The Natural Home Building Source
The Natural Home Building Source
The Natural Home Building Source

5 - HTM high thermal mass passive solar house plan roof details with log purlins and a vented cold roof SIPS panel design. Click here for the main chapter of our free HTM Passive Solar Design eBook

Passive solar roof details do not have to be unique, but cold vented roof design with vented SIPS panels and layered insulation is a natural with log purlins. A lot of attention has been given to our passive solar house plan choice of log roof beams purlins, but you can certainly use dimensional lumber and trusses in your roof details if you wish. Square timbers are easier to build with than trying to use round logs. The main advantages to log purlins are in their availability since you may have to drop trees to create your home site and their cost since raw logs are cheaper and always more environmentally sound than processed lumber. But what you notice after the home is finished is the way the round logs greatly soften the angular nature of an HTM. They truly add a great deal of beauty to the final product and are a natural choice for a flat roof deck. I think you'll agree that they are worth the effort in the long run.

Round log purlins going in over the top of interior HTM walls with stepped timbers
Logs being hand-stripped inside the foundation walls Central draw knife benches make the purlins easy to crane into position

There is no 'one best way' to build any structure in any one climate and or soil type. As with any design question, the answers vary from project to project and need to be addressed in a more holistic manner to function properly. You can build your own roof panels, as shown below, sandwiching EPS blueboard atop the ceiling planks. Or, you can order the SIPS panels readymade. It all boils down to initial cost versus labor time savings. Insulated structural roof panels SIPS are a great way to save time during construction. Get a quote on vented SIPS panels locally to compare cost. Sometimes the quality is good and the engineering they provide very helpful. Look for R30 minimum and extruded EPS blueboard or the newer generation expanded insulation boards, not white Styrofoam® bead board, since it absorbs water more readily.

Placing log purlins is relatively easy with crane and the wide walls Once all are in place, level is sawn and logs are dogged

SIPS panels come with faux finishes on the ceiling side, sometimes perfectly imitating tongue and groove or stucco. Always go with the cold vented roof option. 'Cold roofs' are a design that will cut your cooling bills dramatically by allowing heated air to vent out the roof peak. Using a layer of Mylar® reflectix atop the felt in a cold roof design is a recommended to most designs and climates. This Mylar layer gives your roof the advantage of reflecting heat back up and not absorbing into the insulation underneath.

We'll work with you to create any type of roof you wish, but we have found this system to have a great many benefits. The beauty is hard to argue with. With so much stone, block, and stucco, the use of wood on the ceiling to soften the look is a design imperative. This choice of material is also more natural and healthier than drywall. Drywall ceilings are so very sterile and, well, just so very white. Think twice before you commit to that type of ceiling construction.

A look at the tongue in groove Douglas fir decking atop log purlins

Our consultation concentrates on simplicity and ease of construction for the homeowner-builder. Deck roofs fit this need to a T. As you can see in these photos, construction simply consists of building a box and filling it with EPS foam sheets. There are several design details not shown here, like the moisture barrier between the foam and the decking, but the basics are evident. You can see where attention is given to overlapping joints and caulking gaps. Please also note that this is a vented, 'cold roof' design with the plywood sheeting laid upon the 2by4 sleepers atop the final layer of foam. This allows the roof to vent, preventing overheating and ice dams. Vented, cold roofs are very important in both hot and cold climates. You just can't afford to allow heat buildup in your roof to penetrate into the home. Always design with a vented, cold roof.

2by6 Douglas Fir T&G decking being boxed-in with perimeter 2by Caulking (chinking) the perimeter for a tight seal before blueboard foam is applied

Three layers of two inch foam inter-laced so that the seams do not align for tightest seal 2by4 sleepers are ring-shank spiked and glued through the blueboard and into the log purlin below

As with any aspect of building, there are dozens of ways to approach the construction. The following two sketches are two of the most common methods to construct a cold, vented roof. Pre-built insulated roofing panels are certainly another option and the extra expense is sometimes worth the savings in labor.

Typical sandwiched roof details common to joists or logs

For most clients, the 'sandwich' style at right is easier to construct with minimal skills. The conventional joist approach shown above is often more popular with contractors who wish to use fiberglass batting insulation.

