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Major construction project this summer -- advice welcome

<SLV>

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In 2009 we moved to Wisconsin from Colorado to build our little homestead. Long story short, it took 6 years of my life ( blood, sweat, and tears) to convert an old granary into our house. We have lived in our 800 square foot 2-bedroom 1-bath home for almost 7 years now -- the first 5 were off-grid solar, and the last 2 we have been grid-tie solar.

It is time to expand. I knew this day would come, and even though the timing doesn't seem right, waiting seems worse. My two oldest are freshmen in college, and the out-of-pocket cost to our family is $45k (for both) per year. Eeks. But now is the time to add on because...

1. My father is failing with Alzheimers. It is increasingly hard for my mother (who has physical disabilities) to care for him. They live 5 hours from us, and I try to visit them once a month for support, but eventually dad is going to need nursing care. When that happens I want to be able to invite my mom to live with us so that dad can be in a facility nearby. Or (God forbid) my mom should pass before dad, he would immediately need to live with us. I feel like I can't wait until the need arises because there won't be enough time to prepare. Our current house has two upstairs bedrooms and an upstairs bathroom. Stairs are hard for both of my parents. Also, we do not have a shower -- just a clawfoot bathtub, and that is not something they can manage.

2. Money is cheap right now. We took out a 15-year fixed mortgage for $75,000 at a rate of 2.625%. We have been debt-free for years, and hated to do this, but the way I look at it the cost of building materials is going up more than 2.625% per year. After closing costs we have about $73,000 to get this project done.

3. Eventually my four beautiful daughters will be married and starting families. I want our home to be suitable for future visits and big enough to be a gathering place at the holidays. We are a little early for this purpose, but this desire in informing the design.

The plan is to add a single story over full basement wing:
  • 28x22
  • Radiant heat basement floor (LP) will heat entire addition (radiant heat will simultaneously be retrofitted to first floor of existing house).
  • ICF Basement walls (8'), Logix 6 1/4" concrete with 2.75" foam either side (I accepted a bid for $18.8k to build basement walls and pour floor (I prep floor insulation, rebar, and heating coils)
  • Initial construction will be a living room and family room over an unfinished basement
  • Full cathedral ceiling with 84" side walls (to get new roof under existing eave and tie into existing 4:12 porch roof)
  • 2x10 rafters to LVL beam
  • Floor will be 3.5x14" I-Joists with load bearing wall in basement
  • Eventually the "family room" in this project will be turned into a bedroom / bathroom (ADA with large walk-in shower)
  • Eventually the basement will be turned into a finished family room and two guest bedrooms with egress windows out to grade
I am starting this thread for a place to ask questions. I have a lot of decisions to make as I finish my plans and prepare to submit them for a building permit. I know we have a lot of experience here, and we especially have a lot of opinions and are not shy to share them!

Basement floor plan.jpg

First floor plan.jpg
 

<SLV>

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Before and after of the last project.

100875173277879.jpg


1198119533553432.jpg
 

<SLV>

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Here are a couple things I am wrestling with today:

1. Meeting REScheck requirements with wall framing. I am thinking about doing a standard 2x4 exterior wall frame on 16in centers, but setting the wall back from the edge to allow for OSB sheeting with integral foal insulation. With R13 fiberglass in the wall and R6 in the sheathing I just get to the minimum requirements (with R30 fiberglass in the cathedral ceiling). I also thought about a 5.5in wall with offset 2x4 studs on 12" centers, or even double 2x4 walls with offset studs. I am open to suggestions.

2. Would like to plan for air conditioning, and I am looking at installing a three-zone mini-split (we have no ducting). One zone would go at the top of the stairs in the existing house, one would be in what would become the new main floor bedroom, and the other would be in the new living room (which would also feed down the open stairs to the basement. Anyone recommend a certain brand for long-term reliability?
 

TAEZZAR

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SLV, as you know, I am rebuilding from the fire. At this point, all I have to offer is to plan well. Consider where your water & sewer are so you can hopefully build around their location to fit you needs.
If you show me where they are, I might be able to help with the initial planning/floor plan.
 

hoarder

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I would go 2x12 on the rafters in the cathedral ceiling. You really should have a small air space between the batts and the roof decking.
High density batts are made for cathedral ceilings and I would use them.
 

TAEZZAR

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Here are a couple things I am wrestling with today:

1. Meeting REScheck requirements with wall framing. I am thinking about doing a standard 2x4 exterior wall frame on 16in centers, but setting the wall back from the edge to allow for OSB sheeting with integral foal insulation. With R13 fiberglass in the wall and R6 in the sheathing I just get to the minimum requirements (with R30 fiberglass in the cathedral ceiling). I also thought about a 5.5in wall with offset 2x4 studs on 12" centers, or even double 2x4 walls with offset studs. I am open to suggestions.

