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Rise of high-end log homes

“Common problems with any house is moisture absorption, termites and the general wear-and-tear of the house. But with a log house, one does not have to worry about that as moisture absorption is restricted with the design of the logs,” he says.

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Also, the log homes are water-resistant.

The suppliers also kiln-dry the wood to remove all the moisture from it, thus preventing termites from breeding.

Honka Group also suppliers the door and windows or home owners can opt to fit their own that suits their style.

Prices of log homes are about 30 per cent more than the conventional brick-and-mortar house due to the shipping costs and bringing in a team from Finland to assemble, Mr Kanabar says.

Log houses are built on a level surface which means those on a sloppy land require a concrete platform to make it level thereby making it a basement floor.

“We have experimented with various log designs such as square and round logs and have found that the square logs are more popular as they do not collect as much dust as round ones,” says Mr Kanabar, adding that the maintenance costs are just like for standard houses.

To re-apply vanish on the wood or paint it a different colour, one only needs to sand it down and apply a coat of linseed oil and UV protect, then vanish or colour it.

He gives the example of Finland where most houses are built of logs therefore people paint them in various colours to differentiate them. Most Kenyans, however, prefer the natural look which is unique and blends with the environment.

Design

Othaya Group works closely with architectural firm Block45, in designing the structures to ensure viability of the houses they build. Mr Kanabar says designing the log homes takes longer.

“The architects liaise with the clients in order to get their specifications, then they design the house which is sent to Honka where changes are imposed in order to make it a log house,” he says.

The design is then sent back for approval by the client, structural engineer and architect before the manufacturing process starts in Finland.

The long process ensures all the specifications are right since the houses are made of pre-fabricated logs which makes it hard to make structural changes once the pieces are cut and shipped.

“Once the suppliers get the designs, the pieces are custom-made to fit in their place according to the design of the house and sent with a QR code to place each log in its unique place,’’ says Mr Kanabar.

A team from Finland then comes to assemble the house as it is not as simple as staking the logs together.

Pricing

The QR code helps them know where each logs should be placed as a lot of the electrical fixtures and plumbing are all drilled in the log during manufacturing to avoid visible wires and pipes.

The interior design and finishing is done on ground according to as clients’ specifications, but there are certain finishings one cannot apply to log houses.

Mr Kanabar says an average log house can last for hundreds of years with regular maintenance of the wood.

“Common problems with any house is moisture absorption, termites and the general wear-and-tear of the house. But with a log house, one does not have to worry about that as moisture absorption is restricted with the design of the logs,” he says.

Also, the log homes are water-resistant.

The suppliers also kiln-dry the wood to remove all the moisture from it, thus preventing termites from breeding.

Honka Group also suppliers the door and windows or home owners can opt to fit their own that suits their style.

Prices of log homes are about 30 per cent more than the conventional brick-and-mortar house due to the shipping costs and bringing in a team from Finland to assemble, Mr Kanabar says.
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Source: businessdailyafrica


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R290m home: German couple ditch lavish coastal towns for Cape Town

Cape Town – They had their eyes set on the sought-after seaside lifestyle in Ibiza or Saint-Tropez, but their hearts went with Cape Town instead.

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This is how it all started for the young German couple who forked out R290m, the highest price ever for a house in South Africa and Africa.”They buy beautiful homes around the world and it is the first time they bought a house in South Africa,” estate agent Adrien Epstein, who sold the property, told Fin24.The couple were looking to buy a holiday home in Ibiza, an island in the Mediterranean Sea in Spain, or Saint-Tropez, a coastal town on the French Riviera.However, it was an award-winning house nestled in Bantry Bay along Cape Town’s swanky Atlantic Seaboard that they fell in love with.The fully furnished, three-storey, home includes five bedrooms, three guest bedrooms, two staff bedrooms and eight garages; the deal also included two luxury cars.

“There were six luxury cars in the garage,” said Epstein from Dogon Group Properties, specialists in luxury real estates along the Atlantic Seaboard.

He recalled how late one evening, while negotiating the deal on the telephone, the sellers from New York jokingly threw into the deal a Porsche Cayenne and an Aston Martin DB9.

“It was all done in jest and the buyers had a good laugh and accepted it.”

Epstein had mixed feelings about being part of the record transaction.

“It felt similar to any other transaction. I never focus on the numbers.” However, he also added: “It was very exhilarating. The buyers were lovely, fun and a young family.”

He said a combination of factors such as size, location, natural beauty and extraordinary views makes the Bantry Bay family home so unique.

