Existing houses present a much greater challenge than new ones in terms of energy saving. However in terms of reusing building materials they often provide better opportunities.
Patrick and Fiona run a very pleasant bed and breakfast near Nelson, Caerphilly and their house has been the subject of much renovation and extension over the […]
Larch house entrance
Although not self build, the two passivhauses at Ebbw Vale may be very relevant to many self builders. Built in 2010 as show houses mainly for the attention of housing associations, they are attractive and innovative while being relatively modest. The 3 bed Larch House is clad with a locally sourced […]
Straw board is made from waste straw with usually about 2% MDI adhesive binder. In the past the reputation of straw board has suffered mainly due to people trying to skimp on the thickness, a bit like with hardboard. It can make for very economical internal surface linings with good thermal and […]
novolit magnesite / woodwool board
There are various types of cement/wood wool board combinations with Heraklith (which uses a magnesite cement) being one of the better known makes in the UK. Although the cement component is a cause of embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). […]
Home of Alexander and Vinny Burnett, Kashentroch is an elegant and well designed open plan timber frame house in a beautiful setting close to the Dee. The original part of the house (with the pitched roof on the right of the picture), built about 5 years ago, has recently had an addition […]
It is becoming increasingly popular to incorporate elements of steel framework into timber frame and kit houses in order to achieve larger spans than are normally available with timber. This is often down to the preferences of the engineer doing the calculations rather than being an inherent necessity. Very often laminated timber would do […]
Using steel frame for the whole of a house structure is very uncommon in the UK. Usually the clear spans required for a house can be achieved using timber with the incorporation of occasional steel members such as RSJsrolled steel joists where masonry spans a window or door. There are published tables of timber […]
In day to day terms, managing a building site is somewhere between a science and dealing with a madhouse full of demented jugglers, especially if you have never done it before. Partly this is because of the number of variables which can occur. Consider using a project manager, a self build consultant or a clerk […]
demolition is not without its risks
Demolition of existing buildings is covered on the Planning Portal web site. Also if there is a tenant in the building then check out Initial demolition notices
Basically the local authority Building Control require 6 weeks written notice (except for certain exempt buildings). They may […]
Make a contract!
Optimist? – Pessimist? – try Realist!
We all have our dreams of the perfectly built house. This is called optimism
We have all heard of nightmare scenarios involving builders. This might lead to pessimism and negative attitudes
Realism suggests we hope for the best and plan to avoid the worst. Hey presto […]
meditation room at Findhorn Community
Very often outbuildings happen as an afterthought and people go off and buy various kinds of prefabricated sheds, garages or summer houses. Usually these buildings are the worst possible in terms of green design because they tend to have travelled a long way and be made of materials which […]
PassivhausSee more on the PassivhausSee more on the Passivhaus standard. The PassivHaus Institute has pioneered a standard for low energy buildings. It includes very low energy usage and ways of achieving this. The word is derived from the idea of buildings which are fundamentally low energy and passive solar heated rather than using extra gadgets to heat them. See Passivhaus for the UK branch of the organisation. standard. The PassivHaus Institute has pioneered a standard for low energy buildings. It includes very low energy usage and ways of achieving this. The word is derived from the idea of buildings which are fundamentally low energy and passive solar heated rather than using extra gadgets to heat them. […]
see also Brick Cob Concrete blocks Hemp / Lime Insulating concrete forms Rammed Earth Solid timber Steel frame Stonework Straw Bale Ziegel blocks What’s the most eco-friendly wall?
Well there are several angles on that. Some of the most important aspects of walls are their insulation values, their air-tightnessA measure of how leaky […]
On the Hill of Bandodle, Aberdeenshire, stands a beautiful selfbuild timber frame house designed by architect Genevieve Jones for her family. Incorporating high levels of insulation (in the form of 350mm of shoddy obtained from Elgin woolen mill) and mainly locally sourced materials, Larch, Douglas fir and Caithness slate, the house also […]
Hedgehog Self Build Co-op, Hogs Edge, Brighton
One of Brighton’s examples of community self build which started in the late 1990s, this development of ten timber frame houses is based on the Walter Segalrefers to a simple self build timber frame form of construction pioneered by the architect Walter Segalrefers to a simple self build timber frame form of construction pioneered by the architect Walter Segal. see details of the systemThe architect who devised a simple timber frame self build system (often simply known as 'Segal self build'). see more on the Segal method. see details of […]
A very interesting terrace of three houses, on a curved road junction, has recently been completed in this Somerset village.
Some of the main features of the design are:
Very high insulation levels provided by insulating concrete forms (ICF) with added exterior face insulation Structural insulated panel (SIP) roofs Eco-slab ground floors and upper […]
Walter Segalrefers to a simple self build timber frame form of construction pioneered by the architect Walter Segal. see details of the systemThe architect who devised a simple timber frame self build system (often simply known as 'Segal self build'). see more on the Segal method self build
This self build project comprises 3 adjoining houses which were built by three families, starting in 1993. They were constructed according to the Walter Segalrefers to a simple self build timber frame form of construction pioneered by the architect Walter Segal. see details of the systemThe architect who devised a […]
‘Energy use’ is usually associated with how much energy is used to construct a new building. However, this is only part of the story. Most buildings get altered and repaired and redecorated a considerable number of times during their lifetime and taken to an extreme, some houses are constantly having ‘makeovers’. This can vastly increase […]
See the Findhorn web site
The Findhorn FoundationThe Findhorn Foundation is a large community near Inverness. There is a strong emphasis on sustainable building. near Fores in the North East of Scotland has a couple of interesting areas of eco-housing and a whole approach to living lightly on the earth including 750kW of electrical energy from 4 wind turbines recently installed for Findhorn Wind Park Ltd which is the […]
As a very rough rule of thumb, in average parts of the UK the cost of house building (excluding the land and excluding design fees) will vary between about £1000/m² for a very simple design with no frills up to about £1,800 for a house with quite a high design standard and a high specification […]
What are the regulations for?
See the English government web site on Building RegulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, health, welfare, convenience, energy efficiency etc. in the way buildings are constructed. Not to be confused with Planning consent (which is more to do with whether you can put up the building in the first place). See more on the regulations
. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are listed below. Slowly an increasing number of details in the regulations are diverging between the countries.
Building Regulations deal with whether the building is built properly and is safe and energy efficient etc.