Author Topic: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story  (Read 180091 times)

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Offline dug

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dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« on: December 06, 2009, 06:57:26 AM »
The dream started about 3 years ago when we decided to sell our (small) business and get out of the city. I always thought  there had to be a little more to life than the standard rat race>retirement>old folks home. To me life is an adventure, and a fleeting one at that. Sure, there are those who believe that through reincarnation we will have endless opportunities to amend our previous life's failures, and this may be true- or may not. I like things that are tangible, things that I can feel, taste, and smell. I appreciate the fact that while I am healthy, warm and breathing today, there is no guarantee that will be the case tomorrow. Some think this is a fatalistic attitude but I simply view it as reality, almost reassuring in that life and death are cyclical. Without one there could not be the other. Time waits for no one, and at 47 it sure as heck aint waiting on me. carpe diem!!!!
    So..... we cashed in our chips and bought 10 acres along a river in SW New Mexico with the intent of more or less homesteading. There were a couple of trailers and a well already here which gave us a nice home base to start from.


this is my wife and I's 'home'. I couldn't find a recent photo but I have since winterized it with metal skirting and insulation.


this is where my kids (10 & 12 y/o) live. I started shining it up but got tired. I also built the 'sombrero' (roof) to make it a little more tolerable during the summer heat. As you can see, we are not your typical family!

Here are a couple of photos of our 'road' during the summer monsoon. We have to cross a small river to reach our property.



thats my older son on the bike.

this is our future homesite



My inspiration for starting this thread is part selfishness- I will probably have about a million and a half questions and value the expert opinions here greatly, and also partly to aid future first time home builders as many of you have helped me. I will give you a hint though, sometimes the most valuable lesson is knowing what not to do  d*, in which case you may learn quite a bit from me.

Embarking on this building adventure is one of the most challenging and exciting events of my life (so far!), after all, what warm blooded individual has not entertained the thought of building their own home?  I will post photos of our progress so far soon, but right now I have to get to work. Luckily my commute is only about 50 yards.








 

Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2009, 07:31:51 AM »
Good outlook on life.  As you stated it is the journey that makes life complete.  With keeping that in mind I hope you will keep us in mind as you progress through the various stages of your build.  Pictures are cheap and sometimes become invaluable when trying to progress to the next or later steps.  Sometimes a view point from someone else will help you make the proper choices in determining " what if" , "which way" or "what now" arises.  I hope we can contribute to your success and in turn you to ours.

I hope thats the river and not the road your son is riding in.   ;D

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2009, 11:08:48 AM »
Nope, that is our road. This is the river, that's me using 'alternative' energy.



It is usually about 1 ft. deep at the crossing but during monsoons can be a raging torrent, usually only for a few hours but we have been stuck here for a few days. We keep a good stock of food and essentials and leave another car on the other side. There is a large fallen cottonwood that we use as a bridge if necessary.

More photo updated coming soon- I am just taking a lunch break now.

Offline Redoverfarm

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2009, 11:18:56 AM »
There is a road not far from my house that a family lives some 6 miles from the main highway.  They have to cross the stream 8 times in the their travel to the house.  Yes there are still some roads like that.  As long as you can cross it and not have to drive up the creekbed too far then I guess you can keep a solid crossing.

Offline mldrenen

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2009, 12:06:00 PM »
That's a nice little setup you have there, and the property looks beautiful.  Looking forward to seeing you progress on your homestead.

Is that a Niner in the river-crossing picture?

Offline mldrenen

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2009, 12:08:02 PM »
That's a nice little setup you have there, and the property looks beautiful.  Looking forward to watching your progress.

Is that a Niner in the river-crossing picture?

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2009, 04:12:15 PM »
Quote
That's a nice little setup you have there, and the property looks beautiful.  Looking forward to seeing you progress on your homestead.

Is that a Niner in the river-crossing picture?

Good eye Milderen, thats my wife's Raleigh 29'er single speed. Way too small for me, I was just fooling around with the kids. I've got a Surley (also 29'er ss)

Will try to make progress on this post  after kids are fed and happy!