The home, roughly laid out in the shape of a horseshoe, boasts 360 degree views of Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Clifton, the Atlantic Ocean, Bantry Bay, Robben Island as well as the lights of Fresnaye and Sea Point all the way to Mouille Point and beyond.

It has a level garden and terrace with wraparound swimming pool and VIP security. The 2 800m2home is also flanked by 5 200m2 of vacant land on either side.

The house, known as OVD 919, has won numerous local and international awards, including most recently the popular vote category in the international 2016 Architizer A+Award for private houses over 500m2, as well as the 2016 Lafarge Artevia Decorative Concrete Awards in the category: House with a view.

It was built two years ago and designed by architects SAOTA.

“The design was driven by the need for a contemporary, sculptural, open plan home that would respond to its dramatic setting on a ridge above Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard,” Tamaryn Fourie, senior associate at SAOTA, told Fin24.

She said as a key objective to all the group’s designs, the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces was prioritised.

“By creating courtyards and inset spaces, the design is rich and porous. The large gallery type spaces are inspired by the magnetism of the site and its ever-present backdrop of the mountains and the sea.”

Fourie pointed out the home features one of the largest domestic landscaped walls in South Africa, and has a skylight over the garage which is a water feature.

“Unusually, the most dominant finish in the house is off-shutter ‘white’ concrete which was custom designed.”

She noted that a distinct feature – which is highly visible from the Clifton beaches – is the 20m long unsupported concrete slab which was constructed using an innovative engineering solution.

Stefan Antoni, director of SAOTA’s award-winning architecture practice, said the price tag of the home is an accolade to the team of architects and builders who realised this unique design.

“This record fetching price gives recognition to the value of architecture that is powerful in form, refined in detailing and yet sensitive to Cape Town’s natural beauty,” she added.

What does this sale mean to Cape Town’s property sector?

“We all know why people love Cape Town, but this kind of investor confidence is very encouraging. It bodes very well for Cape Town and South African investment,” Dogon Group Properties CEO Denise Dogon told Fin24.

Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard with its stunning views, white sandy Blue Flag beaches, rocky coastline and popular hangouts is a trendy spot for wealthy individuals.

Dogon said the demand for and amount of interest in the Atlantic Seaboard is impressive.

“This ranges from investor interest in a R2m studio apartment across the whole spectrum of property, including apartments and houses that have huge asking prices. All property on the Atlantic Seaboard is in demand.”

In May Dogon registered over R600m in property sales – with R550m on the Atlantic Seaboard alone – bringing total sales to over R1bn for the first half of 2016.

Dogon Group Properties opened their first office on the Atlantic Seaboard in 2002 and recently launched a southern suburbs office, which has already achieved the highest priced sale for a residential estate in Constantia.

Their expansion plans include opening a branch in Sandton later this year.

Based on data from Lightstone, Cape Town tops the list of South Africa’s top ten suburbs with seven of these suburbs, including the top Atlantic Seaboard suburbs of Clifton, Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Fresnaye and Llandudno along with Bishopscourt and Constantia in the southern suburbs.

Only three Johannesburg suburbs are in the top ten list namely Sandhurst in Sandton, Westcliff and Dunkeld.

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Source: fin24


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Could this venture-backed zero energy house revolutionize the home building industry?

What if you could buy an affordable Zero Energy home that could be erected on your property in a matter of days, instead of the many months it usually takes to build a home on site? New startup Acre Designs promises to make this idea a reality, and could revolutionize the paleolithic home-building industry with their new, innovative approach to quick and efficient building using a kit home model. After receiving backing by Palo Alto startup incubator Y Combinator, Acre Designs is gearing up to start building Net Zero Energy kit homes throughout the country. They are on a mission to build better, more high-tech homes on a large scale that are both affordable and super energy efficient. And considering that the state of California is mandating all new homes to be Net Zero Energy by 2020, it seems that Acre Designs couldn’t have launched at a better time.

One of the most well-known startup incubators, Y Combinator has been around for a decade now and has been described as “the world’s most powerful startup incubator.” Their backing has the potential to catapult Acre Designs’ groundbreaking housing plans to the national level, and just in time, to meet the 2020 Title 24 demand.

In summer 2015, California revised the Title 24 green building mandate, which now stipulates that all new buildings by 2020 be Net Zero Energy. By 2030 all commercial buildings need to follow suit. With roughly 180,000 new homes being built in California each year, and almost none of them Zero Energy, you can see that there is a tall order to fill here, in the span of just four years. Clearly California needs some green building experts to help rise to this challenge.

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When Acre Design founders (married couple) Jennifer Dickson and Andrew Dickson heard about this new California law, they decided to pack up their lives, their business and their family of four in Kansas City and head to California to try to meet this new aggressive green building mandate.