HTM high thermal mass passive solar house plan roof details straight from sample prints

The ceiling planking shown below is classic penny pinching. As the 2by6 tongue and groove ceiling planks neared the peak of roof, we ran out. The last 10 T&G boards are actually 2by12 planks we notched with a router to mock the look of T&G grooves. Give it a close look and you will see the change in planking material about half way up. Curiously enough, the tongue and groove does not add strength to the deck - it just keeps the boards from wanking and warping as they dry. If you use well-seasoned 2by12 lumber, you can plane 45 degrees off both sides of the plank and router Vee cut the middle for much the same structural and visual effect, at a pretty healthy savings.

2by6 tongue and groove ceiling planks versus 2by12 planks mocking the T&G grooves at top of image

With any home roof design, it is key to note:

  • pre-Fab roofing panels are a way to speed construction if you do not wish to build your own roof. Structural panels are available (no need for roof beams). You will find a good introduction at: James Dulley's site
  • cover the plywood roof decking with Grace Ice and Water Shield roll bitumen and not just 30 pound felt. This product will ensure a very long lifetime for your roof. It fully adheres to the plywood keeping moisture from eventually deteriorating the decking: Grace Ice and Water
  • do not use dark colors on your roof in a hot climate because you are increasing your cooling problems by subjecting the home to a greatly increased amount of solar gain. Use as close to white as your personal taste will allow in a hot climate.
  • if you want a roof that will last for generations spend the money now for a standing seam metal roof. This new generation of metal roofing does not have any exposed fasteners (the panels interlock, hiding the mounting brackets and screws). James Dulley's site has a short article for reference. Your homeowner's insurance may even be reduced with a metal roof.
  • if you live in forest fire prone areas, you should go with a lifetime rated architectural shingle. 'Architectural' shingles are heavier (up to 540 pound per square), often lifetime (100 year rated) and fireproof. Metal roofs are not fireproof - despite what you might hear, a fire atop a metal roof will reach flashpoint and eventually set the plywood underneath ablaze, unlike thick shingles.
  • if you cannot afford a standing seam metal roof, modified torch down is the best for roofs which slope less than 3/12. We would suggest not installing an EPDM (pond liner) type of roof. The chance of puncture is too great. Especially if you walk around on it much.
  • to save money, use roll roofing in a double overlap pattern instead of shingles. It is easy to install, has no exposed edges or fasteners, and the materials are very reasonable. Double overlap or half-lap roll roofing has been the standard for commercial buildings for over a century.
  • place 3/4 inch kicker boards along the fascia to send the runoff out and AWAY from the roof. Without these kickers, water tends to run against the fascia, behind the gutters, and eventually rotting and staining your fascia boards.
  • always install gutters everywhere around the roof to take water runoff at least 20 feet away from the house and/or to planterbeds.
  • Metal roofing has its strong points, but there are problems. It is attached with screws. When you nail through bitumen underlayment (Grace), it seals around the spike. When you screw through it, though, the boring action of the screw causes it not to seal around the threads. Metal roofs also tend to expand and contract. You will be up there with a screw gun tightening them every 3 or 4 years unless you install a standing seam design, which is expensive, but a good investment. Eventually the screws will not tighten as they have eaten out the hole and you will have to install all new, fatter screws. Another detraction is that the color will fade on all but the most expensive metal roofs. They use high grade automobile paint on most brands. Another will actually change color as you walk around it looking from different sun angles. Others are designed to rust up to a point and then they stop, which is a nice look. Metal roofs are not fireproof. For the same cost as mid-price standing seam with hidden fasteners, you can get the best shingles which in practice are much more fireproof. You could start a campfire on a 540# shingle roof and it will eventually burn a hole through the roof and fall inside, maybe going out or at least being easier to fight. Start the same campfire on a metal roof and it will heat the metal, eventually flash firing the entire roof.




