Go Back   EcoRenovator > Improvements > Renovations & New Construction
Advanced Search

Blog 60+ Home Energy Saving Tips Recent Posts Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-06-09, 01:39 PM   #11
Apprentice EcoRenovator
TimJFowler's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 184
Thanks: 9
Thanked 12 Times in 11 Posts
Question Re: the big pine tree


Can you post a few photos of the existing garage and surroundings, and a sketch of the site layout?

What I'm wondering is if you can prune the lower branches on the pine tree to allow the winter sunlight to shine on the garage. I definitely understand not wanting to cut down the tree, but maybe you can keep the tree and still get some light.


- DIY Adventures in Applied Sustainability -

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
TimJFowler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-09, 02:14 PM   #12
Daox's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Germantown, WI
Posts: 5,525
Thanks: 1,162
Thanked 374 Times in 305 Posts

That is an excellent idea Tim!

Have you thought about moving your garage forward and maybe attaching it to your house?
Daox is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-06-09, 08:13 PM   #13
Need More Eco
dremd's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Scott, La
Posts: 172
Thanks: 2
Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts
Send a message via AIM to dremd

Originally Posted by Daox View Post
Traditionally, PEX tubing is used in hydronic heated floors. You simply lay out the tubing and poor the cement right over it. Very easy, and the tubing is flexible and should handle cracking.

The collectors could literally go anywhere in your yard, it doesn't have to be on the building.

I also agree with truckncycle, make it larger!
You NEED to insulate to slab fro the ground. I've read a few threads where people failed at insulating the slab and were just pumping heat in to the ground.
dremd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-09, 07:56 AM   #14
Tango Charlie
Minister of Silly Walks
Tango Charlie's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 32
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

Make it as big as you can afford to make it. You may be hosting a TV show in there one day, and you're gonna need extra room for the camera crew...

Attach it to the house. You live in Wisconsin, remember?

I've worked in aircraft hangars that had doors constructed of translucent fiberglass panels. On a cold winter day, it was impressive how much solar heat came through. Of course, I'm sure just as much heat went OUT through the single layer paneling. For a home workshop, maybe doors with double-glazed solar glass panels in them would be more efficient.
Tango Charlie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-09, 11:14 AM   #15
Helper EcoRenovator
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 75
Thanks: 3
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default Permit...

You mentioned it being a pain to get a permit for building... Where I grew up in Wisconsin, you needed a permit only for NEW construction. One guy got around the law by buying a delapitated house, ripping half of it down, building half a house on the existing basement (connected to the existing house), then ripped down the rest and finished the house. BRAND NEW HOUSE with NO PERMITS. It is still considered the original house. Maybe this wouldn't work so well for you with a crumbling slab, but you can keep it in mind.
wyatt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-08-09, 01:21 PM   #16
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: SE Wisconsin
Posts: 546
Thanks: 3
Thanked 165 Times in 96 Posts

Hey Wyatt,

The garage is on the corner of TWO lot lines, so I need a variance no matter what.

What you just described is pretty much how my house was rebuilt though.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
bennelson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-09-09, 08:44 AM   #17
Master EcoRenovator
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Western Wisconsin.
Posts: 913
Thanks: 127
Thanked 82 Times in 71 Posts

If you leave the walls that boarder the lot lines you should be able to claim that you are just repairing the old building, anything over $500 worth of work normally requires permits, but less permitting because it's not a new building, also no varrences I think, because it's not new.
I'm a fan of straw bale garages, built one a few years back when I was still building with straw, it was really nice all year round, now if you wood framed your walls, cement sided the outside and set straw in to the wood walls then stuco the inside building inspectors will give you a funny look but will loose any debates, it will also give you an R50 wall.
steel roof all the way, standing seem steel allows for some slick clamps that don't require holes in the roof to mount solar.
in heat slab... PEX in sand under the concreat, you will never have to worry about the slab shifting and cracking the pex, it will also give you more mass to keep the garage warm.

more later.
Ryland is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-15, 07:10 PM   #18
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: SE Wisconsin
Posts: 546
Thanks: 3
Thanked 165 Times in 96 Posts

So here's the latest:

I have a weird lot.
They property is narrow and runs north and south. It used to be wider, but back in the 1960's a tiny local road got turned into a State Road, so everything was widened, making the property smaller.

