20 green “strange thing” gotchas when building a custom green house (or, how I learned why things end up costing so much)

Most of these can be avoided if one chills out and builds 90% of a green house, or perhaps by working with a very experienced green architect (or ideally I think?) a design-build company that gets both sides.

Some strange things include:
1- no-VOC products
2- TJIs used in walls
3- dealing with innie or outie windows in superinsulated walls
4- unusual windows with R-5 or R-6
5- HRV systems and proper balancing and inside placement of intake/exhaust vents
6- sizing and choosing placement of inside heads in a minisplit system
7- custom design & specs instead of stock plan
8- insulating properly behind a bathtub on an exterior wall
9- how to add interior light block shades to outie-windows (it’s problematic, take my word for it!)
10- foundation brine loops for pre-heating/tempering HRV air
11- exterior framing and sheating all flush (no overhangs) and taped. overhangs applied after air-sealing
12- hot roofs
13- worrying about orientation (solar south) (too much)
14- things that people are used to which might be missing in your design (a fireplace/mantel, a basement, a garage, a formal dining room, a master bathroom, a paved driveway)
15- composting toilets
16- cellphones and radios and TVs might not work well in a house with foil-faced PolyIso insulation
17- not having a furnace or boiler that can very quickly heat or cool the house if setback temps used (usually with minisplits, they are slow to catchup, so best to not use nighttime setbacks)
18- you maybe found land in a weird spot farther away from things
19- smaller than typical houseplan with things like:
open plan, limited wasted space like hallways, no loops for kids to run-around, big furniture
20- big windows in awkward spots (and none in others) if trying especially hard to do passivhaus
21- special parts that take a week to order to repair a strange thing
22- strange things that are difficult or expensive to repair or troubleshoot
23- strange things that are done (products used or designs) to save money (but don’t or else else cause other side effects that undo the savings)

Who is affected by your stange choices?
– the building inspector has to approve of strange things
– the builder might have difficulty in sourcing products and/or pricing labor effort for strange things
– beware a builder who is not used to or doesn’t like doing custom projects rather than spec houses
– the contactors who have probably not done strange things or used strange things
– you (the owner) not having lived with strange things
– difficulty in finding contractors nearby to repair or maintain strange things (for instance, a radon removal system for potable water) or redo work they did on strange things that weren’t done properly in the first place.
– the future buyer when you move — they won’t appreciate the strange things as being awesome, just different, and maybe even annoying.


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