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      03-18-2021, 08:51 AM   #23
vreihen16
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Good luck with the plans! If you make moves on that property, keep us posted on the adventure, the process, etc. That 20 minutes to civilization would be a killer for me. I swear, every project I do takes at least 35 trips to the hardware store, so close access is a must.
Our current neighbor on one side is almost 7,000 acres of state forest, with hundreds of acres of undeveloped wooded county parkland on two other sides. There's two supermarkets within a 5 minute drive, but its 10-15 miles to all of the big box stores. We live about 1.5 hours NW of NYC, so traveling to civilization from this new lot isn't much different than our current situation. My DW and I were passing through SC last month on a road trip, and spent an hour poking around that area. It was still livable for us compared with our current location.

Anyway, I picked up the dead tree edition of a barndominium planning/construction book over the holidays. There was one thing in it that I highlighted as a surprise for my plans, but I can't recall what it was off the top of my head. It may have been in construction loans, and also apply to your situation. I'll dig it up later, when I have some free time.....
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      03-18-2021, 10:33 AM   #24
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1) whole house generator
not sure if the area you are building on has frequent power outages AND if the outages are long OR need to ensure sump pumps are always powered, etc

In my current home in NJ, my block was out for 2 full weeks after hurricane sandy. this was the first improvement after we purchased.

2a) stated already but add CAT6A or CAT 7 ethernet wires (at least 2, 1 as a backup)into every room while the walls are open. allows for direct connections for the home office, apple tvs and to add more access points for wifi, if needed.

you might even want to drop some lines in the ceiling so you can ceiling mount access points.

2b)think about exterior grade CAT wires if you want to have outdoor wifi access points and to connect cameras

3) blocking for hanging stuff - this needs to be discussed with the builder before insulation/drywall. this should eliminate the need for moly bolts for towel racks, toilet paper holders, wall mounted tvs, cabinets.
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      03-18-2021, 05:57 PM   #25
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It may have been in construction loans, and also apply to your situation. I'll dig it up later, when I have some free time.....
Following up on myself...

The book strongly suggested having each contractor/sub sign a lien release waiver when you hand them their final payment, so they don't come back later and get a mechanic's lien against your finished house claiming that you never paid them. It said that some banks issuing traditional construction loans require lien releases from all parties paid by each draw on the loan, but this is something that you definitely want to ensure is in place if the bank doesn't require it or if you are self-funding through a HELOC or other means.....
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      03-19-2021, 03:37 PM   #26
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Op, First sorry you have to deal with Seattle, and good for you for get out of there. Too bad it still sound like you have to deal with some crazy stuff, Where we live now, we have tree police, you can not cut anything down without their permission, there is no law behind them but the township will make your life miserable. When we moved in to our current home, I decide to cut down 5 trees which were mostly dead or dangerous to our house or people, never got permission and the tree police never found out. They even prevent the electric company from cutting back trees, we we have all these trees with hole cut in them verse being remove. Recently the electric company started just cutting them down since we had so many storm outages.


The Wife and I are right in middle of same project. Little over a year ago we bought 7.5 acres. In our case we were not able to do our 90 days due diligent since we got into a small bidding war on the property. Another offer came in without contingencies so we have to match. We got a good deal on the property, it was less then half the cost/acre in our area for similar properties which were approved to be built on. We only use a real state agent to process the land sale, beyond this they did not need their involvement, why pay commission on the building of the house. Its easy to find the people to do the building and design. We had the cash to buy the land out right, but chose a HELOC, our bank gave us fixed 2.6% for a year and going rate there after, so it is just under 4%. at the time they would lock us at 4.75% for anything more than 1 yr so we bet rates would come down so we did the one year lock and our bet was right.

However, prior to making the offer, I did a bunch of investigations on the property and knew most of history of land back to 1969 when the current owner bought it and never put a house on the property. There is lots on online resource to research the land, like the USGS and state websites about flood plains, soil composition, mineral rights. The main issue was septic, I knew the property was under contract a couple of times last couples of years and fell through since they could not do the perk test on the land for septic. I know there were attempts but all the attempt we done after long period of rain, spoke with the guy who was contracted to do the test. Also, I knew the soil was poor and would require a more expensive septic system, and property around ours had gotten approval for the type of system which was required. Our plan no mater what the soil test showed was to go with the much better septic systems verse the older style which can become problematic over time. Lastly the owners have been trying to sell the land on and off for the last 5 yrs and significantly dropped their selling price.

