Introducing: The Beta Family

The Beta Family: Steph, Darren and Maggie
Greetings from the Nauhaus

Hello all –

Greetings from the Nauhaus. As a brief introduction, we are the Beta Family – though you can call us Steph, Darren and Maggie (our mutt of unknown lineage). We have dubbed ourselves the Betas since we have taken up residence in the Nauhaus while the Alphas – Jeff, Jeannine and Jackson – have moved further north (for now) to tackle new challenges. As we’ve settled in over our first few weeks, we can’t stop smiling at how lucky we feel to be living in such a beautiful and peaceful place. We’re also humbled by all the blood, sweat and tears that were shed in its construction. We hope to honor every contributor’s hard work by sharing bits of our experiences in living at the Nauhaus while making our own contributions to its evolution as well (we’ve started that endeavor in the garden). We look forward to keeping in touch.

 

Cordwood in Kenai, Alaska

This is Mark & Chelsea in front of their cordwood home in Kenai, Alaska.  The walls are 14″ spruce with foam insulation in the center cavity between the two 3″ mortar beads.

Here are more photos of their two story home.  They used a log wizard to craft the beams, posts and rafter.

Alaska provides ample solar time to work during the summer, but in the winter it can be a challenge.

Interior cordwood

Riding the wheelbarrow up to the second floor.

A final picture.   Nice job Chelsea and Mark.

Inspiration for future cold weather cordwooders.

Happy Trails,

Richard Flatau

Cordwood Construction Resources

Flato@aol.com

http://www.daycreek.com/flatau

http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/dcrflatau3.htm

Nauhaus Prototype Update: We're Done So Quit Askin'!

Thanks to everyone who has pushed me for an update on the carbon neutral prototype house project. I’ve had my hands full and blogging just hasn’t risen to the top of the list. Stay tuned because I have six months of great research results on a number of fronts including compressed earth block floors and walls, site made earthplasters, and a simple purchased clay and sand earth plaster.

What everyone asks first, however, is “when are you gonna be done”? Let’s put that baby to bed once and for all: we’re done. We’ve received our Certificate of Occupancy from the city and are jumping through a few hoops for the bank (don’t get me started, gawd!). Our test family, Jeff/Jeanine/Jackson (JJJ), are moving in upstairs next week. We’re looking for someone to live in the downstairs apartment, and the Nauhaus think tank/office/lab will be moved to the downstairs office.

So from a real estate, taxes, and bank perspective, we’re done. However, the point of this research project wasn’t just to build a house, but to create a living lab and opportunity for study, so there is still lots of work that we’ll do. High on the list will be to complete the final blower door test to see if we will receive Passive House certification. In the next month or two, we’ll be completing a collaboration with Tom Rioux of Earthpaint to test a number of finish solutions for the earthen materials in the building. This is exciting work because in the end we’ll be able to specify commericially available products from Earthpaint to finish and seal compressed earth blocks and earthen plasters.

If you want to help us with our ongoing research, we still need support to realize our:

  • performance monitoring system
  • “urban homestead” landscape installation
  • 7KW photovoltaic system to make the project perhaps one of the first carbon neutral houses in the world
  • — Clarke

    Nauhaus Prototype Update: We’re Done So Quit Askin’!

    Thanks to everyone who has pushed me for an update on the carbon neutral prototype house project. I’ve had my hands full and blogging just hasn’t risen to the top of the list. Stay tuned because I have six months of great research results on a number of fronts including compressed earth block floors and walls, site made earthplasters, and a simple purchased clay and sand earth plaster.

    What everyone asks first, however, is “when are you gonna be done”? Let’s put that baby to bed once and for all: we’re done. We’ve received our Certificate of Occupancy from the city and are jumping through a few hoops for the bank (don’t get me started, gawd!). Our test family, Jeff/Jeanine/Jackson (JJJ), are moving in upstairs next week. We’re looking for someone to live in the downstairs apartment, and the Nauhaus think tank/office/lab will be moved to the downstairs office.

    So from a real estate, taxes, and bank perspective, we’re done. However, the point of this research project wasn’t just to build a house, but to create a living lab and opportunity for study, so there is still lots of work that we’ll do. High on the list will be to complete the final blower door test to see if we will receive Passive House certification. In the next month or two, we’ll be completing a collaboration with Tom Rioux of Earthpaint to test a number of finish solutions for the earthen materials in the building. This is exciting work because in the end we’ll be able to specify commericially available products from Earthpaint to finish and seal compressed earth blocks and earthen plasters.

    If you want to help us with our ongoing research, we still need support to realize our:

  • performance monitoring system
  • “urban homestead” landscape installation
  • 7KW photovoltaic system to make the project perhaps one of the first carbon neutral houses in the world
  • — Clarke

    Cordwood Hobbit Style House with round door and living roof in Wisconsin

    Dan and Jessi P. built every hairy footed hobbit-fanciers dream home.  A 16 sided cordwood home (in Wisconsin,) complete with post and beam framework, living roof, masonry stove/heater/bake oven, stained concrete floor and a round, green hobbit door.

    The work is artistic, attractive and very nicely done.  The bottle end  and cordwood walls are artistic, attractive and very well done.   The nasturiums on the floor add a touch of whimsy.

    Here is a quote from Jessi’s blog.

    “We’re proceeding apace with the walls, which look so lovely when they’re done – from a distance they look like stone. Labor intensive and messy, but beautiful. We also have the framework for the round green door done. So we’re looking hobbity!”

