Sunday, May 29, 2011

USA New Wall - The Better Wall

The second configuration of the USA New Wall we are going to look at is the Better wall. The Better wall is all about breaking the thermal bridge of the wall framing. We start with the Good wall, and add insulation layers inside or outside that keep the studs from sending your heat directly through the wall. The framing of the wall is still kept simple so you already know how to build this.

The Better wall comes in two flavors, so lets start with the interior insulated wire chase version. We add an interior wire chase to a basic wall which provides a space to run wires and mount electrical boxes that will not puncture the vapor retarder/barrier. This is a huge asset for maintaining the air-tight envelope of the house. Wires are easy to run, and can be snugged between the furring and vapor retarder. Plumbing supply lines can also live in this space.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

USA New Wall - The Good Wall

The first configuration of the USA New Wall we are going to look at is the Good wall. The Good wall is all about what is the greatest gain for the least effort. How can we make the wall we build every day perform better without loosing any sleep or worry about how to build it. We don't want to know about sprays or blows - we want to work the way we know how to, but we want to build a Good wall.

The Good wall is all about increasing the insulation value in the wall cavity. So first of all we use 2x6 studs and the configuration of the framing is expanded to 24"oc. Mineral wool batts rated at R23 are used in place of the more common fiberglass at R13 or R19. Mineral wool batts are unfaced, so that means we need to introduce a vapor retarder or vapor barrier membrane. Which you use will depend on which climate zone you are located in, and whether or not your home has air conditioning.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

USA New Wall - Good, Better, Best

One thing I've discovered at I have studied Swedish building techniques, and eventually how to apply them here, is that there is a storm brewing in building science in the US. There are many differing opinions on what is the best approach to improving performance, and as many expert opinions as there are, there are multiples of lesser informed second hand opinions spiraling off of the expert opinions. Through all this I see nobody talking about how to bring the reluctant building industry into these higher performance practices. Nobody is considering the reality of an entrenched and mature industry, with supply lines and practical experience which will not be willingly cast aside. This is where the USA New Wall comes in.

The USA New Wall design is informed by the building practices in Sweden which are in turn a natural evolution of the building techniques widespread in the USA. By looking at the results of 30 years of building science development in Sweden we can take away some very plain lessons on how to improve our building without upsetting the apple cart that is the industry.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MoTrad House - porch and patio

The owner has moved back into the house - a great milestone. But while his time is now split between getting settled and finishing the details, some things were getting finished outside.

The original house had a small front stoop, but now with the great overhang on the front of the house we've expanded it into a full width front porch. With steps all around and no hand rails it retains its open feeling.

Around back a similar concrete patio has gone in outside the living room windows where life can move outdoors during fair weather. These are modest paved areas, yes, but will give much utility back to the house. More photos after the link below.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MoTrad House - rails part III

Another step taken with the handrails - the temporary wood panels for the stair have been installed, and they look great.

But these are simply luan plywood - thin quarter inch plywood that is typically put under tile or vinyl floors as an underlayment. However it does help you imagine a nice baltic birch ply as an alternate to a glass panel. But we are not done - the wood handrail that will top these is yet to be installed. You can see them on the floor in front of the railing in the photo above.

A few more shots after the link.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

MoTrad House - rails part II

The rail for the stair has arrived, and before it went in the temporary stair treads were OUT, and the final stair treads were IN.

All of the rails still await the in-fill panels that will complete them, but for the time being its a bit less precarious going up and down the stair. I really like the parallel strand lumber that was used for the stair treads. This is an engineered wood product made by laminating small strips of wood under great pressure. The resulting wood is stronger and more consistent than solid wood lumber and it is used for structural beams in wood frame construction. This is a great appropriation of that material for another use where the interesting grain pattern can be displayed.

More photos after the link below.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

MoTrad House - night shot

A few photos of the night lighting added to the house with the addition/renovation.

The front steps here will be updated with a new front porch that will stretch the width of this recess. The deep overhang here has recessed lighting, as well as the overhang around the master bathroom bay on the second floor level. And there are some shots of progress made in the kitchen. Photos after the link below.

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