We covered Acre Designs last year when they were still based in Missouri, and in the process of building a prototype outside of Kansas City. The prototype is now finished and is being lived in and loved by the Griffin family.

The Dicksons were actually originally intending to live in this cute 800 sq ft, prototype net zero energy home with their two young daughters, but the call of Y Combinator and the new 2020 energy mandate was just too irresistible. So, in January 2016, they packed up their family and headed for Palo Alto with a new goal of cranking out affordable, mass-produced Zero Energy homes to meet California’s stringent new goals.

Acre Design’s prefabricated kit homes can be assembled in a matter of days, using wall units called “structural insulated panels(SIPs) that snap together on site like LEGOs. Their first test home was just completed in December in Missouri at 860 square ft, with a 300 square ft loft. New homeowners Mark and Tammy Griffin had the farmhouse style one bedroom/one bathroom home built on their 40 acre family property.

The prototype Griffin home in Missouri is designed to be powered entirely by the sun – for electricity, heating and daylight. The house is oriented towards the sun, with south-facing windows soaking up sunshine to heat and light the home, and a radiant heating in the floor provides additional heating when needed. The home also utilizes geothermal heating and a Heat Recovery Ventilator and Mini Split to heat and cool the air. When photovoltaic solar panels are added to the home later this year, it will be fully net-zero, meaning that the Griffins will never have to deal with paying energy bills again.

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Acre Designs is currently offering two different design options to their clients; Series A (the pitched-roof ‘Modern Farmhouse’ style home, with two stories, similar to the Griffin home), and Series B (a single-story, butterfly roof style ranch house that has a more midcentury modern flavor to it). Both designs come in three different size footprints/plans; a 1200 sqft 2 bedroom home ($400K), 1500 sqft 3 bedroom home ($450K), and a 1800 sqft 4 bedroom home ($500K). We know many readers will look at these prices and ask, incredulously, “what is affordable about this”? The answer to this question is to consider the long-term value for the cost.

Until this option, Net Zero Energy homes have typically been very expensive, custom-built homes. Acre Designs is attempting to provide high end, precision-built, zero-energy homes, complete with solar panels, at about the same price it costs to build a cheap, leaky, inefficient stick-built house. And they’re also betting that economies of scale will help them lower the costs in a few years when they’re able to scale up their production. With Acre Designs prefabricated homes, you’re paying a little more up front for a quality product that saves money in the long term with no energy bills, and continual home repairs. Acre Design home prices include construction, appliances, and a photovoltaic solar system, and they’re also implementing a “Sleep-on-It” program: they’ll help finance a home if the owner plans to rent it out at least 50 days per year.

The first “Sleep-on-It” home will be built for a couple in Cannon Beach, Oregon. The couple will be listing the home on AirBnB for most of the year, so those interested in testing out an Acre Designs home will be able to do so right by the ocean.

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Source: inhabitat


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Luxury Home With a Small Footprint

Australia-based Austin Maynard Architects have recently completed a luxury home in Melbourne called That House. It’s ultra modern and very sustainable, with a footprint of about half that of the surrounding houses. The home is also powered by solar energy, and features a rainwater collection system.

That House is a unique two-story home, which is made from rectangular volumes stacked on top of each other. Together they yield an interior floorspace of 2,744 sq ft (255 sq m). The main living area of the home is located on ground floor, which features two lounges, a kitchen, a dining room, a study, and a bathroom. On the first floor there are three bedrooms, a bathroom and a toilet.

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A narrow hallway separates the two areas on the ground level, which is an interesting design choice, given that the hallway is an indoor/outdoor kind and leads to the back yard on one end. The rectangular volumes that make up the home are reminiscent of shipping containers, though they are larger and feature glazing on the shorter sides, which lets in a lot of natural light. Since the layout of the ground floor is very open, the designers included hinged walls at strategic places, which can be used to gain some privacy. Since the home features ample glazing, the designers also installed shading, which pulls up, giving the occupants privacy with the option of still retaining the view of the sky.

The glazing was installed with passive solar gain in mind, and to this end there are no windows on the western façade, and very few on the eastern elevations. Rainwater is collected in a large tank buried in the garden, and this water is used for irrigation as well as flushing. The home was also very well insulated, and the PV panel array takes care of most of the household’s power needs.

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Source: jetsongreen


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How to build a Passive House off-grid, and without foam

The Passive House Institute is known to have one of the strictest energy-efficient building standards in the world. What does it take to build your own Passive House, and how can you do it with healthy, high-performance materials? This is the second of a three-part series on the challenge of building a certified Passive House without foam or other harmful materials. The challenges are numerous—from sourcing materials to making it as airtight as possible, and keeping an unseasoned team (and myself) on task. For healthy materials, simple substitutes for traditional products are not only typically easy but also cost effective. Take a look at what it takes to build a Passive House in the Colorado Rockies.

