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  1. Log Cabins and Timber Frame etc homes look very nice but in my immediate family there have been two family homes completely burnt to the ground. I am now a believer in FireBarrier and sheet-rock etc. No one exposes the beauty of wood with the thought of it ever burning but unfortunately it does. Sometimes "code" makes sense. Back in '97 or '98 a very strange situation developed with lumber shortage when all metal frame buildings mimicking traditional wood structures were cheaper to build and if you selected the buildout materials properly would be fireproof with thousands of dollars of insurance savings over lifetime of home.
  2. Brilliant ! Just when I think we have exhausted all the possibilities you come up with something else. I can see the many advantages for the slight extra cost. Btw, my original inspiration for he 16 x 16 cabin was from looking at the following two plans and selecting the design layout of the smaller 12x12 prospectors cabin and increasing the size to be closer to the Pioneers cabin which is actually 16x20. I felt that by utilizing the entire 2nd floor space instead of an keeping an open loft, enough space could be saved to scale back on the footprint size to 16x16. I think that is easily achievable were it not for the "regular stairs" requirement instead of using a ladder. Here is the site that has further ( in addition to the Home Depot video) educated me about modifying the Gambrel roof components take a look at the 16x16 garage shed and look at the interior photos. Eric, early on you referenced two different kinds of exterior insulation and I have not had a chance to research those two techniques.... Since you live in Arizona I know you must be well schooled in insulation and I am wondering now if these "exterior insulations" are additive to what is already done inside a wall resulting in a super insulation system overall. At this point it seems crazy to me to think about hollow walls with insulation on the outside but all you guys in Arizona the hottest state must be the experts.
  3. Eric, you always give me a lot of thought provoking ideas and we have seen a large list of temptations most of which result in unarguable enhancement but with overall scope creep that I am trying to avoid for a while but want to keep in reserve for later options. Yes roofing is more expensive than siding but be fair about the cost of siding... also add the cost of roofing on top of the siding and the extra framing for the roof on top of the siding .... I am not so sure a whole 2nd floor is cheaper than Gambrel but you are absolutely right about windows. I just see the Gambrel now as a 25 percent more expensive roof that brings the most space at a super lowest unit cost when averaged out. It is not deluxe but 7 ft ceiling downstairs, and loft space enlarged by Gambrel does in fact provide the absolute least unit cost volume space and it is generously livable without having to climb ladders and crawl around on hands and knees upstairs etc etc. Re the foam on the exterior.... If I lived in the Arctic or Arizona the hottest state in the country I maybe could place thermal properties over ruggedness but I dont know how I could toughen the exterior foam affordably.... It would ( in my mind require another layer of siding) ? ? ? I envisioned the 2x4 post in the 2x6 wall as being on the interior side leaving 2 inches of space to the outside so as to not increase thermal bridging all the way to the exterior. But you are right, it is a tradeoff of structural vs thermal considerations... Gotta have a little give and take and I needed a way to drop the ceiling and support the 2nd floor loads ..... Maybe I could notch out 2 inches of the 2x6 wall stud and inset the 2x6 2nd floor joists in the notch and supplement with some kind of Simpson strap ....and/or bracket the floor joist inserted into the wall stud notch much like they do with the gussets on the Gambrel truss members.... That would sturdy up the connection and not reduce the strength of the 2x6 at the notch to any lower than a std 2x4. The mid span support for the 2x6 was what you pointed out to me and what a great idea that can be taken advantage only with certain floor plans. There are many more deluxe options but I am fairly convinced that for any given footprint size a Gambrel in this manner will provide the most useable floor space per unit cost. The Home Depot shed really opened my eyes to the Gambrel design. and still use the
  4. I revisited the HomeDepot video and it occurs to me that the Gambrel components may be larger than my six foot sections as they look really big in the video and a whole lot of space on the 2nd floor. I may enlarge my Gambrel components as I evaluate options but it does appear that it is easier and cheaper to gain 2nd floor volume by increasing Gambrel members than by adding higher and higher knee walls although I am swapping my desired "Farmhouse" look for a "Barn" look unless you are from Holland. Just think... an extension of the outside two members of the Gambrel roof by one foot just about raises the interior ceiling height by one foot as well. Regarding the modular stairs... it would be a shame to conceal them in a closed stairway but I must find a way to close off airflow between floors and I guess it will have to be done with a landing up top with a door there. Sliding doors are convenient but cannot approach a conventional door in air tightness.
