Author Topic: 30x40 Earth Berm Passive Solar in Maine  (Read 211363 times)

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Offline Bishopknight

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30x40 Earth Berm Passive Solar in Maine
« on: October 13, 2008, 06:33:23 AM »
This weekend I started building the footers for my 30' x 40' earth berm, passive solar, insulated slab house. I'll be the general contractor, doing this pay as I go. I'll be using recommended local tradesmen to save money.

http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=4569.0

I bought 10 acres and a John Deere backhoe this spring. I wasn't able to start this project sooner because this summer has been so rainy and its taken until now to prepare the housepad.  It was forest originally when I bought it. I built the driveway this summer. This pic was taken north facing. I brought in 3 loads of sand to build up the pad so far.





I have a healthy respect for people who build foundations :)



Form boards came next. I used 2x10's. I'm not worried about frost heave because again, it will be earth bermed.



Leveling stakes and strings came next.





Next is the plate compactor rental, sweat equity and another load of sand. Then the plumbing comes after that.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 01:42:12 PM by Bishopknight »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2008, 06:43:01 AM »
Looks like you were busy with the backhoe.  Can you tell us how you are going to prevent the infiltration of water - French drains?  Umbrella?
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2008, 07:30:15 AM »
Aren't backhoes great Glenn? :)

My drainage concerns were #1. I created a 30" ditch (future french drain ) around the perimeter which drains downhill. That will prevent the majority. Rock gravel with perforated drain pipe will round the perimeter and also be drained away as well. That should prevent the minority.

« Last Edit: November 26, 2010, 01:42:52 PM by Bishopknight »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2008, 07:35:49 AM »
I've been doing backhoe work for a week now - much on a 40% slope-- it's fun. :)

Thanks for showing us what you are doing on this.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2008, 09:26:56 AM »
Bishop I would say you will be OK building. Hey the original that you built is still standing. ;D

Offline Lorangerlife

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2008, 03:41:05 PM »
Bishop,

I have to agree man... You did a bang up job with the 12x16.  Watching your build showed me that 12x16 could be a livable space while I build my house.

No doubts coming from my side of the fence that you will do as great a job on your house as you did on your cabin.

Andrew

Offline ScottA

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2008, 05:12:28 PM »
What a great spot. I can't wait to see this one come together.  :)

Offline mvk

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2008, 02:39:07 AM »
Congratulations, great start, thanks for the pictures. [cool]

Is the south side walk out? I was wondering about frost on that side.

What a great project, can't wait to see it. Your cabin came out great too.

MVK

Offline soomb

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2008, 02:41:37 PM »
Will the subterranean portion be poured concrete, block or other?

A bold project. What was your learning process? read read read then do or some reading and see how it goes?

Live- Phoenix, Relax- Payson

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2008, 08:04:23 PM »
I like read - do - read - do read- do.

After a while you can skip the read part and just do - do  d*
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline soomb

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2008, 08:08:40 PM »
or run them together and re-do re-do.  ;D
Live- Phoenix, Relax- Payson

Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2008, 05:21:37 AM »
Thats pretty much the process soomb!  I try to keep things one-day-at-a-time when I build something I've never done before.

The walls haven't been decided yet, either ICF or surface-bonded concrete with exterior blueboard insulation.

These are my main reference materials incase anyone is interested.

Earth Sheltered Houses by Rob Roy
http://books.google.com/books?id=0gCQl64B1iAC&pg=PA20&lpg=PA20&dq=richard+guay+house+earth&source=web&ots=GcarPxWUG4&sig=5Flov1fmN3tdeCg72qoefrP0iKo&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPP1,M1

$50 and up Underground home by Mike Oehler
http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Dollar-Underground-House-Book/dp/0442273118/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b

Working with concrete
http://www.amazon.com/Working-Concrete-Rick-Arnold/dp/1561586145/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224076563&sr=1-1

and this excellent website
http://www.ourcoolhouse.com/
« Last Edit: October 15, 2008, 09:17:36 AM by Bishopknight »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2008, 06:04:13 AM »
Good refs.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

Glenn's Underground Cabin  http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=151.0

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Offline soomb

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2008, 06:25:20 AM »
ahh ourcoolhouse.com  love that site.  that is one smart guy.
Live- Phoenix, Relax- Payson

Offline MaineRhino

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #14 on: October 20, 2008, 06:37:12 AM »
Looks great Sean!

Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2008, 11:45:37 AM »
This past weekend I had to redo the forms because the sand wasn't high enough, the south east corner did not have a wide enough drainage skirt and I didn't like the forms zig zagging in and out ( would have been hard to lay in the XPS foam board). I also had a dump truck fall into my driveway ditch saturday morning while delivering another load of sand. He tried blaming the road material and not the fact he was 4' from center.

I completed the house plan yesterday and drew the supply and DWV diagram today. I'm meeting with the plumbing inspector to go over them this weekend. The first draft house plan is below.

Lastly, I had a really hard time finding Dow Blueboard High Load 40(psi) for the slab footers. I located some from a supplier in Portland, Maine. They are 2'x8' - 2" thick for $14 each.  I really lucked out finding them, 2 other places wouldn't sell them unless I bought 98 at a time.  They only had 16 left and I only needed 16.5 so I'm going to just cut some 2" , 25 psi dow blueboard (from home depot) into 1' x 2' sizes and space them in between the 8' pieces on the 30' side.

Btw, I found out there is a big difference between EPS and XPS Styrofoam. One is expanded which can get wet (EPS) and the other is extruded which stays dry (XPS). Rob Roy recommends XPS for all under slab insulation because once it becomes wet, it loses much of its insulated value.

« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 05:30:26 AM by Bishopknight »

Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2008, 05:47:20 AM »
Monday update:

I bought 2 more loads of sand to build up the front of the pad foundation and also get the inner pad about the right height. Then picked up the XPS insulation for the slab foundation and built the formboard for the front, leveled and spiked it.



Next I used a 26" board to go around the perimeter and roughly level the footer base by hand and rake. Then rented a plate compactor and went to work. Btw, a 180 lb wacker is not easy to lift on/off a trailer , up a pad and over a footer wall by yourself!



Yesterday, In my 3d design software, I used the dimensions ruler to tell me how far apart each plumbing device was. I ran measured string lines and then started digging and laying pipe. I made absolute sure the pipe dropped 1/4" per foot. Laying the DWV (drain, waste, vent) was pretty fun. Especially when its compacted sand, not hardpan clay! Also the familiarity with having done the plumbing myself in the little cabin made it easier. 





























Here is the vent pipe for the woodstove




The plumbing for the bathroom was tricky, after the foundation is poured, I'll remove this wooden form box to give me more space approximating the p-trap for the shower. that slanted pipe is the cleanout and the other 3" beside it is for a future bathroom if I decide to build a second floor.



This is how it looks now.



« Last Edit: January 05, 2009, 09:32:43 AM by Bishopknight »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2008, 06:12:13 AM »
Hey BK thanks for the update.  Looks like you have been busy.  You know about wrappiing the pipes where they come through the slab w/cardboard or other wrap to keep the concrete from gripping and possibly breaking them?
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #18 on: October 27, 2008, 06:21:58 AM »
No, I didn't know that, thanks Glenn! I'll make sure I wrap the exposed PVC.

Also, I've been emailing the author of "Earth-Sheltered Houses", Rob Roy and hes been very helpful answering my questions. Most recently regarding whether a vapor barrier was needed in addition to the XPS foam insulation. He said not in his view, that without the extruded, you would need the vapor barrier to slow the rapid set of the concrete. That basically the extruded does the same thing.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2008, 11:38:52 AM by Bishopknight »

Offline Mike 870

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #19 on: October 27, 2008, 06:33:27 AM »
Awesome project, I can't wait to see how it progresses.  I found this site when I was trying to figure out how to do a foundation and septic.  It might help, it's might not.  It's not for your region, but it might be good for some pointers.  http://www.eco-nomic.com/septic.htm


Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #20 on: October 27, 2008, 06:33:57 AM »
Great - you can push the cardboard down or remove it after the concrete sets and caulk around them to the concrete if you want.  Some used to grout with mortar also but most settling and change was done then.

