Curtis Log

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July 21st, 2014

Download design file - File:MicroHouse3.skp

Aug 9th, 2014

Activity: Window modules are being built, second floor frame being built, the main exit pipe in the plumbing is going in, floor joist being installed, morning will have produced about 1,500 bricks by the end. Afternoon, people will begin laying bricks.

Aug 8th, 2014

Activity: 7 am directed workshop meeting orienting carpentry professionals. Later, divided workshop participants into groups working on the site and in the workshop on modules. Continued supervising workshop, streamlining workflow, assigning tasks and filling in gaps where needed. Accomplished modules 1a-3b in morning. We've also completed three geodesic domes.

Aug 1st, 2014

Activity: 8 am start to clean the MHv3 site; and install a plywood skirt around the floating form work where the forms rose above the grade. After having the form work leveled with a laser level it was clear how inaccurate the actual site work was, but taking into consideration the equipment and lack of experience with such operations it is satisfactory and well above general expectations. We finally poured the foundation with very few issues during the pour and great level of accuracy. We installed the waste pipe exit through the foundation along with the electrical and water supply conduits. The trenching for the actual supply lines has not been completed so it will not have either until they are ran at a proper depth, below grade. With 4 yards of extra concrete we made an impromptu form work for the HabLab patio extension in 25 minutes and made use of what would have been waste concrete. So we will have a 16' by 64' covered, outdoor extension for eating and socializing that will eventually be screened in. We cleaned and organized the FabLab in preparation for the MircoCar workshop and did an overhaul on the site-cleaned all scraps and tools, ect. from the site and surrounding work areas. Following a late lunch and mid-afternoon break we moved the majority of the excess gravel from the MHv3 site and continued to raise the grade of the new plinth for the HabLab extension until dinner. Good community meeting with good food and good people!

July 31st, 2014

Activity: 7 am start to finish the placement of the formwork; despite precision carpentry the forms are still really difficult to make square. The floating forms were leveled using a lazer level, clamped in place then double checked for accuracy and fastened into place. Dealing with the non-uniformity of the dimensional lumber creates a noticeable bow in the west wall, but overall we are within 1" of model diagonal measurement of 33 3/16". We are inserting the waste exit pipe through the footer along with the electrical and water supply entry conduits, which are below the frost line; we will pouring concrete tomorrow rather than today. I have to manually type a Bill of Materials to Menards because their website is insufficient.

July 30th, 2014

Activity: achieved 95% completion of the bill of materials; finished concrete reinforcement for footer and stem wall; set in 2 legs of the form work; ordered 24.5 yards of concrete to be delivered tomorrow at 10:30am, we are going to try and push it back to give us ample time to have the formwork, waste exit and elec/water supply entrances in place before we pour.

Lumber Bill of Materials [1]

Concrete Calculations - 23.6 cu yd - [2]

Electric Water Heater v Propane

Figuring out the annual operating cost of a water heater involves consideration of the heater's efficiency and the cost of the fuel needed to run it. When you try to compare two water heaters that use different fuel sources, the math gets tricky in a hurry. When you throw in the escalating cost of propane, a direct comparison between a propane water heater and an electric one becomes even more difficult to sort out.

Energy Factor

A water heater's Energy Factor is a measure you can use to directly compare one heater's energy efficiency with another's -- the higher the Energy Factor number, the more efficient the heater -- and a heater's Energy Factor rating is a significant indicator of the unit's relative overall operating cost. The number, which is derived from a test specified by the Department of Energy, takes into account heat losses within the heater and its piping, and the heater's ability to transfer heat to the water in its tank. Propane water heaters typically have Energy Factors between .5 and .65, while electric heaters have Energy Factors around .9. The Energy Factor doesn't take into account the cost of fuel or electricity, so although it's a good first step in determining a heater's operating cost, it can't be used by itself to compare the operating cost of propane and electric heaters.

Recovery Efficiency

Recovery efficiency, which is accounted for in the Energy Factor, measures the heater's ability to heat water quickly. Propane water heaters generally offer much higher recovery efficiency than electric water heaters. That means that a propane heater needs to store less hot water in order to keep up with demand, which means that you may need a smaller tank than you would with an electric heater. A smaller tank means less energy devoted to keeping a large volume of water hot, which translates into lower operating costs.

