Question - I dream of building a unique circular house for its open, spacious interior and many windows. My budget is limited and building efficient curved walls is expensive. What do you suggest? - Jane T.
Answer - Most of the attractive contemporary circular houses you see do not have expensive curved walls. They are actually made of many low-cost, highly insulated wall panels that give the round appearance. Many models have many windows and optional decks and porches around the entire house.The interior design is even more attractive than the exterior. The circular exterior provides unique room shapes with many windows, balconies and cathedral ceilings. With no interior support walls needed in these houses, you can easily change the room layout as your family size changes.
Many of these houses are available in kits for easy, low-cost construction. All of the wall panels, floors and roofs are premade to your plans in a factory for excellent quality control. These kit houses are available in sizes from 600 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet.
In addition to being attractive and unique, a circular panelized house has many advantages over a standard rectangular house. For the same amount of interior floor space, a circular house has about 20 percent less exterior wall area. This reduces the material and labor costs.
Another advantage of the circular design is energy efficiency. With less exterior wall area, heating and cooling bills are lower. Cold winter winds flow smoothly around the house instead of leaking in and causing drafts. This circular design also withstands hurricane and tornado winds better.
With the circular shape, each room can have two windows at an angle to one another. This allows for cool cross-ventilation in every room. Many designs have a pagoda-style roof for natural exhaust ventilation in the summer.
Circular house kits are easy to build yourself since all the panels are designed to fit together perfectly. Most of the house manufacturers will send a construction supervisor to your site to help you or your builder. Several workmen can erect the walls and attach the roof over a weekend.
The most unique designs are built on a pedestal. The bedrooms are often on the first floor and the living area on the second floor for openness with skylights, vaulted ceilings, etc. The kits come complete with spiral staircases and super-insulated floor and roof panels.
The exterior is often finished with low-maintenance siding or stucco. Synthetic stone or brick siding can add attractive no-maintenance accents.
Write for (or instant download - www.dulley.com) Update Bulletin No. 576 - listing circular house kit manufacturers, eight floor plan layouts and exterior diagrams, sizes, prices and construction specifications. Please include $3 and a business-size SAE. James Dulley, Deseret News, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244
Question - I plan to add some fiberglass blanket insulation to my attic floor and I have to cut some short pieces to make a good fit. Is there any easy method to cut fiberglass insulation crisply and straight? - Bob K.
Answer - You have the right idea about installing insulation. It is very important to get a good tight fit without gaps. Just a few gaps can really reduce its effectiveness. Remember to wear gloves and a breathing mask.
Get a piece of scrap plywood that is longer than the width of the insulation. Saw a slot in the plywood. Lay the plywood over the insulation to compress it and then run your knife through the slot for a straight cut.