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Patrick and Fiona’s house

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 and Lime passivhauses

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 […]

StrawBoard

straw board

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 […]

Cement / woodwool boards

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). […]

Lancaster Cohousing

The Lancaster Cohousing group is situated near Halton on the River Lune near Lancaster. They have recently completed 41 custom build certified Passivhauses including flats and houses, and a communal building along with lots of communal facilities. There are some existing industrial buildings on the site which have been improved and converted.

This is an […]

Kashentroch, Banchory

October ’09

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 […]

Retrofit

‘Under the Sun’, a Victorian terrace house in Birmingham is an outstanding example of bringing a fairly typical old building up to 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 […]

Steel frame

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 […]

Steel frame

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 […]

Managing self build

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 […]

Demolitions

demolition is not without its risks

Building Control

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 then […]

Builders / Contractors

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 […]

Outbuildings / garages

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 […]

Getting started

see also Builders / Contractors Managing self build Specification Suppliers Tenders & contracts Tools / plant

As soon as you have got planning permissionthe legal basis for being allowed to do some form of development such as building a house. (not to be confused with Building RegulationsThese are the mass of regulations that cover safety, […]

Construction

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. […]

Wall construction

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 […]

Bandodle house

October 2009

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 Co-op

Hedgehog Self Build Co-op, Hogs Edge, Brighton

March 2015

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 Segal. see details of […]

Chewton Mendip

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 […]

Allerton Park, Leeds

Walter Segal 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 […]

Earth Heart

 

Earth Heart is a community of 22 people in 8 homes based on a large converted farm in Derbyshire set up in 1998 around home education. Although not initially concerned with eco selfbuild, they have embraced the concept thoroughly during their upgrading of an old farm house and several outbuildings into dwellings.

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Hockerton Housing Project

The five earth sheltered houses. Image by WindandSun who provided the PVPhoto Voltaic. referring to the generation of electricity from sunlight installation

The Hockerton Housing Project is the UK’s first (and almost only) selfbuild earth sheltered housing development. It is a remarkable place, not only because of the five houses which are built into […]

Alterations & Fashion

‘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 […]

Findhorn Foundation

October 2009

See the Findhorn web site

The Findhorn Foundation 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 […]

Building Costs & Management

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 […]

Building Regulations

July 2015

What are the regulations for?

See the English government web site on Building 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.

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