Also, for whatever reason, I have TWO tax keys, one for the front part of the property, one for the back. I have to get that changed before I can build a garage.

In the last couple of months, I've been turning in forms, paperwork, and permitting.

I attended a town planning commission meeting, and they had no problem with me rebuilding my garage. It was a pretty straight-forward meeting.

Next, I had to attend a County meeting. I wouldn't be able to build my garage for 3 reasons - too close to lot line, too high of "building to lot ratio", and too tall of a building. The County planner makes a recommendation to the board, which can include exemptions for hardship.

The recommendation was to allow exemptions for being too close to the lot line. (That's where the garage and driveway already are, where else are you going to put them?) an exemption for "building to lot" (house has no basement or attic, etc.), but NOT to allow an exemption for for height.

Although I have several neighbors with two story garages, I would only be allowed to have a garage with a peak of no more than 18'. I pleaded before the board for a couple more feet, as my house is 5' BELOW the road (it's steeply downhill from the road to the garage or house.) and the road has a HIGHLY unusual setback, because it was a State Road, which recently was converted to a local road, yet retained the wider right of way. In my area, a building can be taller the farther it is in from a lot line. If it was a local road with a regular right of way, I could be allowed to have a higher roof line.

I wanted the higher roof for three reasons:
1) A steeper roof would match the angle of the house, therefore match and look nicer.
2) It would allow for an upstairs "storage area". This would NOT be a habitable area, and couldn't have a permanent staircase, but it could have a fold-down staircase, similar to what many people have for attic access. In reality, it could be used as an above garage home-office.
3) Steeper is better for solar. In my area, a 40-45 degree angle is ideal. Also, steeper helps snow melt off and slide away, instead of blocking the sunlight.

In the "public comments" part of the hearing, one guy in the crowd, who I didn't know, said basically, "Come on guys, let him have his solar roof!". One of the board members agreed that solar panels mounted flat on a roof (instead of on an angled rack) look much better.

After it was back to "board only discussion" (i.e., I'm not allowed to speak anymore) one of the board members, who didn't speak a single word when discussion was going on, said "I don't see why he doesn't just put the panels somewhere else in the yard. That was after I already had spoken on where all the shade trees in the yard are..... *Sigh* Some people don't get the concept that you need to put solar panels in the sun....

So, what it comes down to is that I am most of the way through getting all the permissions to build the garage, I can't build it quite as tall as I would like, but I can build a pretty good size - up to 27 feet wide by 29 feet deep. (It's currently 22'x22') So, that means I have enough extra width to now park my riding lawn mower INSIDE the new garage and enough extra depth for storage, workbenches, tools, and storage.

In general, I am planning for heated hydronic floor. Since I am building a new slab anyways, how can I NOT put in some PEX? I'd have foam under and around the slab, and insulation between the garage slab and concrete apron that would conned the garage to the blacktop driveway.

Planning on a metal roof. I really like the idea of it lasting longer, and being 100% recyclable when it's all worn out. Probably standing seam, because there are those cool little clamps that let you clamp solar panels right on there.

Solar panels - I'm planning on putting on as many PV solar panels on the roof as I can. What isn't yet clear is the setbacks from the two sides and the peak of the roof. I'm shooting for a 5 kilowatt grid-tie system.
A 5K system should produce 6,000 kWh per year, or about 500kwh per month. In the last year, my house has used anywhere from 207 to 444 kWh per month, averaging about 367 Kwh per month.

Theoretically, a 5K grid-tie solar system should produce, on average, about 150 kWh per month MORE than what the house uses. That much electricity could push an electric car up to 500 miles, or well over 1000 miles on an electric motorcycle.

General construction of the garage would be typical stud construction, cement board siding, and fiberglass insulation. My father is a general contractor and already orders and builds with these materials on a regular basis.

For heat, I would ideally like to go with electric, as the solar panels can create electricity, but not natural gas or firewood or any other source of heat. I'm not sure exactly what's out there for appropriate electric water heaters or boilers. I've also looked at mini-split air-source heat pumps. They are more efficient that resistive heaters (pulling heat from the air, instead of just creating it from electric resistance) and they can also do air-conditioning, which would be nice to have if I am using the upstairs as an office space. (Gets hot and humid here in the summer. Are there any affordable heat pump systems to rig to a heated slab setup?