Offline mldrenen

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2009, 04:28:35 PM »


Good eye Milderen, thats my wife's Raleigh 29'er single speed. Way too small for me, I was just fooling around with the kids. I've got a Surley (also 29'er ss)



You must be huge.....they almost look like little wheels. 

I've had a CrossCheck for years, and love the heck out of it.  Surly makes a pretty good bike for taiwanese-welded lead pipe. 

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2009, 06:01:15 PM »

You must be huge.....they almost look like little wheels.


I'm 6 ft. 3 in. and getting shorter every year

Quote
I've had a CrossCheck for years, and love the heck out of it.  Surly makes a pretty good bike for taiwanese-welded lead pipe.

I owned a bike shop for about 15 years and we sold lots of Surlys. A little heavy maybe, and not so bling bling- but I love them!

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2009, 07:56:27 PM »
Looks like an interesting adventure, dug and family. :)
"Always work from the general to the specific." J. Raabe

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Offline TexstarJim

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2009, 08:43:56 PM »
Best of luck to you dug, and keep us informed as you can with pictures and updates. w*
Rule #1: "Don't sweat the small stuff"
Rule #2: "It's all small stuff"

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2009, 07:18:03 AM »
Our first mission after purchasing the property was hauling several truckloads of junk to the dump. Luckily there is one only a couple of miles away. I say luckily because there is not too much else close by!

My first thought after seeing this was- Man, thats going to no fun to tear down and haul away!



My wife however (the smart one) had different ideas. With a bit of work, and utilizing some of the stuff we found lying around on the property we turned it into a first class chicken coop.



One of my dogs seemed just a little bit too interested in the new residents. You can almost see him drooling!



reaping some of the rewards





Next, I had to come up with a dry place to store tools and miscellaneous hardware. I had fooled around with a lot of small projects in my past, but this would be my largest project to date



I couldn't locate any good photos of it completed, but it turned out real nice and gave me some good practice for upcoming events. I did find a pretty funny shot that documents my indecisiveness. After I had it built I moved it because I decided that it was just about where I wanted the house to be. I found a junked out trailer on the property, cut the axle in half, then temporally bolted it to the shed. Worked out fine, with no embarrassing mishaps.







 

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2009, 08:08:57 AM »
Phase ll- Planning for home.

I hemmed and hawed for a long time trying to decide what to build. At first, I was pretty sold on this hybrid- straw bale/adobe passive solar design I found.http://www.buildingwithawareness.com/
If you haven't seen it, it might be worth checking out. Some really good ideas for a very efficient small home. For various reasons I decided against it, one of the main ones being my back which has betrayed me in recent years (or rather I have betrayed it!) and moving around individual pieces of lumber seemed a lot easier than heaving straw bales and hauling adobe. Besides, I like working with wood, and I am familiar with it. Luckily I stumbled across this website and found the design I was looking for. We ordered the 20 by 30 plans and got started.

Here is the beginning of our layout - we used rocks to get a feel for how we wanted things. The fire ring is about where the wood stove will go.



I used a water level (clear 50 ft. 1/2 in. plastic tube) to lay out my batter boards, and later to set pier height. I can tell you that I highly recommend it. Cheap, simple, and highly accurate! It is slower, I probably hoofed it several miles going back and forth- double checking my reads, but I'd wager it is more accurate than all but the most expensive laser levels. Most of them list (on their specifications) plus/minus 1/8 in. or more @ 50 ft. Good enough I suppose but with a good eye you can get a water level to about plus/ minus nothing! I had no adjustability with my pier design so I wanted everything dead on. Later down the line the laws of physics proved me right.





Next it was time to start digging. My back started to complain just at the thought of it. The soil here (thats what they call it) is pretty much the equivalent of concrete and a shovel is used only after you bust it up with a heavy, pointed digging bar. I used a steel fire ring as a guide (left, middle hole in the photo) and it was just the right size to make neat 2 ft. holes to pour my footers into.










Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 09:19:09 AM »
Phase lll- out of the ground

From the time I dug the holes, to the time I actually started pouring concrete apx. 1 & 1/2  elapsed. This was due to some unexpected financial difficulties we encountered, the details of which I will not bore you with. I will give you a three letter hint though, I-R-S, (aka thieves). Anyway, One of our primary goals was to complete our little homestead while acquiring no debts. I didn't really want to start our home until we had the money to complete the job. Finally I decided to start anyway. We had enough to get it dried in, and will finish the rest as funds allow. Lumber seemed pretty cheap an the time so I took the plunge and ordered enough  to do all the framing.

