Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

To control SPAM, you must now be a registered user to post to this Message Board.

EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
JohnAdamsCanada
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:07 pm

Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by JohnAdamsCanada »

I used to be on this board. My wife and I had plans to build a Usonian style house but were side tracked for MANY reasons. This was about 6 years ago. We are back on track and will be building in the spring...just a much smaller Usonian style cottage. Attached is a rough rough sketch what we have in mind. Any advice would be helpful. We will have 50 to 100 acres in an unincorporated area of Northern Canada and be building it ourselves for cash. We are in the process of selling our current home which will cover both the land and building costs.Image Any advice is appreciated. I know I went through this before but was stopped for family reasons but circumstances have changed. Both my wife and I will be semi-retiring.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/HNkvU71NUuiR1Kxg6

Rood
Posts: 1174
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:19 pm
Location: Goodyear, AZ 85338

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by Rood »

Interesting little cottage.

When you say the location will be Northern Ontario ...how far north do you mean ...Moosonee, Fort Albany, Winisk, or even Fort Severn, or perhaps a bit farther south?... Like, say, Kapuskasing or Pickle Crow?

Whatever the case, my first question is .... Other than a pellet stove, I see no place for a heater or water heater, so how do you plan to heat a house in Northern Ontario? And what materials do you plan to use for the outside walls?

With climate in mind, it may be advantageous to put the front door inside an air-lock entry, to prevent cold winter winds from blowing into the house whenever someone opens the door. If you moved the inside door two units "south", and the outside door one unit "north", that would at least enclose an small entry space that I'm sure you would quickly learn to appreciate.

And the roof. Will it be another flat Usonian roof? Does Northern Ontario have lots of heavy, wet snow in winter?

SDR
Posts: 19701
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by SDR »

Very nice---and welcome back, John.

This is a very nifty floor plan---sensible and pleasant. I see only two minor modifications that might be made to the plan.

1. The piece of wall to the right of the kitchen sink might be held to the extent of the base cabinet---and reduced from full height to counter height---for increased sightlines and for ease of movement between kitchen and deck.

2. As symmetry does not seem to be a major design ingredient for this little house, I see no reason not to increase the width of the "great room" seating alcove (bottom of plan), leaving the left side where it is and moving its right-hand wall closer to the corner.

S

yellowcat
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:18 am
Location: Hagerstown, MD

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by yellowcat »

A masonry heater, instead of the pellet stove might be a good investment. The thermal mass could add a sense of permanence and the quiet operation using cordwood only could provide a sense of security if the grid went down.

There are several good custom masonry heater designer/builder/masons in Canada, but also some well proven manufactured units available. All would need a substantial foundation to support their weight. Even if you didn't want to have a masonry heater installed initially. It might be good to plan for one later.

JohnAdamsCanada
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:07 pm

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by JohnAdamsCanada »

Thank you so much for all the comments and suggestions!

ROOD
LOL, The area we are considering is generally in the upper part of Algonquin, no where near north as what you are picturing! We live in the southern most area of Canada now so anything even a bit north is cooler for us! Winters are certainly manageable. We intend to heat primarily with wood or wood pellet, hot water and cooking with propane. Water is from a well and we have not decided on composting toilet and gray water or putting septic in. It can get VERY expensive really fast for septic (ranging from $15K to $60K). Outside walls have not decided but most likely pine board and batten and possibly local stone. I agree with the "air lock" totally escaped my mind! No on the flat roof there is significant snow load AND the wife vetoed it! Likely a modified hip roof...still thinking that aspect.

SDR, thanks very much. The dream never went away we were lucky enough the place we bought appreciated enough to do this sooner than later. I agree about the cabinet situation. The kitchen certainly needs refined. I am not sure but the wife might want the sink in the island. Also agree on the seating area. I sort of modeled it after the end of the Jacob's house. The floorplan is a modified version of my initial design years ago, just smaller. Our two girls and boyfriends will have small cottages on the property so we only need the one bedroom. We are intending on camping on the property in RV while building as well as you can do in areas we are considering except in Winter. I am working out quicker building methods as well as my original plans were just too complex for framing, etc.

YELLOWCAT very good point. We are still figuring out the foundation if we are doing concrete pad or helical/masonry pier or a frost protected shallow foundation. I am speaking with some companies there and it depends on site. You can have 30 feet helicals in some areas and on others you dig a foot down and you are on bedrock. The wife wants wood floors so we may do standard footers with crawlspace. I think it will depend ultimately if we can get concrete poured that far from city (North Bay is one hour away). The thing I do not know is if we have a masonry core and a standard footer, does the house "float" too much and crack masonry and the joints between structures. Most people are using wood/pellet stove with electric baseboard backups. VERY expensive for electricity tho and I do not know anyone in that area heating full time with electric.

I can't wait to do this and my wife and adult kids are 100% on board with doing it now which is so ironic to not even be funny! We are hoping the housing market stays within its current range and does not seem to be slowing in our area so that is a bonus!

Any more suggestions please let me know especially on foundation.

SDR
Posts: 19701
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by SDR »

Another roof might be shed, both wings sloping away from the deck. You'd get a nice sloping diagonal beam over the kitchen, for some drama. For more light, a clerestory row above the deck doors.

