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Thread: Finally Bought Some Land

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Check out Resource Conservation Technology. They sell an acrylic roofing product I used when I built my wife's photo lab in Chelsea. (43 W 24th St, third floor, Chelsea Photographic. You could drop by and check it out if you were in the neighborhood.) The wet chemical environment required I waterproof 2200 sq ft of darkrooms, halls, etc, with 4" curbs everywhere to insure any spills would be contained. Using a pair of scissors and paint rollers, I completed this task in two weeks by myself. It has been in constant use for approaching 12 years, walked on, worked on, without issue. I have seen the same covering used locally on old metal roofs, sprayed on without the fabric bedding. Non-toxic, inexpensive, durable. They also sell EPDM membranes and other Scandinavian building products.

    If you use wooden siding on your house, it must be back-primed or you will never keep paint on it.

    Local codes where I live preclude building on piers, and they are more prone to shifting that full foundations. Alaskan slabs are infrequently used for outbuildings.
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    I think I've seen those alpine guards in (as the name suggests) Switzerland where a sheet of ice crusted snow sliding off a roof 4-5 stories above the sidewalk could do some serious damage to property and people. It wouldn't surprise me if they were part of the code in places where snow is heavy.

    Hillsdale averages about 40" of snow a year. NYC averages 24". Obviously it doesn't get that all at one time, though I guess four+ years ago we had a couple bad storm winters where it must have seemed like it. I remember we had two years in a row where there were piles of snow all over the place in the Hudson Valley. People basically ran out of places to put it. And in the following couple years afterwards, quite a few nice houses owned by people in the city went up for sale, because they just didn't want to face the winter any longer. That was when we first thought about the possibility of buying in the area. We started window shopping a bit, and we actually viewed a house where the woman who owned it had suffered a nervous breakdown during the winter and had been "retrieved" by her ex-husband & placed in a psychiatric facility. The land was amazing - 56 acres with about 5 of them facing a stream full of trout - but the house had been almost completely destroyed by the woman and her 4 dogs. Felt like the aftermath of The Shining.

    Several years ago, our architects built a house that was an experiment - essentially a proof of concept (except that it had to be successful, because someone was going to live there) - that involved many of the features that would risk issues with heating and cooling and water. The house was (as far as I understand it) constructed using a continuous series of concrete pours using an absolutely amazing form that was basically a building itself. It has a flat roof, a roof-top deck, a garden on the roof, and very large windows. They went through a whole process of testing and designing and consulting with engineers and interviewing concrete specialists, until they felt they had everything covered and the deficits to energy consumption, heating/cooling, seasonal demands, etc. were offset by the architectural design.

    The house doesn't look like much in the photos. Sort of like a concrete bunker. But first, it is bigger & taller than it looks and second, if feels lightweight once you are inside. Not like a bunker, more like a greenhouse. Or more like Phillip Johnson's Glass House than a bunker, which is uncanny. But while the windows are big, there aren't actually that many of them. They are placed very well, however, and every room has at least two exposures to the outside and every hallway has a window at either end. Now whether this is a house I would want to live in - that's a whole different question. But as a proof of concept, it is quite successful in person. And very pleasing.

    That's not to say that any of the advice here is wrong. Far from it. In fact, it has given me exactly what I was hoping to hear - lots of different perspectives on the engineering of a durable and manageable house in the woods. And I now have a nice list of questions for the architects as we move forward into the design process. I hope everyone continues to chime in along the way too, as I plan to post photos throughout the process. But I think one of the reasons you hire an architect is to get those creative and knowledgeable solutions to the engineering demands of making a durable and manageable building. Which is why you need a GOOD architect and not one (possibly) like Frank Lloyd Wright who is all vision and a bit more loosey goosey on materials and engineering. I know that at some point I am going to have to say "no" to some part of the design, and this thread is going to be pretty helpful with figuring out when and where to draw that line.



    I have a lot of admiration for Japanese architecture. Hard to beat some of their roof designs for managing rain water and snow.



    In Niigata Prefecture where areas sometimes get 10-12 feet of snow in the winter, the houses often have an above ground basement and the first floor is about 6-10 feet above the ground. The entry to the house has an external vestibule, so that you can open the front door of the house and have a staging area for digging out. And the eaves are fairly large, helping to shelter the area around the foundation. Still, that's a lot of snow.



