Insulation and Heat

Welcome back to the build. Today we are going to be finishing the framing, and probably the start of insulation. 

We have our framing inspection today. Before we’re ready for that, we have a list of things to do. We have some more nailing to do, and we also have to get the wind braces done. Tomorrow after the building is inspected for framing, the insulators will be here to start on the spray foam insulation. 

All eight of the wind braces are installed, on both ends. 

Now we’re doing the final detail work on the cross braces. They all need some blocking anywhere they are touching a girt.

Our frame inspection went well, so now we’re doing some more trim work while we have the lift. After this, the roof line is complete! We’ll keep working on more trim around the building while the do the spray foam insulation tomorrow.

In terms of the spray foam insulation, this is a multiple day job. I don’t know if they’re going to do the whole building this week or just the roof while the lift is here. 

The spray foam installation has begun, and here’s the progress so far. They’ve got the ceiling of the first bay done and now they are working in that second bay. I’m not really sure what happened with the scheduling and the lift arrangements. They came out and did the final estimate on the job on Monday. At that time, they were saying that they would have a day to day-and-a-half to do the whole roof, which is what we had left on the lift rental. But then the crew showed up, and they said that it’s probably going to be more like four days just for the roof. So the lift rental is going to be extended again, and this is going to be a longer process. 

We’re doing closed cell spray foam on the whole building, and closed cell spray foam provides a really good air barrier, so we won’t have any air leakage or drafts or leaks. That will be really nice in the summer when I try to keep the humidity out of the shop, because I’m trying to store dried lumber in here. 

As far as thickness, we are doing three inches on the roof and then two inches in the wall. Closed cell spray foam has an R-value of about seven per inch, so we’ll have 21 in the roof and 14 on the walls, which I think is going to do with me just fine. I’m not planning on heating this building to livable space conditions, I’ll have it more at a lower holding temperature. The sort of nice thing is you can always spray more on top of it. It’s not really practical, once the building has things in it to add more foam, but you can always add more insulation in the future, if needed. 

In terms of pricing, they set a base price for the first inch, and then you pay a lower cost per inch for every subsequent inch. The surface area of the building is about 8,000 square feet. It’s roughly 4,000 square feet for the roof and then 4,000 square feet for the walls. To spray one inch over the entire building was going to be $16,000, and then you can add another inch for a dollar a square foot. So every inch I add to the entire building is another $8,000. I added an additional inch on the walls and then two inches in the ceiling. That brings the total cost to around $28,000 to spray the entire building. 

Here’s how far they got on the first day. I think the plan for day two is to finish up this last bay, the walls, and this little bit of roof over here. Later today we’ll start moving the stuff from the warehouse into the building from outside, because we’re going to have rain overnight. 

This is their fifth day here now. Just a little bit more to go, and hopefully they will be finished this afternoon. 

And here is the completed insulation installation! It’s all done, and I’m glad to have that checked off the list. The acoustics are quite a bit different now. There’s still a fair amount of echo, but not at all like when it was all steel panels. That was almost unbearable. 

Tomorrow we will have our plumbers here, and they’re going to start installing the boiler. I think this is the same boiler they installed in the house. I believe this is 150,000 BTU boiler. 

Our electrician was out today, and we have our temporary temporary power. This goes out into the field and ties into the circuit for the horse waters, which have a heating element that keeps the water from freezing in the winter. So this is our temporary power to get the boiler installed. We’re looking at doing a more permanent but still temporary power source by running a feed from here out to the other barn and getting somewhere around a hundred amp service. That will allow me to do what I’m doing right now, but won’t give me any future potential for growth until the power company comes and installs their actual line for real. The actual power service that we’re hoping to have installed would be a dedicated 400 amp service to this barn from the street. I was originally planning on just using generators to run my equipment out here, which I thought would only be a few months. But there is a 400 day lead time on transformers, and it doesn’t sound like they have a whole lot of ability to get things done, so I’m anticipating it might be a solid year before getting service installed. 

Next day, and this is what we’re doing! Since the door’s not coming for a few more weeks, we are sealing up the entrance with some of the extra foam that’s underneath the slab. 

So one thing Donavan did, that I thought was pretty darn smart, was set this up with the foam and the framing on the exterior side of the opening. That way, when we come back and do the actual garage door install, the hardware gets mounted to the inside of the opening. Then we’ll be able to install the door and leave the foam in place so it’ll be nice and warm for the install. Once that door is completely installed, then we can pull the panels off. 

Let me show you how far the plumbers got today getting the boiler hooked up. This should be pretty familiar for everyone who’s been following the home renovation, because this is exactly the same system as we installed in the house. We have this 150,000 BTU boiler here, with a pump and expansion tank below. The only difference with this system is the tank to the left. We’re running all antifreeze out here, so that tank is a reservoir for that. 

This particular boiler has the ability to do several different things. It can do the in-floor heat, you can add on an indirect water heater, and it can do a booster heater. So in here I could have this boiler running a heater to heat the air space, which would just be a radiator with a fan on it. So if I wanted, I could use the in-floor heating to maintain a holding temperature, and then I could have a booster come on and heat the air temp up while I’m working in here. Or I can use that circuit to run something like a wood drying kiln if I wanted to. So that boiler can serve many different purposes. 

In terms of pricing with the in-floor heat, it was the most expensive option that we looked at. We looked at three different heating methods. 1) Unit heaters, which are the ceiling mounted hot air blowers. To do this space, it’d be about $6,000 or so for unit heaters. 2) Radiant tube heaters, which are the round little things with the reflective top you can see mounted on ceilings. That was $12,000. 3) In-floor heat with the boiler, the PEX, and everything else is $18,000. 

I had never experienced in-floor heat before moving here and having that in my shop. Having had that now, I would never want anything else. It provides such an even warming heat that I can’t go back to anything else, and definitely can’t go back to forced air. 

All of the loops here are those PEX lines that are inside the concrete that we placed on top of that insulation. All that fluid gets circulated inside of the slab, which then heats the slab. So the slab itself is a giant radiator. We have 50-something yards of concrete in here, which is a giant thermal mass that will resist thermal changes. It does take a while to heat up, but it also takes a long time to cool off. Because that mass is so giant, it provides a really even and uniform heat source. 

As far as the insulation goes, the boiler has been running for a week now. I’ve been watching it and seeing what it does. We have the thermostat set to 50 degrees right now, and the current temperature outside is 25 degrees. So we have a 25 degree delta roughly. The boiler kicks on two to three times a day right now to maintain the current temperature in here, which I think is pretty darn good. I think having a full thermal envelope with the insulation literally under the slab, up the walls, up the roof, and all the way around seems to be working really, really nicely. 

Now, one thing I’m sure someone’s going to mention is that, “Oh my gosh, all the heat’s going to get trapped up on the ceiling.” And yes, it will. But I can install a circulation fan up there, and it’s completely out of my way. 

So the building is insulated and conditioned, and it is getting very close to being actually a usable space. 

Thank you as always for joining. I greatly appreciate it. If you have any questions or comments on the barn, please feel free to leave me a comment. As always, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have. And until next time, happy woodworking!

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