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By Bruce in Ingleside, TX on 8/24/2006


I have been reading numerous blogs on this site and others and I have gained a lot of knowledge just from reading here at OBB. I have read through and studied the whole enchilada. We have our design plans just about finished. I still haven't decided yet how exactly to build our house? We will be building a 4,000 sq.ft. 1 1/2 story house in Aransas Pass, TX. As, stated, I have read numerous forums concerning stick, ICF, SIP and the variations of each in vented vs non-vented attics. Maybe someone can enlighten me on the best budget wise whole house approach to energy efficiency. By the way, I have several friends I work with that have built ICF with conventional vented attic and blown insulation in the ceiling. While they like the ICF build...they're not getting the efficiency in their HVAC system. One co-worker is just now building his ICF and is using Energy Wise Structures as consultant on his build so maybe he'll do better (as they guarantee their projected energy use based upon you building according to their analysis of your design). In South Texas it gets hot and humid 10 months of the year, so air conditioning is a really big issue.

So, the money question is...What is the best home for the bucks? I'm leaning towards ICF but don't know about the roof and the 1/2 story? Please respond with your experiences/wisdom/

Bruce G.

 

 


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 9/6/2006


Bruce,

   I'm planning an ICF first floor and a SIP's second 1/2 floor, using the SIP's for the ceiling and a vented attic.  I'm either going to use R-8 duct work in the unconditioned space, and/or cover it using the spray foam insulation.  I'm also planning to use a Geothermal heat pump, though it's turning out to be double the initial estimate, so I'm still working on that.

   I can't use ICF for my 2nd floor as the walls aren't directly above the walls below.  I think ICF is the best way to go, since the cost of shipping SIP's is getting crazy, and the installation is included with ICF, where it wasn't with SIP's.  I was told that using SIP's for the ceiling is the better cost option, and since I'm already over budget I'm going that route.

Tim

 


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By Rachel in Magnolia, TX on 9/7/2006


Tim,

We are also looking into the geothermal system for the A/C.  We will be building in the Houston area and have found it very difficult to find knowledgable people in this field.  Can you tell me who are you working with?  We are most likely using a horizontal closed loop system.  My husband has done some research and found a manufacturer in Ohio that gave him pricing on the unit components (6 ton) and piping alone (no duct work) of about 12,000.  He plans on saving some labor by doing the trenching and everything himself.

As far as the insulation, we are looking at the icynene.  There is a similar product called tigerfoam that appears to be reasonably priced (online).


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 9/7/2006


Rachel,

   I hesitate in giving you his information as I'm still waiting on hearing back from him, for 3 days now.  I was originally told that a 4 ton system would be about $16,000.  I've heard from a Water Furnace dealer that it would be about $5,500 per ton.  After I got an Energy Wise report showing that I would need 5.5 tons, the bid came back at $32,000 from the $16K guy that I'm waiting for a call back to see where we can cut some costs. 

   I got his info from Richard Rue at energywisestructures.com.  Don't know if he works over there, but he may have a contact for you.  His name is Victor DeMarco and his number is 512-219-1465.  Might want to call Richard as well, they are both very knowledgeable.

amgeosystems.com

They use Florida Heat Pumps.

Hope this helps.

Tim


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By Bruce in Ingleside, TX on 9/7/2006


All,

Hey, Thanks for the input ! I still have been doing much reading and studying. I'm not so sure about the ICF walls, a  Geothermal heat pump, or a vented attic. ICF seems like such a pain for the exterior wall and the interior finished wall.  I want to put Hardie Plank on the outside and I've read lots of kinda negative stuff concerning the interior straps (for cabintry on ICF walls). Seems like some of the new two cycle A/C's  for both temperature and humidity should work fine as opposed to an expensive heat pump. Tim, if your doing all that then, why vent the attic? Just curious. Please educate me. Also, getting someone knowledgeable (contractors/builders) about all this stuff doesn't appear to be easy. I've talked to several HVAC guys and they are really not on-board. I would really like to do a good envelope and closed attic and let the mechanical provide the rest.

 

Bruce

 


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By Bruce in Ingleside, TX on 9/8/2006


Tim,

I was wondering about the SIP roof myself. Where are you getting yours and what is the cost? Can you provide some info.?

 

Thanks,

 

Bruce


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 9/8/2006


Bruce,

   I'm not doing the SIP roof for a couple of reasons. 

The SIP manufactuer that I'm using (premiumsteel.com) has basically stated that it's better (costwise) to use the 7.5" insulated panels for the ceiling.  It requires less cutting of the panels and easier installation.  I was originally going to use a different company (thermasteelcorp.com), but they wouldn't cut the roof panels for me, I would have to buy them whole and cut myself.  They also don't make floor joists or roof trusses where Pemium Steel does. I got a bid from Insulspan (OSB type SIP), but it was way higher, and I would prefer not to use wood anyway.  I'm even using metal studs for the interior walls. 

The only thing I can tell you about the cost is that the SIPs are about $4.50 per sqft.  My roof is about 60 squares (6,000 sqft) and there are 4 different sections.  Because I'll be using a geothermal heat pump, and it should be housed in the attic, I'm looking into changing over to using the spray foam insulation for one part of the attic to house all of that. 