    We visited a house in Niigata (town of Tokamachi to be exact,) the House of Light, designed by James Turrell for an installation of one of his "Light Space" works that borrowed some of the local building design principles (though he substituted a stair where the vestibule would be.) The snow not infrequently comes up to the level of the wrap around porch.

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  3. #143
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    BTW, according to the Japanese (and others) there is a reason you feel better when you visit the woods.

    The Japanese practice of 'forest bathing' is scientificially proven to be good for you | World Economic Forum
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    If I can add something, I'd recommend at least one gas fireplace. The reason being you can put a thermostat on it, so when you are not there in February and the power goes out it can keep the house from freezing. I have two and set them at 55F when I leave.

    Also I completely over googled ATV snow plow reviews and just bought the biggest tracked Honda snowblower I could find. It makes quick work of feet of snow and can be picked up by anyone with a small truck if you need it serviced. But I'd also look in to paying a local with a plow to take care of the driveway when you are out of town. Otherwise you may head up on the weekend and need a bulldozer to clear the driveway, which can cost way more.

    And my last bit is make sure whatever you buy/use there is a local who may be able to fix it. So don't get a rare german heat pump that they need to send a tech up from the city to service. One of my biggest problems is getting people out to fix/build things. When you find a good builder, keep them in your good graces!


    -Joe

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    jorn,
    live in a tent and build an awesome barn w a loft.
    I want/would love a barn.

    ps.if you build a barn I have some stuff to store in it. please forward address asap.
     

  6. #146
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by xjoex View Post
    If I can add something, I'd recommend at least one gas fireplace. The reason being you can put a thermostat on it, so when you are not there in February and the power goes out it can keep the house from freezing. I have two and set them at 55F when I leave.

    Also I completely over googled ATV snow plow reviews and just bought the biggest tracked Honda snowblower I could find. It makes quick work of feet of snow and can be picked up by anyone with a small truck if you need it serviced. But I'd also look in to paying a local with a plow to take care of the driveway when you are out of town. Otherwise you may head up on the weekend and need a bulldozer to clear the driveway, which can cost way more.

    And my last bit is make sure whatever you buy/use there is a local who may be able to fix it. So don't get a rare german heat pump that they need to send a tech up from the city to service. One of my biggest problems is getting people out to fix/build things. When you find a good builder, keep them in your good graces!


    -Joe
    I love my gas fireplaces.
    They won't fool anyone into thinking they're woodburning, but that's not the point. The point is - I can flip a switch and have a fire going.
    I love my gas fireplaces.
    GO!

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    I love my gas fireplaces.
    They won't fool anyone into thinking they're woodburning, but that's not the point. The point is - I can flip a switch and have a fire going.
    I love my gas fireplaces.
    I pick my battles, too. I don't miss cleaning the flue a couple times a year when I was a kid. Dad would be up on the roof with a 16ft pole scraping the insides and my brother and I downstairs with a Hefty bag around the base scooping soot in and doing our best to mitigate the black cloud of ash in our faces. At least I have emptying the central vac canister as a reminder.

  8. #148
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    If you are going to build a platform, take the natural next step and go Methodist Camp Cottage.


    And seriously if you haven't read this book, check it out, it discusses building systems starting with the most basic - solar warming, heat and moisture management, it was a real help in understanding what was going on when I renovated a house.
    https://www.amazon.com/How-Buildings.../dp/019516198X
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    There are guys in the area who plow based on seasonal contracts. You pay at the beginning of the season, and if it snows, they come and plow whether you are there or not. The trick is getting someone who is good at plowing a gravel drive, so that your driveway doesn't end up in 4 or 5 piles when the piles of plowed snow melt at the end of the season. Then you need the guy who does driveway grading and may or may not be the same person who does the winter snow plowing.

    While the area is rural, there has been a city population (weekenders, retirees, landed gentry) since the early 1900's and so there are longstanding services and traditional ways of getting things done.

