Housebuilding in Finland

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His Divine Shadow
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Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-09 03:29pm

So I've been building a house since last august, still ongoing infact. I've kept a photo journal of the entire project and figured I'd post some highlighs of the stuff here. I figure someone might be interested in seeing how construction practices differ between countries.

After going through a lot of paperwork and lots of land hunting we got a lot of 2340 square meters and a building permit. We'd settled on a house before this from a finnish construction firm called Hartman, which also has a range of hardware stores. This works in their favor as they where the only ones that offered a complete package, floor materials, kitchen interior, heating system and so forth.

We liked this because one of the aspects of house building I was not looking forward to was sourcing all those materials and services myself and having to keep track of everything, getting everything from one company also allowed us to control the budget much more effectively. It's so hard to plan for what this and that will cost when you have to deal with multiple firms, some of which is not just possible until the moment it's needed. This is all important stuff to know beforehand when you calculate your budget and loan that you will have to take. Reducing all these unknown variables = better sleep for me.

This is the first photo I got of the lot, we've cut down the trees (it was just forest when we started) and they will make for free firewood for a few years.
Image

What you're seeing here is the view from the house towards the south west corner, where municipial utilities are ready to be hooked up. We're digging a deep ditch thats's over two meters deep (gotta get below freezing depth) and then placing additional insulation over the pipes to put the chances of a freeze into the astronomically small, don't want your literal crap frozen in your pipe.
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What you're also seeing in the above photo is the exposed bedrock, the red stuff are markers where they will be blasting. And blast they did, what remained looked like this:
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Foundation
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Same deal with garage:
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The walls and roof have been raised:
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Roof stuff:
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Drywall is up:
Image
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Insulation is being put up (glass wool):
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Insulation is multi-layered and will follow this setup (outside to inside):
Paneling
Air space
Drywall
Glass wool insulation (150mm, what we are seeing)
Plastic moisture barrier
Glass wool insulation (40-50mm)
Plywood
Drywall

Paneling and roof:
Image

Inside plumbing and floor heating system (hydronic):
Image

Image

Concrete floor plate has been cast:
Image

Interior walls and electric stuff, this will be the kitchen
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Windows are layered 3 panes deep with the 2 interior ones being hermetically sealed and filled with argon or vacuum:
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Side wiev, there will be a terrace on the back and the whole side of this house:
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First serious snow didn't come until january, it was -20C when I took this:
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Gutters and drains are being installed:
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And a ladder (required by law for the chimney sweeper):
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This arrived this friday, it's a Nibe F1245 heat pump, it will supply us with all our heating and hot water needs, it gets it's energy from the ground, we have outside a 130 meters deep bore hole with a heat exchanger going down into the earth and extracting heat from the ground water, this is heated up to 60 degrees or more via consecutive cycles of heat exchanging.

So this pump produces net energy, a small amount of electricity is required to run it but in return it can extract enough heat from the ground water to heat the whole house (also its how water supply) for most of the year. In the coldest winter times the pump might have to turn on the electric cartridge it's equipped with if the energy from the bore hole is not enough.

Ofcourse we also have a wood fired heater to help avoid just that situation.

Anyway this is as far as we've gotten in the house building project, plan to be ready in summer 2014 however. I've simplified a lot here and left out lots of information, if there are questions I will do my best to answer them.

And of course it's for these little tykes we're building a house to begin with:
David:
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(not a burka, just winter clothing, besides he's a guy)

Daniel:
Image


(edited to add a picture of the heat pump)
Last edited by His Divine Shadow on 2014-02-13 05:00am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Tritio » 2014-02-10 09:48pm

Thank you for the informative post. It is nice to see how such things are done in other countries.

