I wanted to build my shop so that it’d be really comfortable to work in. What’s more, I wanted to be sure to build it responsibly. I mean, who knows who will work in my shop when I’m gone?
A Note from the Publisher:
WARNING: POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST!
Many people have asked about my new home and shop, so we’re publishing a new series of From the Road articles. You’ll notice I’m using a lot of Katz Roadshow-sponsored materials. We choose our sponsors carefully, from among the best manufacturers in the industry, and that’s why I chose to use their products on my own home, too, some of which were donated.
I used a lot of modern materials in order to guarantee its energy efficiency, like Huber’s ZIP line, which is one of those new products that is supported by a full installation system…
I often like these articles, and really like the idea of a well insulated shop. I insulated the 2X6 walls with R-19 and the ceiling with R-30. Which in Southern California is overkill but the shop stays cool in the summer and comfortable in the winter without heat or A/C.
My concern is that when these products are shown without mentioning cost and or showing a cost benefit analysis it can mislead the laymen into thinking the product is a good value when it might not be.
For example, I’d read for years of the benefits of engineered lumber, and chose engineered lumber for the roof of my garage. This allowed me to have a clear span in a flat roof of 25 feet. The downside was expense. While, these articles often say something like, “It’s a little more expensive…. benefits… straighter, energy efficient etc.” The reality in my case was that engineer lumber was 3X the cost of standard 2X12. Although I did gain a span of 25 feet rather than a max of 23 feet. But it was at a cost of $1500.00. I could have had a slightly shallower but wider garage.
So my question, what is the projected payoff of this system? How does the energy efficiency compare to a standard R-13 wall, R-30 Ceiling. Another factor might be its rot resistance, which in the Pacific Northwest might well be worth it.
Not trying to be overly critical and in a more extreme climate the payoff might well be worth it.
JLC feb 2011 had a hands on installation article covering some of the problems, advantages and costs of this system. A good and objective look at costs and benefits is presented in the article.
THANK YOU! For those that need more information on cost effectiveness/value/benefits, read the JLC article!
I don’t think you’re being critical at all! In fact, I understand why you’d want to see a cost/value/benefit comparison. Unfortunately I think what you’re asking for is a whole separate article, one that would take considerable research. And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the one to write that story. I was motivated to write the story from an installation perspective. And I was motivated to use the material from a comfort perspective. I’m in my early 60s. I definitely will not live long enough to enjoy whatever cost benefits might result from:
1. Insulating my 6″ slab with 4″ of polystyrene
2. Installing a radiant heat system in the slab
3. Installing R-panel Zip sheathing
4. Installing closed-cell foam insulation in all the 2×4 walls
5. Installing R-38 Open Cell foam against the roofing underlayment (maybe the first conditioned attic in Southern Oregon!)
I did all of this because of Rick Arnold (contrib. editor to Fine Homebuilding) and I blame him for the costs I’ve incurred!!! :)
Rick told me that the older you get, the more important it is to be comfortable; that forced air heat warms your head and not your feet (my feet are ALWAYS cold); that the majority of cold climate discomfort and heat loss comes from air infiltration and thermal transfer, etc. etc. etc.
On the other hand, I also received great advice from Carl Hagstrom (past contrib. editor to the Journal of Light Construction, publisher of WoodWeb.com, etc). Carl said: “You’re not going to live long enough to appreciate any of the cost savings from all the money you’re spending on energy efficiency. You should just put in a gas furnace and turn the sucker up to 75. You could burn gas every day of the year and never come close to the money you’re spending just on that ridiculous radiant slab, let alone all the foam insulation!!”
I was glad to learn from both fellows, which enabled me to make an informed decision…well, actually, my feet really made the decision. They chose comfort.:)
Gary, why did you go with open cell in the ceiling when you went with closed in the walls? There is a huge cost difference between the two but why in the walls verse the ceiling?
The walls are 2×4 and in order to get maximum R-rating, I had to use CC Foam.
The roof had unlimited room, OC is less expensive, so I used it up there. In the house, over the patio-addition-turned-to-living space, the ceiling is 2 x 8’s so I used CC in that area. For a while I worried about which product to use in the roof/ceiling, because CC will not absorb moisture and if the roof leaked, I was afraid I’d never find the leak. I asked Rick Arnold about that and he said that at my age, I didn’t need to worry about the leak–I’d be long gone before the room rotted out because of a leak. :)
I will say this–I’ve never been more comfortable in a home, never in my life. The house and shop stay very cool in the summer I open the doors and windows at night (every thing has a screen on it), and the temperature here always falls at least into the low 60’s, even the hottest part of the summer, so the house cools off. I shut the house up by 8:00 in the morning. In the fall, taking a shower warms up the whole house. That was the other thing that Rick told me: “You’re not going to see any return on your investment–you’re too old, but you’re going to be very comfortable.”
How did you handle the window jambs on a 4.5″ deep frame (3.5″ framing + 1″ foam)? Did you order custom length extensions jambs with the windows or buy standard 2×4 jambs and make your extensions? Just curious.
We installed jamb extensions on the inside of all the windows and doors. All of the walls in my home were different thicknesses–not by a lot, but by enough. A lot of different remodels at different periods of time since the early 70s. Rather than trying to figure out each opening, I ordered all the jambs the same width, then made custom extensions for every opening. We cut all the pieces, some we left a little long, then pre-finished everything, so there was no finishing on the inside of the house. Yeah, I have a lot of careful caulking to do, and some small nail holes to fill, but in the long run, it was much easier living with just a little dust and some tools in the house, rather than a spray gun. :)
Loved this! However, as an enormous fan of your work, that people you consulted made remarks regarding your life expectancy is a bit morbid, and possibly misleading. Assuming good health and history, it’s somewhat likely that you will live another 30 years, which would probably be outside the service life of most of the equipment you install today (ex: boiler, water heater, etc.). Projecting your lifespan isn’t as simple as subtracting current age from average life expectancy. See – https://www.myabaris.com/tools/life-expectancy-calculator-how-long-will-i-live/
Granted, the building should last longer, and the benefits of building right should be conferred on future occupants, as you mention.
Can’t wait to see the stuff you’re making in 2046!