Author Topic: Thinking of building a new home  (Read 17991 times)

Offline hillclimber

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Thinking of building a new home
« on: October 25, 2009, 12:29:54 PM »
Ok, here’s the deal...
My wife and I are thinking of making some changes, specifically building a new home.
Or intent is to sell our current home, pay off all our present debt, and build a log home on land that we already own.
The new home will be designed with “off-grid” living in mind. We may hook up to the power grid initially, but our plan is to be completely independent after our youngest child moves out.

So, here’s my question... If you were going to start over and design and build your “dream home”, what features would you incorporate??
Our present home is set up pretty well right now. We have our own septic system, two wells (one drilled well with a pump, the other is a gravity feed which can be used with the turn of a valve in my basement). Heat is forced hot air and wood-stove in the basement.
I also wired up an electrical box outside that lets me hook up my generator and power the whole house. The only two things we haven’t done would be to switch over to L.P. gas for stove/ hot water/  refrigerator, and install a solar power system.
As you can imagine that stuff will be included in the new house from the get go, as well as a big iron gate.

So what do you think?
I have a few ideas that I’m kicking around myself.
The goal is to be free of debt, with only property taxes to pay.
   

Offline antsyaunt

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2009, 12:55:57 PM »
I would seriously consider a home built by this group:  http://www.brightbuiltbarn.com/

Offline idelphic

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2009, 07:14:50 PM »
Depending on the area of your build will depend on many of the technologies you include.  not to mention price.

Rain water collection.
GeoThermal
Solar Tubes
Solar PV
Wind genny
radiant floor heat
back up room lighting (low voltage 'don't stub your toe' lights)
gray water system
2 car garage with 2 doors, if electric openers, on back up (off grid, power won't really matter much though)
make sure to full wire house with cables..  try to pre wire for multi zone sound / intercom

Use metal where you can, some areas will reduce insurance.
sprinkler (why not)
video security my be nice.

(just built my house 5 years ago,.. this is many of the things I wished I had been able to include.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2009, 08:05:41 PM »
Go with 8ft tall garage doors. 7 ft sucks. You cant pull in anything tall.

Offline CGFxColoneill

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2009, 08:40:33 PM »
Go with 8ft tall garage doors. 7 ft sucks. You cant pull in anything tall.
also if you are like almost everyone I have ever met get an extra at least half car preferably full car added on to what you plan on parking in it, given that the ratings are with almost nothing on the sides of the cars, ie a 2 car garage is only good for 2 cars if you keep the sides clear or dont mind the odd banged up door :P


Offline chris

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2009, 08:58:32 PM »
I would seriously consider a home built by this group:  http://www.brightbuiltbarn.com/

Unless you've got $200K laying around, you aren't building one of theirs without debt. Plus land and site work.  :o

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2009, 02:01:34 PM »
I've seen their stuff on the local news, and I'm not really all that impressed, but that's me.
The home will have LP gas and wood heat.
I'm thinking of a plastic water tank mounted upstairs hooked directly to the plumbing.
That way when I have to run the generator (or during the times I'm making the most power) I can fill the tank and have gravity feed without running the pump most of the time.
I'm not all that worried about the garage yet. I'll have one eventually, but I've lived without one for so long now that I'm used to it.

Offline Greatswampa

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2009, 12:25:32 AM »
I would suggest radiant heat with maybe a outdoor furnace. Also maybe a cistern (say 1000 gallon) and a dc pump, so then you could run a pressurized system. Or you could still run a gravity feed and pump it full with the 12dc pump and not have to run the gen so often.
I know when i ran gravity feed with a 55 gallon plastic tank (like a sap tank) it was a pain in the butt to start the gen every few days. Also you might consider some backup for solar, unless you plan on getting alot of panels.  I guess there is no end to suggesting if you have the money, but here my last two cents, build what you can afford, learn to live with less and keep your butt out of debt. That way you have more time for hunting. ;D
Greatswampa

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2009, 04:05:29 PM »
Well, I've doing alot of research and getting quotes, and it looks like things are goung to be much easier than I figured.
By designing the home with the idea of being "off grid" in mind, it looks like I'll be way ahead of the game.
The soar system will be pretty expensive, but it will carry most of the load. I'm looking at spending aroud $30,000
on the solar alone.
The house will be wired up for 110 power, but fed with twin inverters, 24 batteries, and 16 rack mounted panels.
The propane water heater will be a tankless model that uses no electrical power. It provides 120 - 140 degree non stop.
The kitchen oven/stove will be propane as will the clothes dryer. The well will be a regular drilled well, with a 110 powered pump equiped with a "soft start/VFD". The water tank will be a 75gallon pressure tank. This will be much easier on the well pump.