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    Our commercial grade knitted shadecloth carries a one year manufacturer's replacement warranty against defects in material and workmanship. You can expect at least 5 years of service when installed properly and well over ten years when used seasonally in a temperate climate. Client must inspect shade panels within one week of delivery in order to be able to report any damages. Rips, tears, and aesthetic damage you find more than one week after delivery are not reimbursed or replaced by the freight carrier or TheNaturalHome.com. Additionally, merchandise that has been installed is not eligible for return or replacement for damage claims. Fabric is knitted polyolefin, primarily high density polyethylene HDPE, specially treated for durability and UV resistance. Wind damage from loose panel whipping, snagging, and abrading against the structure or cable framework is much more harmful in the long run than simple exposure to sunlight. Knit shade material should be installed hung underneath, not pulled across the top of cable or framework, to avoid abrasion and snagging damage. Chemical, fire, heat, abrasion, and snagging damage are not covered under manufacturer warranty. Shade panel warranty inspection returns must be authorized in advance and returned freight prepaid to designated location for visual inspection. TheNaturalHome.com will only pay the cost to ship warranty repaired or replaced merchandise back to client after inspection confirms damage was a material or workmanship defect. The following are trade-standard, non-valid reasons for requesting warranty inspection: First, there is no up-down, right-left, top-bottom or front-back reference point for any panel. Panel 'Width and Length' are measured from outside-edge to outside-edge of the sewn perimeter hem at the four corners only. Knit material has inherent tension and flex in the looming process that will resolve aesthetic issues when installed taut with rope lacing. Grommets on one side of panel are unlikely to line up with grommets on the opposite side or from one grommeted pinch pleat to the next. Exact one foot on-center grommet spacing, specific grommeted pinch pleat centering, and special placement on a particular side for grommets is not warranted. Any panel over 12 foot wide may have a noticeable factory knitted loom splice seam without notice in advance since the 20, 26, and 32 foot wide stock roll width fabrics are manufactured on side-by-side looms. We traditionally cover this seam with a grommeted pinch pleat, but it is possible to order plain cloth without a center GPP, per automated quoting form. Aesthetic issues are not warranted. For instance, the White 50% color knitted shade material can sometimes arrive with patches of orange discoloration and spotting as a result of the manufacturing process. This discoloration will dissipate after installation in the sunlight. Shade material may always be slightly wrinkled from rolling onto storage tube or shipping and knit appearance can vary from sample swatches presented and may also vary between various stock widths. Minor aesthetic flaws in knit appearance, stitching, and snags are not a structural panel failure problem and not warranted. Shade material is lockstitch knitted to prevent structural unraveling. Longevity is the same regardless of aesthetic appearance flaws in the fabric knit or perimeter webbing. If need be, one can use needle and thread to pull small flaws together and super-glue sealed. It is not considered a warranty-related defect unless it affects panel performance. Special fire resistant certified shade materials are not available. The finish 'Length' ordered is what we produce by cutting enough fabric to fold hem and GPP. The only time to anticipate deviation in finish dimension purchased is when 'Width' is a stock material width of 6, 8, 10, 12, 20, 26 and 32 foot. Then, finish 'Width' is likely going to be two to three inches less after folding and sewing perimeter hem and any length-wise grommeted pinch pleats. ALL other times, the size panel you request is the finish size we do our very best to produce. Knitted shade netting is inherently difficult to work with due to tension releasing when cut to custom sizes, so trade-standard warranty for free replacement is a four inch tolerance. As measured at four corners, any error of five inches, or more, is warranted for free remake, replacement, or refund at our sole discretion. This accuracy guarantee does not apply to shapes other than rectangles or any panel dimension over 32 foot. Errors of less than five inches are considered for remedy on a case-by-case basis only when the panel has not been installed and can be resold as a new-unused remnant. Special grommet placement requests are not warranted and grommet spacing at exactly one foot on center is not warranted. Click here for knit shade material engineering specifications and product MSDS sheet.

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    The information from or through this site and from or through Architerra Enterprises, Inc. (d.b.a. The Natural Home Building source and TheNaturalHome.com is provided 'as-is', 'as available', and any and all warranties, express or implied, are disclaimed (including but not limited to the disclaimer of any implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose). We are not an engineering or architectural design firm. We are not licensed electricians or plumbers. We do not accept any legal liability whatsoever for any 'errors and omissions' perceived or otherwise. Any and all consultation given, or website information provided, may contain typos, errors, omissions, problems, or other limitations. Merchandise specifications are subject to change at any time by manufacturer without any advance notice from Our company or the manufacturer. Product specifications and installation instructions are likewise subject to possible error and may change at any time without Our knowledge. Blueprints, sketches, and any written consultation are provided for informational educational purposes only and not intended for construction-ready application without approval first by locally licensed structural engineer and local building department regulations. Our sole and entire maximum liability for any inaccurate information, for any reason, and user's sole and exclusive remedy for any cause whatsoever, shall be limited to the amount paid by the customer for the information received (if any cost was involved). We are not liable for any indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages including but not limited to damages for loss of business, loss of profits, litigation, or the like, whether based on breach of contract, breach of warranty, tort (including negligence), product liability or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such damage. The limitations of damages set forth above are fundamental elements of this website, communications, and information provided without such limitations. No representations, warranties or guarantees whatsoever are made as to the accuracy, adequacy, integrity, reliability, currentness, completeness, suitability or applicability of the information to a particular situation. Complaints by Client to any rating agency, company review, or personal referral concerning Merchant or Merchandise in direct disregard of this terms of service agreement are to be considered libel and will be prosecuted as such, if need be.

