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Old 04-06-2008, 09:36 AM
 
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anyone have any information on small house living? I've found a few websites, but the details are sketchy.

I was wondering about the building cost differential between 1 story, 1-1/2 story, and 2 story, given an 800 sq ft living space. Also, would a wood stove serve all my space-heating requirements given 20 degree F temps in winter.

The money saved on up front building costs, and year to year operation, could allow me to shave a few years off my retirement date.
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:01 AM
 
Location: Ocean Shores, WA
5,080 posts, read 13,858,521 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LIborn View Post

I was wondering about the building cost differential between 1 story, 1-1/2 story, and 2 story, given an 800 sq ft living space.
Consider the fact that as you get older, climbing stairs becomes increasingly more difficult.
So no matter how much you may have saved in the initial planning and construction, it's not worth a penny if you can't get up to the second floor.
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:27 PM
 
Location: Johns Creek, GA
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I would have to agree with Fat Freddy-
Put it all on one floor- then there will be no consideration of stairs in the future.
As far as cost- 800sq/ft could cost as much as a 3500-5000sq/ft house per square foot.
Planning becomes all the more crucial. Space, traffic flow, and storage become paramount.
As far as heating- 800sq/ft is not alot. You could probably satisfy your demand with radiant floor heat. It would be more consistant throughout versus a woodburning stove. Overly hot in the room it's in, and mildly warm at the far reaches. Insulation would be another key consideration- Especially exterior walls. I'd go with 2X6 walls so you can get R-19 insulation in the walls. Stay away from vaulted ceilings, they rob your warm air. Unless you plan to use a convection type of cooling "system" for the summer (that's the kind of system where you open the windows and the "cool" air is drawn in by vents [awning windows] in the vault). And some ceiling fans can help with the heat in the winter.
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Old 04-06-2008, 04:34 PM
 
Location: Texas
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Even though I have CAH, I've been "spot heating" and "spot cooling" to save money. My home is about 1350 sq. ft. and it's worked GREAT! I bought "electric wood stoves" for the bedrooms and living areas -- not only are they attractive but they do a great job of heating, too!

For the summer, I bought a portable evaporative cooler for my main living area and it's doing a SUPER job! I'm planning to get another one for my bedroom. They run a bit over $100 for a good one (I shopped online) and they use the energy equivalent to a 60-watt bulb. These only work in areas of low humidity but, I'll tell you, I'm really pleased with how cool it's keeping my living room.

I don't know where you live but if you insulate your home well, you may want to consider spot heating and cooling. CAH systems are big energy hogs and need annual maintenance.
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Old 04-06-2008, 05:17 PM
 
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Have you looked at these resources from the Small House Society?
Resources for Life.com » Small House Society - Resources
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Old 04-06-2008, 09:56 PM
 
Location: Bradenton, Florida
27,236 posts, read 43,940,295 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LIborn View Post
anyone have any information on small house living? I've found a few websites, but the details are sketchy.

I was wondering about the building cost differential between 1 story, 1-1/2 story, and 2 story, given an 800 sq ft living space. Also, would a wood stove serve all my space-heating requirements given 20 degree F temps in winter.

The money saved on up front building costs, and year to year operation, could allow me to shave a few years off my retirement date.
All I can offer is this website

Tiny Homes and Small Houses

I was interested in a small home, because I personally have no use for anything large...only problem with this is I would have to OWN it, and I'm in no mood for that either.
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Old 04-07-2008, 09:47 AM
 
Location: Ocean Shores, WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LIborn View Post
...would a wood stove serve all my space-heating requirements given 20 degree F temps in winter.
An efficient wood stove would do just fine, but the same considerations exist with wood heat as with a two story house.

When you are younger and can cut and haul your own firewood, wood can be a very inexpensive way to heat.
But as you age, and have to buy your pre-cut fuel delivered by the cord, it can become more expensive than other methods such as gas or electric.

It will eventually get to a point where no matter how much you like your wood stove, you will appreciate being able to heat your house by just touching your thermostat instead of carrying in a load of firewood.

Many folks have a wood stove or efficient fireplace as a "recreational device" to appreciate the aesthetics of a wood fire, but in a small house, there may not be enough space for this.
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Old 04-08-2008, 10:32 AM
 
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thanks for the input people.

I can't imagine a time when a flight of stairs would prove to be a challenge, but the extra money spent to put everything on one floor may be a good insurance policy. I may opt for 1-1/2 stories, and just keep all the essentials on the first floor, and abandon the upper living space should the time come.

damn, i was hoping to keep the heating arrangement simple. radiant floor heating is probably the costliest method, albeit the most comfortable. spot heating is good for supplemental, but a primary source is still required.

i found the links very helpful. i'll be adding them to my list.
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:08 PM
 
720 posts, read 1,337,132 times
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I love those tiny homes....how much space does a person really need? I think they are much more cozy and charming than a large home. Not all the plans are for 2 story homes right? There has to be 1 level plans.
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Old 04-09-2008, 12:59 AM
 
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
1,677 posts, read 6,087,260 times
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I just returned from visiting a friend in the Portland Maine area. They live in a two story home with full basement. Electric heat (turned off) Monitor or Toyo oil fired stove model 56. The stove is set near the front door and blows towards the kitchen through the living room. Bath and bedrooms are on second floor. The stairs are near the front entrance so heat travels up the stairs. Stove is set for 68 when people are present and turned down to 64 at other times. over an entire year they burned 300 gallons approximately. I would guess 1000 to 1100 square feet of space.

I live in a 768 sq foot poorly insulated, no vapor barrier house with 6 inch walls and unknown insulation in the attic. Ranch style. Heat is by oil fired hotwater baseboard. This house burns upto 750 gallons of oil a year in Fairbanks Alaska. Boiler also makes hot water.

If you choose a ranch style house you need to plan how air flow will get to the back rooms especially the bathroom. A Toyo type stove is a good choice for energy efficiency. Plan and locate where heat can travel naturally. A friend has two stoves in their place one as main heater, the other is for spot heating a back room. Maybe more cost initially but will save over radinat, or a boiler. Radiant is nice but you need to allow the boiler to go cold ie: condensing style so your not wasting energy for standy.

Wood stoves make nice heat, but suck air out of the house for combustion which you need to heat. Space loss for clearances etc may make it impractical for a smaller home.
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