Here is what I have to contribute.
Some day I would like to build a house. So I have been doing research into how to build a house that would be less likely to encourage mold growth. Here are some good looking resources that I have found.
I began by thinking of some philosophical ideas:
1.Absolutely no standard drywall (aka gypsum board, sheetrock). Toxic mold loves this stuff.
2.No basement. That’s just asking for trouble.
3.No Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) ductwork. Dust can collect in ductwork, which mold can grow on. You can’t see what is going on in ducts. In order to avoid having ductwork in a house, you would have to use radiant in-floor heating, probably. And one may need to use more than one wall or window-mounted air conditioner. Probably small houses with open floor plans would work best with a ductwork-free design.
4.Lots of fresh air. Ventilation seems crucial. Many of the latest and greatest home building ideas are extremely air-tight, for energy efficiency. So most modern homes have a heat recovery ventilator. It brings in fresh air without losing so much of the heat/coolness that is desired in the house. One might consider getting a larger one than is needed for the size of the house, or having more than one.
5.No hidden wood. I would feel more comfortable if I could see any wood that was used, so that I could keep an eye on it. The situation I am trying to avoid is a wall made out of two by fours, with a plumbing pipe running through it, that is all sealed up so you can’t see what is happening in there.
6.Visible plumbing. You know, I’d rather have slightly unsightly plumbing pipes running along the walls than to have them hidden inside the walls. I would certainly ask a plumber if this is possible. It’s a thought, anyway.
7.No chip board, plywood, oriented strand board, or other composite wood products made with a lot of glue and formaldehyde. Most of us have chemical sensitivities. I’m trying to find products that don’t off-gas a lot. Plus cellulose in general is food for toxic mold.
8.Whenever possible, I lean toward building products and technologies that are good for the environment.
Here is the List of Links:
(There are a lot of dome-shaped buildings in here. Domes or rounded roofs resist winds and storms. They solve the problem of the leaky, storm-damaged roof because there is no separate roof to blow off.)
Here is a page that lists a lot of yurt manufacturers:
Styrofoam dome houses made in Japan. So far, they don’t seem to have a US distributor. I hope they are available here soon.
Steel buildings are usually used for garages and workshops, but they can also be made into homes. Here is one example of a good company for them:
These fabric shelters look really interesting:
Concrete dome houses:
Concrete and Polystyrene foam houses:
Here are some very modern houses that are put together like Tinkertoys. They really do make stick-built houses look obsolete. They aren’t cheap, but they are fast and easy to assemble.
The TomaHouse (some of the versions have no wood in them):
The IT House:
The ThermaSteel company makes foam and steel panels for walls and roofs. They make construction fast and easy. They look like a fabulous option for us, but they are not cheap.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) would be a mold-free way to construct a building. This company seems to be the best in the field. They offer a complete system of insulated foundation, walls, and roof.
This company makes an insulated, heated slab on grade foundation system.
Steel framing components might be a good alternative to conventional wood framing. Here is a general information website about steel framing:
Recycled steel beams for framing:
MagnesiaCore is an alternative for conventional drywall, for exterior sheathing, and for floor underlayment. It is made of magnesium oxide and creates waterproof yet breathable walls.
Plaster Max coating.This can be used to coat interior walls. They are working on an exterior product which will be applied like stucco.
Airkrete insulation is so environmentally friendly, Al Gore used it for his house.
When it comes to windows, it looks like aluminum or vinyl windows would be safe to use, but they don’t look very nice. I found several companies that make steel windows, which look very nice but probably cost a lot more:
Radiant electric heating looks like a nice way to heat a home without ductwork. This is the only company that says their product does not produce EMFs:
These small, elegant wall-mounted air-conditioners look like they would be great for a little cottage or well-insulated house:
This heat recovery ventilator seems to be the only brand that does not produce condensation, so it does not have a pan of water that needs to be emptied:
Another great idea is the tankless water heater. Instead of having a big boiler full of hot water, you just have a box on the wall that heats water only when you need it. Here are some articles about them:
I like the looks of these washer hoses. It would be nice to have washer hoses that won’t break and cause a flood in the laundry room.
Here are some building components that I am not sure about. I’ll include them here in case someone feels like they would be good:
Rammed earth seems to be popular in southwestern states:
Ceramic Houses; basically fired adobe:
Cobb Houses. The walls contain straw, but they are very inexpensive to build:
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Mold Free Home Building Ideas
Blog entry posted by Forebearance, Jun 19, 2012.