Virtual Eco-House Tour

All readers, welcome to our home:

My safe, allergy-free and eco-friendly home. Ready for the tour we promised? Take your shoes off. Only socks or Japanese slippers allowed. 

“Would you like a cup of coffee or tea? Do you take sugar? Soy milk okay? A herb from the garden perhaps?”

[Miche pops the kettle on.]

“Why, thank you for going fragrance-free. I really appreciate it; and it’s so lovely to have you here to visit! xx “

“Here,” Miche says while holding out a bright flowing fabric with a flock of exotic birds scattered across it (or a white Tyvek suit–your choice), “Pop on this will you? It’s just to protect the furniture from any washing powder or fragrance residue on your clothes.”

It’s an exciting day: Because today, I warmly, virtually invite you into our home by taking you all on a Virtual EcoHouse Tour, using the latest technology in architectural drawings for our ‘Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House‘ Project, These were done by Eco Draftsperson, and our friend, Quin Wyatt; he’s known as an ‘EcoDesigner’ around the Peninsula Coast (I am on Victoria’s Surf Coast near Queenscliff but I was just 1 hour by boat away at Portsea: the air and seaweed, beaches are mostly the same. Except we have marshland that rubber boots won’t help you with, it sinks that much, which makes it a perfect haven for birds. So it an actual Marine National Park with a few different things going on: Army training, hooded plovers, Mud Island (sink in sand there for sure!) all types of bird and seagrass.

black-footed-albatross-86579_1280

Black footed albatross (image source: Pixabay)

Why we are taking so long to build:

Our house is smaller, which is why it took another 6 months to get started because of the re-sizing. Plus all the testing of the products. Then we had to wait on Boral Bricks by 3 months, luckily, Ashley from Boral in Geelong made up for this by giving me a heap of research about mould and bricks and how to remove the horrid stuff. We are supposed to be at lockup stage by now. Been told hold ups are normal on this business. Issue is we need to be locked up before the rains come.

It was downsized by 10 square metres, which is like the size of an average room. This took a load of the cost of the build. The front balcony was rejigged so that it didn’t form part of the indoor area by intruding into the house, which would have looked more contemporary modern; instead it’s just your old-school 6 post balcony. This way if there’s ever a leak it won’t flood into the house, it ill run straight off the balcony. Smart thinking, Slobodan <3 And, it still works as an eave for the passive heating and cooling effect.

Passive Design Coupled with Ideal Orientation

A good ecologically designed home, utilises orientation because the way the house faces, which is to the north, plays an enormous part in passively heating and cooling the home. So long as the occupants are active in summer by closing blinds and roof-window blinds early in the morning, closing off any rooms that catch warmth on days of high heat; only opening up again at night, putting on fans and opening windows strategically positioned to cross-ventilate, which will also allow thermal lag to cool your house off, you too can design an eco-home.

Ideally, the home should be placed so the living areas faces north (south if you’re in the US, I think, correct me if I am wrong) to take advantage of the winter sun. The eaves overhang 90 centimetres to block out the higher-in-the-sky summer sun, while allowing the lower-in-the-sky winter sun into the house, warming the tiles or polished concrete floor.

Because the Zenit thermally-broken, double-glazed uPVC windows are designed to go low to the floor, the sun hits the concrete warming it in winter while the concrete acts as the thermal mass (unless you cover it with carpet or something else, which acts as insulation or has rubber in it that will impede on this all-important function). Coupled with the Hydrotherm Hydronic panel heating, the most allergy-friendly heating possible, the house will always be a warm home. On sunny winter days we won’t need heating as the sun heating the thermal mass will be enough, even at night when heat from the slab is released via thermal lag, or if closed up, the thermal lag will still be keeping the place warm as the temperature drops outside. But more on the other eco-friendly elements that help facilitate a truly efficient home later…

The cottage is in the far right hand corner. The Garage is seperate, with a breeze-way as specified as what Interviewee, Katryn Treat said when I asked her what she would do differently if building again,