Carefully keeping the surrounding Ponderosa Pines safe, which provide critical shading in the summer, we dug out a foundation stem wall and crawl space, a design that is critical to the foamless flooring insulation system. Not only does this minimize the concrete use but 20 percent of the cement was replaced with fly ash.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 12.40.52 PM

To do air sealing right you almost have to find religion and be obsessed with making sure that every place where two building elements come together is properly sealed, well before they’re covered. At the foundation, we applied a plywood “seat” for the I-joist to sit on and a similar detail happened at the wall-to-ceiling connection. Because the walls will be very well insulated, we used vapor open materials for air tightness so moisture does not build up in the wall over time. The air barrier is closer to the living space so water will not condense on it if it gets really cold outside. The ceiling and North wall were wrapped with Intello—a “smart” membrane that changes its vapor profile depending on the relative humidity.

Why is air tightness such a big deal? Passive House requires a leakage test of .60 ACH at 50 Pascals or less because leakage is a fundamental way a building loses energy, and allows mold-making, rot-inducing moisture into a wall. The building’s airtight layer is done so we can test it before we install windows, insulation, and all the other stuff that can cover a potential problem. We hit a respectable .45 ACH at 50 Pascals, or roughly the equivalent of 8 square inches of total opening in the entire envelope.

Next, it was time to make the insulation layer. The primary insulation material is Applegate cellulose, sandwiched with Roxul mineral wool batt on the inside and Drainboard on the exterior. We started with Larsen Trusses—basically a ladder like frame made from 2×3 supported by plywood scraps and wrapped in weed fabric to hold the insulation. The Larson Trusses were screwed to the exterior wall to make large bays, and a 2.3/8″ layer of drainboard was then attached to that. After not finding a competent contractor to insulate the bays with cellulose, I purchased a machine and got dirty, learning the ins and outs of properly filling a 24″ wall cavity so the insulation won’t settle over time. Overall, we installed 1100 25-lb bags of the stuff, which is just about an entire semi-load. The best part is the insulation is all recycled from nearby Denver and produced only 100 miles south. The mineral wool board, on the other hand, had to be specially made and shipped from a factory in Canada.

The Intus windows come from Lithuania, in their own container. While less than ideal, the cost and performance are untouched by any American window manufacturer. They swing inwards and can be placed so the exterior frame can be over-insulated to reduce heat loss through the frame. The PVC windows also are the largest compromise by far from my unhealthy materials list because it is highly toxic to manufacture and very hard to recycle.

Another vital Passive House technology is the Heat Recovery Ventilator. This technology uses two fans: one to extract bad air, and one to provide fresh air. A heat exchanger keeps the energy in the building, and if hooked up to an earth tube the house can be naturally cooled in the summer. The unit I selected was the first in the US from a Czech Republic manufacture called Air Pohoda. It uses an a stingy 32 watts in regular mode (important for being off grid) and is over 90 percent effective at reclaiming waste heat.

In the meantime, the energy model seemed to go haywire when new climate data was entered. I find some interesting issues when I went sleuthing for what happened. Finishes such as siding, drywall, finish plumbing, and electrical all have to be installed—the punch list never seems to end. In the last installment of this series,  I’ll discover if it’s possible to live in a house in Colorado in wintertime with no working heat, and after doing the Passive House Planning Package software modeling for myself I get a huge surprise. We do the final blower door test with fingers crossed, and I decide to submit to the Passive House Academy for the German certification and forgo the Passive House Institute US certification. Ironically, I was the first to report on the US-German split in 2011, and that news became a very personal journey.

Source: Inhabitat


 

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A House That’s Sustainable From the Inside Out

The Passive House Che has recently been built in a forest in Romania and is currently still being evaluated to receive the Passive House standard certification. As such, it is of course equipped with all sorts of sustainable features, which also include an indoor lawn. It was designed by the local firm Tecto Architectura.

The main aim of the project was to create a sustainable, two-story home which would blend into its forest surroundings. The house is bigger than one has come to expect from a sustainable building, and measures 2,700 square feet (250 square meters). The living quarters are built around a central courtyard, which is where the interior lawn is located. Over this lawn hangs an aptly named “net-lounge”, which is basically a large net hammock suspended over the courtyard where the inhabitants can relax. The home was also fitted with large floor to ceiling windows and doors which let in plenty of natural daylight and offer great ventilation.

Source: Jetson Green


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