  5. Here is a pretty interesting video of a 16x16 shed that shows the impressive space available on 2nd floor without extensive extra effort. Gambrel roof 16x16 shed at Home Depot I would have 3 ridge beams for strength and stick build each gambrel member (?) on the roof It will be overbuilt for reasons of insulation but being extra strong isnt always bad. I would mount at top of 2x6stud exterior wall a 2x12 as a third top plate with the excess hanging to the outside and shimmed slightly so that as an overhang for the outside wall it would tilt down slightly for water runoff. This 2x12 will also exist as a beam at the top of the walls to resist pushout from the weight of the Gambrel roof even though I plan to put gussets on both sides of the 2x8 Gambrel members. I could probably use 2x6s but I need the thickness for foam insulation. Each Gambrel truss member cut so that it will take one and a half sheets of plywood or 6 ft total to minimize plywood waste. So to span 16 feet I will have 24 feet of linear roof across the top spanning four truss components. I want to place the 1st floor ceiling height at 7 feet mimicking the 1800s Cape Cod houses and use 2x6 floor joist members to have the lowest possible 2nd floor height which will provide a little bit more head room on the 2nd floor. I will be using 8 ft exterior wall studs and I will be creating somewhat of a knee wall effect. The slight knee wall plus the Gambrel roof shape should result in a surprising amount of space on the 2nd floor Along side (sistered) the 2x6 exterior wall studs I will have shortened 2x4 studs which the 2x6 ceiling or 2nd floor joists will rest upon. No 2x6 will span greater than 8 feet. This is kind of a balloon framing or post and beam technique. I just dont want to rely on hangars and connectors etc. A 2x4 is cheaper and more reliable as a post anyway. some modular stair photos attached providing non code compliant rise over run performance with conventional hand rails and appearance while actually using the theory of alternating stair step tread design. See attached photos of these stairs installed. These modular stairs have about an inch and a half in rise adjustment per each stair So that should give them a lot of utility in my application as far as getting the perfect fit. Unfortunately my Home Designer program will not allow me to design for these stairs as it will not allow stairs beyond typical code angle of ascent. These stairs and the low floor will reduce some of the overall footprint taken by the stairs and may allow for other design options which I have to explore. I anticipate the stair total package will cost about $1500 and seems justifiable although stairs could be hand built for much less but could not look as nice for the same price I feel.
  6. I have been around Personal Computers since they were invented. ( Before the IBM PC-AT I was a salesman for a company that had the fastest personal computer in the world and demoed at NASA etc. AND it had a dual boot feature as at the time the IBM PC-DOS was not the absolute dominate Op System) All of these work-arounds are risky which is fine unless the stuff you risk is important and valuable. (Mission Critical) Even when safeguards are taken the investment is always a great deal of time which is the most valuable of all. It would appear that if I cannot find an older Ver 10 or 2012 or 2014 version I must either decide to abandon Chief Architect or buy a new computer to run the latest version. My project at this time does not justify the expense of new hardware, new space for new system and new software. I hope Windows 10 version is the answer to everyones wants but Microsoft never gets it right ... on purpose actually because they build themselves a path for needed improvements and upgrades to generate corporate revenues. So I wil wait to see if an older version comes available and until then I will do conceptual stuff with Ver-10-Suite and probably resort to 2D CAD for the essential cross sections and precise framing dimensions. My skills in Sketchup are improving and I may just ditch the old fashioned 2D. I have four or five months before I break ground on the new cabin and we should know a lot more about Win 10 by then. I am currently running six partitions on two hard drives with Win XP and am no stranger to odd setups but I just cannot afford to "play" with my "production" system at this time. It is nice to see how our members here are multitalented in many areas. Thanks for the suggestions. Kinda too bad actually as Chief Architect is foregoing some nice revenues on an older product that they provide no support for and it would be all pure profit if they were to sell an older version at this time. Scott
  7. I am a little skeptical about the amazon offer since it is a digital download affair. I talked with chief architect customer service and sales and they said in no uncertain terms they were not and would not participate in any products other than current version. SO if I ordered at amazon where would I be downloading it from ? ? ? The reason I am stuck on XP is I have two other essential software programs that run only on XP as well as scanners and special large format printers etc I also noticed Amazon is offering 2012 and 2015 HomeDesigner Pro versions..... arent they also supposed to run on XP? ie 2016 version was the first version to NOT run on XP...... is that right ?