Small questions:
- I noticed that for the water pipes for heating the floor has red and blue pipes, presumably for hot and cold water respectively. I was wondering if this system can be used to cool the house during hot weather as well? Living in a tropical country, I always wondered if there was an alternative to air conditioning.
- The heat pump is very interesting. It's incredible that it could take care of both your heating and water needs all year round and even provide electricity for itself. Is the hot groundwater a characteristic of the area in which you built your house or is it common in Finland?
- How far does the sewage pipe run and what does it connect to? A larger sewage pipe? A sewage plant? Does it have a pump to push it along? I've always wondered how isolated houses dealt with this issue.
- If you don't mind, could you share a rough estimate of how much the land and the house costs?

Thank you!

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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-11 12:17am

Tritio wrote:- I noticed that for the water pipes for heating the floor has red and blue pipes, presumably for hot and cold water respectively. I was wondering if this system can be used to cool the house during hot weather as well? Living in a tropical country, I always wondered if there was an alternative to air conditioning.


That is a correct observation yes, but no the system cannot be used to cool the house, I wondered the same but apparently there'd be issues with condensation and the like.

They do have an optional system that works like that, it's sort of like a fan that blows cold air through the house. We did not opt for this however, air conditioning or similar systems are not really needed here even during summer IMO. Usually when it gets real hot for those few days per year we'll run ordinary fans and keep the windows open and whatnot.

The biggest issue I have during late summer is moisture and how "muggy" everything gets, but I am told that running the wood burning stove at a low burn will suck the moisture out of the house, so even for that it looks like we do not need AC.

- The heat pump is very interesting. It's incredible that it could take care of both your heating and water needs all year round and even provide electricity for itself. Is the hot groundwater a characteristic of the area in which you built your house or is it common in Finland?


Sorry, the pump does not provide electricity for itself, I just meant that the amount of energy you get out of it is larger than the electricity it takes to run it. The ground water is only 4-6 degrees celsius, which is what it ought to be around most of the world. The ground water stays the same temperature all year round and is warmed by the sun, so this is really solar power in a roundabout way.

The pump is able to extract the heat energy from the water very efficiently, the incoming fluid can be 4-6 degrees but when it goes back down into the borehole it can be at freezing or below freezing (the fluid is brine or similar, it's in a closed loop that goes all the way down the borehole).

Here are some pictures that give an idea of how the system works:
Image

Image

- How far does the sewage pipe run and what does it connect to? A larger sewage pipe? A sewage plant? Does it have a pump to push it along? I've always wondered how isolated houses dealt with this issue.


It is hooked up to the municipial waste system, we have the pipe at a good incline as we're in a hill and the connection point is below us, so it will be self-moving. Requirements for your own waste handling are different and currently in a state of redoing in Finland to become stricter.

- If you don't mind, could you share a rough estimate of how much the land and the house costs?!


The land was bought from the municipality at 6 euros per square meter, which is cheap even by local standards. Our total budget is somewhere around 230k for this project.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Tritio » 2014-02-11 12:41am

Thank you for your kind reply. :)

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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby madd0ct0r » 2014-02-11 05:33am

ring beam or raft foundation?

I'm guessing they blasted the rock back about a meter and then pea gravel over the top. frost heave?
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-11 06:05am

I googled those terms but neither seems like it fits the foundation type. I dunno if this particular type has a name, in talking to swedes it seems this type is not common there either so it might be a finnish design.

I can only describe it's function; On the outside it's a concrete poured foundation with rebar reinforcement and the inside is vertically insulated as the pictures indicate. The inside is filled with gravel & compacted, then insulation is put over that, then another concrete plate is cast in over the insulation, this plate is then the interior floor.

Advantage of doing it like this is that the interior plate is now insulated from all outward directions and raised from the ground, this is important when the plate will be heated and provide the heating in the house. Water will also drain down through the gravel away from the floor to protect against water incursion. Seen from outside, about half the foundation will be visible above ground when it's done.