So, here's the list so far....

Solar system-$30,000
Plumbing-$8,000
Electrician- $4,500
Drilled well/pump/water tank-$10,000
Generator-$7,000

Still waiting on price for 2 flu chimney, prarie princess cook stove, large cast iron woodstove for the basement.
L.P. gas stuff and instalation costs.
Excavation work/foundation/ septic system.
Not to mention the log cabin kit. I'm thinking 24'x34' on a daylight basement, a 12/12 pitch roof with a 24'x24' loft, also a large deck on the front that will be covered buy an extension of the roof.

Lol. I'll keep you posted. 8)

Offline SPLIT_LIFE

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2010, 10:14:14 AM »
You really should consider your insulation.

With a Passivehouse  http://www.passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/PHIUSHome.html

you will be spending money on insulation, not 2 wood stoves.



Offline survivininct

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2010, 11:26:58 AM »
Where is said home going to be located?  Look into pray foam (preferably high density) insulation if your going to be doing any heating.  It works real well!

Offline ogreboy

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2010, 12:42:21 PM »
Use the things that nature gives you such as the sun light, try to optimize to use day light.  Ground insulation, it sounds like you are going to have an open basement, which should keep heating cost down by using the ground to insulate 2 or 3 sides of the house.  I don't know if insulated concrete forms will work where you are but that could help you heating bill too.  I was thinking about building an almost entirely underground house because of the wonderful insulation, or just put in on the side of a hill and have one face of the house exposed.  As far as water goes use gravity as much as possible, like rain collection from the roof and a cistern up high so you don't need electricity for water pressure.  Think about passive solar heating and how you can use air flow in your house to help heat and cool.  Lots of this stuff doesn't cost tons of extra money but its really hard to implement later.

I don't know how much space you will have around your house site, but think about your garden, barn, orchard, etc, in relation to how often you will need to access them, and some of the land features that may be necessary like a stream, pond or shade trees.  Plant trees as soon as possible and use existing trees as much as possible. 

It sounds like you will have a really nice set up when you are done, I hope you get the house just they way you want it to be, I'm very jealous.   Good luck.

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2010, 04:14:12 PM »
Our last house had solar hot water and it was wonderful. In 6 years we only had to switch to the backup electric water heater twice for company. Why we didnt do that here when we built I will never know but we've kicked ourselves lots over it.

Offline Uncle Bob (he ain’t right)

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2010, 05:22:11 PM »
I spent two years designing log homes for a local distributor. I just have to say this. They are high maintenance. Plan on living with a caulking gun in one hand and a bucket of wood sealer in the other.

If you want the look of logs and less maintenance + more energy efficient stick build it with 2x6 walls and Icynene® insulation then cover the house with cypress log siding (cypress is rot and insect resistant and weathers to a nice gray) you can even buy solid logs and cut solid log tails so you can have the traditional corners. To get the log look inside just use bevel edge 8" wood on the inside walls.
Remembering the inside and outside will need sheeted with plywood for a base for the wood.
Heres a link to the insulation
www.icynene.com
I would also advise triple pain windows.
As far as heat, if natural gas is not available go LP with a heat pump.

Offline Cool Blue

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2010, 05:45:44 PM »
That's awesome, please keep us updated. I'm hoping on doing this in a few years myself.

I was wondering if you guys could comment on:

1) saving up, buying land and building a new house

vs

2) buying a land and house and upgrading it over a few years?


It should be easy for me to find a property around here with a few of the stuff I'm looking for.


Offline “Mark”

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2010, 08:08:10 PM »
I haven't built a house myself, but I've lived in so many places, I know what I want.

I would build at least partially underground. It drastically cuts down on heating and cooling expenses. The simplest way to do that is to think of a walk out basement with a roof on top. You can also go fully subterranean, with either sky lights or the south wall exposed, and I would do both. Doing some rough math, I've calculated that it's possible to heat such a home even in -40 by sunlight alone, if you properly insulate it and use triple pane windows for half the surface area of the south wall. Of course, I would throw in a wood stove for supplemental heating for storms. Such a home also has the advantage of never going below freezing in the winter, so you can leave for winter and not have to worry about broken pipes, etc. Also, if you build a concrete shell, you have less of a fire hazard. Concrete burns very poorly after all!

Secondly, as with all homes with an underground component, moisture and radon are concerns. Rather than open doors to move the air, I would put in an air exchanger. A good air exchangers will conserve over 90% of the heat, which allows you to save a lot of money. I'm sure we've all had to open a window in winter to get fresh air, which is silly. If you're already going forced air, I'd certainly consider getting an air exchanger.

Thirdly, I would put in a lot of south windows, even if you build above ground. Just make sure to build some kind of overhang to prevent the summer sun from shining directly into the house. Any decent architect will know how to figure that out. Along with sunlight being great for your mental well being, UVB lowers your cholesterol in the synthesis of vitamin D.

Fourthly, if building above ground, put a cupola in a central area or stairwell of the house. In summer, they do an excellent job of pulling hot air out of the house with just a gentle breeze. Even if on-grid, the air-conditioning savings are worth the extra roofing costs. Before air-conditioning, this was the primary way of cooling a house in a hot climate down.

Fifth, I like the cistern in the roof idea. My grand parents had this in their old place. Two things: make sure you can seal it tightly, so mice don't get in; and build an overflow (into the bathtub works, which is what they did). Someone might get a cold surprise with the latter, but it's better than thousands in damage. I wouldn't tie the overflow directly into the septic, as you don't want gases and odors getting into your water. The only downfall is a lack of water pressure for a high pressure shower. My grand parents used a 10 HP Honda pump to fill the tank every other day or so from the artisan well about 100 ft below the house, and would time how many minutes of pumping it would take to fill the tank.

Sixth, I would build much rather build atop a dry breezy hill than in a still moist valley. Why? Fewer bugs. Chickens can't eat them all.

Seventh, I would go solar for electricity. I plan to live in a sunny environment, so it just makes sense.

Eighth, use solar hot water. Make it bypassable for the winter. And use copper on the output, because plastic will melt.

Ninth, I would use propane appliances. Propane is excellent for cooking and instant-on hot water heating (good for winter). You can run a propane refrigerator for less than 2 lb/day. You can also get propane lights, but they put out a lot of heat and moisture, and don't really compete with solar. My grand parents had them and the light was bright and pleasant, but the thorium mantles got fragile after use, and solar is certainly cheaper now and more convenient.

Tenth, insulate like crazy. There's no reason not to. My grand parents heated about 2000 sq ft with an armload of firewood a day. R20 in the walls, R40 in the ceiling. Just make sure the air circulation will be good if you seal things up tight. The back two rooms in their place ended up with moisture problems because the heat from the fireplace never heated them as well. A well insulated roof also avoids the formation of ice damns on the overhangs in cold weather. Ice dams can damage the roof from their weight, and can also cause water to flow backwards up a roof, possibly finding new places to leak. This is the purpose for the paper they put down under shingles.

Eleventh, avoid hallways. Try to have everything come off the main room, even in a more formal layout. Hallways waste space, and they inhibit air flow.

Twelfth, always give air a way to return to your heat source. With a fireplace, put some kind of vent at ceiling and at floor level in every room. Not only does it draw heat into the rooms, it also draws moisture out. This especially applies to any moist room, like a kitchen or bathroom. I might put the toilet in a separate room with a vent fan though.

Thirteenth, build a cold room in the basement. It's nothing more than a well-sealed room that's insulated from the house and not the ground. It may not be cold enough to keep all your food, but it's certainly cold enough for your beer.

Fourteenth, use a light-coloured roof. There's no sense fighting the solar gain of a dark roof in the summer. If you live near a forest or an area that gets hail, I would strongly consider a tin roof. It will hold up better to hail stones and won't catch fire from falling embers. Snow also slides off easier, so be mindful of what you place under the eves. Ask your insurance company what kind of savings a tin roof gives when factoring the costs.

Lastly, build small. It's cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain, and easier to clean. Also, the amount of stuff we have tends to grow to the size of the space we have, so if you have less space, you'll buy less stuff.




As an aside, if I mention my grand parents a lot, I guess it's because they really did live off the grid. They've had a prepper mindset most of their lives. Backwoods Home Magazine was the first place my Grandpa got poetry published. He also wrote an article on root cellars for their 18th issue.

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2010, 10:00:30 PM »
I am considering building my next home, and want many of the features you are considering.

I am considering a partially earth coupled house (i.e. underground). Ideally I would do a three story home with
a completely underground basement, a ground floor with earth on three sides and a patio with quite a few windows
on the south facing side, kinda set into a hill. The support structure will be red iron, and the walls are planned to be
made with insulated concrete forms. The roof is planned to be steel with some of it covered with thin film solar panels
that can produce 2000 W. The overall solar system is planned to be 8000 watts, but much of it will serve the detached
garage/workshop(machine shop), planned to have 2000 watts on the roof of the shop, and 4000 watts on poles.

