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Looking for similar house designs on STX

 
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Hi folks,

I'll be visiting STX in mid-Oct. I've been designing a house for my lot, and trying to get insight on design ideas. My current design ideas are something like:

House raised to catch breezes:

Looking to the southeast

Looking north (front of house faces south):

Does anyone know if there are any similar homes on STX that I could drive by, to look at. Or, any other homes that might be examples of the following:
- how to raise the entire home up high to catch breezes
- concrete homes (ICF and other)
- window size, orientation and quantity to get breezes
- window size for natural lighting on north hillside homes
- hurricane shutter varieties
- insulated roofs (Bombi?)
- septic systems on steep hills
- concrete vs plastic cisterns

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Topic starter Posted : September 24, 2009 12:07 pm
stxfoodie
(@stxfoodie)
Advanced Member

You might try contacting a local architect to discuss. Rene Diadamo is excellent and might be able to help.

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Posted : September 24, 2009 12:43 pm
Cory
 Cory
(@Cory)
Advanced Member

South facing roof, no shade! wink wink 🙂

Looks good!

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Posted : September 24, 2009 1:50 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Hi Cory,
Yup, I knew you'd like that... I forgot to add solar panels to my list... think you might have time to show me a home with panels... I'll buy you lunch...

Thanks STXfoodie... I also want to try to get together with a structural engineer - Taylor Babb. But, I also want to see some examples myself so that I have a better feel when I do meet with architects and engineers.

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Topic starter Posted : September 24, 2009 2:21 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

if you are interested in geo thermal let me know.

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Posted : September 24, 2009 2:34 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Thanks DixieChick, I haven't looked into geo thermal at all... any websites I might visit to get ideas how it might integrate into my STX house?

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Topic starter Posted : September 24, 2009 3:05 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

There is a recently completed house (called the green house) out east (just past Cheney bay) that you should look at. It was insulated steel panel construction and the entire roof is covered with solar panels. It is on the market so you can find it on MLS.

You will want to spend a lot of time looking at existing houses, talking with local builders etc. before finalizing your design. Most of the construction work on-island is basic concrete block. I’m sure you can find builders that will do ICF’s but it hasn’t become as prevalent as it is stateside. Here you don’t need to worry too much about insulation. It’s more about air flow and shade for natural cooling. Most houses don’t have A/C.

One thing you should consider adding to your design is a pool. We were thinking a pool was a “nice to have”, but after living in a house with a pool there is no way we will design without it. It’s great to have the convenience to take a dip to cool off.

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Posted : September 24, 2009 4:05 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Thanks IslandHops,

OK, I've put the green house on list of things to see.

Yes, I'm far from finalizing my design... I'm still getting ideas. I know my pics look fairly complete, but it's more like a modern sketchpad... I'm definitely still playing.

I was hoping that ICF would help to insulate from the heat as well. I agree that airflow is very important. That's why I think I have to try to find a way to get the house up high... and of course, then handle the issues of hurricanes and earthquakes. I would really like to study an existing house on stilts/posts. It might be easier to find these on STT because I think STT is hillier than STX. I've been searching Google Earth for candidates on STX, but it's a little tough to tell from that view. So, I'm hoping that residents can help point me to a few homes to look at.

Yes, I'm considering a pool... thanks.

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Topic starter Posted : September 24, 2009 4:59 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

my B.F. does geo thermal.......he has a biz in the states. and he has installed the system in his house in the states. he said it would work well here for cooling. the guys who built the house at G.Cay talked to Him about geo thermal. if you are interested you can contact me.......i can not believe how well the a/c works with that system...made me a believer....

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Posted : September 24, 2009 6:54 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

p.s. ENG...he is a civil engineer

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Posted : September 24, 2009 6:56 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

There are lots of elevated houses on STX - no need to go to STT to see examples. Just driving around you will find plenty to research.

