I chose the products that would comprise the house but I consulted with Julio Banks, an engineer, architecture and design professional working in the Palm Bay, Fla., area on projects calling for specialist engineers. I bought the original plan, and we completely redesigned the home, making it slightly larger. I had a designer do some drawings for me and also consulted with factories making some of the materials.
The home’s exterior panels feature foam on the inside. These panels are wavy in the middle, and galvanized wire is shot through the panel, so it’s basically a galvanized steel cage in each panel. The wires overlap, so when you pull them together, it creates a sol-id wall. Concrete is sprayed or troweled on the outside of the panels and inside the home, ending up 2- to 3-inches thick. This creates a really lightweight foam panel two tradesmen can pick up easily, but once you get it all wired together and apply concrete, it’s a one-piece, incredibly strong building system.
Raising the Roof
When choosing the roofing system, even more care had to be exercised. I wanted something really strong, really energy efficient that would last permanently, as opposed to a 30-year life expectancy.
I chose a stone-coated metal roof with a limited lifetime warranty that features a Galvalume steel coating with granite chips. In addition, the roofing system had to be natural looking and reflect the home’s elegant European influences. I wanted that Spanish look, the barrel-vault tile appearance that was keeping with the Italianate style. This is a beautiful roof and it’s a beautiful reddish terracotta color.
Another advantage of choosing a stone-coated metal roofing system was the opportunity to install it on battens attached to the concrete building system. That installation helps create an air pocket between roof and interior. The result is increased air movement beneath the roof and reduced heat transfer from the roof into the interior of the house. Plus, we picked an EnergyStar color, which reflects better than standard colors. It has contributed a lot to the energy savings on this particular product.
A home the size of the EcoSmart Demonstration Home would likely rack up an electric bill of $400 to $500 per month at a minimum. Instead, electric bills at the home average about $50 monthly. And the roof actually makes money for the house because it is topped by a 5,600-watt photovoltaic system, featuring 28 solar panels.
I originally wanted a geothermal heating and cooling system, but eventually abandoned the idea. We just didn’t need it. The roofing, along with the walls, windows and doors, enabled us to avoid going geothermal, and we were able to use 20-SEER smart heat pumps in place of a geothermal system.
In addition, I like that the stone-coated metal roofing system will resist fire, wind and hail. The roof will take 2 1/2-inch diameter hail, which will bounce off and not harm it. That’s the size of a baseball. And because it has these different layers, the roof is not noisy.
The EcoSmart Demonstration Home and all its features help me pursue a mission I believe is very important: I want to help people get a home they can feel safe in, where they don’t have to run from a storm.
PHOTOS: Gerard Roofing
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