The cottage is in the far right hand corner. The Garage is seperate, with a breeze-way as specified as what Interviewee, Katryn Treat said when I asked her what she would do differently if building again,

The little cottage out back, the one for fragrance-free visitors to stay in, had to lose its bathroom, which is no big deal: there are two inside the house. Both run on filtered rain water supplied by EcoBright Tanks (all stainless steel! No plastic lining!), then town water if the tanks become dry. (If you have advice on tanks please share below.) The toilet is fully ecologically minded, with it’s own 2000-litre-rainwater tank too. We’ve got this tank covered with Reece plumbing in Drysdale. And our plumbing was done by KLM Plumbing whose team went fragrance-free; I highly recommend their services if you’re on the Surf Coast or the Bellarine Peninsula of Victoria, Australia!

We also have an outdoor shower: visitors Beware: Come fragrance free or go nude and wash outside in the garden of Eden.

Nah, just kidding, the outdoor shower is for the dog and beach visits!

:0

Yes, we will give our composting toilet back to Natural Event at the end of the build. It’s still working out really well feeding the soil of the neighbour’s apricot tree, I’m sure.

One positive that came out of halving the garage is that now we have all this space between the cottage and garage. Is the extra room for gardening and paving areas: bonsai garden, outdoor shower. This space is a medium sized courtyard that’s surrounded on three sides by the brick fence separating ours and our neighbours property and the brick walls of each out-building.

Oh, and the other brilliant thing about kids flying the coop is the room for a proper yoga room and gymnasium.

Now just notice where the sun falls and the time of the year and day. This will show how it’s positioned for good orientation taking advatage of the full northerly aspect so on winter days the sub comes right on in. Quin Wyatt did a remarkable job designing and then re-designeing this house to suit my needs. 

We did this re-jigging of the house via Skype last winter when I was horribly ill from Pullaria mould and possibly the mould in the room with the water-damaged ceiling. [Update: I’ve since been diagnosed with CIRS, so it’s not just Pullaria mould that was the problem.) So I wasn’t exactly coherent but luckily for me Quin and Dan and I worked it out: We have an unusual front balcony, which I will show you all later. Welcome to my prototype for an Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly House!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

A sun study of an eco-freindl y house. It shows sunlight splashed across the room in June, which is winter in Australia

A sun study of an eco-freindl y house. It shows sunlight splashed across the room in June, which is winter in Australia. This is not our kitchen just a generic image of the design. Pretty cool, hey?

If you take a look at the sun study done for June, which is mid-winter, and since 2012 and living in two water damaged buildings (WDB), I’ve suffered every winter since due to outdoor moulds; now when I was in mid-winter of last year, sick as I’ve ever been (before CIRS diagnose), I took impeccable comfort: the type that just wraps you in cottonwool, allowing you to feel everything is going to be alright, that type of comfort, when looking at these photos. The sun coming through the window. Picturing myself in our safe house. Knowing all is going to be just fine.

On another positive, it’s near close to all bricks and mortar now, and I’m busy, busy, busy, testing and organising samples, asking, sometimes hounding for MSDS and product contents. I’m finding there are two business models:’ don’t share a thing’ and ‘here you go’ when it comes to building products and materials… especially MSDS or proof of composition of materials of VOC release per cubic metre. Also, Australia is lacking in ecological products; but we do have access to some incredible European products.

So this is the roofline of the house:

The front of the 'Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House' project

The front of the ‘Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House’ project, which I am also writing a ‘How to’ Book about the Process itself

I know you are picking up the Japanese them now. Do you like the design so far? Ant questions on passive design?

More

Where we are getting the doors: Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Modified Shoji Doors

All the posts on ‘Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House

Quin Wyatt Building Designers: Created This House Around my Allergies and our Environment!

Stainless Steel Rainwater Tanks: EcoBright Tanks (I’ve a post coming up on rainwater tanks (the 3 companies in Australia who sell them!) and on catchment and delivery systems to the bathrooms. Full Eco Housing ideas coming up.