On the ICF side, we personally decided not going that route for a few reasons. Biggest is that you have to drywall the interior! I've had enough of that rehabbing houses up north. Give me a simple concrete wall any day. Less worries about moisture absorption and mold too. Also exterior impact resistance was a concern. When things get tossed around during a storm I think a concrete exterior will hold up better a coated ICF. We also have no intention of having a sealed air conditioned box to live in, hence the insulation factor isn't a concern. Our intent is to leverage natural breezes and ceiling fans. Not trying to dissuade you as I still think ICF's are an awesome building alternative.

You'll find once you move, you'll probably be in less of a rush than you think to build. We had planned to have our land cleared and plans drawn up within 6 months. It's been nearly a year and I have yet to fire up the weed whacker - maybe this Sunday!

Also - you will get a ton of advice to avoid the headaches and heartaches of building and to just buy an existing house. After a while on island you'd be surprised what an attractive looking alternative that becomes 🙂

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Posted : September 25, 2009 4:14 pm
DixieChick
(@DixieChick)
Trusted Member

ENG i pmed you last night about the geo thermal but about the time i hit SENT.....the internet went out........typical.

But anyway i will ask B.F. if he knows of a good web site to read about it..

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Posted : September 25, 2009 5:04 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

IslandHops,
Maybe no one else is responding because it's just so painfully obvious that elevated houses are all over the place. I'm blaming it on the big blue skies... I just don't remember seeing any on my last trip. I was mostly on the east end and in C'sted. This time I'll be in Carambola... maybe I'll see some up in the rain forest, or west of C'sted.

Thanks for the insight. I'm chuckling a bit because I'm right with you on the time schedule aspect. I won't be building for 5-10 years... I'm just using this time to gather ideas. I might end up going your same route... find a place to stay before building, and decide that it's plenty comfortable enough. But, I want to at least explore the building option... I really like the lot that I got.

I worry about the Sun baking those concrete walls all day... don't they release a lot of heat into the house, through the night? I agree with you on the drywall issue, but there are alternatives to drywall. The outside worried me, thinking about tree-limbs flying around at 100MPH during hurricanes. But, I've heard that repairing stucco is pretty easy.

Thanks DixieChick,
I PM'd you this AM... did you get that? Don't you hate that when something goes wrong just when you're ready to send... it usually only happens to me with the longest or most complicated emails...

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Topic starter Posted : September 25, 2009 7:31 pm
IslandHops
(@IslandHops)
Trusted Member

We live on our boat but have been house/pet sitting recently. I was suprized at how cool the house remained. With 8" block, when you put your hands on the inside surface of the sun exposed walls you dont feel any heat transfer. Light exterior color probably helps. Appropriately sized and supported overhangs for shade, and landscaping can futher mitigate the baking effect. With high cielings and good fans we've been fine without air conditioning.

When we design we are also considering a concrete roof (better platform for mounting solar panels without inviting future leaks).

Carambola is wonderful - we like the north shore which is where our property is. Yes there are some examples of elevated homes out that way, also around the seven hills area. Just look up and you'll find them.

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Posted : September 25, 2009 8:37 pm
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

Make sure your roof is white. That makes a LOT of difference.

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Posted : September 25, 2009 8:43 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

IslandHops,

I'm jealous... boat living has always sounded "cozy", but liberating to me.

Thanks for the insight on the wall heat transfer... a very useful data point. It will be a little tougher for me to have landscaping shading the house if I elevate it... but, given time...

Yes, I've heard from others that high ceilings definitely help to get the heat out of "living space".

I have my roof pitch at about 20 deg... trying to get close to the maximum-insolation pitch of 18 deg (for STX latitude).

Thanks for pointing me to elevated house locations. I think the problem was that I was looking too far up... those wonderful blue skies... maybe I was too focused on DRIVE LEFT!

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Topic starter Posted : September 25, 2009 8:49 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

Hey Eng, A new house is being built near the yacht club on the East End. It is elevated and HUGE. It was built on concrete piers. The thing with that much elevation is windlift. Im in Hawaii now , when will you be in STX? Maybe we can hook up. I highly recommend insulting your roof although a thhermal barrier with ventilation could be effective. I believe yhe VI has adopted the Uniforn Building Code and now reguires somekind of insulation.

