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Old 02-23-12, 11:22 AM   #1
MetroMPG
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Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: 1000 Islands region, Ontario, Canada
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Default My "10 year project": rebuilding an efficient "tiny" crooked house in Canada

So, I have taken on a giant new project ... in the form of a tiny house.

It needs a ton of work, and my nebulous, non-time-framed goal is to make it far more energy efficient than it is now, on a tight budget.

It's a ~580 square foot beauty - a bank reposession (the previous owner passed away with an outstanding home line of credit).



Some parts of it are even structurally sound! (The real estate ad called it a "true" handyman special. You know they're not joking when they add the "true" adjective.)

It will not be hard to make it more efficient than it is now: the original building is about 100 years old, poorly insulated, leaks air like a sieve and has single pane windows.

It needs to be gutted, which makes it an ideal project for eco-renovation:
  • There's water damage in most of the ceilings - fortunately, the roof was just replaced by the bank before I bought it.
  • There's next to no insulation in the walls & ceiling 2-3 inches of batt fiberglass
  • Air sealing is bad
  • There are no vapour barriers
But the worst thing about my mansion is that it's crooked. The original building (right side of photo, gable end with porch) was built on a concrete pad (no basement/crawlspace), on improperly compacted ground. As a result, it has settled naturally over the decades and is now seriously tilted, listing comically to port and down in the stern by a good 6 inches!

The rear bedroom addition (left side of photo) is on concrete footings down to bedrock, so it's level & square. It's the only part of the house that is level & square.

Three of four friends with lots of building/reno experience have said they would just knock it down and start over. But that's not in the budget. The tilt & crooked issues will be an attempt-to-repair and/or "just live with it" exercise.

Why did I buy such a sparkling gem of engineering? I have little idea what I'm doing, but learning curves are fun. Also, the lot is great and in a nice location, and the price was right (essentially, I paid for the lot - the house was free).

I started this thread now because I just saw that a local environmental group is putting on a presentation next month about passive house design. I'm not pretending I'm going to rebuild this palace to heat it just with love, sunshine and a couple of candles, but I definitely want to make it much better than it is, and ideally better than average.

Since it needs to be gutted anyway, why not?

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