Inexpensive Home Building

Cut through the jargon and nonsense of home building and house construction by starting from zero dollars and trying to figure best-value bang-for-your-buck when choosing construction methods or construction materials. My research might answer some of your questions and at other times perhaps you have the knowledge or experience to post the answers to my questions and thereby help others too. The goal is an affordable and sustainable home for all.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Maximize Home Space Cheapest Cubic Space: Inexpensive Floor Plans Part 1

Maximize Home Living Space and Energy Efficiency

Get the maximum interior space for the minimum perimeter (home exterior). Minimum perimeter means lower construction costs in wall footage, roofing, foundation, and insulation. It also means lower operating costs from lower energy consumption (radiators have fins to maximize surface area to transfer heat, so minimizing external surface area minimizes heat transfer in and out).

Area = length * width (measured in square feet)

The maximum interior “floor space” (area in square feet) for the minimum perimeter (linear feet of wall) would be a circle for your home. A more practical approximation would be a square.

Simple comparison of 2 shapes with 40-foot perimeter:

  • Rectangle = 15ft length * 5ft width = 75 square feet of interior floor space
  • Square = 10ft length * 10ft width = 100 square feet of interior floor space

Both cost you 40 linear feet of wall construction but the square shape gives you 33% more living space.

Volume = length * width * height (measured in cubic feet)

The maximum interior volume (including height in cubic feet) for the minimum perimeter (wall, etc.) would be a sphere for your home. A more practical approximation would be a cube.

What you do with the vertical space is up to you. Some people prefer a higher ceiling more than extra floor space. Rooms with high ceilings feel bigger because they are bigger (in volume)—but of course that extra cubic feet overhead will not hold an bigger couch or TV. Account for ceiling height in your heating and ventilation HVAC design (convection, stack effect).

The cube principle during your blueprint stage means that if you want to add a 4-foot tall crawlspace attic (add 4 feet to total wall height), you might want to add 4 feet to wall length.

Next: American Foursquare, Prairie Box, Box House: A Classic Efficiency


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