Fuel and Energy Cost

Traditionally, the cost of operating a propane water heater has compared favorably to the cost of an electric heater despite the electric heater's higher Energy Factor, thanks to the relatively high cost of electricity. At the time of publication, propane shortages have driven up the cost of the fuel, making a propane heater substantially more expensive to operate than it has been in the past. As of early February 2014, the national average cost of residential propane was $3.89 per gallon.


To calculate the annual operating cost of a propane water heater, you need to divide 41,045 by the heater's Energy Factor and multiply the result by 365, and the fuel cost per British thermal unit. For a heater with an Energy Factor of .6 and a propane cost of $3.89 per gallon, or $.00004251 per Btu, that works out to $1,061 per year. The calculation for an electric heater is similar, except that you replace 41,045 with 12.03 and the fuel cost with the cost of electricity per kilowatt/hour. An electric heater with an Energy Factor of .9 and an electricity cost of $.12 kWh would have an annual operating cost of $585.


the total cost of installation;

the most inexpensive option in terms of initial costs is the electric tankless water heater. A whole house tankless heater that operates on electricity typically runs from $500-700, while a gas powered tankless heater may cost $1,000 or greater.

the ready availability of a source of natural gas/propane/electrical supply;

equally available

the difference in cost between the two (electric and gas)in the size of water heater you need;

4-5 gpm, 25,000-75,000 btu's

desired location to install the water heater;

in/on wall

the difference between the cost of gas versus electricity in your area;

Gas tankless water heaters are slightly less efficient (85%) than their electric counterparts (98%). When deciding between the two, many homeowners determine that gas is the cheapest to operate, which with most appliances this is true. However, regardless of gas' cheaper fuel input as compared to average cost per BTU of electricity, electric tankless water heaters offer the highest efficiency, as well as a typically longer life and a more affordable installation, including purchase price. What's more, gas prices historically fluctuate more so than the price of electricity, which generally stays stable or shows a slight rise. All in all, homeowners can expect to spend around 15% more to operate a gas powered tankless water heater than a similarly sized electric model. This figure, of course, is an estimation that could vary more or less depending on the geographical location in which it is installed. Source:[4]

July 29th, 2014

According to 2009 IRC, Table R803.1 Minimum thickness of "lumber" roof sheathing; rafter spacing 24"; would be 5/8. and, for Wood "structural panel" sheathing (R803.2.2 Allowable spans); you would go to Table R503.2.1.1(1) to determine minimum nominal panel thickness.Many code requirements are not inspected. Section R109 Inspections; are generally considered "required inspections" by the Building Safety Department; and some of those are excluded by amendment or by the building official. R109.1.5 gives the building official authority to conduct "other" inspections. Most cite lack of inspectors and/or time restraints as reasons for not conducting some inspections.Always contact your local Inspection department for amendments and local requirements.


July 21st, 2014


July 20th, 2014

backhoe waste line trench, tank hole, and leech field trench

July 19th, 2014

backhoe footing trenches and waste drain, 11am-5pm [5]

July 18th, 2014

paperwork in st jo for backhoe, retrieved refund from faulty bobcat, siding revisions_model

July 17th, 2014

revise trenching plan; model revisions; rebar bending jig [6]


The selection of a stabilizer will depend upon the soil quality and the project requirements. Cement will be preferable for sandy soils and to achieve quickly a higher strength. Lime will be rather used for very clayey soil, but will take a longer time to harden and to give strong blocks.

Soil for cement stabilisation: it is more sandy than clayey	 Gravel = 15%	 Sand = 50%	 Silt = 15%	 Clay = 20%
Soil for lime stabilisation: it is more clayey than sandy	 Gravel = 15%	 Sand = 30%	 Silt = 20%	 Clay = 35%

The average stabilizer proportion is rather low:

	 Minimum	 Average	 Maximum
Cement stabilisation	 3 %	 5 %	 No technical maximum
Lime stabilisation	 2 %	 6 %	 10%

These low percentages are part of the cost effectiveness of CSEB.


July 16th, 2014

brick count with new wall system and foundation, water collection capacity [7]

July 14th, 2014

Plumbing and backhoe plan [8]

July 11th, 2014

Engineer revisions... connecting bond beam to with sufficient fasteners/rebar, double top plate on framing, reinforce courses along level-split in brick hights between 1st and 2nd story

July 10th, 2014

Finish rough grading site...

July 9th, 2014

Current Sketchup Model (AM) 7/9/2014

Contact Information for organizations and individuals that we can advertise the microhouse workshop to.

