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Other Pic Pages: Foundation - Radiant Slab - Geothermal Loop - Wood Framing - Mechanical Systems - Equipment Room - Monitoring - Interior Trim - Exterior Trim

Construction Timeline: (Mechanical Systems)
All those things that whir, spark and bubble are now added to the interior of the house. (1/10/2003 - 2/8/2003)  

Note: Pictures of the HVAC systems have been moved to the Equipment Room page.

NOTE: Newest pictures at the top.
Click on any image for an enlargement. 

February 8, 2003.  The ceiling drywall starts going in, and the electrical is ready to go.

This sheetrock stuff is all very scientific.  The ceiling goes in first so that the remaining distance between the floor and the ceiling is exactly 9 feet.  This is spanned exactly by two horizontal runs of 54" (4'6") dimensional sheetrock

Click the image to see the unusual mounting pattern.  Rather than evenly spaced screws (not nails) the manufacturers recommend pairs of screws at wider spacing. Hmm.

The main electrical panel is all ready for the installation of the circuit breakers.  The wires have been run to all the lights, switches and receptacles.  The receptacle wires have even been stripped and looped ready for the final hookup.

I'm proudly displaying my inspection certificate which indicates I'm all ready to go except for the final inspection.

Woo Hoo !

The inspectors in this area seem to be much more interested in making sure the homes are built correctly, rather than just satisfying the letter of the code.

January 27, 2003.  Plumbing rough-in is complete.  Electrical is just about done.

The electrical panel is in the corner of the sunroom.  Cables feed across the roof, or down the bulkhead created along the main retaining wall. The inspection needs to be completed before the lines are hooked up. We have an oversized junction box because the small extra expense now is worth it for future growth.

Here's a shot showing the various mechanical systems.  The two main insulated AC trunks are shown running one on top of each other.  These feed the supply and return registers.

Also seen is a set of power feeds and several recessed down-lights.  The oversized down-light cans ensure that there is sufficient air space around any lamp to prevent overheating.

Here's a closer shot of the two other sets of down-lights used in the kitchen to light the counter and center island.

Once the electrical was complete, the crew started on the low voltage wiring.  I'm using a structured wiring cable that contains 2 Cat 5e network cables and two RG59 Video Coax's.

The cables run from a central distribution hub, to 19 wall plates throughout the house.

The first few cable runs can be seen here going to the wiring closet.  This is a false wall cavity located between the living room and bedroom.

The cavity will contain all the network and AV equipment for the house.  A removable false wall section in the bedroom will provide full access to the closet.

January 10, 2003. Next, the roof starts being filled with insulated boxes and tubes.  Although Our Cool House uses the radiant slab for heating, and maybe cooling one day, an air ducting system is still needed.  These ducts provide fresh air ventilation via Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV), and provide a means to dehumidify the air, or provide supplemental heat.  For more details see our HVAC page.

These are the main supply and return duct which are located above the Water-Air Ground Source Heat Pump.  Notice several cool things... The ducts are actually made from sheets of insulation, with a metal foil coating.  Also note the cool vanes inside the ducts to produce a laminar flow around the bends.

In the roof, the return duct lays on top of the supply duct, and both ducts run the length of the house, forming a main trunk line.  Individual registers are fed by smaller branch tubes.

Air supply registers are placed where they are most needed.  This is typically by windows.  In the ceiling you can see two registers located by the exterior wall above the windows.

Air return registers are located on internal walls, and in my house they are designed to collect air from floor level. Here you can see the branch lines each terminate in an insulated box, and then these boxes draw air up between two studs.  Registers are placed at the bottom of the stud cavity.  Notice that this system required that the wall top plates be cut and removed between the studs.

Since I also wanted to collect hot summer air from the two-story gallery, I had an extra "high" return register added to the gallery wall

January 10, 2003. Inside the house, shiny copper tubes start appearing..

The bulk of the plumbing runs down the long concrete wall, but to avoid a lot of drilling, Gary created a sofit along the back wall, just below the ceiling.  This provided a direct path for the pipes, but kept them below the insulated ceiling (to prevent freezing).

I was impressed by how neat and regular the copper piping was.  I love a regular predictable layout.  Plastic hole inserts are used to prevent banging, and the metal braces also have plastic pipe clips to avoid problems with dissimilar metals (see next pic). 

In the laundry, we have all the usual fixtures (washer, sink etc.) but we also tap off a hot and cold line and run it through the slab to the kitchen island.  You can see the white plastic tubing disappearing into the slab just below the goose neck.

Here the other ends of the two plastic pipes emerge from the slab in the middle of the kitchen.  The third gray pipe will be used to bring power to the island for the dishwasher and disposal.

Other Pic Pages: Foundation - Radiant Slab - Geothermal Loop - Wood Framing - Mechanical Systems - Equipment Room - Monitoring - Interior Trim - Exterior Trim

© 2000-2018, Phil and Lisa's relaxed lifestyle home.
An exercise in Energy Smart, Not So Big living. -


This site is all about building a cool, energy efficient house, that makes maximum use of earth sheltered design, passive solar heating and cooling, geothermal exchange energy management, and right sizing of the house for it's designated use. The home's placement is on a south-facing hillside in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. This site describes the design process, the technologies used and the expected results. We also have a comprehensive Links Page for anyone who is also interested in designing a similar project.