  8. I will pay more than the upgrade rebate if someone is thinking about upgrading... I am stuck on Win XP that is the reason why and the latest version 2016 will not run on my computer.. Scott Perkins
  9. Eric your latest plan is certainly appealing though I might have some difficulty in framing the 2nd floor roof as drawn. I think when we get into the complexity and extra details we can just go ahead and get the full 2nd floor with a flat ceiling with little or no extra cost and a smallish uninhabitable attic if we were to use for instance a low slope 4-12 roof pitch. With a full height 2nd floor and obligatory full 2nd floor bath I think the dwelling could become a full time residence again even in a 16x16 footprint. I am still trying to max out what I call the economy car version with a full bath downstairs and mini fridge and 2 burner stove and single bowl sink kitchen . I did see something interesting in your latest downstairs bath sink (with the wrapped around stairway) area.... It occurs to me that bath sink area is very close to being a shower area as well..... a shower that you would step through to get to the toilet. It might require a swinging shower door in front of the toilet right where your kneecaps would be when sitting on it. I say swinging because I have never seen a waterproof sliding shower door anywhere but on the top of a bathtub side about 18 or 20 inches high. We can easily draw a sliding shower door in the plans however. Or we could omit the toilet stall door but I could never imagine sitting on a wet toilet right after someone took a shower. A shower in this location would provide a dual function for the normally required front of toilet clearance area with a very minimum of inconvenience.... or none if there is only a single occupant in the dwelling. Speaking of low slope roofs ..... I 've always questioned the wisdom of some of those nearly full width dormer shed roofs and thought to myself, why not just go an extra foot on both sides and make it a full house width roof. The framing, and siding and roofing are all much simpler but perhaps not as "fancy" looking. I say spend the money on improving the quality of the things that really work and not waste a lot of money on gimmick looking details. And BTW, I very much like the wrap around outside porch. I cannot think of many things that give a better return for your money than a covered porch. And if we are evolving to full 2nd floors... we might as well have a 2nd floor deck to walk out onto.... actually from an inside shower stall on the outside wall with clear glass patio doors .... Just slide the outer door open and you would be very close to taking a shower outside. When I built my mom a house 15 years ago, she wanted a lot of fake dormers all over the house and I suggested we simply take the same money and put it in extra insulation and higher grade maintenance free windows. Today she is very glad we followed my suggestion.
  10. Outhouses to Bathrooms.... I have a collection of old House plans going back to 1885 and up to 1942 and in these 18 or 20 sets of plans the first appearance of a Bathroom or any special room to go potty in in any of the plans is in 1920. And some of these plans were gigantic 3000, 4000 sq feet 3 story mansions etc. It is the weirdest thing to not see any restrooms or dedicated bathing areas in a house that size. Certainly no showers but I thought maybe there might have been rooms with tubs etc. But nope !
  11. Eric, I am continually thinking about your suggestion for taking the stairs outside the 16x16 space as nothing is too crazy... In fact I am reminded of my early favorite Cape Cod style homes where in the 1800s whenever the wealthy built their home they had the resources to build something like a partial basement but I think the space may only have been for storage of veggies. ie "root cellar" ? ? Anyway, all these Cape Cods had what looked like not much more than a large dog house connected to the rear part of the house side ... certainly not as much as what we see for small front porch stoops etc and this little dog house had the entry door and stairs down into the root cellar. I dont think there was access to the stairs from inside the house. I was just kind of thinking what a little bump out might do for our stair way headroom situation.... As well. we could put the entire stairs outside and maybe enter the stairwell from inside and then reenter the house on the 2nd floor. I saw a photo last night in a book with exterior stairs that did not look too bad, I have not had a working scanner for a few years..... BUT I DO have a digital camera. Let me work on it a bit and I will try to share. In fact there were five or six pics of interest. The book was called Small Houses of the Future I think. Regarding spiral stairs... other than the higher cost of building... I wonder if spiral stairs with the same diameter as the width of two stairways feel as comfortable climbing and descending ?
  12. Regarding doors in stairways. Some here seem to be not sold on the benefits of a structure that can close off floors from one another from an air movement standpoint. We have been led to appreciate the cathedral ceilings the sky high foyers, the balconies looking down into the family rooms etc. I can tell you they are the stupidest things any architect has ever done excepting those designing for folks wealthiest enough to not care about utility bills. You can build houses with 9 and 10 foot tray ceilings and have luxurious winding stair cases in the foyer and still have doors at the top and doors at the bottom (or top) of stairs into the basement etc. that will not make you feel like you are in a lower tier economic class. You lose nothing by closing off the floors but if you have the opportunity to have separate HVAC systems on the different floors and whole house, attic or window fans, you can have different activities going on in the different floors. It can have a monstrous effect on the need for heating and cooling the floors you are currently occupying. If you ever have a chance to affect the design of a structure please remember what I am telling you here. You will never regret it. I'll say it again.... You can have a whole floor serve as insulation for another floor. The effect can be massive regardless of how big the structure is ! My other best kept secret..... In all my properties and designs, I have installed kitchen wall cabinets in the bathrooms. People LUV em ! even over the toilets. Always 12 in deep.... sometimes 15 deep on the walls.
