We are planning to build a new home in the hills of north- western Virginia. We would like a two story colonial but for budget reasons, it seems that a raised ranch with full basement is less costly to build. This will be a fairly large home for six home scholed young children (and counting), their parents and two grand parents. The main house would be ~2000 sq. ft. plus full basement and the grand parents will be ~600 also with full basement separated by a 3 car garage.

Working within a max budget of $650,000 excluding land, I am looking for an optimal balance between initial and long term costs. I was thinking very good insulation and radiant heat in basement floor and the ductless multi-zone units, such mitsubishi's for cooling and additional heat when required.

I was thinking about using the ridged foam concrete for forming the basement walls though I am unsure how to finish either inside or outside. Does using that same system for the first floor walls make sense?

Though we haven't yet purchased the land, the area around Front Royal doesn't have natural gas available so we are considering wood pellets or coal to supplement propane or fuel oil. Obviously fuel costs are an important longer term consideration so getting the decisions right up front are very important.

Please let me know what you think. Thanks