June 19 , 1999
This week ended a day short for me as I could not pass up my favorite event of the year - The Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Amherst, Wisconsin. But before I get to that, the weather cooperated last week and I was able to get all of the first floor beams up and in place. There are still a few brackets that I need to bolt in place, but for the most part things are moving along nicely.
After much debate I decided to go with pressure treated lumber for the 20' floor girders that will go up next. There will be 16 girders (each made up of 4 - 2x10's) that will radiate from the center of the house out past the exterior of the house. The reason for the debate had to do with the last three feet. The last three feet of the girders are cantilevered and exposed to the outside of the house to support a three foot walk-around deck. I was afraid that any untreated wood no matter how I protected them would eventually rot at the point where the wall of the house meets the girder. The bad part about this is the fact that the inside girders will be pressure treated and I was trying to avoid having any of the treated lumber exposed in the house. I will probably end up wrapping the girders with cedar to make them look pretty on the inside. There is also some debate as to the health factor of having pressure treated lumber exposed inside a house, but I feel this particular issue has been overblown. At one time I thought about using Glu-lam beams, but they proved to be real pricey and they are not rot resistant. They really would look nice inside the house, but I don't want to have any rot problems down the road at some point. So pressure treated wood it is.
So after I made the final decision I went shopping for 20' pressure treated 2 x 10's. Finding these is no easy feat. Pressure treated lumber typically comes in long lengths, but 20' boards are hard to find. I found some at the local home improvement store but they really looked like crap. So I ended up ordering them from a local lumber yard that could get grade 1 boards at a fair price. My only concern now is the timing of these. At first they said it would be one week to get them, but now it might be a few days longer. I might not get a whole lot done next week due to the delayed shipment. Stay tuned...
I ended the week at the MREA (Midwest Renewable Energy Fair). This is my third year at the fair and it was great visiting the fair. As usual, there were a number of workshops that gave me some good ideas for the house and homestead. The keynote speaker this year was Alan Weisman, author of Gaviotas. Gaviotas is a village in a remote part of Columbia that has created an ecologically stable environment using some very innovative technology to become a self-sufficient village. (I just started reading the book, so I'll have to give a book report later.)
I continue debating a design for the radiant floor heat system that I am considering to install. I am completely sold on the idea of using radiant floor heat, but I am trying to come up with a master plan for this. When I do, I'll post the details on this site. As I write this, I have one day left at the fair and I may bid on some radiant floor heat tubing at a silent auction tomorrow. I'll have to keep an eye on the bids as the day goes on.
I will close by saying that the MREA fair is by far one of the best fairs for anyone interested in self-sufficiency. It is such a great experience trading ideas with like minded people and attending workshops full of ideas. If you are ever in the Wisconsin area during the first week of summer, it's well worth the effort to attend the show.