I first started lining up to dig holes for footers. Since the holes would be the forms, I wanted them pretty close.



I don't know much about concrete work, but these are some of the rebar forms I assembled to tie the footer to the pier.



I poured the piers in 2 parts- first did the footings, 2 ft. by apx. 12 in. I lined up the rebar using my string line and plumb bob first and braced them like in the photo below. I placed a small rock underneath the rebar to keep it about 2 in. off the bottom of the hole.



After all the footers and rebar I got busy placing the forms. This was pretty time consuming because I had decided to use simpson brackets directly embedded in the concrete piers. Since there would be no adjustability (other than shimming) I had to be accurate. My plan was to carefully measure, then cut the cardboard forms so they would set on the (now dry) footers and be at the right level (used water level for this). Easier said than done however, as they also had to be positioned correctly and plumb. With a little (er.. LOT!) of fanegelling and a bit of swearing I got them all good and backfilled the holes to keep everything square as I poured concrete. I had thought of running them all high, then using water level to mark them, then cut them, but for some reason decided against.

This is the method I used to make sure the piers were lined up.





I decided to pour the corner piers, and 2 end piers for the middle beam first and let them dry a few days. I did this so I could string lines between the end brackets in order to line up the ones on the other piers. I also decided, kind of last minute, to insert 2 concrete anchor bolts in each pies that faced the outside of the house (4 in the corner piers). My idea is to attach 2 by 4 lumber that will form two parallel bands around the outside of the pier foundation. I can then later use it to attach metal skirting around the perimeter, and also fit in some bracing.
here is one of the corner piers-



and this is a shot of the method I used to place the remaining brackets- a very nervous time for me.


















 

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2009, 10:18:07 AM »
What amazes me the most about a lot of posters here is the perfection. 

As I rip through trying to get our little cabin built I occassionally do this:  Hmmm...it's only 1/8th of an inch out in 4 feet and I can fudge it becuase it's 10 degrees out and I want the dang roof on.....

Only later to go -- crap, that might not have been smart.

Actually my little cabin is fine, I've built houses and condos in a past life and while I wasn't a master framer by any stretch of the imagination I know what I can get away with -- but that's no excuse.

Then I read through posts like Dug's here and I can't help but say 'EXCELLENT!'  The precision in the construction is superb from what I can see.

I wish I'd taken a little more time selecting lumber for my project, and making sure everything was perfect but sadly I've found myself rushing to avoid the inevitable winter weather (a little more north then you *snicker*).

Great stuff!  Keep posting pictures and filling us in.  I can see your family will have a great home soon!
OlJarhead

Offline glenn kangiser

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2009, 10:44:23 AM »
Nice eggs.  Looks like some Araucana in there?

Nice work on the holes too.  I was thinking post hole auger and tractor but then I'm lazy.  I'm impressed. :)
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Offline mldrenen

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2009, 10:48:29 AM »


Then I read through posts like Dug's here and I can't help but say 'EXCELLENT!'  The precision in the construction is superb from what I can see.




That about sums up my reaction to posts like Dug's.  It makes my efforts seem scattered, half-assed, and "willy-nilly". 


Offline mldrenen

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #17 on: December 07, 2009, 10:54:56 AM »
I dug 8 holes by hand a couple of weeks ago.  My soil is full of roots and rocks.  The holes that I thought I could dig in a single afternoon, by my lonesome, took a full weekend and another able body.  I can certainly appreciate the amount of work that went into just getting those piers poured.

As for your idea about using anchor bolts for future skirting and bracing, brilliant.  I think I'll have to steal it and claim it as my own. 

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #18 on: December 07, 2009, 11:11:10 AM »
Phase llll- lumber!!!

I think most everyone here agrees that when the concrete work is done, it is time for a bit of celebration. Seemed like a pretty major milestone to me  and I was sure glad to be done with it and on to the sweet smell of wood!

