Sunday, April 26, 2009

Metal Bottle Update

So far so good with the metal bottle. It works and hasn't heated up in the sun. I probably won't get around to the insulating cozy until I burn myself on the bottle on a sunny day. BUT: at least it won't be a neoprene cozy. God. That neoprene probably contains as much plastic as a dozen bottles thereby negating the positive environmental effect of getting the bottle.

Anyway, yesterday I went with 3 friends to a strawbale house tour. It's in a neighborhood in Spokane (TerraGreen) which will basically be an exclusive upscale development with green-washed homes. They layout was clearly meant for passive solar gain, but the lot was situated so that the south windows were approximately 25 feet from the lot edge. The next lot was fully treed (evergreens so not appropriate) and designated as "green space" in the development so the trees could not be cut to expose the windows to the all important winter sun. I was assured that there was good passive solar in the summer. don't want it in the summer. You want shade in the summer. Again, evergreens not good for summer shade.
The layout was typical...4 bathrooms. One with a dual flush toilet, the rest with regular. Massive kitchen with black marble countertop which would have made for good thermal mass if there had been passive solar. The floor however was stinky industrial laminate. The deck was a mix of wood and recycled plastic. As much as I appreciate the "recycled", frankly, it looked like a plastic deck. The under-eaves covering was also plastic (recycled or not, it looked alot like the fake-wood-plastic doors on the 35 year old cupboards in my trailer). Looked cheap. The roof was standard asphalt/tar shingles. I asked about heat. It's propane fired under floor heating. Fine. But there are good opportunities for both solar and geothermal here.
Another point of pride with the builder was that the house was "pre-plumbed for solar hot water"...and yet, they had put in a huge propane pig to fire the on-demand hotwater heater. Why? The one thing you can reliably get in this part of the world for 6 months a year is blistering sun on the roof for over 10 hours a day. They could have done a dual system with no problem. but they didn't.
Oh well.

One other point of confusion for me was that despite plastering over the bales, as is required, they did not just pigment the plaster. They plastered and then painted it. That paint will chip. The plaster would have lasted forever if pigmented.

One COOL point was the bathroom floors. They were cement with agate pebbles (1-3") pressed in. They were lovely and with the underfloor heating should provide a nice warm foot massage in the morning. One not so cool point is that since these floors weren't flat, the (plastic) mopboards did not actually meet the floor. I'm thinking that will be a problem when they mop and end up getting water in the walls, both the exterior strawbale walls and the interior cheap wallboard walls.

It is good to know that there are some strawbale homes going in in Spokane so that the city building permit staff get familiar with them, but sad that this was sort of a cheap version. Despite the "cheap" finishes (other than the counters and bathroom floors), the cost was 180$/sq.foot and that did not include the lot, appliances, electric hook up, water and sewer hook up, etc. Just the construction. Wow. With the house being 2700sq.ft I estimate the house cost $486,000 plus the cost of the lot and utilities connections (which are pricey in this part of the world).

My current favorite floorplan for my own imaginary future green home is only 480sq.ft. But at that rate it would cost at least 86,000$. That is RIDICULOUS! No wonder people buy trailers.

I was figuring more like 20,000 construction costs (with appliances). So that gives me $41.66/sq.ft. The appliances (composting toilet, possible woodstove for back up heat and/or cooking) will cost about 5000$. So a comparable sq.ft estimate is: $31.25/sq.ft for just construction. I don't contemplate any utilities hook ups and will have to wait for any fancy solar electric systems.

Anyway, it was wierd.

OK, must be off to do weekend stuff now.

1 comment:

Fly Right said...

That house sounds so cool/half-assed! Why? Why? I ask you! Yeah, the baseboard gap is going to be a huge problem--glad you caught that. What if there are pets? Pet hair trap + mop water = (okay, I don't know what it equals, I'm bad at math. . .).