The Utility Building

Much thought went into where to place the mechanicals and electrical so as to minimize their impact on the life of a canary. For this build, we decided on a completely separate utility building. This building will house the electrical panel, the telecommunications panel and devices, the radiant floor heat distribution panels and manifolds, hot water heater device and water filtration requirements. The building is approximately 10×12 and sits 8’ away from the house itself. Placing the mechanicals in a separate building maximizes the reduction of impact to canaries. But the services still must make it into the house even if the devices are situated outside of the house.

The solution was 6” conduits running between the buildings below grade with the pex pipe, water pipe, electrical lines and telecommunication lines being feed through these conduits. Remember the sleeves that were placed in the foundation ICF wall? We placed 4 such sleeves, one for electrical and telecommunications, one for pex pipe, one for water pipe and one spare for who knows if all the lines will fit in the designated pipes. Better to have an extra sleeve just in case!

To ensure proper frost and freeze protection, the conduits carrying water were placed at the lowest level and conduits carrying wire were placed above. We were trying to contain all sleeves in a 2’x 1’6” chase hidden behind the broom closet back wall inside the house for easy access. The pex pipes will run only to the floor level, the rest to the ceiling for distribution throughout the house where needed. To add future frost and freeze protection, the conduit pipes were insulated with a technique used in Maine for slab construction. 2” EPS foam board were placed vertically along the conduits, and 2 – 2” EPS foam board were placed horizontally on top and then covered with back fill.

Snippet from the construction drawings by BriBurn (Architect Firm)

The various trades all had input and were satisfied that their respective 6” sleeve size provided ample room for feeding through their lines notwithstanding that the lines had to make two 90° turns. Some appliances will remain inside the house out of practical necessity, such as fridge, washer/dryer and dishwasher. As the fridge generates the most EMF, it was placed furthest away from the living/sleeping area. A little inconvenient but as best a balance as could be attained.