MCNZH - Progress (part 6) - concrete floors, counter tops, drywall, wood burning stove


(Pouring concrete, main floor, MCNZH)

A lot has been achieved in the three months since my last progress report.

Concrete Floors and Counter Tops

We poured concrete floors over the subfloors a couple of months ago. We originally framed the walls of the house 2.5 inches higher than normal to accommodate the depth of the floors. We also had to put posts and beams down the middle of the house to support the 10-12 metric tonnes of weight per floor that the concrete weighs. Finally, we poured high fly ash Agilia concrete over the subfloors:


(smoothing out the concrete)


(poured concrete in the second floor bedrooms, taken from the stairwell)




We also poured concrete counter tops for main floor kitchen and bathrooms – these will last indefinitely, look beautiful and add to the thermal mass of the home.


(counter tops – kitchen island)


(counter tops – kitchen counter)


(the concrete looked really cool once it was all smoothed out)

And More…


As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the wood burning stove is installed:


The drywall and mudding is complete too.  (pictures are before the mudding was complete):



(the wall between the master bedroom and upstairs library/den – this is a flex wall that can be removed with little trouble if we add an upstairs suite in the future)


(an interior window between the master bedroom and the ensuite bathroom – it provides natural light without letting any extra heat escape from the home)




(Moisture resistant drywall in the bathrooms increases the longevity of the home – it is also obligatory for the home to qualify for LEED accreditation)

We’re very happy with our progress, Habitat has done an amazing job, quality-wise. We’re hoping to move in on August 1st!

(cross posted at

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When do you expect to install the PV awnings above the windows?
I'm curious to see how they will actually look!


I have no idea. Sometime in the next three months :)


Hot dam - great site.

I'm awaiting details of your first winter. Where is the fast forward button?!

I'm considering putting about 100 tons of sand under our custom home and dumping excess solar heat into it (SDHW) during the late summer and fall to build a nest egg of heat to live off of in the winter - this is called annualized geo-solar heating. I like it because it only requires the sand in an insulated box that would normally be the basement with some PEX tubing thru it and a way to shunt heat to it for a few months. The heat is extracted in a passive way thru the floor.

I'd love to see a summary of your site (Kachadorian's Passive Solar House worksheet). I'm betting that your winters are a bit colder, but also much more sunny than what we have in Southern Ontario. I ran the numbers from the charts in the Kachadorian book and gave up on having any big fraction of my heat from passive solar!

Kachadorian is quite firm on using double glazing (for max. heat gain) and then using insulation to keep the heat in at night. He uses about 1" of foam on the inside - but I've not tried it myself yet. I'm betting it'll plunge the window down to -10C on the inside and result in ice and condensation. In our current house - humidity in the winter is a big problem and the energy use of a HRV is unreal - so we've been leaving a window open to keep the humidity down. That's helped with much of the condensation issues (RH dropped from >40 to low 30's), but not the nightly ice flows from the metal patio door frame (the metal drops to -10C easily).

Lastly - I've not found it yet, maybe you've covered it, but I'm wondering about your HRV / air circulation setup. The HRV is also handling circulation of air thru the home? or it's strictly passive?


I installed pex in my strip footing, then placed insulation & wire mesh over the strip footing (continuing 2' on both sides) before pouring the slab. No need for extra gravel or sand.
My mistake was not putting enough pipe though. With water heated to 60C from solar panels, the pex pipes will loose no more than 100BTU/hr per foot of length. A decent 4x8 panel will collect >6000BTU/hr under full sun, so you'd want 100' of pipe per panel to play it safe.

I'm considering installing a 300L storage tank which will feed through the pex at night so I can make use of the pex 24hrs/day. The $350 cost of a new tank is the main reason I haven't done it yet.


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