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We'll be building a small caretaker's cottage at our place in a few years, probably this one from the Lowe's Katrina Cottage series. 576 square feet. Very cute!


The Katrina Cottage - Model 576 brought to you by Lowes.com
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:01 AM   #98
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Humm, not bad (although I would want the optional extra bedroom). LGS framing, Hardi siding, standing seam metal roof, low maintenance building envelope in our climate.

Definitely find a lot with water & sewer already established. Remember, if it is a well you are always at risk of contamination or insufficiency. Septic systems require maintenance and site your home so that you have at at least one more field available to you that drains.

We used propane for home heating, hot water and had a combo cook-top. Another option would be to construct a porch off the kitchen door for a bbq. A wrap-around porch could be nice.

Anything that penetrates the roof can be troublesome, those rubber gaskets can dry out, but Solatube works very well.

Along the line of site selection, pay attention to how surface water moves across a site and don't assume that the work of the COE is 100% effective. Get to know your state geologists office because they may have identified likely future slide areas.
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:01 PM   #99
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Anything that penetrates the roof can be troublesome, those rubber gaskets can dry out, but Solatube works very well.
At last weekend's home show we saw a "solar simulator" (using the same font & colors as the "Solatube" trademark) consisting of a small PV panel (on the roof) connected to a bathroom ceiling-mounted LED light fixture. When it was light outside the house, it'd be light inside the bathroom.

Best of all, no messy roof penetrations. The PV panel could even be attached with silicon sealer instead of screws or nails, and the wiring could be routed through the fascia into an attic or ceiling void.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:08 PM   #100
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I know stainless steel appliances are all the rage, but I've heard from some that they really show the fingerprints. Perhaps the type of finish (brushed or polished) makes a difference.
It doesn't. They're a pain in the @ss. They show every single smudge and brush of lint, and they're waaaaay more expensive than regular white appliances. Stick with white -- not as trendy, just as durable, much easier to clean.
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