This cross section shows the design, to the right it shows the cross section for the house foundation, the left portion shows a cross section of the support beams that the terrace will stand on:
Image

Frost heave is not a problem as the ground underneath is bedrock and the gravel is drained of water, in addition the ground for 1 meter outside the house is layered with insulation below the topsoil so the cold will actually never come in below the house. There is also a layer of plastic above the insulation that will lead water away from the house. In the picture above you can see the insulation pictured as well, if you can interpret it, it's in finnish (and some swedish).

Outside the house we also have underground pipes that collect and drain away water, this map shows the drainage system for our yard as well as water inlet and waste outlet:
Image
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Broomstick » 2014-02-11 07:02pm

I wish my current residence was as well insulated. So does my landlord, it would really cut down on the heating bills. Alas, it was built in a different time when fuel was cheaper...

And no, you don't want your waste output pipe to freeze. Very bad. Happened to us a few years ago. During a blizzard. We did have a work around, but, OMG, don't want to do that again, I like being able to flush the toilet.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-12 12:35am

Oh yeah energy efficiency is everything to me, and most other people in Finland too. Always rising fuel prices across the board will do that.

In addition to all the insulation and triple layered windows, we also have an air pump that cycles the air through the house, it's designed so all the air from the house is lead out via one spot and lead in via another. Air pressure in the house will be slightly positive IIRC, so cold air won't leak in. But the main thing here is that the pump has a built in heat exchanger that recycles 70% of the heat from the outgoing air and heats up the incoming air with it.

The wood fired masonry heater we are also getting is designed so that the smoke passes through many loops and imparts it's energy ito the stones of the heater before leaving, it's a traditional nordic design. I've had (american) people ask me why we're getting a wood fired heater when we have floor heating and a heat pump, which to me seems a weird way to phrase it. I would say it's the other way around, why not get one if you have the ability to? What's more luxurious than a fire going in your home? Also cheap way to supplement the heat.

This is the model we're getting:
Image
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Eleas » 2014-02-12 04:54am

I am so jealous of you. I'd love to have a house, and this one looks nice and big, not to mention efficiently constructed. Should last you a good long while.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Broomstick » 2014-02-12 06:20am

Question: what happens if the power goes out? How does that affect all these systems?

(Although the insulation and wood fueled heater would certainly help keep it habitable)
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-12 07:44am

They stop running and the house gets cold, we can keep it going with the wood burning heater indefinitely however.

The house size is 137 square meters, that's the total area, living space is 121 square meters (1302 feet). Quite likely smaller than most american homes, but a comfy middle ground for homes here. Here is a blue print, linked due to giant size:
http://i.imgur.com/EntkMqK.jpg

Here are also display models of the same type of house and garage:
Image

Image

(edited to add the word 'feet')
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby madd0ct0r » 2014-02-12 07:52am

ring beam with floating slab - they're putting in a very simialar set of houses just down the road from me. cocking lovely :)
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Lagmonster » 2014-02-12 10:01am

I'm curious about those blueprints. I could clearly make out two bathrooms, but neither had obvious bathing or showering facilities. By comparison, this is the floorplan of my home; you can clearly make out baths/showers in the upstairs bathrooms: Adobe PDF image file. Is there something I'm overlooking on your plans?

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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-12 12:00pm

The shower is in the corner of the bathroom to the lower left, the other small room next to it is a sauna, with another wood fired heater.
The smaller bathroom is just a toilet. The shower is of this model, we also have similar floor tile but other than that it's not like this bathroom:

Image

The bathing facilities in this house will be simple, we won't have space for a bathtub but we got a sauna instead. I have considered a hot tub built into the back of the terrace, but probably gas fired or electric. I work for a hot tub company after all.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Broomstick » 2014-02-12 07:45pm

Of course there is a sauna - it's in Finland!

Actually, despite what you hear about McMansions and huge American homes, that area of living space is actually fairly typical in many locations.

I love the energy efficiency of the place.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Lord Revan » 2014-02-13 04:40am

Broomstick wrote:Of course there is a sauna - it's in Finland!