    Consultation and Service

    Written and verbal consultation on the specifics of any project is governed by this terms of service agreement, with or without purchase of Merchandise. Technical assistance is different with us because Our staff members live with what We sell. Housing, septic, composting and greywater systems all include free on-going consultation, so We'll take the time to answer your questions and ensure your project is a success. At the very least, We strive to save you money by avoiding costly mistakes, both short and long term. If We don't have an answer to your question right on the spot, We'll take the time to research it further and get back to you. We can consult on the phone, if you wish, but email allows us to much more completely answer your questions with sketches and links to related articles. Keeping everything in writing is a sure way to avoid any confusion with "you said he said" situations later. Our sustainable housing products are low-tech in nature, but their design is typically complicated by the seemingly endless installation variables for unique locations and applications. Any and all consultation (blueprints, photos, written word and sketches) purchased from TheNaturalHome.com are the intellectual, copyrighted property of TheNaturalHome.com. HTM house plans, septic system packages and greywater kit components Were designed and priced for the typical home and based upon the average soil type. Whether or not your local building department requires stamped engineer approval, you are well advised to take sample blueprints, sketch plans, and system consultation suggestions to a local professional engineer (PE). Local PEs are familiar with your soil type and more aware of unique building codes and concerns in your area. Most importantly, a local PE is readily available for the necessary site visits. your PE is then responsible for preparing a folder of notes and details which confirm the structural integrity, viability and liability for your project. TheNaturalHome.com is not an architectural design nor an engineering firm. We do Our best to consult on your project, but site specific engineering, load calculations, soil viability testing and/or custom blueprinting are not included in any consultation service or system package We sell. Communication is intended only for the paid Client recipient(s) and may be confidential and/or legally privileged and must be treated as such in accordance with state and federal laws. Any disclosure, copying, distribution or action taken in reliance on the content is strictly prohibited.

    Fiberglass Water Tubes

    Water Tube and Cap ("Item") is manufactured for Client on special order basis by an independent company ("Manufacturer"). Manufacturer's warranty and guarantee, and special terms and conditions of sale and delivery apply to this Item. No warranty or guarantee is provided, expressed, or implied by Merchant, TheNaturalHome.com. Merchant and Manufacturer do not assume any liability or responsibility for damage in transit. Only the transportation company is responsible for damage in transit. Before signing and receiving Item from transportation company, Client should demand to see packing list from Item shipment. If shipment is short Item (for instance: three caps, not four) or damaged (any Item defects), refuse the goods until the transportation agent notes the shortage or damage in writing on the freight receipt waybill. Always require a copy of the annotated waybill with shortage or damage noted in writing and signed/initialed by driver.Watch for hidden damage and inspect all Items fully before signing and accepting the shipment from a freight carrier. Client signature is testament that Item arrived in the proper amount and in undamaged condition. Hidden damage or shortage (anything found after delivery) is Client's sole responsibility to file claim with transportation company. Merchant and Manufacturer do not assume any responsibility or liability for Item damage during/after installation. Manufacturer guarantees Item is up to its established standard of manufacture as to material and workmanship. In all claims, liability is limited to replacement of the invoice value of any Item claimed to be defective. Client assumes all risk and liability whatsoever resulting from the use of such Item, whether used singly or in combination with other substances. The materials purchased hereunder (Item) shall be examined and tested upon receipt thereof, and before the materials are used and within thirty days from such receipt, Client shall notify Merchant in writing of any claims on account of quality thereof. Failure to so notify Merchant shall constitute a waiver of all claims with respect to Item, and in any event the use of Item by Client shall be deemed to mean satisfactory performance on the Item and Merchant. No claim of any kind (whether as to Item delivered or for non-delivery of Item) shall be greater in amount than the purchase price of Item covered hereby with respect to which any damages are claimed. Merchant and Manufacturer will accept no returns unless previously authorized in writing with Return Merchandise Agreement. Item returned without RMA written permission is liable to non-acceptance and return at expense of Client. RMA will specify 25% restocking fee on Item, plus deduction for original cost of crating and shipping, plus Client is responsible for all return shipping arrangements and all related expenses. There are no promises, agreements, or understandings between Client and Merchant and Manufacturer not contained in this document. Should you use your own form to make a purchase based on a price quote from Merchant, the conditions contained herein shall be deemed to be incorporated in said order or contract or invoice.