Our original plan prior to the second offer coming was full price offer knowing full well their was the septic challenge and when that came back, we would counter offer less the cost of the more expensive septic system.

We put the project on hold due to Covid, however, we picked it up again last Dec. However, our approach from the beginning was different than yours. Before we bought land we meet with a number of builders in our area. Most of them do not have Architect, if they do it is mostly to work on modifying plans to meet building codes. Every builder we meet with, said one thing, please do not walk in with a set of plans and ask us to build it especially if you are in love with the plans. More times than not they said they have to be the bad guy to tell you either it is going to cost more than your budget or the design as drawn is not easily built and require changes or increase costs.

Most Architect do not have actual construction experience and just because it can be drawn does not mean it is easily built with standard construction methods. In our case we selected the builder first based on what they have built in the past and based on recommendation of others who they built for. We also look at builders who are only doing 10 to 20 project a year verse the bigger builders, since it hard to stay on their radar. These are the people who know the most about building a home and they have all the connections with the site engineers you have to consult with and have close ties with the town code enforcement people (more personal relationship if you get my drift). Once we selected this person they help us select an Architect who they worked with in the past and who could design what we wanted. The builder is the person who is going to cost the actual home for you since they have to work with all the subcontractors for the various things like HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing.

Since we were working directly with the Site Engineer who handle the land surveys and land prep as well as dealing with the land regulations like the EPA and such if that is required. This person recommended the septic design engineer who actually did our soil test and works with the County on get the property approved to put septic system. This guy soil engineer use to work for the country as septic health engineer for 30 yrs, he new the system and how to work, the county employee who approve land for septic use to work for the septic companies soil engineer. This person had no issue getting the land approved, and that happen in January. The Septic engineer said sometime it better to do it when the ground was frozen which turn out to be right and he knew by just looking at the land where the best spots would be.

Just yesterday we select our Architect, we sat down with him and showed him a similar house we like and gave him our list of wants and desires in the house. Prior to this we meet with the builder to share the same thing and we talked budgets. Turns out our budget was too low for what we wanted, so we made some modification on the wants list. He also steer us away from doing things which would become very costly to do. One of those things we did not want a basement, only a craw space, turns out a full basement is fractionally more costly than craw space. The real cost come in with all the mechanicals and where they go, easier and less costly to have everything a basement since our design does not lend itself to have artic space. These are things Architects do not always tell you up front. The reason we pick this architect he made suggestions about how to void unnecessary costs since we did not have the unlimited budget. One suggestion was windows, we want large window those can be $$$ but he said there are ways to achieve the same thing with standard window offering from Anderson or similar.

The builder will also help with picking out all the building material, they have good idea what things cost and whether a specific building material is worth the extra costs. Architects are sometimes more worries about the look then it function and costs.

Not saying this will happen with your project, however, Architect charge for their time, and every change you want to make after the drawings are done or are required by code or construction challenges they will charge for all those changes. They control the drawings thus have to update drawings so they can be resubmitted for building approval. I think Architect knowingly design something which is a challenge to build knowing they will make more money on the change orders. This is why our builder said we should get an all in costs, which include changes required to meet code or standard construction methods.

All the people we selected have work together for many years they all know each other and know what each other requires, so no finger pointing later if something goes wrong.

Here is the house style we are looking to build, one of the modification is putting a 3 & 4 garage where the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms are and moving one of the bedrooms to the second floor, and eliminating the 3rd garage from the main 2 garages.

https://markstewart.com/house-plans/...lans/taliesen/

We are also doing a building loan, already talk to Univest, originally spoke with small local banks and our major bank who has our mortgage and checking and they not longer do building loans. Turn our the smaller banks have been swapped with refi and had high interest for building loans. Univest has the best deal, there are restriction on using a FANNY MAC back building loan, first limited to $485K and higher interest rate, however, Univest will self finance building loans above $485 at lower interest rate. The best part of their build loan it will automatically convert to a conventional mortgage at completions at the same or lower rate at the time of home completion. No requirement to get a new mortgage at completion. Also since we own the land it make the building loan easier. The Univest loan since it is internal and if we have to extend build time or increase the amount it handled internally and usually approved in a few days.

