I'm perusing the plans and wondering which ones include details on radiant floor design. As far as I can tell, only the Victoria's Cottage does. Is this correct?
Second question: Can we shorten the VC to 20' long?
We live in Upsate NY and want to build something small this year, followed by something larger in the future: we're thinking the studio version of the Victoria's Cottage, later adding on the Universal Cottage. We want the rooflines to be parallel. Any input would be appreciated.
Any of the plans that have a slab foundation option can be easily setup for a radiant floor. None of the plans have specific heating systems specified or sized (this needs to be done locally). Many of the plans do have suggestions for heating options in the booklet that comes with the set.
For a wood floor most builders put in an extra bottom plate to provide an 1 1/2" space for the concrete topping over the subfloor. This covers the pipes and becomes the radiant slab. Some builders use lightweight concrete and others full density. Almost any flooring can go on top of this slab. Check out what the local installers are doing where you live.
Thanks for the quick reply, John. What led me to believe (most gratefully!) that the VC had the radiant floor design was the following paragraph from the VC page:
"The main floor is shown with a heated concrete slab. The slab can be stained and sealed as a low-cost finished floor. It is heated by a high-efficiency hot water heater or tankless water heater in the Mechanical room. A small circulating pump sends the hot water to two separate heating zones, main and bedroom, depending on what the thermostat calls for."
As far as I can tell, there is a wide variety of heated slab techiniques used around here. We'll figure it out. Any suggestions on tankless water heaters to use or avoid?
This leads me to another question about the foundation: I used the NAHB design guide for Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations and they seem to advise using the same design for both a heated slab and an unheated space such as a garage. As I recall, this means laying 2" foam down on the subsoil of the entire area (extended 4' out from the perimeter), covering the foam with about a 2' layer of gravel, then pouring the slab on top. Has anyone used this design?
OK, one more question: do the VC plans come with the step-by-step guidelines for building that I understand come with the Little House plans? (I really think 16' would suit me better, otherwise I'd get the Builder's Cottage plans). If not, is it possible to get them to use for guidance? I'm new enough to this to want as much help as possible although I'm confident we can do it.
I'm inspired and encouraged by the guy on crutches with his blind friend who built a cabin up a cow path!!! The examples in the forum and on the owner-builder's gallery are super too. I'm really impressed and inspired, and I love the whole enchilada, so to speak - designs, examples, forum, etc..... What a neat community of people you've created. When will you do a book?
The slab insulation called out in Victoria's is for 2" at slab edges and 1" on the interior. In colder climates that can be increased to 2" as well. The local heating contractor laid out the infloor heating and zoning. I would suggest looking into Takagi (http://www.tanklessusa.com/) or other Japanese brands. Here is a link to the old forum thread (http://www.countryplans.com/bbs/messages/3166.html).
If you are new to construction, the Victoria cottage is not the first building to build. At least not without some help. The books on the CountryPlans site (http://www.countryplans.com/books.html) will help a great deal but the Little House step by step would be different for Victoria's.
Every set of plans could involve writing a book - but then I'd have to charge over $600 for the plans like everybody else does anyway. Better (I think anyway) to get the basic plan together and then let the owners evolve their own versions of the houses as that's what happens anyway. :D
I was thinking we'd build the studio version of the Victoria's Cottage - not the full version. Is that ill-advised? We have some building experience between us and will have help (with mechanicals and roof, and probably slab) but definitely don't want to tackle something too complex at first.
Maybe I'd be better off starting with the Builder's Cottage after all?
As for my suggestion of a book, I was talking coffee table, not instructional. I'm one who prefers to look at books rather than a computer monitor, and it would be fun to see the builders gallery (plans vs. reality) of the various designs in book form, to inspire people and to show the creativity and ability that these owner-builders have shown. Most books of that nature that I've seen take it for granted that a general contractor will do it all. Nice, but not inspiring! Plus these plans are attractive yet sensible and in my opinion, Americans need to see more examples of modest but lovely dwellings.