    Jessi ends her emails with the following quote:

    Not all who wander are lost.   J.R.R.Tolkien

    Here is another quote from Jessi.

    Subject: Cordwood House

    Hi Richard – glad you like the looks of our place! All told, if you count the tree cutting/peeling summer, it took us about 5 years, but the actual cordwood stuff we squeezed into about two and half months – we started in October and laid up the last bit of wall the second week in December two years ago with the aid of much tarping and space heaters . It’s sixteen sided on a floating slab. The logs are 18 inches with loose fill insulation in the cavity. They are a mix of hemlock, spruce, and red pine which we took for the most part off the property. Our masonry heater was done by Gimme Shelter Construction over by you and then faced by a local mason, Wayne Kostka. Don was partially right in his comment – even on the coldest days this winter we were comfy with two fires a day, and it has stayed cool enough this summer that we haven’t bothered to move the window air con over from our old house. The roof is 6-8 inches of dirt over an Enkadrain drainage layer. Sedum we put in last fall has spread nicely and we put in another couple pounds of cuttings this summer, so in a few years when we’ve worn out the weeds it should be a nice low maintenance roof. All the rain we’ve had this year has given it a good test

    To Jessi & Dan:

    Kudos, congrats and thank you for sharing your wonderful cordwood home.

    Richard Flatau

    Cordwood Construction Building School

    flato@aol.com

    715-212-2870                715-536-3195

    http://www.daycreek.com/dc/html/dcrflatau3.htm

    Nauhaus Prototype Gets Plastered

    Exterior and interior plastering is underway on the carbon neutral Nauhaus prototype.

    The interior surface of the hempcrete walls has a base coat of earthen plaster consisting of sub-soil harvested from the construction site and mixed with sand and water. The mix was chosen after testing sixteen different compositions, a process spearheaded by intern Shannon Levenson. Earth plaster serves the Nauhaus prototype mission because it requires almost no energy to make or transport, and therefore has very little carbon emissions associated with it. In addition, earth plastering is fairly easy to learn, requires few tools, and is instantly gratifying, both because it’s beautiful at any skill level and very similar to playing with mud pies, a therapeutic experience that many adults realize they have been neglecting for too long. Whatever the reason, the earth plastering process attracted volunteers and interns like flies to…well, compost.

    The exterior wall surface has been covered with a base coat of lime-based plaster supplied by Lime Technology as part of the hempcrete wall system. Both interior and exterior plasters were applied directly to the hempcrete which proved to be an excellent plaster substrate. Fiberglass mesh, similar to mesh drywall tape, were embedded in plaster over any joints or cracks in the hempcrete. Together these plasters over hempcrete create a vapor permeable wall system, sometimes called a “breathable wall”. The idea is to create a wall that is open to taking on and giving off water vapor in response to humidity levels in the air inside or outside the building.

    We believe vapor permeable walls will last much longer and help create better indoor air quality than cavity wall systems that dominate US residential construction. As any builder will tell you, it’s pretty much impossible to keep water out of walls. Permeable walls are designed with the idea that it’s okay if some water gets in as long as it can get out just as easily and won’t cause any damage in the process.

    Nauhaus Prototype Gets Plastered

    Exterior and interior plastering is underway on the carbon neutral Nauhaus prototype.

    The interior surface of the hempcrete walls has a base coat of earthen plaster consisting of sub-soil harvested from the construction site and mixed with sand and water. The mix was chosen after testing sixteen different compositions, a process spearheaded by intern Shannon Levenson. Earth plaster serves the Nauhaus prototype mission because it requires almost no energy to make or transport, and therefore has very little carbon emissions associated with it. In addition, earth plastering is fairly easy to learn,  requires few tools, and is instantly gratifying, both because it’s beautiful at any skill level and very similar to playing with mud pies, a therapeutic experience that many adults realize they have been neglecting for too long. Whatever the reason, the earth plastering process attracted volunteers and interns like flies to…well,  compost.

    The exterior wall surface has been covered with a base coat of lime-based plaster supplied by Lime Technology as part of the hempcrete wall system. Both interior and exterior plasters were applied directly to the hempcrete which proved to be an excellent plaster substrate. Fiberglass mesh, similar to mesh drywall tape, were embedded in plaster over any joints or cracks in the hempcrete. Together these plasters over hempcrete create a vapor permeable wall system, sometimes called a “breathable wall”. The idea is to create a wall that is open to taking on and giving off water vapor in response to humidity levels in the air inside or outside the building.

    “We believe vapor permeable walls will last much longer and help create better indoor air quality than cavity wall systems that dominate US residential construction,” says Clarke Snell of the Nauhaus Institute. “As any builder will tell you, it’s pretty much impossible to keep water out of walls. Permeable walls are designed with the idea that it’s okay if some water gets in as long as it can get out just as easily and won’t cause any damage in the process.”

    Nauhaus Radio Interview

    radioMike Figura and I did an interview about the Nauhaus prototype with Ned Doyle for his radio show, “Our Southern Community”. Okay, the interview was in February and I’m just getting around to listening to it. I’ve been busy, so sue me.

    Anyway, this is still accurate and has good information about our work, though some things have changed. For example, Mike now wears a tie.

    Here’s the interview divided into two parts:

    Nauhaus Interview Part 1

    Nauhaus Interview Part 2

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