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      03-19-2021, 04:03 PM   #27
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Check into your state level property tax provisions. In some areas, they offer a tax advantage for clearing a % of your trees for fire mitigation, year over year. Near where I live, you must have 40 acres and clear 10% and they come by for an audit to validate.
However, the EPA requires an environmental impact study if you disturb more than 1 acre of land when building a new home, does not mater what the state says, and this study can take 6 month to a year to get back before you can build. On our project we working to keep the land disturbance down to 1 acre which is forcing us to put the house near the front of property to avoid a long driveway.
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      03-19-2021, 04:28 PM   #28
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Maestro, thanks for the feedback! Luckily we have public sewer in the street to tap into. It's 500 feet away from the house, but you know, that's what trenches are for. At least it's all downhill to the street.

Our situation is actually pretty similar. Our problem was that we were house shopping and not land shopping, when the property popped onto our radar. it was literally a total accident. My wife was surfing Redfin daily for months and one day she accidentally clicked the "land" button in addition to the "House" button and up popped the property. Because of this we, unfortunately, found and fell in love with the property when the only person on our "team" was our real estate agent. For anyone else planning this, I would strongly advise finding your builder first, then go hunt for land. As you eluded to in your post, and I think you are spot on, the builder is your key person in helping you understand what's possible WITHIN YOUR BUDGET. As you said, anyone can draw anything on paper. What it costs to bring that into real life is another matter and one that your architect likely doesnt have a great grasp on.

As far as the architect/builder relationship, it's tricky. There's some conflict of interest there no matter how you slice it. Some builders have in-house architects. Some people pick a builder, then an architect, then mash them together. We took a middle of the road approach and met with the builder first, then had the builder point us to a couple of outside architecture firms that they work with on a regular basis and find success with. Our builder summed it up really well: "Your architect's job is to let you dream a little. My job is to bring you back to the reality of the timeline and the budget. If we do our jobs well you will ultimately end up with a house that is in budget but also contains features or attributes that you never thought you could have had and are in love with." Is there some sort of back-door kickback afforded to the builder by recommending the architect? Maybe. I dont think so, but maybe. But ultimately having the architect and builder, know, respect, and like eachother I think is pretty important.

So at this point we've signed a small fixed bid contract with the architect ($2,250) to have them hold our hand through feasibility. They created the site plan, scheduled the arborist, the structural engineer, are working with the builder on quoting the driveway and retaining wall work, and are working closely with the city on a number of questions that are key to whether we buy the lot. it's been money well spent in my mind to have a team that know what the pitfalls are, where they are, what questions to ask, and how to get the answers.
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      03-22-2021, 09:09 AM   #29
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I am surprised at the hassles and timelines. House near me had a fire. New owner closed on the house on 12/22/2020, house has been removed, lot cleared, footers are being poured and house is listed. Maybe because there was already a house on the lot but with it being over 100 years old it didn't meet a huge number of new regulations. Maybe partly because it is a builder but lot is narrow, house is far from standard.

I am almost through with a complete reno (all interior walls removed on 3 story house, and new beams added to open kitchen/living/dining room, new porch, deck, roof, not much remained) and had to get architecture drawings approved, electric, plumbing permits but none of the permits took over about 3 weeks (this was almost a year ago). For any inspections they take less than a week to show up.

Based on what you are going through I have to believe it is your city's issue but surprised it doesn't push most to renovating existing houses.
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      03-22-2021, 10:01 AM   #30
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I am surprised at the hassles and timelines. House near me had a fire. New owner closed on the house on 12/22/2020, house has been removed, lot cleared, footers are being poured and house is listed. Maybe because there was already a house on the lot but with it being over 100 years old it didn't meet a huge number of new regulations. Maybe partly because it is a builder but lot is narrow, house is far from standard.

