Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Successful Tiny House !!

The Tiny House movement deserves some study as a sustainable housing strategy.

Historically, the biggest problem is finding a place to put your tiny house.  Zoning and building codes have made it nearly impossible to do legally.

The town of Spur, TX, made a conscious commitment to allow them, so a guy named Conor had one built and installed in Spur.

He documented his schedule and costs

Here's the detailed story with all the cost information, but I will summarize:

It cost a total of $47k, which includes the cost of the house built on a trailer of $24.7k.  He thinks that a Tumbleweed home would have been double that.

The best news is now his monthly cost of housing is just $4.21 for the property tax.   Utilities run about $227.  Food is on top of that.

Conor is completely happy with the final result, and gives kudos to the open-minded town of Spur:  "I really do applaud Spur for opening up their town to people like me and houses like this one."

There's one more hero in this story.  Tom Meyers is the building code official that prodded the IRC into eliminating the 120 sq. ft. minimum requirement for habitable space.

Other towns have seen the light, joining Spur recently is Walsenburg, CO, and Osprey, FL

To Conor and myself, paying lot rent of $200+ at a tiny house community just doesn't make any sense if you are trying to be self-reliant and minimize your long term expenses.  Eventually, that tiny house community will be eliminated, just like cities have been getting rid of mobile home parks since the 1970s.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Heat Pump Dryer Update III

The LG heat pump dryer is finally available.

Heat pump dryers are a big deal because they use a lot less electricity than conventional dryers.

The Whirlpool dryer is also ventless.   The LG requires a vent because of its "quick cycle".

"While the Whirlpool only has a single 1,300 watt element and lacks a vent, we found it to be faster than the LG on nearly every cycle. For instance, the LG's Normal cycle took upwards of two hours when we used the heat pump, while the Whirlpool's took just under an hour and a half. The tradeoff? The Whirlpool's fastest cycle was around 45 minutes, while the LG's Quick cycle took only 25." - - Jonathan Chan at

 Conventional vented dryers actually cause your house's heating system to approximately double the amount of energy used by the dryer in winter.  That's because the air blown outside by the dryer has to be replaced by cold outside air.

The Whirlpool heat pump dryer is currently backordered at Home Depot, which could mean either the demand is huge or they are having production problems.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thick Media Swamp Coolers Still Get the Job Done in Denver

Last year I replaced my cheap swamp cooler with a better unit.

The old one did the job during heat waves only if I overcooled the house at night and shut it off during the hot part of the day.

The cost of the better coolers had prevented me from upgrading, but I snagged one for less than half price in October 2013:

With the new 8" media cooler, I can just set a room temperature with the thermostat and forget about it.  For $20/month, I can keep my house at 68F most of the time.  Nice!

De Blasio is Getting it Wrong in the Uber Debate

Bill DeBlasio thinks Uber needs a lot of regulation.  It doesn't.

UPDATE:  DeBlasio caved in and has abandoned this dumb idea.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Unvented Attic Solved Without Foam

Since 2007, I've been arguing against vented attics, which are the most common way to make a roof for a house.

Around that time, the IRC started allowing unvented attics that are insulated at the roof plane with foam.

This spray foam method has proven to be expensive and dangerous, so I've been hoping for a better way.

Once again, David Posluszny, inventor of the Shirley Wall, has provided a solution:

This is still a difficult installation process in a retrofit, accessing the soffit area is tough.

But if you are building a new home with a cathedral ceiling, this will be relatively easy and cheap.  The furring strips make it easier to install drywall.  As usual, don't install any electrical in the ceiling due to the air leaks it can cause.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Vancouver is Winning in the War on Cars

Denver has a war on cars.  Conservatives and libertarians don't think city government should be engaged in this war.

In Vancouver, however, it is now apparent that if cars lose the war, there are benefits:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fluid-Applied WRBs are Getting Our Attention

A house needs a weather resistant barrier (WRB) underneath the wall cladding to divert wind-driven rain.  Asphalt impregnated felt paper was the most common WRB for 100 years.  Then about 1980, builders started using Tyvek.  It had at least three advantages:  The 12' length of  the rolls saved labor cost, you can tape the seams, and it doesn't tear as easily.  Taping of the seams meant that it could also serve as an air barrier, and reduced the infiltration rate of air moving through the house.

Now it appears that the best WRB is "fluid applied" which means it gets sprayed on like paint.  In some wall designs, it can serve as both a seamless air barrier and fastener-free WRB.

Check out Matt Risinger's work on the topic: