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My 500 s.f. round studio

Posted by elisabeth_pinelake (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 16, 13 at 22:08

My husband and I got married last year and have to add on to his house to live together - it's a 1 BR, 1 BA. We decided to build a separate studio Accessory Dwelling Unit, because I have cats to which he is seriously allergic, and in any case his dog can't be trusted with them.

So we have put a down payment on a 500 s.f. Deltec, which is a 10-sided structure in which the only load bearing walls are the exterior walls. It will have a bathroom and a bedroom alcove of 125 s.f. but otherwise be one large room. It's modular; you buy the shell and finish on-site.

I want to keep the bathroom to no more than 50 square feet, and I want a curbless shower. I would be interested in opinions of shower stall that you can buy which have a flange that would depress when a wheelchair rolls over it, as opposed to a tiled shower, for which you have to cut into the floor joists to construct the kind of drain needed by a curbless shower. I am not sure you can do that with this kind of flooring system, from what the project manager said.

Also, anyone's experience with HVAC systems for such a small structure will be useful. My husband is interested in a wood stove, since he has a lot of wood, but I get migraines whenever he uses his fireplace, so I really am not. I know there are very expensive high-efficiency stoves which might not generate fumes, but for the price I am not interested in trying, and wood stoves are not really my look. A ductless Mitsubishi system was recommended. ANyone used this or something similar? What about when storms shut down the electricity?

We live near Atlanta, and it willl be located in a shady location. One of our first decisions has to be whether we want a vented roof, or an unvented roof with a radiant barrier. The radiant barrier has to be used with a kind of insulation that requires an unvented roof. I can't figure out whether the radiant barrier will really make much difference in this climate. It's not that expensive but - maybe it would be better to have a vented roof?

We are excited but pretty clueless about some aspects of this.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: My 500 s.f. round studio

You don't have to cut out the least we didn't have to for our shower. The contractor built up a slight incline to the bathroom floor and then a slight decline into the shower area.

My husband came down with some rare type of neuropathy (neurologist still doesn't know what caused it) and we had to modify our existing bathroom to be wheelchair/walker accessible. The shower works very well and we haven't had any problems.

Your new home/addition sounds great! I hope you post pictures, when you're done :)

RE: My 500 s.f. round studio

The best way to go for for HVAC would be a mini-split, or ductless system. Basically, you have an outside compressor, like a conventional system, but rather than having ductwork, you run refrigerant lines to a wall or ceiling unit which has a heat exchanger and fan. Some of these systems are very efficient, and can make full heat down to -5 F, and usable heat down to -13 F. Mitsubishi seems to be the industry leader.

If the power goes out, most HVAC systems will be down anyway. Even an oil burner needs power to run. You would either have to have a wood stove, or a gas/propane unit that could be lit manually. In our case, we have a decent generator which will be able to run the basics. Ductless AC systems draw very little power, so a mid-size generator will run it easily. They do make automated whole-house generators, but they are very expensive.

I prefer a vented roof in a hot, humid climate. As long as there is no ductwork in the attic, you insulate the ceiling, and let the attic breathe. In many new houses, they are still putting HVAC ductwork up in the hot attic (duh!) and that's when a radiant barrier is necessary. Being in the shade will help a lot on your climate.

RE: My 500 s.f. round studio

After reading your first paragraph it sounds to me like the two of you are highly incompatible. Maybe the best bet is to get rid of the cats?! LOL

The smell of a wood burning stove seems to make my headaches go away. Best of luck in your endevear.

RE: My 500 s.f. round studio


You NEVER get rid of the cats! They don't have to be walked and you can leave them alone for a couple of days (usually) without your house being trashed :)

RE: My 500 s.f. round studio

Hi Elisabeth --

We renovated a former workshop on a residential lot into a small studio apartment with a vaulted ceiling. For HVAC, we went with a ductless mini system that provides heat as well as air conditioning, both coming from a unit mounted over the entry door.

My fear that electric heating would prove horribly expensive turned out to be unfounded, partly because our winters have been mild of late but also because a reversible ceiling fan helps push to cool air up to the sleeping loft in the summer and drives the heat down to the floor in the winter.

The system has proven quite effective, and the tenant is fine with his electric bill.

Mitsubishi's Mr. Slim website has instructions for how to calculate the size compressor you need for the area you want to cool. In the third photo down in the linked post, you can see the compressor/air handler below the window to the left of the door. It is neither large nor noisy,

I hope you will show us your ten-sided wonder when it is in process.


Here is a link that might be useful: Kearny studio.

RE: My 500 s.f. round studio

Thanks everyone! HVAC probably will be ductless mini-split, and we have heard Mitsubishi is the industry leader. I want ceiling fans too.

I will certainly post pictures; I am very excited about the project. The shell is modular, but the inside has to be finished like any house.

We thought about renovating the garage, but the costs on this are known. We couldn't get anyone to give us any idea of the costs on the garage project. Also, right now, the garage is overwhelmingly humid and nasty. Presumably that can be corrected, but in the end I just had a bad feeling about it, despite the fact that using it would have meant not adding to impermeable surface space (we care a lot about stormwater runoff here).

One of the cool things about these houses is that the whole thing is supported entirely by the exterior walls - no interior load bearing walls, so you can redesign the interior at any time.

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