You can cut the pipes for the tub - shower or underslab things and put about a 12" square or as needed box of sand there about 1/2 inch below grade and finish the concrete directly over it to prevent obstacles when finishing.  Tap with a hammer later and break the thin finished concrete off and install the underfloor traps etc to the exact needed spot then grout the hole in if necessary.
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2008, 08:36:07 AM »
Thanks Glenn, I will probably do that. Good thinking. That way when we're screeding the concrete, I dont have to worry about it filling that box. Your right, just set it lower than the other forms, cover and forget it ( for now )  :D

The concrete pour is tentatively dated for Sat Nov 8th, weather permitting. I still have alot left to do before its ready to pour. Hopefully no setbacks occur d*

This is the coming weekends task list:

Lowes list
   20 pieces of 10' rebar
   29 sheets of 4' x 8' reinforced rebar grid
   60 small Bricks
   2x4s ( 10 )  9x

Finalizing Formwork
   Lay woodstove air exchange vent in foundation
   Lay well water line in foundation
   Wrap cardboard around pipes
   Cover the shower box with wood
   Cut & lay styrofoam insulation
   Lay, bend, cut & tie rebar on top of halved bricks
   Measure, drive stakes and nail screed dividers every 10'
   Clean chainsaw, then remove line nails & cut off stake tops

Pour Prep
   Inflate/fix wheel barrow tires
   Bring rakes/shovels down to site
   Fill  up 3 Gal containers with water
   Cut keyway boards and oil them
   Compact sand up against outer forms
   Attach forks to loader, bring 2 bales of hay over for post-pour insulation

« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 06:22:22 AM by Bishopknight »

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Central Maine
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2008, 05:40:16 PM »
Somebody showed me years ago on one of a few hundred slabs I poured.  Still a couple ideas remain in this dusty old brain... [crz]
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline Bishopknight

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Western Maine
« Reply #23 on: October 31, 2008, 06:33:19 AM »
My new goal for this project is to make as much of it completely transparent to encourage others who may be considering building this type of house.

Foundation costs so far:

5 loads of sand = $500
Footer boards = $200
Styrofoam = $900
Plate Compactor Rental = $50
PVC Plumbing pipe, vent, well line = $150
Diesel for backhoe = $50
Rebar/wiremesh = $250
Concrete estimate = $2000
Labor estimate for pour = $600-900
So right there, the foundation will cost roughly $4700-$5000. I knew this part would be expensive but I can live with that. 

Also, I've been receiving alot of encouragement and I think i want to go up a story. The most expensive parts of a house are the foundation and roof so I figure adding a 2nd floor ( which could be finished later ) isnt such a bad idea. So I've revised my houseplans. Thankfully, I left room on the old floor plan for a stairway just incase. I'm thinking 4/12 pitch metal roof to shed the snow using off-site built trusses ( most likely ). I've heard from many people that off-site trusses are slightly more expensive than if you were to build them yourself but save you alot of time and are most likely stronger than if you built them yourself. Plus I can K-I-S-S and build boxes as I go up, then have the trusses delivered and lifted with a crane up onto the roof.



« Last Edit: January 24, 2009, 11:53:58 AM by Bishopknight »

Offline Mike 870

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Re: 30' x 40' Earth Berm Passive Solar House in Western Maine
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2008, 07:39:02 AM »
Bishop,

Did you run try using the heed software as you came up with your design?  I'm curious as to how that was to work with and if it was easy to figure out how to use. 

Did you calculate all your glass area/overhang, etc or just kind of go with a common sense design?  If so were the calculations complicated or pretty straight forward?

I had this scheme in my head to make adjustable window overhangs so I could optimize by season.  I was thinking I would have them on sliders to move from side to side, and hinges to fold up or down.

I thought I could add this to your references if you haven't already seen it.  I think I found it linked off this site actually.    http://www.builditsolar.com/Tools/tools.htm