|By using a pre-engineered panelized framing and sheathing system, the owner was able to build a house which generated 55% less waste in dimensional lumber, and 60% less waste from sheathing (OSB, plywood, etc.). Because of the engineering precision in the size of the panels, the house took significantly fewer hours to construct, saving the owner money.The company, Winton Global, harvests the wood from their own responsibly managed forests and mills it right there. The wood from this process is stronger and straighter, saving the time and effort in searching for straight pieces on one's own. The company was willing to work with the owners design (or they can sell you their own readymade designs). They were thorough and helpful to the owner during the entire house build. Panelized wood framing shouldn't be confused with "SIP" panels (structurally insulated panels). This system is essentially a form of partial pre-fabrication.
The house uses Warmboard to position the PEX tubing for the radiant system. Warmboardis plywood with a thin aluminum covering grooved for the tubing, and it also functions as the subfloor (the aluminum also allows the heat from the tube to spread out across the floor). You can put any flooring choice above it. Unlike concrete, Warmboard is not a significant thermal mass; this allows for a more rapid response to needed, or desired, temperature changes than a concrete floor (this is desirable in a place like the Methow Valley, where there can be substantial differences between day and night temperatures). With a more rapid heat response of the radiant floor system, one is not wasting heat dollars or uncomfortably over heating the space.The idea of a radiant system with smaller floor mass does not apply to a purely passive solar heat system. With a passive solar design, the mass is an important component of heat retention.
The owner also installed a radiant barrier in the attic to reduce solar heat gain in summer, and minimize heat loss by radiation from the house through the roof in winter. The barrier is not insulation in the conventional sense because its prime function is to reduce heat loss/gain by radiation, conventional insulation works primarily by reducing gain/loss through convection and conduction. The radiant barrier is "draped" between the rafters/trusses and suspended about 0.75" below the roof sheathing (collecting less dust); the lower end terminates at the soffit vents, and upper end a the ridge vent, creating a "thermal chimney" with colder air entering through the soffit vents and exiting via the ridge vent. This also helps to prevent the buildup of moisture in the attic. The regular insulation is then installed on the floor of the attic. This not only helps keep the roof from heating up in summer, it also works to prevent ice dams in winter. Radiant barriers are purchased by the sheet and are a very inexpensive way to fine tune and ramp up the various energy efficiency potentials of a house, beyond just the roof.
The owner took a class at a community college to learn how to be his own general contractorhe highly recommends it. He has become a distributor for the company, Winton Global. If panelized home building interests you, call Paul Smith at (509) 996-3945. See www.wintonglobal.com