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Old 01-01-12, 08:23 PM   #2
Apprentice EcoRenovator
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada
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Instead of simply sinking the house 5' into the ground why not consider raising the grades around the house with a series of small terraces? That way, your front door can be at grade, and when you look out the windows you are not looking up. You will find it easier to damproof your foundation, easier to layout your perimeter footing drains, easier to layout your septic system grades, and your electrical meter (if so equipped) would be at a more conventional height. Also, you can choose to backfill the terraces with soils with good drainage characteristics, to help keep the house dry.
If and when you get to the more formal planning stages, my advice is to really study and understand all the systems and components that you want and need, so that when you are getting prices and proposals from contractors you can ask for specific things, such as the exact placement of pipes, vents/inlets, meter bases and so forth. If you don't specify these things, they will often be installed with no consideration for the next contractor's install- for instance a gas meter installed too close to your intended HRV inlet/outlet location. The actual installation crew will usually opt for the easiest/shortest route, and you really have to know what you want beforehand.
The other benefit to this kind of detailed planning is that you can take the site conditions such as sun and wind exposure, summer shade, and even landscaping into consideration, as to how they affect your mechanical systems.
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