Hydrotherm Hydronic Heating, the best heating for people with chemical sensitivities or allergies (also the best price out of many quotes)

Natural Event Portable Compositing Toilets (no head splitting chemicals)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

The Kitchen Series: An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen

This is the first post in ‘An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen’ series. And to save you reading it all at once, I’ve broken up this one long post into handy bit-sized readings for each element needed to create your very own ‘Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen’. Whether you have respiratory issues, chemical sensitivities, mould illness, asthma or any medical condition that is impacted on via air-quality, then these posts are for you.

kitchen-1085990_1280

It’s also come to my awareness since being diagnosed with Inhalant Allergies to various natural and chemical substances, 13 years ago, that there are many parents who want to create a safe haven where little Jane or Jovan can have a calm, joyful place free of allergens and the worry that goes along with avoiding those allergens in everyday life; like at school, it’s the same as not having any peanuts in the house if someone in the family has an allergy.. The same goes for parents of newborns, they want to give their new treasured bundle the absolute best start in life.

Nowhere is your home more of a haven than when you are free to live an allergen, chemical-irritant free life.

An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen is about creating a worry-free hub where the family can come together to share meals in the most comfortable way possible: free of allergens and chemical irritants that inflame airways and play havoc with sufferers of inhalant allergies, chemical sensitivities, respiratory inflammation, Toxic Encephalopathy, Asthma, Occupational Asthma, Irritant-associated Vocal Cord Dysfunction, Reactive Airways Dysfunction Syndrome (RADS), Irritant-induced Asthma, Small Airways Disease and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS): all conditions where indoor air-quality is paramount to comfort and good health.

It’s just a matter of choosing the right products suitable for your own situation. The only way to do this and be sure you’re making the right choice is to investigate and research until you find the right product(s). Personally, I like to run ideas past my treating doctor, an Allergist and Immunologist; but mostly, I decide on whether the product or material impacts on my breathing by testing it–I’ll delve more into how I do this, and share ideas on how others do it in another post coming up.).

Dan and I haven’t yet decided on the materials we are going ot use. However, my good internet friend and author, Kathryn Treat, has a left a trail via her book, Allergic to Life: my battle for courage, survival and hope, and our interviews: in Part II of ‘New Beginnings—No Turning Back’, she describes her kitchen being made of completely sealed Formica, which in the US is chipboard/particleboard completely (or at least in her case) sealed on all sides with laminate. The doors in her kitchen are oak, and her window frames vinyl clad.

In the dearly departed author’s words: “This is no cookie-cutter illness; we are all different.”

Oak Doors

I’ve already tested the oak doors, and decided that that’s what we are going to use.

A glue recommend by the Healthy House Institute in the US as it contains aliphatic resins, which dry hard and odourless:

(This is the glue I’m testing for use with some Oak Cabinetry doors! It has the aliphatic resin as recommended by The Healthy House Institute.)

Titebond® Supreme

This is a very fast setting adhesive of the titebond aliphatic resin range. It is Specifically formulated to provide short clamp time for oak and other ring-porous woods. It has excellent heat and solvent resistance and excellent durability for interior exposures. Excellent for Ash and Oak high volume production.

Sizes available: 19lt Pail & 208lt Drum

Visit GREENchoice Website

If we need to save money, which we probably do, we’ll be using glass doors with aluminium edging around them, which I will get to in two shakes of a lambs tale. Basically, our Butler’s pantry [read fruit and vegetable storage room] is going to be mostly glass doors. and shelving with mirror splashbacks so as to appear to give it more space.

