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Posted by Leonard in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/9/2006 8:30:11 PM

We've been pricing saltillo tile for the main level floor and have found out that Lowes has, what I think is a pretty nice type.  It's about a buck and a half per square foot and is unsealed, so I think we can make it a darker richer brownish red.  Has anyone out there stained saltillo tile?

We have also decided to put in two gas free standing fireplaces/stoves.  They are pretty efficient and should, by code, be able to double as heaters.  What is efficent for a gas fireplace/stove?

We are sending our plans out to an electrician for an estimate.  I have no idea how to ask for the estimate except for a breakdown of labor and materials.  We found a really efficient water heater by Marathon, and a 240 volt timer that we can use to set it back at night to save energy.

We also are doing the same for the plumbing.  I think that the plumber does the gas also. 

We need to get many estimates together to apply for our loan.  It's a slow process for a novice.

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Posted by Leonard in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/6/2006 12:28:00 PM

My wife and I looked at bids from six different SIP manufacturers, and decided to go with one from Minnesota, that included all hardware needed, and still at a good price.  This company also supplies a SIP panel designed to be used as a basement wall, which we will do.

Most people I've talked to, fans of SIPs are shaky on their support of basement wall SIPs and can't say exactly why, they just don't know about them.  With concrete walls you have much less insulation, interior penetration of moisture, and you have to frame out on the inside to sheetrock and install insulation.  SIPs can have sheetrock nailed directly to the inside surface.  Insulated Concrete Forms used for below grade walls are a good option, but much more expensive, and need special attachment of any interior treatment.  So scary as it may be, we are going with SIPs below grade.

We plan to seal the exterior surface as specified and much more with membranes that we have found for that purpose and the backfill and french drains have to be very carefully placed and backfilled afterwards.

SIPs have an R rating that is a good bit higher than stick construction, which in itself is reason to consider them, but the R rating of the total wall with SIPs is probably twice that of a conventionally constructed wall because of the very few seams it has to allow penetration of the cold and heat.

Also SIPs are much stronger than conventional walls because rather than supporting loads on a point to point basis, their support works in an evenly distributed manor.  In many cases storms have destroyed most of the houses surrounding a SIP house that was virtually untouched.

For a owner/builder, the fact that all panels can be pre-cut in the factory to the angles of the roof and joints, and for rough openings of windows and doors is a dream.  With a small crew the walls and roof can be constructed in a third to half the time of conventional construction, so I found in research.

We have now had engineering reports done for our septic field and foundation.  We have had our engineering design, as required done for our septic field and have just requested a design for our foundation.  We've requested electrical service and have staked out where the pole should go and recieved a cost to place it.

We have gone through a number of changes in our plans and have submitted the finals to the county for approval and a building permit.

I have drawn up a site plan with all proper setbacks of house, garage, septic field, drive, well, and utilities marked and the county has accepted it and granted permits for septic and drive.

We are now in the process of getting estimates for the excavation, drive, septic, masonry, electric, and plumbing.  We are also applying for a loan, which will require all of these estimates and more. 

Does any one know of good sources for an Owner/builder loan and what the going rate is?  We are now applying with IndyMac.  Any experience there?

We plan to use a corrugated tin for the roof because we like the look, once faded, the longevity is fantastic, installation is easy and the price is the best.  Any thoughts about that?

We want to use a stained concrete floor in the walkout level covered with area rugs and insulated (2" styrofoam) beneath.  Has anyone had experience with this floor on grade with no covering?

We also plan to use Saltillo tile on the main floor, thick stuff, with the thick backer board, all for look and solar massing.  That floor is most exposed to the many southern windows.  The wieght is more and also thickness, but the passive solar effect should be worth it.  Any ideas on this?

We want to use IKEA cabinets in kitchens, baths, and bedrooms.  They are very high quality, look great, and are priced well, but there is no store near Colorado and we will have to pay a good bit in shipping.  Has anyone used IKEA?

We will finish the exterior in stucco, once again for the passive solar advantage, look and low maintenance, in a rich reddish brown.  Has anyone considered solar advantage in using stucco?

Another different technique we want to use is metal studs in our interior framing for straightness and ease of mechanical installation.  Has anyone used metal for interior residential framing?


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Posted by Leonard in Colorado Springs, CO on 2/6/2006 9:46:54 AM

My wife and I bought a four acre piece of property about a year ago in mountain valley, about an hour west of Colorado Springs.  We have a southern view down the valley toward Eleven Mile Resevoir.

We have always wanted to build a weekend getaway and maybe future retirement home and this is a really nice site for it.  I've got a fair amount of experience at swinging a hammer and home repair over the years, so we decided to do our own general contracting.  We also have good friends in the area who are builders and have signed on to advise us novices.  They also can recommend trustworthy and good suppliers and sub-contractors.

After attending a home show and talking to a rep from a Structural Insulated Panel manufacturer, we decided to do much deeper research and get quotes from six different manufacturers.  We have defintely decided to go the SIP route for many good reasons.

If any out there have experience in how to have proper air exchange in such tight structures and therefore avoid the penetration of moisture into the seams of OSB panels and to avoid mold, please let me know.  I am apprehensive about that property of SIPs.

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