I am almost through with a complete reno (all interior walls removed on 3 story house, and new beams added to open kitchen/living/dining room, new porch, deck, roof, not much remained) and had to get architecture drawings approved, electric, plumbing permits but none of the permits took over about 3 weeks (this was almost a year ago). For any inspections they take less than a week to show up.

Based on what you are going through I have to believe it is your city's issue but surprised it doesn't push most to renovating existing houses.
I think local specifics play a lot into this. Many people DO elect to renovate and you are 100% correct that in doing so you avoid all the BS we are facing. You dont have to arbitrarily widen your driveway by 10 feet just to meet a 2019 county road code. You dont have to run new utilities. No new foundation or costly excavation. In Seattle, you can literally demolish the entire house, so long as you save 1 wall, any wall, it's considered a "renovation" and not a new build.

But here's the kicker, we want a nice piece of property, wooded, in a nice area outside Seattle. There's a dumpy little 2 bed, 1 bath on a nice lot near the property we are buying. Prime tear down or "remodel" candidate. it's listed for just under $800k and will likely bid up to and sell for $900k. There's not a lot of meat left on the bone by the time you've spent damn near $1M just to buy the shitty house on a nice lot.
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      03-22-2021, 11:40 AM   #31
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      03-22-2021, 11:42 AM   #32
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from 20+ years of experience with architects and general contractors and other engineers from differ trades.

all trades must know the code what it takes to build an apartment, house or high rise building. The architect is responsible to bring the whole project together and for it to work properly. A well experienced architect will have knowledge of how the all trades, mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems work. Takes a good general contractor to build what plans indicate without mistakes. Its all written with details and explanations. Mechanical system which is HVAC is the most expensive item building a house, condo, apartment etc. Pricing set is always issued and has enough information from engineers,contractors,materials, everything is included to determine the cost of the designed home.

change orders are more common when your dealing with existing house, building and you dont know the conditions of pipes, wires, structural and supports. Once the demo/probing begins, walls are open. floors and ceiling are removed. At this point, things will change, now you may have to add cost for beams, new piping, new wiring etc.

i been designing plumbing systems for long time now. the impossible is possible.
it takes a good team to make things work smoothly.
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      03-22-2021, 01:43 PM   #33
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from 20+ years of experience with architects and general contractors and other engineers from differ trades.

all trades must know the code what it takes to build an apartment, house or high rise building. The architect is responsible to bring the whole project together and for it to work properly. A well experienced architect will have knowledge of how the all trades, mechanical, electrical, plumbing systems work. Takes a good general contractor to build what plans indicate without mistakes. Its all written with details and explanations. Mechanical system which is HVAC is the most expensive item building a house, condo, apartment etc. Pricing set is always issued and has enough information from engineers,contractors,materials, everything is included to determine the cost of the designed home.

change orders are more common when your dealing with existing house, building and you dont know the conditions of pipes, wires, structural and supports. Once the demo/probing begins, walls are open. floors and ceiling are removed. At this point, things will change, now you may have to add cost for beams, new piping, new wiring etc.

i been designing plumbing systems for long time now. the impossible is possible.
it takes a good team to make things work smoothly.
Are you Yanks using PEX for residential builds?
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      03-22-2021, 01:57 PM   #34
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Are you Yanks using PEX for residential builds?
I think PEX is legal in upstate NY.
(I put some in our 'rental' when I popped some copper).
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      03-22-2021, 02:07 PM   #35
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Are you Yanks using PEX for residential builds?
for custom homes we recommend pex tubing which is much easier to work.
for apartments, brownstones and townhouses its copper piping
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      03-22-2021, 02:33 PM   #36
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Building is awesome, have done on acres in country, at beach and once at a lake area. First time we learned a lot, but could spec a house out in about 2 hours now lol. Lil items folks dont think about and not much $$. Althugh right now is steep, as labor is tight everywhere, and lumber prices have doubled in 1 year)