Polyvor Aluminium and Glass Doors

Polyvor Aluminium and Glass Doors

Now, for the cabinets, so far we have two choices. Ecological Panels (made from recyclable non-toxic, sustainable & green building materials, or Neemaboard, hardened uPVC board, which is either also sold under the name Waterproof PVC Based Polymer Board from Cowdrey or it’s a different product. The gentleman at Cowdrey who gave me the MSDS said that Neemaboard is no longer called that. So I will just refer to it as Cowdrey PVC Board. It’s actually UPVC or the sample I have that says ‘Neemaboard” on the back (shown below) is different. There actually is a huge difference between PVC and UPVC. So I will sort this out when I do a post in this ‘An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen’ series of posts, just on the cabinet materials available (maybe 5 posts away?).

(Our thermally-broken, double-glazed windows and frames, already ordered and paid for with Zenit Windows are uPVC (Known as PVCU overseas in countries like Europe), ours have come from Europe, so hopefully, the REACH stricter safety standards will protect my health from VOCs; I still can’t find any reputable information on the amount of VOCs released per square metre anywhere–so far. Except from over at the ATA forum. And from a VOC point, it’s not looking pretty. But from an Ecological standard, they are excellent going by reviews and the recommendation of our Eco Draftsperson, Quin Wyatt.)

Both cabinet products have their advantages. But I will say straight up that Ecological Board stacks up really well in price and suitability compared to the same product that contains formaldehyde in the glues, which hold ordinary particle board together.

Both products can be completely sealed with a 2Pak paint, which hardens just like powder coat, I am told by our kitchen guy.

(I wrote about ‘How to Seal Chipboard in the Kitchen’ way back in 2007 for AESSRA (The Allergy, Environmental, Sensitivity and Support Research Association), who then published it in their magazine, Sensitivity Matters. I can tell you now, the kitchen in the Build an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free House project will not be using foil for anything other than wrapping sandwiches! Well there is the Kingspan AirCell 3in1 Building wrap… but that’s the last time, I swear. If you have chemical sensitivities, please laugh along with me.)

Other elements that could make your kitchen allergy-free, keeping indoor air-quality at optimum levels:

  • The kitchen doors
  • The cabinets
  • The bench tops (I have a special guest post coming up from The Allergista about this very topic in regards to transdermal skin allergies! and what can be found in your benchtops)
  • Any coatings or paints used in the sealing or colouring of materials
  • Removal of humid air, eliminating the risk of moisture build up, which could lead to mould growth
  • The flooring

The next post is going to be on Ecological Board, the good, the great and the awesome. Stay tuned.

The Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free Kitchen Series

 An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Oak. Glass or uPVC or Composite Panels?

 An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—By The Allergista: What are Your Countertops Hiding?

An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—Ecological Panels, and Building Biology Service, EcoLibria

An Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly Kitchen—uPVC Board

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Building Products/Tradespeople Reviews

Hey there!

Just a short post to let you know that all the services and building products I use that work out for me and don’t impact on my health will be reviewed on this blog. So far, I’ve had some positive experiences with tradespeople and businesses that I’m so grateful for that I feel it’s only right to pass their names and details on. There’s my wonderful, thoughtful and patient draftsperson (aka Eco Designer), Quin Wyatt, whom you can read more about here. And many more positive experiences (and a few not so positive that I’m willing to share, too) that will feature here. When you come back in the future just click on the Freedom: an Allergy-Free, Eco-Friendly House link right here under the Building tab! All my posts to do with housing will be organised there for you. (Some are organised under Renovating for People with Chemical Sensitivities for your convenience, also.)

:)

tools-498202_1280

Of course not every product that is fine for me to use will be okay for others too. Of course, this is due to the varying nature of our sensitivities. For instance, mould is a mahoosive issue for me. (It’s taken 10 years of toiling with chemical avoidance, under the weight of my illness to work this out, because small amounts can’t be detected, which makes them invisible unless spores are en masse; and, it was not until I lived in a house that was mouldy that I realised that it was such a problem (then came the medical testing as further confirmation). If you get sick when it rains, you may want to look into this also.)) So, even though I have solvents, petrochemicals and fragrances to avoid when choosing products for building a house, I now realise that if I don’t do my best to avoid mould exposure, all those other chemicals impact on my health far worse. But for someone else it may be plastics or even all chemical based products that must be avoided, yes? Please be mindful of that when researching and choosing your own products! Your health needs are precious and need to be taken seriously.

