After a long spring and summer of waiting for the design documents from our architect, our builders Riemco Builders, Inc. (Bob Riemenschneider, President, and Rob Riemenschneider, Vice President, Chelsea, Michigan) came through with design solutions and cost cutting measures that allowed us to retain the crucial “green” functional elements of our house design and created a construction budget which was within our means and still maintains the features and styles that we like. This allowed us to start the construction process even though there were delays in receiving the Architectural Construction Cross Sections and other required designs and drawings, which we finally received in late October.
The major "green" features in the final design are the Insulated Concrete Form (ICF)walls, Geothermal Forced Air heating and cooling, thermal mass of the textured/stained concrete floor in the lower level and the dark tiles on the main floor, and major passive solar exposure through the energy efficient windows on both levels of the house facing 5-degrees East of South.
We are also fortunate to have a great friend, Max, who does fine woodworking and trim work, and was a builder and construction supervisor in Florida for many years. He was willing to build our pole barn/shed (with me as his laborer) and do the trim work in the house after Riemco, Inc. completes the shell of the house (through the drywall and priming). This allowed us to get a construction loan and begin the construction process in earnest.
Max and I began the 20x24 foot pole barn/shed on Oct. 4. Riemco began the house construction project in late October, which allowed Max and I to follow the house construction progress every day. It has been a great opportunity to be involved in the construction process every day from the first day of construction and to observe the Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) wall construction process. This has given us the first hand knowledge to advise others how to build in this very energy efficient way. We now have a much better understanding how homes built like this lose only about 30% of their heating or cooling, whereas a traditional stick-built home loses about 70%. We also understand how a home using geothermal forced air heating and cooling and built just like ours, but that is over 5000 sq. ft., with the inside temps. kept between 68-72 has heating and cooling bills for an entire year that are only $800!!!! Since our home square footage will be under 2500 sq. ft. and since we keep our home inside temps. between 60-65 degrees we should be able to have annual heating and cooling costs below $800!!! In the long run the higher costs of the ICF construction should easily pay for itself.
For me, building the shed now and helping with the interior finish/trim work next spring will be an experience that I will always cherish and will be a great feeling to know that I played a big part in the construction. What a great feeling to live in a home that you had a big hand in building!! Also what a great feeling to have great friends that built your home.
So in October 2010, we began our home construction with our good friends.