I would like to have more than one well, with one very close to the house and one away from the house. I am currently
looking at ~10 acres, in a long skinny configuration to accomodate a grass runway.


Offline Spamity Calamity

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2010, 10:12:33 PM »
I would want a moat. Also a lifesize statue depicting a much fitter version of me wearing a roman tunic and wrestling a tiger.

Offline CGFxColoneill

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2010, 10:26:12 PM »
not to go to far off topic but I am getting a very hobbit hole vibe from some of your posts

all or mostly underground and being prepers they will of course have rooms full of food:P


Offline “Mark”

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2010, 11:35:29 PM »
not to go to far off topic but I am getting a very hobbit hole vibe from some of your posts

all or mostly underground and being prepers they will of course have rooms full of food:P

We tend to be practical people. There's a lot of practical things about earth sheltering your home, especially from a sustainability standpoint. If you're not after a McMansion, might as well go for efficiency. That's sustainable more from an effort standpoint than anything else. The less dependent on burning something to heat your house, for instance, the less time you spend chopping wood, or the less money you have to earn to buy fuel.

Offline phargolf

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2010, 10:06:01 AM »
I noticed in the original post that you had 2 wells-1 mechanical and 1 elbow grease. But no mention of this in your new home list. Please consider adding this to your new home, electric pumping of your water is fine as long as everything works, but what happens when it doesn't. The human body MUST have water. Just my .02 :D

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2010, 08:52:20 PM »
not to go to far off topic but I am getting a very hobbit hole vibe from some of your posts

all or mostly underground and being prepers they will of course have rooms full of food:P
Maybe it sounds that way, but that is not what i have in mind at all. I have more a picture of a home
set into a hill with quite a few south facing windows on the exposed side of the second level (which is earth
bermed on the other three sides) with a large ground floor patio (with hot tub on the patio). Only the bottom
level is intended to be completely underground, which I plan to be the bedrooms, and home theatre since sleeping
and movie watching are often done in the dark.

This design is something I wanted to do before I became involved with preparedness for the energy efficiency
benefits. I love to be cool and a basement or earth sheltered home is easy to cool and heat. The third level
will be the completely above ground level and will appear like a conventional home from the from front.

Offline “Mark”

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2010, 01:07:55 AM »
Only the bottom level is intended to be completely underground, which I plan to be the bedrooms, and home theatre since sleeping
and movie watching are often done in the dark.

I would reconsider putting our bedrooms down there. First, there's the radon hazard. Second, is fire hazard. Code in most places requires that all bedrooms have at least two exits, mainly because a fire can get bad while people are still sleeping.

Offline Taylor3006

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2010, 01:17:09 AM »
I would reconsider putting our bedrooms down there. First, there's the radon hazard. Second, is fire hazard. Code in most places requires that all bedrooms have at least two exits, mainly because a fire can get bad while people are still sleeping.

Couldn't agree more with this. Personally I would put the kitchen, pantry, a full bath, a storage area for yer survival stuff, and something like a family room down there. You can sleep anywhere, cooking in a bedroom could be tough in normal times. Course that is in case of a situation where you are sheltering from fallout or the like. Good luck!

Offline survivininct

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2010, 01:25:24 PM »
To protect from fall out, you need a few feet of dirt above you head - being in a bermed up room with just a couple floors and a roof over your head won't cut it!  Remember fall out comes from above!  You need a true - underground room with a way in that also allows for 3' of earth shielding as well (like a "L" arrangement).

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2010, 02:33:35 PM »
To protect from fall out, you need a few feet of dirt above you head - being in a bermed up room with just a couple floors and a roof over your head won't cut it!  Remember fall out comes from above!  You need a true - underground room with a way in that also allows for 3' of earth shielding as well (like a "L" arrangement).
I don't really intend it as a fallout shelter, plan to have that, but as protection from more likely threats in this area, namely tornadoes.

The earth coupling has nothing to do with use as a fallout shelter and everything to do with energy efficiency and the ability to be self sufficient on energy while being able to operate a small machine shop.

But, fallout originates in the particles, the roof sprinkler system can wash the fallout away from directly overhead. Additionally the floors will be concrete, and approximately 6-9" thick to accomodate tubing in the flooring for radiant heating, which I think is equivalent to at least a few feet of dirt. It really is a secondary concern though, energy efficiency and tornado protection is first.
I appreciate all the feedback, the project as spec'd right now is looking to be over 300,000 for just the construction of the residence, so I want to do it right. It will be 203 years fbefore I have the money so there is time to make changes and do it better.