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Posted : September 26, 2009 9:28 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Hey Bombi,
Thanks for the info... excellent! I thought maybe you were in Hawaii now. I'm in STX from 16-21 Oct. A short trip, but it was a great deal... and we're new empty-nesters!

Yup, I did some calculations on wind loads and weight of house... here is what I found for my case:
- assume 200 knot winds
- since I'm on a hill, assume the wind will get focused to 45 deg angle (trying to lift the home)
- floor area is about 4000 sqft (including perimeter deck)
- concrete floors and concrete walls, 6 inches thick
- weight of house is about 300,000 lbs
- wind force trying to lift house is about 245,000 lbs!!!
So.... I think I'm OK... I want a structural engineer to look at this.

I definitely agree with the insulated roof idea.

Hope you're having a good time in HI.

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Topic starter Posted : September 26, 2009 11:04 pm
dougtamjj
(@dougtamjj)
Expert

Bombi, which is your favorite place, the VI or Hawaii.

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Posted : September 26, 2009 11:12 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

Tami if $ was no object, definitely Hawaii. We had Tsunami warnings today. HI is so lush with plenty of water and a great infrastructure. BUT real estate is $$$$$$. Big waves the last few days. We had a monk seal haul out right in Freon of us at the Beach at Turtle Bay.
Everyone should visit HI at least once. It was 16 hours from STYX to here, ey, yi yi. I do miss STX though.

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Posted : September 30, 2009 1:44 am
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Bombi, I did find the house near Chenay... thanks. We pulled in to the driveway and walked around the house. As we were leaving, the owner arrived. He said that he's building it himself! If I had had more time I would have stopped and talked to him more.

We found another house in Eliza's Retreat area. It was a better match to what I'm thinking. Very steep hill. They used concrete rectangular pillars. The tallest pillar was maybe 16 feet. They had leveled two tiers under the house to allow construction (and probably gain space under the house). I don't want to tear up the land that way because I'm worried about potential drainage problems (but I didn't see any signs of drainage problems on their site).

I studied the airline site to see if I could bring my machete in my luggage... not carry on. It looked OK to me... so I packed it! No problem! So, Saturday morning, with long jeans, a long sleeve t-shirt and gloves, I dove in! I left my wife back at the beach, and gave myself two hours to see how far I could get. I managed to wack my way through about 120 ft, up high on the property.

I now understand how the vegetation survives hurricanes on my property. There are vines basically tying everything together. And the vines are super strong (I also now understand why Bear Grylls uses these vines to tie boats and shelters together). I should have brought my pruners with me in addition to the machete... the pruners would have cut through the vines more easily.

I saw a few centipedes, and heard a few mosquitoes. No rashes, cuts, gashes or bruises. And I still have all my fingers and toes.

More to think about...

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Topic starter Posted : October 26, 2009 12:13 am
Matt
 Matt
(@matt)
Advanced Member

Eng, Just an idea, but that is a lot of unused, covered space under that house. Most people utilize it for an apartment, garage, storage, etc. While you are building, it wouldn't be that much more to level, pour a floor (adding plumbing & electrical conduit) and walls for future use. A lot cheaper and easier at that point.

Matt.

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Posted : October 26, 2009 8:37 pm
EngRMP
(@EngRMP)
Advanced Member

Thanks Matt,

I'm trying to get Taylor Babb to look at my design. He's a structural engineer/architect on STX. I need him to tell me:
- if anything will be able to be used as pillars to elevate the house the way I want
- if this elevated house design is prudent, given hurricanes and earthquakes
- if this can be constructed without cutting/leveling beneath the house (I'm concerned about drainage control)

If he says that I have to level to construct, or lower the house a bit, then if I proceed, I'll probably go the route you're suggesting. I know it'd be cheaper to build at least the structure for that lower building space now. If I can't afford it, I'm willing to give it up and let the next owner decide if they want to modify, tear down and start over, or live with my choices.

Thanks for checking my logic though... I appreciate it. Nothing worse than getting a project done and THEN finding out that another option went unnoticed.... D'ohhhhh.

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Topic starter Posted : October 26, 2009 9:56 pm
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