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Mold Free Home Building Ideas

Blog entry posted by Forebearance, Jun 19, 2012.

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:
http://www.yurtinfo.org/companies.php

Here is a new company that makes an emergency shelter for natural disasters. It is more sturdy than a tent, but can be assembled and taken down more easily than a house.
http://www.intershelter.com

Styrofoam dome houses made in Japan. So far, they don’t seem to have a US distributor. I hope they are available here soon.
http://www.i-domehouse.com/

They're here! The above company has finally arrived in the US!
So far it looks like they are offering their most basic model.
http://www.usadomes.com

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:
http://www.steelmasterusa.com/

These fabric shelters look really interesting:
http://www.bigtopshelters.com/index.htm

This company makes concrete dome houses, and also pre-built concrete dome cabins that they can ship anywhere.
http://www.monolithic.com/

Concrete and Polyurethane foam houses:
http://www.mustangconstruction.com/pages/concrete_Homes_Info.asp
They use walls and floors made by this company:
http://www.dukaneprecast.com/pdfs_design/DOUBLE-WALL.pdf

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):
http://www.tomahouse.com/

The IT House:
http://www.tkithouse.com/

Building Components:

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.
http://www.thermasteelcorp.com/

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.
http://www.nudura.com/en/nudurahome.aspx

This company makes an insulated, heated slab on grade foundation system.
http://www.legalett.ca
http://www.amcfoam.com/PDFs/The_Legalett_Way.pdf

Steel framing components might be a good alternative to conventional wood framing. Here is a general information website about steel framing:
http://www.steelframing.org/index.php

Recycled steel beams for framing:
http://www.cmcsteelproducts.com/About.html

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.
http://www.magnesiacore.com/

Plaster Max coating.This can be used to coat interior walls. They are working on an exterior product which will be applied like stucco.
http://gigacrete.com/

Airkrete insulation is so environmentally friendly, Al Gore used it for his house.
http://www.airkrete.com/

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:
http://www.steelwindowsanddoors.com/
http://www.torrancesteelwindow.com/
http://www.hopeswindows.com/products/prodhome_res.shtml
http://www.visionswindows.com/

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:
http://www.suntouch.com/

These small, elegant wall-mounted air-conditioners look like they would be great for a little cottage or well-insulated house:
http://www.fujitsugeneral.com/wallmounted.htm
http://www.mitsubishicomfort.com/

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:
http://www.renewaire.com

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:
http://www.tanklesswaterheaterguide.com/
http://homerepair.about.com/od/plumbingrepair/ss/tankless_hwh.htm

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.
http://www.safehomeproducts.com/shp2/shpsearch.aspx?kw=washer+hoses

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:
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/rammedearth.htm

Ceramic Houses; basically fired adobe:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic_houses

Cobb Houses. The walls contain straw, but they are very inexpensive to build:
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/cob.htm

Stone Building:
http://www.hollowtop.com/cls_html/limited.htm
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Modern-Homesteading/1981-11-01/Seven-Reasons-to-Prefer-Stone-Building.aspx
http://www.grannysstore.com/Do-It-Yourself/stone_masonry.htm
http://www.kohlerandlewis.com/joe/SH.htm
Jarod, BFG, merylg and 1 other person like this.
Forebearance

About the Author

I've had ME/CFS for 24 years. I'm looking forward to the day when I can settle down in a nice, non-moldy home.
  1. Forebearance
    Oh joy! The International Dome House Company has finally arrived in the US!
    We can now buy their most basic model, which is a small dome house perfect for an inexpensive home that can be cusomized to be free of any toxins or irritants.
  2. Forebearance
    I am just figuring out that prefab concrete manufacturers might only ship to places near their factory. So even though the one used by Mustang Construction in Naperville, IL looks great, they wouldn't ship to my state. I wonder if I should consider moving to that suburb called Bolingbrook in IL where they have built all concrete houses???
  3. Forebearance
    Hey, thanks for letting me/us know!
    Although I don't know if it would be mold-free enough for someone like me. But it's so great to see awareness of the problem. I dream of the day when buildings are made without conventional drywall and sticks.
  4. Skyline
    There is a mold free construction certification - GreenGuard now. It looks like its getting a fair amount of attention.
    http://www.greenguard.org
  5. Forebearance
    That is very cool, Cornichon! Would you be willing to give us a link to your post about chemical-free finishes? I haven't done much research on them yet.

    I have heard from people with mold sensitivities who have used that anti-mold paint that it just causes even worse, more toxic kinds of mold to grow. Maybe because it feeds on the chemicals.
  6. Cornichon
    I would definitely avoid any paint with mildewcide added to it. It is full of VOCs. I write a post that goes through all the chemical-free finishes available if anyone is interested in that.
    SickOfSickness likes this.
  7. Forebearance
    You're welcome!
    I guess some people might prefer not to use air conditioners at all. Maybe you could build on top of a hill where the breezes are good and put in lots of windows?
    Yes, I didn't get into paints and varnishes on this list, but I know they are important to many of us. I have heard that about mildew-resistant paints, also.
  8. SickOfSickness
    I am interested in all this. Thanks for all the great links.

    I agree ductwork is bad, but window air conditioners grow mold too.

    Another topic to consider is paints and varnishes if any are used. I was told that mildew-resistant paints are horrible as they will grow tougher resistant strains.
    Cornichon likes this.
  9. Forebearance
    I wish I had some Australian resources for you, Tania!
  10. taniaaust1
    I think the mold issue is a big one for most of us even thou many may not be realising it.