Nothing particularly Wrightian about the house that I can see---but you could get closer with a two-level roof, higher two-thirds width around the perimeter away from the deck, and a lower third surrounding the deck, providing a narrow clerestory band at the step. Both L-shaped roofs pitched gently away from the high ridge above the clerestory.

S

HOJO
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2006 4:11 pm
Location: Belgium

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by HOJO »

about circulation:
- from great room to bedroom
- from great room to bathroom
- from bedroom to bathroom
is it a good idea to use the kitchen as a corridor?
did FLW do this?

SDR
Posts: 19701
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by SDR »

Wright accomplished his Usonian L-shaped plans with a long bedroom corridor. This economical little house has no corridors---a neat trick.

S

yellowcat
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:18 am
Location: Hagerstown, MD

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by yellowcat »

John,

You will need to have 20" of non combustible floor in front of the stove and some substantial amount of clearance to any combustible wall behind the stove (depends on the manufacturer).

If you made this area (including the wall) into a central all masonry core/hearth component it might eliminate a few problems that might limit your options later.

The Finns have an interesting way to prevent the differential settling between the hearth (ie. a raised hearth or masonry heater/stove)and the structure from becoming an aesthetic issue, by starting the brick or masonry work slightly below the finish floor level. About half the brick or other masonry unit would be below the finish floor. Of course, the footing for this masonry mass would be independent of the foundation for the rest of the structure. The hearth could settle, or the finish floor could heave up and it would still look like you meant to build it that way!

yellowcat
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:18 am
Location: Hagerstown, MD

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by yellowcat »

John,

I have been doing some fact checking and I am so wrong about the clearances for pellet stoves. Since the combustion chamber is way above floor level they do not need the 20" non combustible floor in front of them, and you can get the rear clearance to a combustible wall down to as little as 1"(depends on the model).

I have had my head filled with masonry for far too many years. Too old to change now! But, I do sleep well at night, especially in the winter.

SDR
Posts: 19701
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by SDR »

"The hearth could settle, or the finish floor could heave up and it would still look like you meant to build it that way!"

Surely we don't have to settle (ahem) for differential settlement, do we ? What happens above---a sliding sleeve to the flue ?

The matter has all to do with the soil and subsurface condition of the chosen site. Wright built Fallingwater around a boulder. Couldn't John select a spot on his land that has rock at or just below the surface---at least where the hearth will be located ?

S
Last edited by SDR on Sun Jul 12, 2020 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

yellowcat
Posts: 36
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:18 am
Location: Hagerstown, MD

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by yellowcat »

SDR,

Yes, actually masonry heaters that are top vented do have a sliding section of chimney! When the masonry refractory core heats up it will move up at least 3/8" or more. I have seen terra-cotta tiles lift a chimney cap (that should have had a slip joint at the top) an inch or more on conventional fireplaces.

I suppose that heating with either cord wood or pellets comes down to either designing to deal with thermal mass expansion, or incorporating mechanical devises that will be smart enough to never allow overheating to become a problem!

JohnAdamsCanada
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:07 pm

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by JohnAdamsCanada »

Yes this is of course another option I considered regarding the roof. I have seen models of it done this way. Will consider this. Wife is reconsidering flat roof as well...just have to consider snow load but I keep picturing it easier to get up on a flat roof to clear snow/ice than a high pitch if needed (which I have seen both here but not for MANY years.
SDR wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:17 pm
Another roof might be shed, both wings sloping away from the deck. You'd get a nice sloping diagonal beam over the kitchen, for some drama. For more light, a clerestory row above the deck doors.

Nothing particularly Wrightian about the house that I can see---but you could get closer with a two-level roof, higher two-thirds width around the perimeter away from the deck, and a lower third surrounding the deck, providing a narrow clerestory band at the step. Both L-shaped roofs pitched gently away from the high ridge above the clerestory.

S
Last edited by JohnAdamsCanada on Mon Jul 13, 2020 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JohnAdamsCanada
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:07 pm

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by JohnAdamsCanada »

HOJO wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:38 pm
about circulation:
- from great room to bedroom
- from great room to bathroom
- from bedroom to bathroom
is it a good idea to use the kitchen as a corridor?
did FLW do this?
Very good points. The original plan which included another two bedrooms and bath were somewhat modeled on Rosenbaum except my wife wanted the bigger kitchen. We actually loved the idea of the seth peterson cottage as well but having to go through the master bedroom to get to bath was just too weird.

JohnAdamsCanada
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:07 pm

Re: Usonian Dreams finally becoming reality

Post by JohnAdamsCanada »

SDR wrote:
Sun Jul 12, 2020 5:42 pm
Wright accomplished his Usonian L-shaped plans with a long bedroom corridor. This economical little house has no corridors---a neat trick.

S
The original plan had a very long bedroom corridor but also two more bedrooms and bath. We are still thinking of adding another bedroom in case but to us it means visitors/kids that want to stay in our house. We have laid out rules, you can stay on the property for free but you pay for Tiny House Cottage, Ontario minimum is around 200 SqFt.

Post Reply