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#34398 - 04/22/18 04:37 PM design thoughts
Casey_Hutson Offline
Member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 2
So my wife and I have dreams of building a timber frame house. Like many people I am sure, I have been thinking about every detail and aspect, and I'd like to run some ideas by you guys to see what you all think.

I like the idea of my house lasting a couple decades, so obviously TF is the way to go. I also want to do concrete walls in between frames. Not like ICP walls, because I actually want to see the concrete, like board-formed concrete walls. I know ICP's are becoming more popular for TF homes, but I haven't seen a whole lot of board-formed concrete walls. I would guess foam would still be on the exterior of the concrete wall to keep the thermal mass of concrete working and not dissipate to the outside, or let heat inside in summer. These walls would only be for the border of the structure. All interior walls would be standard drywall, except the fireplace, that will be either stone or a standout board-formed concrete wall that is stained dark. I just love the mixture of wood and concrete in structures.

My other idea is for heating, I'd really like to do hydronic radiant floor heating. This isn't revolutionary by any means, but I visited a house with this type of heating once in my early 20's and was sold that it's the best. I would also do a wood stove as a back-up.

What are your thoughts on these fundamental ideas?

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#34399 - 04/22/18 09:51 PM Re: design thoughts [Re: Casey_Hutson]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 514
Loc: Vermont
Hi Casey,

Welcome...

(Sorry for the rather negative review in advance...)

As to your idea, I must say as a Timberwright and a Designer as well, I can't relate with such an environmentally unsustainable material as modern OPC being employed the way you have suggested with a timber frame infill or cladding system...

Besides its responsibility for a minimum of 25% of our greenhouse gases globally and worse in some regions, it is a dank and moisture holding material leading to mold issues in many of its applications, and as our melting infrastructure indicates it is anything but durable in the modern context, unlike the natural cement of millennia past...

I can think of several masonries like affects that do work well with timber frames not only in the material efficiency perspective but also aesthetically...

Lime and/or clay plastered Straw Bail, Kubbhus style nodding, light straw clay or wood chip, cobb, or even just simple stone. Add a thermal break of 50mm think mineral wool (minimum) then how would have a very efficient and unique structure...
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#34400 - 04/23/18 01:17 PM Re: design thoughts [Re: Casey_Hutson]
Roger Nair Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/99
Posts: 457
Loc: Bakerton, WV, USA
Casey, as you work on your design ideas, try to work in an evaluation of cost of construction weighted on a return of utility. The challenges of producing the concrete wall plus all the work-a-rounds of siding, insulation, wiring, fenestration and so on. A concrete wall is fixed structure, be mindful that a concrete wall is not easy to adapt to new needs, envision cutting out for openings and the placement of lintels also the design of a wall complete with rebar is very specific and maybe it should not be renovated without accounting for integrated reinforcement.

If I were presented with such a building plan, I would argue against it and seek other means to enclose the frame.

As to heating, I would look for solutions that have a repairable method of heat distribution, so no tubing in a concrete floor. There are under floor sheathing methods. Not my field.

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#34406 - 04/25/18 02:11 AM Re: design thoughts [Re: Casey_Hutson]
Casey_Hutson Offline
Member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 2
Thank you both for the input.
Jay, forgive me, but what is OPC?? I'm figuring you are talking about concrete based on what you say after, I just haven't heard the term. But then I'm confused because I had no idea concrete accounts for that much of greenhouse gasses. Either way, I appreciate your input, and I have a lot of time to adjust my plans.
Roger,
You make a great point about adapting to new needs should I ever need to cut part of the wall. Also, I do see the difficulties of siding outside if the wall is concrete.

SO, what are your ideas for walls between TF? The cobb idea is cool that Jay mentioned above, but I don't think it's something I want my whole house being.

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#34407 - 04/25/18 06:19 AM Re: design thoughts [Re: Casey_Hutson]
Jay White Cloud Offline
Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 514
Loc: Vermont
Hi Casey,

OPC is "ordinary portland cement." It is the base material in virtual all cement used globally today with very little semblance to the traditional natural cement that built this nation...like the cement foundations for the Stautue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, etc. OPC are adulterated materials that have all types of additives (mostly industrial waste byproduct) is part of the reason they tend to fall apart after just a few decades, unlike the natural cement which has lasted millennia.

I do like infill system for timber frames, yet this is often not practical for contemporary versions of them. I don't care for stress skin panels either for a number of reasons related to access, and serviceability.

What we, and many others are, turning to is Wall and Roof Truss systems that facilitate the deeper walls found in many old structures that form wonderful window seats, as well as, give assess to updating mechanical and electrical needs, while also offer more than adequate methods of insulating. There we have switched to things like straw bale, clay slip, mineral wool, etc.


Edited by Jay White Cloud (04/25/18 06:21 AM)
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#34409 - 04/25/18 12:38 PM Re: design thoughts [Re: Casey_Hutson]
Roger Nair Offline
Member

Registered: 10/20/99
Posts: 457
Loc: Bakerton, WV, USA
Casey, as far as enclosures are concerned, I have lived in the Mid-Atlantic states all my life and the locale of your future home should determine the nature and materials of the exterior walls. So, I can not offer any advice that is specific to me that could be sound for you, other than you will have to balance concerns such as ventilation, vapor transfer, sunlight, thermal mass, responsive heating and cooling, indoor-outdoor flow and on and on. So pick your poison and work your way through. Now before building is the time to make thoroughly considered choices.

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#34419 - 05/01/18 08:21 PM Re: design thoughts [Re: Casey_Hutson]
RiverForest Offline
Member

Registered: 04/30/18
Posts: 6
Loc: VA
Problems pointed out above (access, changing fenestration--before and after completion!--etc) are one reason we are rethinking basement (with the Superior Wall system) vs slab on grade with the ground floor replacing the basement for mechanical, garage, etc. Jackhammering concrete for a forgotten window is not for sissies (I wore out a Rockwell 601 hammer punching holes in our current home--must have been 6000# stuff).

Big factor: we have our own 180 acre forest, lots of trees (and 2 mills). Why use expensive concrete when we have wood?

There is no easy way around the mixer truck for slabs, But I will be throwing in as many rocks, old rebar from a highway bridge replacement the contractor did not haul away, and other recyclable objects as the engineer will let me when we pour our slab, particularly the one for our utilty building on a slope with lots of buildup needed at the far end.

I am also going to use as many odd wood species as I can, saving the white oak in our forest for better uses. Again the PE & our designer will be the safety valve for what is OK (both are well versed on wood characteristics).

For example, I look at our abundance of big beech trees with lots of whirring chain saws and LT40 runs in my minds eye. Nobody will buy it, so we'll find a use for it!

Interesting point on floor heat. Ponder, ponder. There's that slab problem again.

Keep us in the loop on your project. A nice timber frame is our path as well.

Send me a PM and I will send you a link to a local for sale home (Charlottesville VA area) that is TF and strawbale. It was for sale a few years back touted big time as being strawbale but not currently, no mention, which makes me wonder a bit.
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