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Looking for recommendations, advise, comments for heating & cooling for a log home we'll be building in phases.  Phase 1 will be a tiny cabin - essentially this will be the future master suite but used as a 1 room w/ bathroom cabin until we can build phase 2 of the home (great room, kitchen, loft, another bathroom, 2 more small bedrooms).  We're in the Sierra foothills in California at 4000 ft elevation which means winters get some snow that may stay for a few days and summers do get a dry heat - enough to want some type of air conditioning to stay comfortable.  I'm considering a ventless multi-zone heat pump figuring we can add the other zones when phase 2 is built.  I'm new to this - would that make sense?  Recommendations for other small systems or ones that can grow with the house?  What are the pros & cons with ducted vs. ductless sytems?  Both cost and energy efficiency are factors.  What's your experience anyone?

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Yeah...I know. Its just like my electrician says, some of the codes were originally good, now some are just there because of corporate lobby and profits. 

Its like the lady in FL they evicted because she wants to live off the grid?

As long as she is not hurting anyone, who cares if she doesn't want electricity and running water?  We lived that way for quite awhile, we were always clean.

I like green building adviser, because they get into issues for people like me....and will tell you what is what, what works and what doesn't.  Here is an interesting article on foam insulation performance in cold climates;

Shanny - do appreciate your's and everyone's opinions... that's why I posted the question and why these forums are so useful.  Especially when it brings up side notes like your phased approach as well.  Is there anything you would've done different in the first phase?  Do you already have plans for the next phase of building?  I'm trying hard to think of the big finished picture and what this first phase will need to include to eventually bring it all together.  How big is your master bedroom cabin?  My one room will be 16' wide by 14' deep plus the bathroom.  We'll have an attic truss put in with a drop down ladder to use the "upstairs" - maybe as a sleeping loft for now.  And the front porch will give us usable outdoor space, maybe put in some mosquito net curtains to keep it bug free (for the kids).  It will barely meet the minimum square footage requirement for the county's "efficieny unit" build permit.

I love talking about log and timber contruction.

I love oood architecture and design a a passion...and have a high level of appreciation and respect for the craftsmen / women that do the job (having done it on this project).

I don't know how much space you need or are used too?

You have to keep that in mind.....if you are used to a lot more space, you don't want too much culture shock on the downsize. 

16' x 14' is small but doable for some people, but not many will need storage etc.

Also think in terms of having an efficient master bath from the start since redoing is a lot of $.
So I would figure the space you need,  and build your bath  where you want it, and the size with everything you need in it from the start.

We built our cabin section a more traditional size of around 16' x 24'.  It also has a small stair which goes up and down to a upstairs, and a walkout basement (which we have never regretted).  We were originally going to just to have an attic type loft, but decided to put a knee wall upstairs which gave us another bedroom with full bath (something to think about).

We wanted it to look like an small, older cabin that had been built onto over the years.

We actually did all the work ourselves for the most part, hewed our own logs from our own land and recycled others.  Its one of those bucket list things I wanted to do since I was a young boy.

As far as designing ours......we planed the log cabin / master bedroom part from our actual living room floor plan from our other house (we built that one too),  its roughly 16' x 24'.  So we could already envision the space, where the stair would go, where we would put the bump offs etc.  We knew we could live in the space because we were already living in it.  We just had to envision where to master bath etc. would go etc.

We modified this 16' x 24' cabin (which is an economical size to build, even if you get a hand crafter to do logs...:)) to include a 10' x 20' stick framed bump off on the 24' long wall, which will be the master closet and also has a master bath with walk in shower.  On the 16' end of the cabin we built another stick frame bump off which is actually a foyer ( about 12' x 12') which is being used as a small kitchen right now.  This spring and summer we hope to start the hybrid Timber section which will be the kitchen and living room. (24 x 30').

So basically...eventually when you enter into the foyer  it will be similar to a dog trot, go left into the bedroom areas, and right into the kitchen living area.  It is actually a very livable small home right I am bit torn on the addition.

We also designed it so when we are ready, I just have to build a wall partition in the cabin section, which will separate the stairs to the upstairs bedroom and the basement from the Master bedroom and the  walk in closet and master bath.  This will give us an area about 12 1/2 x 15 1/2' for the actual bed, and a 10 x 12 closet, and a 8 x 10 master bath.  We also have a patio door, in the Master, which opens out to our porch.

I know I am long winded....

I build my own I can move them when I build the bigger kitchen.  When we do this move, I will already have water and drain hookups in so I can move the washer and dryer up to the ground floor instead of the basement.  I just have to partition it off from the foyer when the time comes. 

You can get a lot of design ideas from people like Architect Ken Pieper stone mountain cabins,  Architect Mark Weirich cabin plans,  Architect George Gibson, Architect Winterwoods Homes, Moss Creek designs,  Natural Element homes,  Architect Candace Miller,   so many more....many have small designs, so you can envision layouts.

We've considered both radiant heat and tankless water heaters.  I've got so many questions about both that I'll need to start a separate post... (probably after the holidays)...

Check out the radiant floor link I posted.  He has some good info in it.

You could always just add hardware store plug in space heaters per room as you build, and swamp coolers for the air conditioning, one per room.

Thomas Elliott
Log Home Finishing

Hi Cynthia,

If you are building in 2014, I think we may have a fantastic opportunity for you to feature your build on TV with one of the best log home builders in the US. I can answer more questions at 310-957-5757 x261. I hope we can chat today.




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