2. Would like to plan for air conditioning, and I am looking at installing a three-zone mini-split (we have no ducting). One zone would go at the top of the stairs in the existing house, one would be in what would become the new main floor bedroom, and the other would be in the new living room (which would also feed down the open stairs to the basement. Anyone recommend a certain brand for long-term reliability?
Living where you do, I think 2x6 exterior walls would give much better insulating factors & take a load off the mini split.
I would start by looking for mini split reviews on the net.
 

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This may be in the future, but with your parents disabilities, I would make all exterior and interior doors a min. of 36 inches (for wheelchair access).

Been there done that
 

ttazzman

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Living where you do, I think 2x6 exterior walls would give much better insulating factors & take a load off the mini split.
I would start by looking for mini split reviews on the net.
i agree......and from what i have seen 2 x6 lumber is comperably priced to 2x4 right now .......maybe its a regional thing

agree with mini-split

would consider spray foam insulation
 

<SLV>

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i agree......and from what i have seen 2 x6 lumber is comperably priced to 2x4 right now .......maybe its a regional thing
Only thing I was trying to avoid was solid contact through the framing. But 2x6 might get me to pass the REScheck. I will rerun the numbers. Ultimately, there is a trade off between cost and efficiency. My biggest concern is meeting code requirements to get permits issued.
 

TAEZZAR

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This may be in the future, but with your parents disabilities, I would make all exterior and interior doors a min. of 36 inches (for wheelchair access).

Been there done that
Which brings up another point. Is there a backdoor at the rear of your home. You will need a no step entry for your parents or even yourself, as you get older.
I have designed all entry's as no step entry's in our new home.
 

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<SLV>

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Which brings up another point. Is there a backdoor at the rear of your home. You will need a no step entry for your parents or even yourself, as you get older.
I have designed all entry's as no step entry's in our new home.
Yes, this is a big concern. I have room next to the house to run a ramp up to the porch (front or back). But there is an 8" step up into the front door. I have to disassemble half of the front porch to dig for my basement walls. I might think about raising the porch deck while I am at it.
 

<SLV>

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I would start by looking for mini split reviews on the net.
Lots of pros say good things about Mitsubishi Electric. I have put in an RFQ to a couple local contractors who deal in this equipment.

I wonder if they will sell it to me and let me install? I'll bet that 12-year warranty would be voided. We'll see how much install is -- shouldn't be too hard if all of the walls are open framing.
 

ttazzman

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Lots of pros say good things about Mitsubishi Electric. I have put in an RFQ to a couple local contractors who deal in this equipment.

I wonder if they will sell it to me and let me install? I'll bet that 12-year warranty would be voided. We'll see how much install is -- shouldn't be too hard if all of the walls are open framing.

mini splits are easy to install other than the charging as you probably know....i would rfq them with a couple of options ...IE ....equip only...equip and labor....etc
 

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Lots of pros say good things about Mitsubishi Electric. I have put in an RFQ to a couple local contractors who deal in this equipment.

I wonder if they will sell it to me and let me install? I'll bet that 12-year warranty would be voided. We'll see how much install is -- shouldn't be too hard if all of the walls are open framing.
Don’t deal with mini splits allot but I don’t see too many issues with the Mitsubishi out there. I see more issues with carrier and other brands than them. Biggest thing on install is a proper flare connection. I always use the tiniest amount of oil on the face and back of the flare when tightening.

If you just want the equipment you can get just about anything online.
 

ttazzman

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Don’t deal with mini splits allot but I don’t see too many issues with the Mitsubishi out there. I see more issues with carrier and other brands than them. Biggest thing on install is a proper flare connection. I always use the tiniest amount of oil on the face and back of the flare when tightening.

If you just want the equipment you can get just about anything online.
type of oil?
 

davycoppitt

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type of oil?
Just refrigerant oil I have on my van that goes in the system. It’s a very tiny amount so any kind should work. Just keeps the copper from tearing. People in HVAC will debate doing this but I have never had issues and the flares hold every time.

 

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Living where you do, I think 2x6 exterior walls would give much better insulating factors & take a load off the mini split.
I would start by looking for mini split reviews on the net.
While I don't pretend to be a construction expert, I have designed and supervised a remodel of a home taken down to the frame and rebuilt. My Northern WI lake house has 2x6 walls and high R windows. We lose very little heat and winter and seldom if ever use air in summer. It helps that we have a geothermal system but I wish we would have put radiant heat in the floors sometimes. Lots of fuzzy slippers.
 