Offline Who...me?

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2010, 03:36:35 PM »
Quote
It will be 203 years fbefore I have the money so there is time to make changes and do it better.

Is that Two-hundred-three years or 2 to 3 years?

Offline chrisdfw

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2010, 08:33:00 PM »
Is that Two-hundred-three years or 2 to 3 years?

I meant 2-3 years, but at the rate the government is printing money and devaluing things, perhaps
203 is more phophetic.

willy

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #28 on: January 07, 2010, 02:21:07 AM »
I have my own construction company, have built many homes for people and one for my self. We , my wife and I intend to sell it. What I have learned over 20 years of this industry, is that you as the home owner have to make a decition of how you want to live. Ask your self what way will you support your self should every thing you have crumble right now.
I presently am in financial trouble with credit cards and don't know if i will make it out gracefully. I have quickly learned that this home i built with current construction practices in norther b.c. (Houston b.c. in fact) will not help me until it sells.
consider these points:
it won't give me the ability to live in it with out bank payments
it won't feed me
it won't give me clean water to use or free to use.

I built my wall R-24 and my attic R-50 which is now code in Smithers B.C. I can heat my home on one bag of wood pellet a day (even in the 40 below) still if i don't make enough, I cant heat it.
it cost me 2,200.00 per year for taxes.
and the real kicker is, my 225,000.00 dollar house loan over 35 years will have cost me 700,000.00  its not much fun. I still have to eat and pay taxes and buy fuel to get more work so i can afford to live in a house which feels like it wants to eat me. Really it is a very efficient house by current practices.
in short I am currently working hard to pay other people to do what I could have done for myself all the while. this is not good enough for me.
So, I am going to make a change. I am going to make a home with money from my income (not banks) out of material that is mostly free (more detail some other time) in a house that can literally feed me. on land that will support me and take care of my waste (why pay some one else to do that). If you want an illustration of partly how. watch you tube earthship homes

Offline Cool Blue

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Re: Thinking of building a new home
« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2010, 06:32:53 AM »

and the real kicker is, my 225,000.00 dollar house loan over 35 years will have cost me 700,000.00  its not much fun. I still have to eat and pay taxes and buy fuel to get more work so i can afford to live in a house which feels like it wants to eat me. Really it is a very efficient house by current practices.

Earthship homes are cool but I hear they have a problem with radon gas so watch out.

Is it possible to refinance the mortgage you currently have?  That seems like an awfully high interest you're paying.  For example, my mortgage right now is only 1.6% variable and it's estimated that the interest will only have cost me around an extra $4000 by the time I'm done.

One thing that's really helped me is that my mortgage is bi-weekly.  This splits your payment into two per month which has the effect of paying down interest faster and due to how many weeks there are in a year you make an extra payment or two per year.  Due to this alone I'll have my house paid off in 17 years instead of 25 (though I'm on track to pay it off in around 10 years).

I've run into some credit card problems myself so I understand.  Some things I've done that helped:

1) switch to a card with lower interest and transfer the balance
2) if you have any equity in your home get a home equity line of credit and consolidate your credit card debts
3) pay things off using the snowball strategy: I focus on the lowest debt amount first and pay as much as I can afford, lets say $200.  The other cards I only pay the minimum, say $50 each. 

Once that first card is paid off I then add the amount I was paying, plus the minimum payment to the next lowest card. So it would be $200+50.  The next card would then be $200+50+50.

Using this method I'm on track to pay off around $40K in credit cards in about 3 years.

4) I looked at everything I  was paying for but really didn't need, cancelled them, and applied the money to credit cards.  For example, I cancelled unlimited high speed internet, went to basic cable and cancelled phone services I didn't use.  This saved me around $100 a month which I applied to credit cards.

5) finally you could approach a financial trustee and do what's called a consumer proposal in Canada.  This trustee will contact your creditors and tell them that they are only to contact the trustee.  They will then look at your financial situation and develop a plan to get you out of debt in 5 years.  They will negotiate with creditors and do a "consumer proposal" where they try to get creditors to write off some of the debt on a pro-rated basis.  They will then arrange a loan consolidation and pay off your debts.  Then all you have to do is pay one monthly fee to pay off this loan consolidation.


Another thing I was wondering,  if they wood pellet stove is too expensive would it be possible to replace it will a wood stove and use trees from your own property?  Used wood stoves can be found cheaply.