  13. I am very sorry for my extended absence as you all know life sometimes interferes with our fun. I hope everyone here is learning and having half as much fun as I am with this collaborative project. It occurs to me that many people go through life without ever being able to be part of a collaborative team of highly talented individuals and being able to take part in development on a deeply intellectual project that one person could not do by themselves. For some reason our minds are fixed and cannot always see all the alternatives I think because we are genetically inclined to pursue a path. Twenty years ago I had a software development company and I would have regular staff meetings where I would ask for all the craziest wildest ideas so that we could record them for analysis as at some point in the future some of the crazy ideas in a different circumstance would seem to be a very good idea. I regularly go back and read over the many different suggestions to see if some of them now fit better in our "evolved" structure or solve some problems or represent better tradeoffs depending on an individual occupants priorities etc. Certainly is always a good idea to consider the practical technical aspects such as trying to align downstairs plumbing with upstairs plumbing etc.... I also want to mention that we can sometimes design things that cannot practically be built... the program we are using as good as it is does not have much experience framing a house as we have to always be asking ourselves... yea really neat but how do we build it ? My concern is in the area of knee walls. In these kinds of peaked roof structures, the roofs want to push the walls out and someway we have to contain these forces. In simple structures the ceiling joists might tie the opposing walls together and in a lot of roofs we would put collar ties about two thirds of the height from the floor to the peak holding the roof rafters together. When we raise the walls with knee walls we have to work hard to contain the forces trying to push the walls out. One way to do this is to extend the 1st floor wall studs into the 2nd floor much like is done in Timber Framing and the push out forces are contained by the vertical wall studs in a somewhat vertical cantilever manner. When we get an exterior wall top plate height beyond 10, 12 or 14 ft I dont know if simply the use of 2x6s as studs is enough to contain the roof push out loads if those plate heights mean 2, 4 or 6 ft knee wall heights.. Large houses I've built with the attic built out and with 2ft knee walls, I've had to install braces from the floor 4 ft in from the outer wall to the top of the knee wall. It was not a problem because the interior walls of the attic rooms usually were about 5 ft in from the outside wall and the braces existed in the unoccupied space. In addition I also used collar ties at the 8 ft ceiling height of the roof structure. So what I am saying is...... there is probably a limit to the use of knee walls in these super small structures with attics so small we dont want to use any collar ties which would lower the effective ceiling height. There is kind of another technique to contain some roof push out loads and that is to use 2x10s or 2x12s as top plates or maybe two of them as we are now creating lateral beams on top of the walls. With some fancy carpentry the inside view of these beams can look like weird crown moulding etc. I realize I have hit a dead end with the limited functionality of the version program that I have but I am always trying to think of the important structural issues and have not been able to master the terrific 3D rendering skills that seem so abundant here. Thank you everyone for all these masterpieces. When I build this cabin .... whatever the ultimate shape, I am going to print all these design ideas on a color printer and create a 3 ring notebook showing the evolution of the design. To be honest ... I have looked at all of the suggested links to other houseplan sites etc.... and I am not as impressed as I am with the designs created here. OF course those other sites are extremely educational and I want to thank everyone for them.... I also hope that every one agrees with my characterization of the different plan suggestions as all good, just different interpretations like the economy car, SUV, Pickup and Sports car etc. at different price and complexity levels. Please give some thought as to how exactly we would frame the 2nd floor structures for each of these suggestions. Have a good weekend all and again many Thanks Scott
  14. regarding the Cape Cod living rooms with low ceiling photos.... Actually one of the rooms has open framing with the 2nd floor wood strips showing above even though the framing bottoms are at 7 ft height. Open Framing is a possibility with the economy car model using the 2x6 joists overhead for aesthetics but it would be better efficiency wise to install a regular ceiling below with insulation stuffed in between the 2x6 joists. This is an individual value judgement. Efficiency vs Looks. Remember one goal is max efficiency and by closing off air movement up the stairs during super hot and super cold periods the 2nd floor space insulates the lower floor space. But if you live in a very moderate climate area go for the looks and the open frame ceiling above might not look that really low. The open framing sure gives a lot of opportunity to hang things.... I mean all kinds of things.... Almost like the ceiling becomes a storage closet.
  15. I think it is time we invent a fold down sink. I was thinking about a bathroom with just a shower and a toilet and realized what a shame we have flowing water and a drain in the shower but it is difficult to use just to wash your hands. We are already half way there with the shower/tub spout valve but instead of filling a tub we turn the valve to get the water to come out of the lower spicket into a bowl that would somehow fold down or slide in from the wall or on a shelf for sink like use. The prisons already have put a sink on top of the toilet bowl.... The Urapeeans already put sinks and toilets in the shower but our shower is too small. Maybe the super micro RV sinks that are already mounted in RV showers is the solution. So, jump off the toilet and step into the shower and wash your hands in the sink. I guess leave the shower door always open until you take a shower ? ? ?