    Back in the day, the train from the city came right into town. At some point, the tracks got pulled up (we looked at a house built in 1933 that used rails from that line as the floor joists - like a rock that house was) all the way back to Wassaic NY, where you can still catch a MetroNorth train back to the city. Currently, the segment from Wassaic to Millerton is paved as a rail trail for cycling, and eventually the plan is to run the trail all the way up to Chatham NY - 46 miles.

    Anyway, a lot of history and interconnectedness with NYC. A very nice lady I spoke to at one of the local eateries remembered as a girl watching all the dairy farmers bringing their milk to the trains to take it down to NYC in the morning. If you look on Google Earth, you can still see the old rail lines crisscrossing the entire county.
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    We have an 85K Warm Morning in the basement of one house for backup, and a Tuli-Kivi as a primary heat source. I built this house, timber framed, and there's all sorts of things I would do differently. The other was built in 1830, came with a massive kitchen stove that burns wood, and had dated insulation. But you can shut the house down in the winter to contain the heat, and it's efficient as a result. I love burning wood.

    Jorn- that concrete house looks beautiful. Reminds me more of Le Corbusier's work. Whatever you build, insulate it with the objective of being able to comfortably walk around in your drawers in the middle of winter. I helped build an 8K sqft dance studio with Larsen truss walls 10" thick full of cellulose. The floor is radiant, and the first winter's bill was 850$. The caveat with formed concrete walls is you have to build a stud framed structure inside of it, with the expense of doing so. But the outside is bulletproof, and there is much to be said for that. Build it once, and never, ever, do it again. Maintenance kind of sucks over time. I would rather ride.

    Honda snowblowers rock, and the electric start is a godsend when you first want to crank it up every winter.

    IMG_1618.jpgIMG_1615.jpgIMG_1613.jpg

    Friends built these houses in Bolinas. He was responsible for protecting Japan's art and architecture under Macarthur. She founded the Japan Society in SF. The beauty is in the detail, the simplicity, and the reserve. The walkway keeps you out of the tick zone. Just thought you might like this.
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by lumpy View Post
    If you are going to build a platform, take the natural next step and go Methodist Camp Cottage.


    And seriously if you haven't read this book, check it out, it discusses building systems starting with the most basic - solar warming, heat and moisture management, it was a real help in understanding what was going on when I renovated a house.
    How Buildings Work: The Natural Order of Architecture: Edward Allen, David Swoboda: 978195161984: Amazon.com: Books
    Interesting. I've been to Martha's Vineyard plenty as a kid and never knew about this.

    The cottages are built of tent frame inspired construction with vertical tongue-in-groove random width long leaf yellow pine boards (one length from plate to rafters) which formed the interior and exterior walls. The short side of the two-story rectangular buildings faced toward the front. A wide double door centered on the first floor is reminiscent of both tent openings and church doors. To each side of the entry is a small narrow window. On the second level, under the 90 degree angle of the gable with its 45 degree roof pitch, another double door opens onto a balcony that projects over the entrance. The cottages were usually divided into two or three rooms on the ground floor with sleeping rooms above. The upstairs furniture was brought into the cottages through the upstairs double doors since the larger pieces could not be carried upstairs through the narrow stairways. The distinctive filigree was produced in a mill by carpenters, using the then recently invented bandsaw, located at the end of Old Mill Road close to the present location of the East Chop Beach Club. The porches and porch roofs were added in the 1880s.
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post
    Interesting. I've been to Martha's Vineyard plenty as a kid and never knew about this.
    Right? I've read other articles about it too - the evolution of the community from platforms with tents on them to these increasingly ornate structures is fascinating - a lot of them wound up two stories. The Tabernacle is gorgeous.
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post





    I have a lot of admiration for Japanese architecture. Hard to beat some of their roof designs for managing rain water and snow.



    In Niigata Prefecture where areas sometimes get 10-12 feet of snow in the winter, the houses often have an above ground basement and the first floor is about 6-10 feet above the ground. The entry to the house has an external vestibule, so that you can open the front door of the house and have a staging area for digging out. And the eaves are fairly large, helping to shelter the area around the foundation. Still, that's a lot of snow.