TAEZZAR

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While I don't pretend to be a construction expert, I have designed and supervised a remodel of a home taken down to the frame and rebuilt. My Northern WI lake house has 2x6 walls and high R windows. We lose very little heat and winter and seldom if ever use air in summer. It helps that we have a geothermal system but I wish we would have put radiant heat in the floors sometimes. Lots of fuzzy slippers.
Agavegirl, in my estimation, you are spot on. :gracious::finished:
 

TAEZZAR

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My biggest concern is meeting code requirements to get permits issued.
SLV, where you live, it looks remote, why bother with "permission" to build on your home?
I built a nice 700 sq. ft. home for my mother, attached to our garage, with no permits. I built beyond specs.
I got caught from arial photos.
They came out to shake their finger at me.
No fines, no fees. No looking inside, no looking at photos I had.
Their ONLY desire was to get me on the tax roles.
 

ttazzman

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SLV, where you live, it looks remote, why bother with "permission" to build on your home?
I built a nice 700 sq. ft. home for my mother, attached to our garage, with no permits. I built beyond specs.
I got caught from arial photos.
They came out to shake their finger at me.
No fines, no fees. No looking inside, no looking at photos I had.
Their ONLY desire was to get me on the tax roles.
no regs or codes here.........they just send two gals around the county and visit each place every 2 years.....just for taxes .....which are low anyway...i wont let them on the property but i am polite and tell them anything i have done......and invite them to drone me
 

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slv,
Understand you are an engineering type and I'm sure you've noodled endlessly on this... random thoughts.

1) Hard to manage to a budget right now. National companies with purchasing power are struggling between material costs, availability and quality/dependablity of subs. Your area might be different, but it doesn't change the triangle of quality, time and cost. Took you 5 years the first time but with your parents situation time isn't your friend, so cost becomes your only moveable object.. I'd allow a 30% buffer if your area is anything like ours, that's 25k, but not a lot in todays construction market.

2) I build with an eye on selling, you might never get there but the day always comes. Which brings inspections and nit picky people trampling through your decisions. So focus on what you want with an eye toward the market.

3) Understand and appreciate my GIM brothers but deal with and permit construction. In a buyers eyes un permitted = possibly shoddy work, and more important you can only borrow on what the local tax people list as sq ft. Stretched buyers need every bit of room to multiply toward purchase.

Brother, have no idea how you spent a decade in 800 sq ft with a growing family, but I'd give strong consideration to analyzing your overall property to see if you can scrounge enough to build a separate dwelling that fits your needs. Your place is cute as a button and if here I'd have six couples lined up to look by morning. But it's going to be tough to maintain curb appeal and cuteness through this build. If you want to stay there and don't have the land talk with your neighbors or folks at church, someone has some property to spare. I would buy with an eye toward a couple extra homes on the property for those girls, keeping the grands close.

There are worse things than a loan, and this property is the cornerstone of your financial future. Talk with a good agent, CMA's are free and find out what your place is worth. Check into dividability of the land or find land and talk through cost to build. If you find the right property, build it right build it tight, you reset the time clock to zero at time of occupancy. Everything begins to depreciate at the same instant and believe me not dealing with the intermittent failure of house stuff during college/retirement years is a real blessing. Yes it might mean college loans but it might also mean greater eligibility of scholarships and sometimes you have to step out in faith... actually Henry Blackaby would describe your current situation as crisis of belief, the intersection you must cross toward what's best...
 
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hoarder

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SLV, where you live, it looks remote, why bother with "permission" to build on your home?
I built a nice 700 sq. ft. home for my mother, attached to our garage, with no permits. I built beyond specs.
I got caught from arial photos.
They came out to shake their finger at me.
No fines, no fees. No looking inside, no looking at photos I had.
Their ONLY desire was to get me on the tax roles.
Here in America, the only permit I needed was for the septic. Having to build with all permits causes a logistical nightmare and casts a cloud of uncertainty on your projects.
 

hammerhead

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Here in America, the only permit I needed was for the septic. Having to build with all permits causes a logistical nightmare and casts a cloud of uncertainty on your projects.
Until you sell, there shouldn't be a problem.
 

ZZZZZ

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2x6 walls here at 6,200 ft. elevation in northern AZ. The house is very tight and comfortable. I insulated the underside of the first floor a few years ago and that made a big difference in winter, not so much in summer.

Two years ago I added about 750 square feet of living space by raising the roof over the attic. All I can say is keep a close eye on the contractor/subcontractors. I'm no construction expert, but they made many obvious mistakes and were really careless and sloppy.

Good luck.
.
.
 

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<SLV>

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I am keeping the permits as simple as possible. Just a living room over an unfinished basement.

Wisconsin is a more heavily "governed" state. For instance our property taxes are right behind California and New York. (Maybe if we can clean up our election process we can kick out the big-government types.)