MHv3 is a R-3 occupancy group: residential occupancies where the occupants are primarily permanent in nature and not classified as Group R-1, R-2, R-4 or I. Therefor we refer to Section 1009.7.2 of the 2012 IBC exception #5 "In Group R-3 occupancies;(...) the maximum riser height shall be 7.75"; minimum tread depth shall be 10"; nosing projection not less than .75" but not more than 1.5""

2012 IRC states:

R311.4 Vertical egress. Egress from habitable levels including habitable attics and basements not provided with an egress door in accordance with Section R311.2 shall be by a ramp in accordance with Section R311.8 or a stairway in accordance with Section R311.7.

Therefor we are meeting code by having an acceptable means of egress "stairway" serving the second floor.

July 8th, 2014

Meeting to update the timeline of the project. Revised model with new pitch on roof (11.7 to 17 degrees) to provide optimum solar absorption during June 21 the summer solstice (the most quality sunlight to harvest) and allowing for operable mounts to adjust for year around efficiency. second story stairway- head clearance is 7', 2nd story has 10' ceilings at peak and 8' at smallest point between the finished ceiling and floor. continuing to completely overhaul the model according to the new slope and exterior dimensions. We retaining the material efficiency through longer framing members and extended brick. The bond beam and lentils are compliant with New Mexico Earthen Building Code, which is deferred in the absence of adobe or Earthen building code. We will be getting a proctor compression test and Atterburg (moisture content) test to determine soil content and optimum moisture content. Our results will not arrive quick enough for accurate and complete assessment so we will rely mostlyon intuition and trial and error, the OSE way! plus some suggestions from resources.

Chapter 10: egress stairways for residential egress. 1009.3 treads min. 11", raiser 7"max. - 4"min.

Screenshots 7/8

Code bond beam rafter connection

New Pitch

New Pitch to Show Head Room

July 7th, 2014

Bobcat was fixed bright and early. Logged 6.5 more hours on the bobcat and realized that this is a larger and more time consuming job than it was originally expected. Got rained out and worked for four more hours on revising the model per Chris Reinhart's suggestions.

July 6th, 2014

More site work, moving about 3-4 yd.s of dirt every 45 minutes, aka I am one with the machine! logged solid 4 hours from 9 am 1 pm and shortly after lunch hit one of the stakes marking the boundaries of the site and blew two tires. Began making revisions on the SKP model.

July 5th, 2014

While it rained and postponed our ground breaking on the site work necessary to pour the foundation Marcin and I decided to step down the size of the walls from 24" to 18" with the double layer of bricks oriented with the 1' dimension running parallel to the stem wall. At about 5 pm we broke ground. I logged 4.5 hours on the bobcat working well after midnight by lamp and headlights.

Site work begins

July 4th, 2014

Microhouse V3 site - before work begins

June 29th, 2014

Link to CEB codes in the UBC, IBC, and New Mexico adobe code:

"On the basis of a detailed analysis of the space required for home activities and equipment, the Committee evolved the following space standards for families of various sizes. For the one-person family, a dwelling of 400 square feet of floor area is desirable. A two-person family requires a dwelling unit having 750 square feet of usable floor area; a three-person family requires 1,000 square feet of floor space; a four-person family, 1,150 square feet; a five-person family, 1,400 square feet; and a six-person family, 1,550 square feet. These standards make an interesting comparison between legally enforceable health requirements and the requirements based upon amenity and a new interpretation of health. (See the case of Lionshead Lake Inc. v. Wayne Township, Passaic County, Superior Court of New Jersey, April 27, 1951, discussed below.)" -

June 29 - July 5th

  • 29- prepping model for promotional graphics (see shared video files)
  • 30- Video graphics and editing; 1- interview for video, final editing
  • 2- met with contractor for pluming plan [9]
  • 3- met with electrician for rough draft of electrical plan and questions(see below) and consulted engineer (see eng graphics) 4- no work, 5- already up!

June 23 - 28

Arival, work on solar cubes

  • 24th-code research and prelim desing
  • 25th- overall floor plan;
  • 26th brick pattern and allowance
  • 27th- framing modules, roof, material efficiency
  • 28th- model windows and door to fit new width, begin budget breakdown

April 26 & 27

return to OSE to finish exterior siding and trim (see email)

Fri April 18, 2014

Getting ready to depart for FeF and creating my first content on the wiki page!