1) 120 V in garage and out back. (upgrades lights in garage.)
2) Outdoor sensor lights with extra connect for camera etc.
3) Have one heater vent put to garage, not much money, close when not needed...love it during winter.
4) Try not to build on a trend (today its shiplap everywhere) If you will be there forever, fine otherwise you are dating.
5) If you can swing extra $30-$40K, do hardiplank over siding. its actually more efficient and LEED certified.
6) Upgraded trim, not on ceiling, or chairrail stuff, but around doors and floor molding, also upgrade doors.
7) if not much upgrade SEER for AC units if not much $, cheap 14 SEER units get 10 years anymore, even Carrier...ok they are a bit better. (you don't need for a 3rd floor bonus room, but for main floor we went 17.) Depends on $$, save some in power, bit more comfort, usually longer lasting.
8) Focus on where you want dimmers, we put everywhere, cost nothing to add during build.
9) Pocket doors - long lost item which really can be savers put in right spots.
10) At least 2 outdoor spouts, some standard are 1.
11) Attic fan if they don't have one.
12) Add windows- many times you can add a window for $300-$500, small cost for extra light and look.

anyways have 100's as I ran a construction company and have build 3 times. Most of those above are cheap when building but can make some nice custom touches.

Also when building in country make sure electric is to property or can be..yep state laws are wonky on this, it is in VA rural zoning.

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      03-22-2021, 03:26 PM   #37
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I think PEX is legal in upstate NY.
I just had all of the remaining copper in our house swapped out with PEX last month here, and it most certainly meets code. Insisted on a plastic central manifold with individual shutoff valves, so that we can shut off individual fixtures for repairs in the future. Hopefully, this will be the end of our 3 AM wake-up basement flood alarms due to copper pipes rupturing from corrosion.....
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      03-23-2021, 08:35 AM   #38
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Building is awesome, have done on acres in country, at beach and once at a lake area. First time we learned a lot, but could spec a house out in about 2 hours now lol. Lil items folks dont think about and not much $$. Althugh right now is steep, as labor is tight everywhere, and lumber prices have doubled in 1 year)

1) 120 V in garage and out back. (upgrades lights in garage.)
2) Outdoor sensor lights with extra connect for camera etc.
3) Have one heater vent put to garage, not much money, close when not needed...love it during winter.
4) Try not to build on a trend (today its shiplap everywhere) If you will be there forever, fine otherwise you are dating.
5) If you can swing extra $30-$40K, do hardiplank over siding. its actually more efficient and LEED certified.
6) Upgraded trim, not on ceiling, or chairrail stuff, but around doors and floor molding, also upgrade doors.
7) if not much upgrade SEER for AC units if not much $, cheap 14 SEER units get 10 years anymore, even Carrier...ok they are a bit better. (you don't need for a 3rd floor bonus room, but for main floor we went 17.) Depends on $$, save some in power, bit more comfort, usually longer lasting.
8) Focus on where you want dimmers, we put everywhere, cost nothing to add during build.
9) Pocket doors - long lost item which really can be savers put in right spots.
10) At least 2 outdoor spouts, some standard are 1.
11) Attic fan if they don't have one.
12) Add windows- many times you can add a window for $300-$500, small cost for extra light and look.

anyways have 100's as I ran a construction company and have build 3 times. Most of those above are cheap when building but can make some nice custom touches.

Also when building in country make sure electric is to property or can be..yep state laws are wonky on this, it is in VA rural zoning.
Great tips. We have pocket doors in our current house and love them. As you said, great space savers. We also have a whole house fan in the attic that I'm a big "fan" of and will definitely be adding to the spec. for the new place.



My only disagreement with your list is the 120 VAC in the garage. Yes, of coure, we will have lost of 120 outlets but also lots of 220VAC. Air compressor, table saw, TIG, MIG, and my wife's Nissan Leaf all are hungry for 220. You can never have too much lighting or outlets.

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Originally Posted by vreihen16 View Post
I just had all of the remaining copper in our house swapped out with PEX last month here, and it most certainly meets code. Insisted on a plastic central manifold with individual shutoff valves, so that we can shut off individual fixtures for repairs in the future. Hopefully, this will be the end of our 3 AM wake-up basement flood alarms due to copper pipes rupturing from corrosion.....
Good call on that manifold with shutoffs. That's going on the list for sure. We have all copper and every time I need to do any sort of plumbing I have to shut the whole house down. I always take the opportunity to sweat in a shutoff in that line I'm working on "for next time" and have maybe 1/2 the house done. A central manifold that's fed from the main coming right off the street would be killer.
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      03-23-2021, 09:20 AM   #39
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Ohhhh, and an outdoor shower!
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      03-23-2021, 01:17 PM   #40
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Hello BMW Experts!

