Selecting the Style and Construction

First the fixed parameters. We have the old Swedish camp and will keep it as is except for providing heat and hot water from the new addition. Water and electricity and waste facilities are already in place.

The new addition footprint is now cast in stone - or more correctly concrete. It was based upon the original plans but we increased the square footage by about 50%. The new addition will be one step lower than the old house and be attached to it with a 4 hour hour fire break at contact. The plans originally called for a fireplace in a large open design "great" family room. Also a main bathroom on the main floor plus the kitchen and a typical New England "Mud Room."

But what about bedrooms? My thoughts were to have them on the second floor but Doreen wanted to know how could anyone get to them if they were wheel chair bound. Good question.

The answer came with replacement of the fireplace with a residential elevator. The grand fireplace was erased and the search was on for an elevator that would fit in the space allocated for the fireplace. Residential elevators come in many sizes and shapes. However, the best design matches the commercial styles, either hydraulic that work like the old car lifts in car repair shops or the counter-weighted lifts that have the drive motor at the top and cables that hold the cab on one end of the cable and a holder with steel bars of similar total weight on the other end of the cable. A hydraulic system would mean blasting a hole through some 25 feet (8 meters) of ledge. No thanks!

The Internet was a great help in locating the best elevator for the available space. It has a cab large enough for a wheel chair and attendant, is counter-weighted, has automatic inside gate and the controller includes a UPS that will take the cab to the next lower landing and open the gate during a power failure. We have used that feature twice so far. The elevator is a LEV manufactured by Access Industries. It was built to match the specifications for this house and includes three landings, including the basement. While we miss the fireplace the elevator is much more practical and makes moving bulky and heavy objects between floors a breeze. Our elevator was installed by Eazy-Lift industries with offices in the Albany, NY, area and several other locations across the country.

Our second floor has two bedrooms, a half bath and a balcony that overlooks the great room and can be used as office space or even an overflow bedroom if needed.

Let's start building the house. We investigated "Post and Beam" and other more rustic possibilities. One well known builder had a three year backlog. I also wanted superior insulation to keep energy use down. Our ideas were met by Crockett Log Homes in Walpole, New Hampshire. Only it would not be a log home. We picked a sandwich construction with composite board on both sides of a rigid foam core. This gave us R 32 and R 38 insulation for the entire shell. The material is called Stressed Skin and is structural in nature.

The shell was fabricated at a plant in North Carolina according to the specifications developed by Crockett The entire shell was delivered on a very long flat bed truck that barely fit on our town road. Other supplies for the construction came with the panels along with a device to melt the foam where dimensional wood would be used at joints and cut outs. There were no openings for doors or windows. These are added after the panels are installed.

The first floor panels were installed and fastened together using foot long screws and a special glue provided by the panel manufacturer that will not dissolve the foam. The entire structure is thus glued together with a semi flexible caulking like glue making the structure air tight.

At this point one door had to be cut into the shell at ground level for access to the interior, These openings are cut out using an ordinary chain saw but only the owner of Crown Point Builders, the company that actually built the house, took on that rather critical job.

After the first floor panels were all in place a large beam was fastened to the top of the first floor panels. In the areas where there is a second floor notches for the upper floor joists were made in these beams. A center beam also carries these second floor (joist) beams. This notching work was all completed before the beams were installed. A good time to use the old adage "Measure twice (or maybe even three times) Cut once." There are also load carrying posts on the center line of the house except for the 24 foot span across the great room . That span uses a ridge beam with a cross section of 8 by 16 inches (20 x 40 cm).

Once the sub floor that is visible from below was completed the second story exterior walls were placed. The rectangular gable wall panels were installed and then cut to the slope of the roof, again with a chain saw.

Rafters were notched to rest on top of the ridge beam and also rest on a plate installed along the top of the second story side wall panels. The rafters are heavy and on four foot (1.22 meter) centers and match the joints of the stressed skin roof panels. These roof panels were pre-finished with dry wall that is exposed throughout the interior roof.

Page last updated 29 April 2015

Page Revised 17 February 2012
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