Also want to thank everyone for the great tips I have received so far and I'll start with this one I got from Mt Don. Seems too obvious now, but I'm not sure if I would have thought of building the beams on the piers. If you are working alone, without a forklift- tractor-etc. as I am it is pretty much the only way. Those beams are heavy and besides, my piers were all level so it was the flattest 30 ft. surface I had to work with. The only downside is it makes it difficult to glue, because the finished beam fits rather tightly in the bracket. I was going to glue, and I could have but decided against because I was more comfortable getting the boards cut and perfectly lined and squared up first. I then clamped it all real good to pull in any of the cupping on the lumber, then used heavy duty 3 1/2 in. deck screws on both sides. Later on I punched a bunch of nails in- they don't seem to be going anywhere. After they were built I used a bottle jack to raise them a little and place a piece of asphalt shingle under the beam where it contacts the bracket.

After I laid the first one down and discovered ( as shown earlier) that it could have hardly been any more perfect I had to do a little happy dance!





Thankfully, the other two turned out the same, though I had to shim 2 of the piers with 1 extra shingle due to the concrete slumping a little. Go water level!

here are the finished beams. I decided to put lumber between the beams on the ends instead of on the outside because they (the beams) had a little twist to them and I was able to square them up better this way, also depending a little less on nails to hold them this way. (hint; pick some of your straightest lumber for the beams)



My next challenge would lie in trying to get the joist on all square. This was made a little more difficult, perhaps more so than necessary, by 2 things. One, the joists will overhang the beams by 6 in. on both sides. I did this so I could later run skirting on the piers and have it line up with the walls. In retrospect this was probably dumb because I am now planning a full deck in front (lengthwise) so you won't even be able to see it, and also because I read on a post here that running the sheathing to the bottom of the beam adds a considerable amount of strength. oh well, I refer to one of my earlier posts-
Quote
sometimes the most valuable lesson is knowing what not to do  , in which case you may learn quite a bit from me
. The other difficulty was that the beams were not perfectly parallel, not far off- maybe 1/2 in. or so but enough that I couldn't get an accurate corner to corner measurement. I had sort of planned for this, knowing I could adjust the joists to compensate, but it made me think a bit on just how to do it right and this is what I came up with.

I basically built 2 boxes, using the first two joists on either end. I set the outside 2 equidistant from the beam on either side, then ran a string on both of the outside lengths in order to position the second joist in, then installed blocking- especially at the ends to keep them square. I could then fiddle with them back and forth until I got a perfect diagonal
measurement. Finally I nailed them to the brackets and could then easily place the rest of the joists.



I'm not trying to brag, but if it is off of square we are talking in the range of 1/64 in. Excessive maybe, but it made me happy.

I also decided to add blocking at the ends due to the tendency of the joists twisting, and not wanting to rely on the rim joist nails to do the job. I added a rim joist as well.
 




Next up is the subfloor. This is supposed to be the easy part but I somehow managed to make that a little more difficult also (do we sense a theme here?).
First off- if you haven't used tongue and groove plywood subfloor before, and I had not, then be prepared that a 4 by 8 sheet does measure 4 by 8, however they include the tongue in this measurement. Meaning that when you lay it out you will get 47 1/2 in. coverage. Not so good if you are planning to span 20 ft. with 5 sheets. Luckily I had ordered 1 extra sheet, so I could piece in the end, but had I not it would have been a 200 mile trip to the HD and back. Also, even starting perfectly square it is pretty easy to get a little off track. I snapped lines across the necessary joists but not lengthways. Had I to do it again I definitely would have snapped lines lengthways- 1/4 to 1/2 in outside where the 8 ft. length runs, to make sure I was going right. Would have only taken 10 minutes.

This is where I had to make a pretty major correction



not horrible I know, but I will put a little extra blocking under where the tongue is not in the groove very far.

The finished deck!



Does this qualify as dancing? My younger kid on his rip-stick. A 2 wheeled version of a skateboard.





Well that's pretty much where we are at now, so progress updates will be coming a bit slower. I will be counting on you all for advice, and appreciate any suggestions.


 



 

Offline mldrenen

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2009, 11:23:33 AM »
What is the winter like in your area?  Can you build through the winter months, or will this be put on hold until spring?

