Any architects or home builders out there? Need help...

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member
Hello all...
In my quest for sparking some more feedback and post on the forums - I continue to post threads like this. LOL Yes! It does contain an aquarium in the home design!!!

Just take a look at it. Offer some advice or just tell me I'm off my rocker. I think it's a good design, but I need some fresh eyes to point out some possible flaws.
As far as the aquarium goes, it is sunlit with solar tubes and vents into the green house. space next to the tank is a small closet for hanging accessories. An RO Unit will be going in the closet, so I will have to also install a water line and a drain line.
The house will be a passive solar house and use solar heating for water and some power. I also plan on having some windmills on top of the house to generate some of the electricity. This house is going to be built one day or another - so i have a few years to tweak it here and there as needed.
The fireplace is where it is because I want to use some of the heat coming from it to heat the greenhouse as well as the house. Winters here in Louisiana are very mild - and this should be plenty for what I want.
The above ground cellar is fortified and covered with dirt, and has a strong door placed on it.
The racks in the pantry is kind of what like wal-mart has for their milk section. When you come home from grocery shopping, you go in the pantry and put your canned goods (even home canned goods) into the rack from behind - in the pantry. They roll to the front, where you will use them when you cook. first in first out I think is what its called.
The house, not including the above ground cellar, front porch and green house is under 1900sqft by my calculations (which might be highly inaccurate.)
Anyways - I need some storage ideas as well as just some overall commentary on the design. Thanks.
 

mantisman51

Active Member
Usually you need a clerestory to maximize the benefit of passive solar. We have almost solid windows on the southern side of the house and added a 4'x30' clerestory that will shine sunlight into most of the northern side of our house. Also, rammed earth or a used tire "earthship" are best for true passive solar because their mass allows for more consistent interior temperatures. Just throwing that out their. I went to a build-it-yourself workshop with the father of rammed earth and passive solar-Quentin Branch. His analysis of my plans is why I added the clerestory.
Even if you build a traditional stick-on-frame house, you can look over his sight and get some ideas for passive solar.
http://www.rammedearthhomes.com/workshops.htm
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the link.
Here in Louisiana, I don't think that those building materials would hold up well over time. It would have to be a stick-on-frame house. Most of the windows would be on the south side - and a green house with double insulated windows from the living room would give plenty of sunlight - along with the solar tubes for other rooms.
The roof design would allow for maximum sun time. I plan on having solar panels, solar tubes and even a solar heating system for most of the hot water.
 

mantisman51

Active Member
Rammed earth with 5% concrete stabilizer has been used in Louisiana-it's like stone when it cures. One of Quentin's rammed earth houses was the only home in a neighborhood that survived Katrina. The others were blown flat. That house had the plywood blown off one window and only had minor rain damage to furniture close to the window. He needs to put up more of the projects he's done around the country. He has actually built homes in France and Australia, also. If a area can have stucco, they can have rammed earth. When I took his course he showed us the home in Aspen he was building. They get mountains of snow in the winter and torrential rain in the spring and fall. That house was being built into the side of a mountain. The building characteristics do lend themselves well to the SW. Hope it all goes well for you.
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member
I got some more advice from some people on another forum and I am breaking some "international building codes" with the design. So, after work today I am going to come back and fix the code problems.
 

mr. limpid

Active Member
First I don't see a place for you to sit down and eat, unless that is a counter eating area. Also in the master bed room I would have a slider entry door into closet so your bedroom door doesn't hit it. I would lose the door between the bedroom and closet, this will give you more shelves in closet. Swing your bathrooms door in the other direction and move all bed room doors to open against a walls like the master does. How about a wash tub in the green house with a door between the living and green house by the fish tank to make water changes easy. Also pipe sump/fuge into the green house to make it easy to work on and for spills, you could even plumb. in a auto drain system and pumps for water changes.
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member
Thanks Limpid for your feedback!
The aquarium itself has a large sump underneath it in the cabinet, as well as a cabinet beside the tank. The cabinet beside the tank will house a calcium reactor and/maybe a kalkwasser stirrer. It will also have a controller for the entire tank - for the automatic water changes and everything. I was thinking about putting a saltwater and freshwater container in the greenhouse to mix water. The closet also has an RO/DI unit with a drain and a cold water supply line. The space underneath the tank also has a drain for easy water changes. I've already thought of all that. LOL
Here is a new diagram with a lot of tweaks that people have suggested from another forum.
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member

So, I just re-did things a little bit. I was told that I needed to install a retaining wall on the garage side of the house because I want to build up the soil, so I added that in there. I took out the doors from the closets and made them slideable. I added stairs, and figured out where/how the cars were going to be parked. I added a few more features to the house and fixed most of the bad building codes in the diagram.
I also added a tool shed and a shop so that I can start my own taxidermy shop. I figured I would put it over there because I like to have coffee on the front porch in the morning and then I'll most likely cut through my green house and water the plants on the way to work. :D The shop will be a bit further away as to not shadow over the greenhouse. The shop will also have a small parking lot.
Anyways, I would appreciate it if you all took a look at the new design and offered some more tips and advice.
 

