Saturday, October 1, 2011


This section demonstrates how the sun will enter the house.  The windows were sized many to allow maximum heat gain during the winter and shade the glass completely during the summer to reduce heat gains. 

The sun is lowest in the sky on December 21st (about 25 degrees) and highest on June 21st (about 72 degrees).  To allows maximum full glass winter gains, there needs to be a compromise in the overhang length in regards to the summer sun angles.  4 degrees offset seems to make about the most sense.  This allows approximately 1 full month of sun on the glass in the winter (4 degrees above the winter solstice = about 29 degrees) and then 4 degrees below the summer solstice makes for approximately 68 degrees.  This allows for 1 full month of shading on the glass during the summer.  Using these angles, I am able to size my overhangs and heights of the windows to find the ideal placements for the windows. 

To increase the heat gains through the glass, glass with the highest SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) values will be selected.  Typically, however, glass with high SHGC typically will not meat Energy Star ratings.  This is where I think Energy Star makes little sense, as correctly sized windows with high SHGC on the south in our heated climate will perform far better then a typical dual pane, lower u window.  However if triple pane windows are selected, they can be "tuned" by using hardcoat LowE coatings on several of the glass faces.  Typically, hardcoats will produce the maximum heat gains, while softcoats result in the lowest.  Most windows will be softcoat as standard as they are ideal for achieving the lowest u value as possible, which Energy Star wants.
Window companies such as Inline and Fibertec windows (as well as many others) allows you to 'tune' the glass and specify the coatings for each surface, for each window.
Using Inline thermal performance values, 2 options for the south would be a dual pane or a triple pane option.

Fixed windows
Dual pane numbers:  SHGC= .56,  U= .30
Triple pane numbers:  SHGC= .44, U= .19

Obviously the dual pane option gives a higher SHG value, however the triple pane does also come with a much lower u value. A comparison between the estimated heat gain difference (of .12 SHG) and heat loss (u .11) will have to be compared to the price difference to see if the triple pane option makes sense on the south side.

Comparitively, similar windows with softcoats are:

Fixed windows
Dual pane numbers:  SHGC= .33, U= .26
Triple pane numbers: SHGC= .28, U= .17

What does all of this add up to?  Well, it is estimated that the south glazing and high SHGC will supply approximately 28% of the required heating for the entire house during the winter. If the house were designed to be more passive solar utilizing storage mass, the heat the sun would provide would increase to over 50% of the required heat during the winter...all for free. 

Front Elevation

South Elevation
Here is an early view of the front.  It faces south, and the window placement and roofs are all sized to utilize the free heat from the sun during the winter.  The large triple window is in the dining room allowing that area to be flooded with light and warmth to radiate into the rest of the open spaces.  The clearstory windows will allow light and sun rays to filter in from above and project further into the space warming the air.  And of course...there is the 8' front door. 

The Floor Plans

And here they of October 1st, 2011....the 'current' floor plans.  I say the date and current as they have seemed to change nearly daily (at least according to Shannon) and that has not been too far from the truth.  But I think we are (ok, me) finally settling in on this plan.  We have explored dozens of different arrangements, 2 story options, craftsman, etc.  We think the single story with a finished, walkout basement will be the best option to not only build, but for a future growing family.

The Main Level:

A tour through the plan

A shop space is off of the garage for my tools and wood working.  This space will be wood framed and open below as you will see on the basement plan.  I will then apply a 2" concrete topping over the wood framing to create a smooth level surface flush with the poured garage slab.

You enter from the garage into the Mud room which features a hand wash/cleaning sink, some coat storage, and cubbies above and below a bench/sitting space.

Moving throw a sliding door (to eliminate a door swing and have the ability to leave the mud room open from the kitchen) you enter the kitchen.  The kitchen is laid out to utilize various tasks found in the kitchen without overlapping/being in the way of someone else.  The sink wall is upper cabinet free and 3 windows to view out over the deck and the backyard.  A flat, sinkless free 8'x3' island will be used for many things.

The kitchen opens up to the Family room and views into the Dining room.  The Family room, Dining room, and Entry are all in a taller section with ceiling heights at 14' (rest of the house is 9').  The Family room features a 5' wide stone fireplace (electric) that will go from floor to ceiling with a simple mantel . 

The Dining room is nothing special, just a room that can comfortably seat 8 people.  It is open to the Family room and Entry.

Moving down the hall the first bedroom is on your right with the laundry room to the left.  I placed the laundry room in close proximity to the bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as the stairs for the downstairs bedrooms to keep hauling baskets of laundry to a minimum. 

Next comes a simple bathroom at the end of the hall to the right, nothing special here. To your left you enter into the Master bedroom with the walk-in closet to the right. To the left is a recessed "makeup" station for Shannon so she can sit there and do her thing for 3 hours....
Heading into the Master bath, I have arranged it to have a "wetroom".  The shower and soaker tub are surrounded completely by tiled walls, floors and glass.  This allows all the water to be in one place.  Step out of the tub and your are on a tile floor with a drain. Turn off the shower and you have plenty of space to stay there and dry off.  Split vanities lead into a toilet closet. 

Basement Plan

The stairs dump you out into an open area where a pool table will sit.  To the right is a door that will lead out to the backyard onto a future patio space.  The TV space will be our movie and my gaming area.  The plan is to have a ceiling mounted projector and projection screen within the floor structure space.

The Office/Extra is just space and auxiliary space, workout room, storage, etc.

Heading down the hall you pass the utility room (it will have a lot of space due to no furnace) and a bathroom at the end of the hall.  Two identical bedrooms finish off the basement living space.

Under the shop space above is an unfinished space with a manual garage door where we will keep our lawn mower and outdoor related tools. Since the site slopes, it is actually cheaper to make this room instead of back filling and raising the grade for the slab above.  Plus it will be great to keep the "dirty" tools and lawn equipment out of the garage space.