    We visited a house in Niigata (town of Tokamachi to be exact,) the House of Light, designed by James Turrell for an installation of one of his "Light Space" works that borrowed some of the local building design principles (though he substituted a stair where the vestibule would be.) The snow not infrequently comes up to the level of the wrap around porch.

    I find great irony in most modern Japanese I know have no desire to live in a traditional Japanese house. The traditional homes are too uncomfortable.

    The first roof you show is great for the rain, but it is most likely ice dam central if it ever snows. I assume it is not in snow country. The reason the Niigata house has such a simple roof is to ease shovelling the roof in the snow. The simpler the roof, the simpler it is to shovel snow off. That is their chief concern.

    AS long as we are on a Japan kick, you should read 'Snow Country' Yukiguni by Kawabata. Passing through a mountain tunnel from the eastern side of Japan into snow country to visit an onsen during the winter is one of the great pleasures of Japan.
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    An average annual snowfall of 40" is reasonably small.
    GO!

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by vertical_doug View Post
    I find great irony in most modern Japanese I know have no desire to live in a traditional Japanese house. The traditional homes are too uncomfortable.

    The first roof you show is great for the rain, but it is most likely ice dam central if it ever snows. I assume it is not in snow country. The reason the Niigata house has such a simple roof is to ease shovelling the roof in the snow. The simpler the roof, the simpler it is to shovel snow off. That is their chief concern.
    Yes, exactly right. The first roof is in a tea house in the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo, so it is built to move a lot of rain over a sequence of roof surfaces to drains that run around the periphery of the building on the ground and front there into cisterns. I don't know if this one still has its cisterns, but that was the original principle evidently.

    Some of the houses in Niigata had ladders hanging on the side of the house, which I presume is for winter when you need to get up there and shovel. Hard for me to comprehend that amount of snow.

    Whenever we went into design shops in Tokyo, one thing we noticed were a lot of chairs and tables. There is a British designer, Jasper Morrison, who is popular there and did a line of chairs for Maruni, a prestigious Japanese wood furniture maker (like Thonet in Europe.) The joinery is incredible, but (understandably) the chairs feel a bit short!
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    An average annual snowfall of 40" is reasonably small.
    Depends on the deviation.
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by davids View Post
    An average annual snowfall of 40" is reasonably small.

    Not too bad, right? They get more snow at Catamount just a short distance away, but that's a north facing bowl and higher in elevation.
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    I split the difference in the gas fireplace discussion. I have a wood burning Rumford fireplace in which I installed a natural gas line when we first built it almost 20 years ago. In case I wanted either gas logs or a gas igniter in the future. I've not gone down the gas log route and I use compressed wood pucks to start the fires.
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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    I am not far from Lumpy, and our yearly average is 48", I think. We've had five feet on the ground before, but the way winter is trending is away from that. In the past four winters we had two that were tough enough- I have cows- that I had a bit of PTSD after. It seems a pattern emerges in early winter that gives an indication of what will follow. This year was cold, snow, warm, rain, and consequently little accumulation. But when there is abundant snow, and rain falls into it and freezes, snow load becomes an issue. I built a 72 x120 fabric building for my wife, and we had to hire a crew who jumared up and shoveled it off. Called our insurance agent first, who told us we were covered if it collapsed. Said, no, no, no- don't want it to collapse no matter what. They paid. Ice can do unbelievable damage though, and it's my biggest worry. Drove to Ottawa some years ago to pick up a horse, and past a certain point there was not one tree standing- because of ice. Power lines came down. I hope to avoid this.

    But snow load can crack ceilings, prevent doors from opening, just stress the crap out of a house. Like putting a clydesdale on a bike meant for a climber.
     

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    Default Re: Finally Bought Some Land

    Quote Originally Posted by j44ke View Post

    Whenever we went into design shops in Tokyo, one thing we noticed were a lot of chairs and tables. There is a British designer, Jasper Morrison, who is popular there and did a line of chairs for Maruni, a prestigious Japanese wood furniture maker (like Thonet in Europe.) The joinery is incredible, but (understandably) the chairs feel a bit short!
    my house in hakuba is 5 ft off the ground with foundation because of the snow. when it snows, it really snows.

    The chair only feels short to you, try sitting in a tatami room on a zabutan.
     

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