Here's a few photos for you.
Mostly, these are just so you can see the general condition of the garage. There have been times where I've worked on a car and dropped a tool, and it would roll and disappear into a crack in the floor.

This is a sketch from a few years back for a proposed septic tank. It's a good sketch for just showing the general house/garage/lot line.

Below shows the lot lines as best I can, drawing them in in blue. Notice that the garage is on two lot lines. (Well, technically tax plot lines...) Also, take a look at the shadows from the evergreens on the east side of the property. They are pretty tall trees and throw a long shadow. This photo is from early afternoon. Notice how the shadow of the pine tree by the garage extends to the north of the garage. In the morning, it completely blocks the sun.

This image is from Google Maps. It appears to be from early spring, after the snow has melted, but before there are leaves on the trees. This is good because you can see the buildings well. I drew in where leaves are during the summer. Those are all Maples and make a big mess in the spring with helicopter seeds, and a big mess in the fall with leafs. Most of those trees are just on the west side of the property line, so they belong to my neighbor, but I'm downwind, and they block my solar access. (Although they do partially shade the house in the summer)
The garage is marked in red. The dark green circle below it represents a pine tree. It is as large as twenty feet across at the lowest branches. It's in exactly the wrong place for a solar garage. It will have to come down if I want solar panels. Otherwise, the roof of my garage doesn't see daylight 'til noon.

In response to some of the other comments, no, it would be extremely difficult to move the garage. It would be extremely impractical to attach it to the house - for example, the garage would then block half my windows, and I would have no front door! In fact, one of the limitations on the building is that no part of it can be within 10 feet of my house!

Yes, I do need some very bothersome permits irregardless of whether it is technically New vs a Remodel.

In other thoughts. I'm also thinking that the garage will NOT have windows. My current garage has small windows, which end up being completely blocked by shelves and storage anyways. In that case, I'd rather have well insulated walls. The upstairs would have a small window on either end, for light and ventilation. This also matches the style of the upstairs of the house.

I guess it was also so obvious that I didn't mention it, but on the new garage, the sloped roof will face north and south, whereas it faces east and west right now.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Last edited by bennelson; 06-13-15 at 07:21 PM.. Reason: more thoughts
bennelson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-15, 07:57 PM   #19
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: SE Wisconsin
Posts: 546
Thanks: 3
Thanked 165 Times in 96 Posts

Here's a few snapshots of the drawing I had made up.

The idea is that the new garage would be 5 feet wider and 7 feet deeper than the original. This also gives me space for a man door on the left. Nice for going in and out the garage without needed to have a large overhead door open.

Garage doors themselves may or may not have windows. I do sort of like the idea on Builditsolar with the glazing for winter heating ( although that is sort of "semi-permanent". I might be able to do something like that on the one garage door but not the other. That way, I could easily get one car in and out but still have some good solar gain on the other.

Also, here's a photo of the house, so you can see how I'm trying to match the garage to the house to make it look nice.

As far as a metal roof goes for the garage, I'm thinking that either silver or a light green would work. The house has asphalt dimensional shingles, which are sort of a gray with a little green in it. I think that silver standing seam would be best for staying cool, which is good for the solar panels, but a light green might look nicer without getting too hot. I'm tempted to find some samples of metal, paint them, leave them in the sun and check how hot they get on a sunny day.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
bennelson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-14-15, 08:18 AM   #20
Supreme EcoRenovator
AC_Hacker's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 4,004
Thanks: 303
Thanked 724 Times in 534 Posts

Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
...As far as a metal roof goes for the garage, I'm thinking that either silver or a light green would work...
I re-roofed my house with aluminum shingles, which are very good, and they are one product that will last far beyond the guarantee. The house across the street from me has the same shingles. They were installed 70 years ago, and they have always looked two years old. It is amazing!

My roof is green, which looks nice. My only regret is that I did not use the unpainted aluminum shingles, which was an option.

I would have been much farther ahead with regard to summer heat gain.


I'm not an HVAC technician. In fact, I'm barely even a hacker...
AC_Hacker is offline   Reply With Quote

garage, green roof

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:55 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Ad Management by RedTyger
Inactive Reminders By Icora Web Design