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C – Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

The Approved DocumentsApproved documents (England) are detailed publications which come under the English 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 […]

Structural principles

The Building Regulations

The 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 […]

Timber roof structures

Type of structure

Whether living space is required in the roof is the most crucial decision from a structural point of view because it decides whether you can use prefabricated gang nail roof trusses or whether you have to build a traditional roof. The roof trusses are cheaper and much faster (two people can lift […]

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 […]

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 […]

Kirk Park

Aberfeldy, October 2009

This is a self build timber frame house of 76 sq,m. built in 2001. In terms of heating it benefits from its double storey[for the purposes of part B (fire) of the Approved Documents to the Building Regulations] this includes – (a) any gallery[for the purposes of part B of the […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Suppliers

Where can I buy recycled plastic sheet made from kids wellies? At Smile Plastics of course

The world of suppliers to the building industry is a very mixed bag varying from the excellent to the appalling. When you are purchasing building materials it is of course good to go in with a positive attitude […]

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 […]

Designing with timber

timber house in the Field of Dreams, Findhorn FoundationThe Findhorn Foundation is a large community near Inverness. There is a strong emphasis on sustainable building.

designing with timber

Are the British inherently nervous of timber buildings? Does this go back to the Great Fire of London? Is this still valid considering how many […]

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 […]

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.

[…]

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 […]

Thermal Mass

Energy storage

High thermal mass is generally seen as a useful quality in a building because it can be utilised to trap and save any spare heat which might turn up.

It can also do the reverse equivalent for coolth during hot weather. This quality is utilised in passive solar design, including the PassivhausSee more […]

Regulations / standards

see also Building Regulations Approved Documents (England) Approved Documents (Wales) Technical Booklets (Northern Ireland) Technical Handbook – Domestic (Scotland) Energy performance certificate Environmental protection Green design standards Health and Safety Planning Permission Detailed Planning Permission Outline Planning Permission Taking On The Planners Permissions and regulations

If you are embarking on a selfbuild project the two […]

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 […]

Ashley Vale, Bristol

autumn 2009

from left to right – individual houses, the communal village green area, bungalows, the terrace of houses and, (bright red), the flats above the workshops and community centre

Click the image above for 3D panoramic view with drag and zoom

This is one of the most interesting recent examples of group selfbuild […]