Offline dug

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2009, 11:44:07 AM »
Thanks for all the kind remarks. Really, it is a disease I inherited from my Dad- perfectus complex B I believe its called. I stopped searching for a cure long ago and have learned to come to terms with it. Makes it hard to work with others sometimes so it is probably best that I am working alone.

Quote
Nice eggs.  Looks like some Araucana in there?

Nice work on the holes too.  I was thinking post hole auger and tractor but then I'm lazy.  I'm impressed.

You got it, and some buffs too.

Quote
What is the winter like in your area?  Can you build through the winter months, or will this be put on hold until spring?

We are @ 6000 ft., so night time can be quite brisk- down to 5 degrees or so sometimes and commonly in the lower to mid teens. Daytimes usually warm up considerably though, 40 degree temperature swings are not uncommon. I plan on busting it through winter so it will be buttoned up well before the summer monsoons. I will need some considerable luck to avoid any major winter storms, speaking of which there is one moving in now. I feel like the race is on!

I could use some advice on windows. Mind boggling choices makes my head hurt. Aluminum or vinyl? They sell Jen-Weld at HD and will make the vinyl ones in any size. This would make framing the walls easy. Of course there is the budget, so we are trying to keep it at around $200 a window or even less if possible. Any suggestions? Not knowing what we are going with yet is preventing me from starting wall framing.





Offline gandalfthegrey

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2009, 11:57:06 AM »
I reckin that the skateboarder is a reasonable choice for a dancer!   d*
Bad Wolf

Offline OlJarhead

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2009, 12:04:01 PM »
Thanks for all the kind remarks. Really, it is a disease I inherited from my Dad- perfectus complex B I believe its called. I stopped searching for a cure long ago and have learned to come to terms with it. Makes it hard to work with others sometimes so it is probably best that I am working alone.

Quote
Nice eggs.  Looks like some Araucana in there?

Nice work on the holes too.  I was thinking post hole auger and tractor but then I'm lazy.  I'm impressed.

You got it, and some buffs too.

Quote
What is the winter like in your area?  Can you build through the winter months, or will this be put on hold until spring?

We are @ 6000 ft., so night time can be quite brisk- down to 5 degrees or so sometimes and commonly in the lower to mid teens. Daytimes usually warm up considerably though, 40 degree temperature swings are not uncommon. I plan on busting it through winter so it will be buttoned up well before the summer monsoons. I will need some considerable luck to avoid any major winter storms, speaking of which there is one moving in now. I feel like the race is on!

I could use some advice on windows. Mind boggling choices makes my head hurt. Aluminum or vinyl? They sell Jen-Weld at HD and will make the vinyl ones in any size. This would make framing the walls easy. Of course there is the budget, so we are trying to keep it at around $200 a window or even less if possible. Any suggestions? Not knowing what we are going with yet is preventing me from starting wall framing.






Vinyl Low-E - but one thing to check is the type of Low-E in your area.  In the north it is to allow heat in, in the south I hear it's to keep it out.  Something to research :)

Offline MountainDon

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #23 on: December 07, 2009, 04:26:50 PM »
..... and also because I read on a post here that running the sheathing to the bottom of the beam adds a considerable amount of strength.

Running the sheathing over the rim joist will accomplish virtually the same extra rigidity.  Not to worry about the beam.....
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

Offline MountainDon

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Re: dug & Jenny's 20 by 30 1 and 1/2 story
« Reply #24 on: December 07, 2009, 04:58:10 PM »
Low-e glazing is the way to go. Low-e with argon is better. If you choose aluminum make sure the manufacturer has a thermal break in the frame. Windows that have low U-factor and low SHGC invariably ewill have thermal breaks.

There are two main values used in obtaining good Low-e ratings. One is the U-factor (the insulation amount, the lower the number the better) and the other is SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient). The lower the U-factor the better the insulation qualities. In a cold climate you want the lowest U-factor you can find/afford. In a hot climate you want the lowest SHGC you can buy, that allows less heat to enter from outside. In a temperate (mixed) climate you want the best of both U-factor and SHGC.



Here's technical article.
http://www.homeenergy.org/archive/hem.dis.anl.gov/eehem/00/000911.html

Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn’t mean it is good design.

 

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