The new American Dream: 100K(+ 20) | Starter Home

Alladin Co
September 5, 2008, 6:44 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Alladin Readi-Cut homes

This website contains a collection manufactured housing catalog produced by Alladin Co, one of the most successful makers of house “kits” from the days of yore. The Alladin company played an important role in providing housing for middle class Americans in early 20th century. I think  it is an interesting comparison to today’s manufactured housing industry.

September 5, 2008, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

SolarBuzz is a website that gives insight into the trends and developments in the world of solar energy. What I find most interesting about it is this article which keeps track of the trends in cost of solar energy, and their Buyer’s Guide to solar energy.

I also came across this article which pointed out that despite developments in the technology and manufacturing of solar panels which leads to a steady decrease in production cost, the price of the panels still remains high because the demand is far greater than the supply and this trend would continue for the next several years.

My research
September 3, 2008, 7:13 pm
Filed under: Material/Building Systems, Social / Cultural Issue

Social and cultural context of the project

The site I chose is located at 26th and Halsted.

This site is at the northern edge of the Bridgeport neighborhood, just south of Archer Avenue. Bridgeport neighborhood is located right next to both Pilsen and Chinatown.

Pilsen and Chinatown boasts a large Hispanic and Asian communities respectively, and the proximity to these two neighborhoods is reflected in the demographic diversity of the neighborhood.

Historically, Bridgeport has been a white, working class neighborhood. Population trends in the past three decades shows that ethnically, Bridgeport s becoming more and more diverse with Hispanic and Asian population being the two fastest growing ethnic group.

Go to the bottom of this page to see the population trend

The population of African-American in Bridgeport remains within the %1 range, perhaps the lingering effect of Richard J Daley’s1956 decision to move the Dan Ryan from Normal avenue to the east of Wentworth avenue. Many speculated that this was done to separate the antagonistic white and black communities, both of whose support he needed to stay in power. More info on Senior Daley’s administration

If we were to go north of the site, beyond Archer avenue, the Chicago river and several block of industrial complex, we would find ourselves in the east Pilsen neighborhood, now being marketed to the public as Chicago’s Art District. In the early sixties John Podmajersky began buying old rundown buildings in the neighborhood and converting them into gallery and studio spaces for artists. The thriving artistic communities has brought new life to the neighborhood and at the same time threaten to displace members of the community.

A number of small art galleries had opened up in different parts of Bridgeport( morgan street, Zhou brothers at 35th, and in recent years 32nd & Urban) , perhaps a residual effect of the development in Pilsen.

Building material research


Minimizing the footprint of the building increases the amount of outdoor space and possibly saves some money from the additional cost of building larger foundation. Having a larger proportion of outdoor space also increases the capacity for retaining storm water. To further increase this capacity, the house could be raised off the ground through the use of spot footing foundation or caisson/piers.

Possible complications of this approach:

Savings from the foundation could be offset by the cost of building an entire floor plane.

Maintaining plants that are growing underneath the building could be difficult depending on the height of the space.

Raised floor plane would probably need to have more insulation to prevent thermal transfer

Wall and/or roof system

Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing or PATH carries out a lot of studies on new construction methods that are available free of charge over the web.

Two construction techniques that are considered are Insulated Concrete Form or ICF and Structural Insulated Panels.

After going through a couple of studies, I find that this ICF case study and this SIPs case study to be most helpful in terms of giving a general sense of the materials.

These two construction technique are considered because of several advantages over stick-built or masonry construction

  1. The thermal performance of both ICF and SIPs are far superior to stick-built or masonry construction both claimed to cut down the utility cost by %40 to %70.
  2. Simplification of the construction sequence, hence less mistake and waste would be produced
  3. The system can be prefabricated by the manufacturer which means less time spent on adjusting mistakes on-site.
  4. Both technique have been around for at least two decades, hence the performance of the material and technique has at least been proven to last that long.




2.5 times of similar sized stick-built wall,(increase in total cost of house by %1-%3)

Material cost alone ranges from $7.50 -$14 psf depending on thickness, core board material. (expensive)

Construction time

Roughly the same as stick construction, but simpler(curing time for concrete)

Faster erection of enclosed structure


Insignificant saving

Significant saving in labor hours

Number of supplier in IL

8 according to ICFA

none, 1 in MI 1 in WI according to SIPA

Note on SIPS : core material could be expanded polystyrene (EPS) or polyurethane (PUR). PUR is superior in terms of R-value and fire resistance (link).

This discussion on the composition of SIPs panel is quite informative.

Both these construction technique would create a structure that is much more air-tight than other construction method. However air-tightness makes it difficult for any moisture to escape and mold could grow within the structure itself.