In other news... Did the REScheck with 2x6 construction (R19), and if I go to a 2x12 rafter (R38c) I can clear the REScheck by 2.4% -- just enough. Only issue is that this shortens my outside wall by a couple inches in order to keep the top of the roof lined up with the porch roof and under the existing roof soffit.
 

<SLV>

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For HVAC look into Daikin systems. they are inverter units my single condenser operates two remote ductless heads and one forced air house unit. It produces 100% of its rated output down to 17 degrees F and only runs as fast as it needs to to maintain temp. My electric bill dropped almost 200$ a month after installing this unit even after adding an additional two 400 sqft areas to the conditioned space in the house.
 

<SLV>

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For HVAC look into Daikin systems. they are inverter units my single condenser operates two remote ductless heads and one forced air house unit. It produces 100% of its rated output down to 17 degrees F and only runs as fast as it needs to to maintain temp. My electric bill dropped almost 200$ a month after installing this unit even after adding an additional two 400 sqft areas to the conditioned space in the house.
I reached out for a quote. Thanks for the tip.

The Mitsubishi installer confirmed my suspicion... no warranty unless installed by licensed contractor. Maybe I can buy the Daikin and do it myself.

At the end of the day AC will be frosting on the cake. It might not fit into the budget this time around. We currently use 2 window units in our bedrooms for the hottest summer days. Could later use another window unit in the new bedroom if necessary. (But they are noisy and block lighting).
 

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You'll definitely want the 2x6 exterior walls in Wisconsin. We also placed sheeting and 2 inch extruded polystyrene sheets under our basement slab in the addition. We don't have radiant but our basement is a consistent 60 degrees and the floor is never cold even unfinished.
 

hoarder

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if I go to a 2x12 rafter (R38c) I can clear the REScheck by 2.4% -- just enough. Only issue is that this shortens my outside wall by a couple inches in order to keep the top of the roof lined up with the porch roof and under the existing roof soffit.
Yikes! Lots of extra work. Can you go with 12" I joists? IMO, R38 and 12" rafters are bare minimum up North.
 

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Basements are very expensive for the space that you get. Especially if you are already looking at a radiant heat basement and in a cold climate. You get a lot more bang for the money and better resale value. Although, with some of the other assessor/permit things that may not be the first concern.

Look at something like Tazzaers building. On a slab is the way to go IMO, with a safe room, if you need that type of thing.
 

<SLV>

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Basements are very expensive for the space that you get. Especially if you are already looking at a radiant heat basement and in a cold climate. You get a lot more bang for the money and better resale value. Although, with some of the other assessor/permit things that may not be the first concern.

Look at something like Tazzaers building. On a slab is the way to go IMO, with a safe room, if you need that type of thing.
We have a 4ft frost wall requirement. It is worth going the extra depth for the space.
 

<SLV>

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Made big progress yesterday on framing. Found out I can use a 4x6 window headers attached to the common studs (no cripple) as long as I use steel hardware to attach them. This makes 16in OC framing easy for my 30" windows without adding extra points of energy transfer through the walls.

Rotated my floor joists to allow me to 1) eliminate basement footing through middle of the floor (instead footing and load bearing wall along stairway), 2) raise basement windows to the top of the wall for easier egress to grade. I also was able to add a post under the LVL roof beam that lets me span all the way back to the house with a bearing wall on the first floor. Keeps things much simpler and opens the floor plan to more possibilities in the future (on both floors)

Menards has a 11% rebate on everything right now (through Saturday). They do this about once per month. In the last week lumber futures are up 3%, and there is talk about shortages this spring.

It makes me nervous, but I am about to head out and order $14,000 in lumber -- everything I should need from the foundation to the roof. To the best of my ability everything has been calculated correctly and spec'd according to code. I wouldn't be as nervous if I knew that I already had a permit with drawings signed off. I figure if worse comes to worse, lumber shouldn't be hard to sell if I need to make changes... except maybe the I-joists... but maybe not.

I will wait to purchase anything besides wood. It is premature, and I will catch another 11% in future months. I might be able to use the rebate on the lumber purchase to offset the cost of my next purchase (insulation).

Framing concept.jpg


joist layout.jpg
 

ttazzman

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i may have missed it in your description....but your stair well surround framing loads including the post from the roof beam.......how are you carrying that load?..........wall down to basement floor.....column down to basement floor.......etc.........sure you have it worked out just now shown yet
 

<SLV>

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i may have missed it in your description....but your stair well surround framing loads including the post from the roof beam.......how are you carrying that load?..........wall down to basement floor.....column down to basement floor.......etc.........sure you have it worked out just now shown yet
The I-Joist along the stairway will be set on a 2x6 bearing wall (not shown) over a 20x8 footing. Post from the LVL roof beam will be directly on this.