Our house is being created with moisture control, elimination and prevention of condensation in mind. And it’s airtight, with good control of cross ventilation so we can air it regularly.

There’s a saying in Eco House Creation: Wrap em’ tight; ventilate right!

Nowhere is this more important than with creating housing for chemically sensitive people. The reason Eco Houses are wrapped tight is for energy efficiency. But for people like us, especially parts of our community who live housebound, being able to ventilate properly can be a massive issue. But even more problematic is what happens when we don’t open our houses to air them on a regular basis: condensation and mould growth are evil and can sneak up on your health, taking it on a ride into hell. Also take into account the materials and chemicals used in building and renovations; and coupled with a tight building, what you have created is the perfect environment for Sick Building Syndrome. It’s a thing. And it’s real. And it can be a pain in the arse, sinus and brain!

(I know! It’s a conundrum because of outside air polluted by cars, trucks, woodsmoke (from chimneys), fragranced-based washing powders and fabric softeners.)

This is where the right tradespeople are key in making a home safe for people with asthma, chemical sensitivity, and/or immune disfunction. Greenwashed products are great if they are really green but it’s not just about saving our environment; it’s about the people and animals who live in the homes, too. (Amelia Hill has written extensibly on this issue here.) However, if you can find the right tradespeople who listen and take on board your needs, and most importantly, what you don’t need, then you are on your way to a low VOC, chemical-free, mould-free utopia!

There is also a book out by Christa Upton who has successfully built an MCS friendly house and has written a book about it.

Stay tuned for more…

PS: if you know of any suitable tradespeople, businesses or products, drop a comment down below. This blog is read all over the world, and people will find this page or any of the others tagged with Build an Allergy-free, Eco-friendly Home via internet search engines. (And you never know, next time I’m stuck in bed with no creative writing flow, I just may make another one of my Listly Lists including your valuable input!)

(And thanks for reading, I tried to keep this short.)

Sharing is Caring…

:) 

The Steps to Building an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free house

The Steps to Building an Eco-Friendly, Allergy-Free house and the tradespeople and companies we used (So far we have been really lucky with the team of people who we’ve found to help us build a low-toxic house.):

Design your house. We used Quin Wyatt, eco-Designer: 0418 589 461

Find your workers (yes I have a post: How to Find or Organise Fragrance Free Workers [post coming up])

Building Biologist: Raphael Siket at EcoLibria1300 326 542

Building Biologist: Lucinda Curran at Eco Health Solutions: 0488 377 466

How to Test Building Products and Products for you own or someone else’s Suitability [post coming up]

How to Sort out Protection Based on Duty of Care with your Local Council [post coming up]

A fully, well-cured Concrete Slab, solid as a Rock from D&C Fear Concreting: 04 0369 3794

Low-toxic Pluming installed by a fragrance-free plumbing team: KLM Plumbing

Choosing Fittings for the bathroom, kitchen and laundry: @Reece Plumbing: 03 5253 3000

Choose your internal Building structure: We went with Hardwood from Calco [Post coming up]

Build a frame: we went with Damien and his team from Pristine Carpentry [Post coming up]

Choose a roof style, find a roofer [post coming up] , which are often, but not always a plumbing and roofing job (because plumbers and roofers often do both); We have the maddest Japanese style roof, which we are over the moon about, installed by Blessed Roofing, designed by Quin Wyatt, eco-draftsperson.

Virtual House Tour: using Sun Study Designs made by Quin our eco-draftsperson

Hydronic Heating by Hydrotherm [post coming up]

Laros and Proclima (Post 2# coming up on Laros Technologies and their Intello wrap)

(We will be using internal air sealant wraps by Proclima from either Laros or Passive House here in Victoria, Australia)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
Translate »