wangotango

Active Member
I'm not licensed (yet), but I am an architecture student. Couple things I noticed: You may want a closet near your front entry for guest's coats/crap, vacuum cleaner, etc. You could probably sacrifice some of the "food racks" in the kitchen for a closet. The "dining room" space seems a bit tight (not sure what the dimensions or scale are though). With one little window on the north wall, the master bedroom is going to be kinda dark. If it were me, I'd try to see if it would fit in the south-east corner. I believe by code a bedroom must be a minimum of 120sqft, so the guest bedroom that's in the south-east corner looks a bit small (again I don't know the dimensions).
IMO for passive solar you're going to want more glass on the south and west facades that what you've shown. A decent overhang will provide you enough shade in the summer, and allow enough sunlight to come in during the winter. If the wall the your fireplace is on is made of concrete/brick/CMU or something with a lot of mass that would also be a good idea for holding heat and radiating it out during the winter. Especially if the greenhouse (more of a solarium) is all glass. Fireplaces in general aren't great for heat and tend to suck cooler air from the rest of the house. Have you thought about a wood burning/pellet stove instead?
Ditto on moving the bedroom doors to the corners. Entering the rooms would be a bit awkward the way they are placed now.
Solar hot water is a smart way to go, with a small boiler/hot water heater as backup. Not sure if you were going to use PVs for power and if you had gotten some ideas as to how many, and how much power you were going to get with them.
Where is your mechanical space?
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member
I have changed the design up significantly since I posted the last updated design. I'm not on my usual computer or else I would post it now.
The bedrooms are all 14x14. I've added A LOT more storage space by basically adding two foot all around the outside parameters of the east, west and south sides of the house. Fold out desks, bookcases, closets, reading nooks, cabinets, etc. etc. all around. The doors to the guest bedrooms have all been put in corners as well and the cabinets etc in them that were taking up room are now built in the wall.
The aquarium has also been moved over to the left, where the tank is now viewable from two sides. The AC has moved over to the "racks" side and the rack system has gotten a little more complicated, but it's not shown.
I just had someone else tell me on another forum to scrap the design completely and start over from scratch and that I suck as an architect. (which I am not one by any means anyways....)
 

wangotango

Active Member
Looking forward to seeing it.
Speaking from experience, you don't get it right the first time (or the second, and rarely the third). But I think you're on the right track.
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member
The fireplace isn't exactly a fireplace either. It's one of those built in wall furnace type fireplaces. I want to customize it a little bit by adding some water pipes around it and have water pumping through underneath the floorboards of the house to heat up the bedrooms. A friend of mine just did that to his house and he said he loves it! so... I have some help doing that. The "fireplace" also has a vent out the back of it that exhausts heat out both sides and into the greenhouse. It will keep the greenhouse warm during the coldest parts of the winter here in Louisiana.
The table in front of the kitchen sink area is kind of small, but enough to seat six comfortably. My wife does most of her school work at the kitchen table, and I assume that is where she will continue to do her work. I also have a built in wall desk in the southwest corner of the house ... something you can flip down and you have a monitor and keyboard etc. just right there built in the wall.
The TV will go directly over the top of the fireplace, and there will be some sort of shelf acting as a heat shield for it. :D
When I get back on my desktop computer I'll post the new updated design and let you take a look at it.
 

snakeblitz33

Well-Known Member

UPDATED DESIGN!!!!
I don't know if you can tell, but a lot has changed! Check it out!
I now have a fish room behind the tank. It's small, but I will make do. There is also now an office! My wife is happy about that. The greenhouse has gotten quite a bit smaller. The back porch area has been rearranged and more storage added. There is now a sink on the back porch. The water heater has moved to a more central location in the house. The AC was switched to the other side of the room. There is a reading knook in every bedroom with a nice sized bay window. The knook also has bench storage and cabinets above. To the right of the guest bedroom knooks are built in wall desks.
So, yeah, lots and lots more storage. I also decided that the access to the attic will be in the small pantry. The extra larger pantry is basically a well made storm shelter and panic room (kinda). The dimensions kind of work out but not really. I am still working on them. I have cut out some construction paper to the sizes that I want the rooms and I am trying to get it put together as it is needed. So far it's working out alright. That's how I got most of the dimensions I have on there right now. LOL.
Anyways, keep spotting flaws in my design and I'll try to keep em' knocked down and corrected.
 

wangotango

Active Member
Made some suggestions in red. With solar panels you need space inside for equipment like inverters, etc. Those could probably fit in the pantry.
 
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