Actually, despite what you hear about McMansions and huge American homes, that area of living space is actually fairly typical in many locations.

I love the energy efficiency of the place.

it might surprise you that my last apartment didn't have a sauna, well at least there wasn't one in the apartment itself and that's not that atypical for a multistory apartment block like the one I used to live in. Granted my current apartment does have a sauna just not a big one, also where I live at moment is by far the most populated area in Finland so homes tend to be smaller then where His Divine Shadow lives in the more or less middle part of Finland if his location is accurate.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-13 04:58am

I'm south of Vasa now, 20-25km or so.

Addon:
Just hired the guys building the house to also build further on the garage. We where supposed to have built it the rest of the way ourselves but I lack the skills, my dad is pretty good at this and I was gonna get his help but they are in Egypt for a month so we weren't to begin until March. But with the warm weather and all the moisture it's caused the builders said they where worried the material would be ruined sitting there until we where ready, so they've offered to build it for us.

The foreman* I've hired said the prices they gave us where good deals so I accepted.

* = In Finland it's the law, that when building a house, the owner hires a foreman/representative, he has to have the relevant education in building/construction and experience in the field. This person will occasionally inspect the building site and make sure you are getting your moneys worth and that things are built to code. It's illegal for the company to supply such a person due to issue of bias. In addition the municipality will also inspect the construction site three times.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-13 05:29am

We have been going over the house with an interior designer (included in the package price) and she sent us some CAD renderings of the kitchen, it's not entirely correct, the floor should be tiled, the dishwasher doesn't entierly fit the way it should and there is no bench on top of it, and the bench is the wrong color too and a bunch of other small things, it's just a rough representation is what I'm trying to say.

Image

Image

I was there last night and saw they have installed the door to the laundry room at last, but I forgot my camera, infact I have forgotten it again today.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Lord Revan » 2014-02-13 10:50am

Btw just for reference my apartment is about 45 m2 or so, granted it's for a single guy without children, not a family and I live in Espoo which is the second largest city in Finland.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Broomstick » 2014-02-13 04:19pm

Lord Revan wrote:it might surprise you that my last apartment didn't have a sauna, well at least there wasn't one in the apartment itself and that's not that atypical for a multistory apartment block like the one I used to live in.

Well, not really, but Finns having saunas is a bit of a stereotype. :wink:
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Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby fgalkin » 2014-02-13 07:48pm

Broomstick wrote:Well, not really, but Finns having saunas is a bit of a stereotype. :wink:

. Granted my current apartment does have a sauna just not a big one,

He has a sauna in his 45m^2 apt! You can't get any more Finnish than that!

Have a very nice day.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Broomstick » 2014-02-13 08:03pm

Forget the apartment, just live in the sauna!

Which sounds very appealing right now, as this is the first day in weeks we've been as high as -5C. Feels almost like a heat wave.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Edi » 2014-02-14 03:41am

Many newer buildings have saunas included even in two room apartments. Older apartment block buildings, such as the one I live in (built in 1960), usually have a communal sauna (ours has two, because it's actually two block buildings and each has its own). You reserve a time slot for that if there are free ones and pay a monthly fee for it.
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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2014-02-14 04:36am

The sauna was one of the first things we customized, standard offering was electric heated and we converted it to a wood fired one.

Also got some new CAD stuff from the interior planner, we redid the laundry room to have a bigger bench because the standard design included a washer and a dryer on top of each other, we don't want a dryer. We both felt a dryer was a waste of space and electricity hog. We both prefer clothes dryed by clothesline, I think they feel crisper and thus "clean" while clothes from the dryer feel soft as if I've worn them for days already.

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Re: Housebuilding in Finland

Postby Lonestar » 2014-02-14 11:55am

His Divine Shadow wrote:
Image

Image



Why is the dishwasher so high off the deck like that? Is that common in Finland? Usually in the States it just sits on the floor.
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