I would love to do Ground loop heat exchange (geothermal) for a house in the hills I am looking at. Questions, questions, questions, though....

- I see this not recommended for little homes because of the drilling cost. How small of a house would this be practical for?
- Can the house be split into zones easily?
- What type of "soil" is best, and worst for drilling, and how do costs differ in, say, rock vs dirt?
-Anything else you can tell me about ground loop geothermal would be cool (Discuss!).

TIA! Murf
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      03-24-2021, 08:16 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Littlebear View Post
Hello BMW Experts!

I would love to do Ground loop heat exchange (geothermal) for a house in the hills I am looking at. Questions, questions, questions, though....

- I see this not recommended for little homes because of the drilling cost. How small of a house would this be practical for?
- Can the house be split into zones easily?
- What type of "soil" is best, and worst for drilling, and how do costs differ in, say, rock vs dirt?
-Anything else you can tell me about ground loop geothermal would be cool (Discuss!).

TIA! Murf
I did some research into it and there are a lot of variables, you need to get a rough estimate of cost from someone in your area. Lot size, soil, estimated savings - do the calculations to figure out when you break even. Works best for larger houses as the initial cost doesn't change much (comparatively) from the smaller home but the utility savings can be double.

Biggest issue to me was the initial cost compared to how much it saves to how much it increases the houses value. Example - if you spend $20k initially, then save $1k per year on utilities and it raises your house value by $5k, figure out how long you realistically think you will be there and what kind of profit you turn. Putting out an extra $20k in year 1 and getting it all back in 15 years isn't breaking even because of the time value of money and what else you could have done with the money. Maybe it raises the house value more but savings per year is higher or lower.

With a small house and very efficient, well designed system, not sure zoning it makes a lot of sense. Then if you do zone it not seeing why geothermal compared to another forced air system makes any difference. Most conventional systems have an interior coil the gets warm or cold and air is forced from there to wherever you want it to go. Maybe I am wrong?

I think rocks or stone in the soil is a negative (depends on the extent), sure can't see why it would help things. Again, would ask someone local to give a rough estimate of cost.
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      03-24-2021, 09:07 AM   #42
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We installed an 18,000 BTU air-air heat pump at our little house in the hills. The specs claim that it is good to slightly below 0 F. In reality, it starts to fall behind at around 10-12F, and I can hear the outside fan running full tilt trying to beat every calorie of heat out of the frigid air.

In terms of energy usage, we're probably saving 20% versus our oil-fueled baseboard hot water system. (As the temperature goes down, the savings drop. This is probably where geothermal heat pumps pay off.) At least in the Hudson Valley, we can get away with the heat pump all year...except for the "polar vortex" week or so every winter. We do run the oil system if we are going to be away from home overnight in the winter, because I still have some lingering trust issues about leaving the heat pump unsupervised.

The air-air heat pump works great as a three-season system here in NY State, and I definitely will use it as the primary system if we ever build in SC.....
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      03-24-2021, 10:09 AM   #43
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House next door in process of a gut reno on and will eventually rent. As I travel a lot and just in general, wanted to reduce the potential problems so did manifolded PEX (pic below). Instructions to renter and wife (if I am out of town), if there is a water supply problem of any kind, in any bathroom, shut this bathroom off at the manifold, move on with life (3.5 bathroom house) and call me in the morning. Will label it clearer, house is in process and plumber wrote it on the lines. Valves at bottom go to washer and laundry sink.

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      03-24-2021, 10:10 AM   #44
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Thanks Folks,
This would be for a cabin in the Adirondacks, north of vreihen16, and we like to use it in the winter. Most winters will see below -20f.
I don't even own this place yet, but have been renting it since 2001. As soon as the 'sellers market' ends, I'll probably make an offer! But it's never too early to start thinking....
Now the cabin runs on wood.
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