In response to your first post:

  • Hey, Thanks for the input ! I still have been doing much reading and studying. I'm not so sure about the ICF walls, a  Geothermal heat pump, or a vented attic. ICF seems like such a pain for the exterior wall and the interior finished wall. Not sure what you mean about being a pain.  The installation is being done by a contractor, I wouldn't do it myself.  I want to put HardiPlank on the outside (I'm using stone for the first floor and stucco for the second, my HOA requires 90% masonry.  I have HardiPlank on my current house and don't care for it, better than siding, but I like stone) and I've read lots of kinda negative stuff concerning the interior straps (for cabintry on ICF walls).  I haven't read about this, so I can't say. Seems like some of the new two-cycle A/C's  for both temperature and humidity should work fine as opposed to an expensive heat pump.  Might work fine, but geothermal is about 400% efficient, and when the cost is included in the mortgage, you'll easliy save the extra cost on energy bills, in other words, I'll be cash flow positive from day one.  Tim, if you're doing all that then, why vent the attic? Just curious. Please educate me.  I addressed this above, mostly cost, but also because I only know of 2 non-wood SIPs, and they both had issues with it.    Also, getting someone knowledgeable (contractors/builders) about all this stuff doesn't appear to be easy. I've talked to several HVAC guys and they are really not on-board.  I couldn't agree with you more about this.  I had an HVAC guy at my house for a repair and he had never heard of geothermal.  geoexchange.org  I would either contact the manufactuer or Richard Rue @ energy wise structures.  He might know someone in your area. I would really like to do a good envelope and closed attic and let the mechanical provide the rest.  Based on the bids that I've gotten so far, I estimate that the closed attic would cost about an additional $10,000 or more.  As my budget is already over, I've had to make some cuts, and that's where I went because of the issues involved with the company.

Hope this helps.

Tim


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 9/8/2006


Just wanted to update that he did get back with me and is working on a solution with me.
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By Bruce in Ingleside, TX on 9/13/2006


Tim,

Thanks again for the latest (2) posts. I'm not sure by the post how you are going to do the roof/attic area? Could you explain in more detail?

Thanks,

Bruce

 


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 9/16/2006


Bruce,

   My plans have changed once again, but I'll explain what I was going to do in case you're interested. 

   Because the cost of using SIPs for the roof was so high, and based on the recommendation of the SIP company, I was going to have OSB for the roof connected directly to the roof trusses.  There was not going to be any insulation connected directly to the roof.  The plan was to use a 7.5 inch SIP for the insulated ceiling.  This would be like having the blown in insulation on top of the ceiling, that is typical of this area.  The attic would then have either ridge vents or some other form of venting. 

   I have since gotten a bid for using spray foam that is much more cost effective and I'll be using that on the roof and won't have any insulation on the ceiling. 

Hope this helps.

 

Tim


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By Bruce in Ingleside, TX on 9/24/2006


Tim,

Does that mean you'll be incorporating the none vented attic. No vents, no ridge roof, no gable vents, no sofits venting, etc?

 

Bruce

 


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 9/24/2006


You got it.  Closed attic now.

 

Tim


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By Mark in Dripping Springs, TX on 11/20/2006


Hi Tim,

I'd be interested to know who you're working with for the spray foam insulation - I'm in Dripping Springs, and am going through the same thought processes as you (though I'm not so far down the road as you).

Thanks!

-Mark


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By Bob in Round Rock, TX on 11/23/2006


Tim,

I noticed that you will be using SIPs for your home.  Would you mind sharing the name of the subcontractor you are using to erect the walls?  I am planning to build in Dripping Springs in the fall of 07 and SIPs look very promising.

Bob

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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 11/25/2006


Mark,

   The company is Advanced Insulation of Texas. 

San Antonio: 210 568 8107 Austin: 512 479 8074 Houston: 713 896 1520

Tim


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By Tim in Round Rock, TX on 11/25/2006


Bob,

   I plan to purchase the material from Premium Steel, however I intend to erect the walls myself with the help of some friends and the supervision of my builder (manager).

Tim

 


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By Mark in Dripping Springs, TX on 11/25/2006


Thanks Tim!  I think that company is based in Dripping Springs (according to Icynene's dealer locator), so that's very convenient!

-Mark


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By Bob in Round Rock, TX on 12/5/2006


Tim,

How did the cost of the steel SIPs compare to the OSB ones?  Ideally, I too, would like minimize the use of wood products in the structure of the house, but not sure how feasibly that would be, cost wise. 

Since I've been researching using SIPs one of the things that has worried me is finding an experienced framer that would erect the SIP panels for a resonable cost.  I never considered doing it myself, although it does look pretty straightforward.  Since you are not using the panels for the roof, you probably won't be needing a crane.  I'll be very interested to hear your experience putting them up.  Have you broken ground yet?

Who did you use for the design of your house, if you don't mind me asking?  Were they familiar with ICFs and SIPs and specifically designed with those in mind?  Were you happy with them?  I'm having some trouble finding an architect/designer for what I consider a reasonable price.  They have been coming back in the $2-4 per sq foot range.  I was hoping to find someone for no more than a $1.50 per sq foot.  Maybe it's just wishful thinking and I'll need to increase my budget for that.

Bob

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