I spent the last 5+ years looking at literally thousands of house plans. I saw several nice ones that were sorta, kinda what I was looking for, but nothing that really met all the needs and interests of the Stovall family. So, in January of 2002, I set out to design my own. I drew literally scores of variations on several major themes, but still found much to dislike. Finally, I developed a basic concept that seemed to hit all the high points. I had the basic layout, but it was not completely right, and I turned to an excellent resource for design services, beforethearchitect.com. Ralph Pressel, principal of Before The Architect, has been excellent to work with, and has provided incisive criticism
and suggestions that have really made a significant improvement in the design. Ralph has updated his website with a reference to the design he worked with me on.
Framing: I am a big fan of Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs). They provide absolutely the strongest house possible. See ART for some incredibly cool ICF technologies. An alternative to ICFs are Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). However, for several reasons, I've chosen to use traditional stick framing, and I've chosen Capital Structures as the framer for my house. In addition to building floor and roof trusses, Capital Structures also manufactures panelized walls, for
cost effective, efficient on-site construction. Isaac Farmer, the account rep in charge of the territory in which my building site is located, has been
wonderful to work with. Update: July 13. While the trusses are wonderful, the wall panels were somewhat less so, but I've shown Capital Structures the issues, so I imagine they'll be
resolved in future builds. Update: July 31. Capital Structures sent their repair specialist out today to fix the remaining issues on my punch list!
I grew up in the midwest and spent many a night under the basement stairs as tornados zoomed by. So, basements are really high on my list of desireable attributes. However, due to several colliding factors, I'm going with a slab foundation.
I'm a big fan of steel roofing, and Jill and I were planning to go with white steel roofing. However, when I began checking the costs, I discovered that residential steel roofing had just become the "in" thing to do in our area, and the contractors had all jacked up their prices. So, we're going with conventional 30 year asphalt/fiberglass architectural shingles.
HVAC: Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) look very promising, from the perspective of longevity and performance. However, I've not been able to find a single credible cost/benefit justification yet, much to my dismay. Without one, I guess I'll be installing an air source heat pump (ASHP) system. In fact, I've just engaged the services of a local ASHP dealer. I'll dedicate a page to that topic soon.
Looks like premium solution would be spray-on polyurethane insulation. However, I believe the best bang for the buck is spray-on cellulose insulation for the walls, with loose-fill cellulose insulation for the attic space. Naturally, all seams must be carefully sealed before applying the insulation.
Looks like vinyl siding fits the nature of the house and the area the best. Jill is partial to blue siding, with white shutters and a white roof. Well, skip the white roof, since we're going with convention asphalt/fiberglass shingles now...
Communications: Just because we're living in a rural area doesn't mean we have to be disconnected. Here's my thoughts on staying connected in a rural setting.