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UK self build context

AlmereAlmere is an area of new self build near Amsterdam where people have been given a great deal of freedom concerning the design of houses has over 700 plots including 3000 houses and flats

There is a rapidly growing interest in self build in the UK, but what is self build?

Well it tends […]

Rachel’s house

Up a small path on a steep hillside at St Dogmaels, near Cardigan, Pembrokshire, Rachel Shiamh has built a beautiful straw bale house.

The bales are structural, meaning that they are not just infill to a timber frame: they actually carry the weight of floors and roof. There is a video tour round 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 […]

Van Midden House

The Van Midden house is at the Lembas Organics farm at the Bridge of Muchalls, Stonehaven. It is a very low energy house due to high levels of insulation and the use of timber I beamsprefabricated timber beams with a web of OSBOriented Strand Board and softwood flanges. They are very light, efficient and […]

‘Under the Sun’, Birmingham

Bringing existing houses up to a high standard of energy efficiency is a much greater challenge than with new ones.

This particular example of self build eco renovation is outstanding because of the way it will achieve a net zero carbonbit of a slippery fish. It tends to mean that a building uses no […]

Tressour Wood

This timber post and beamSubstantial, usually horizontal structural member. house in Aberfeldy pioneered “breathing construction” in the UK.

Designed by Gaia Architects and built in 1992 this well insulated passive solar house also has a wood burning stove and stack effect cooling for summer. The building materials used were chosen for being non-toxic and […]

The Tree House

The Tree House in Clapham, London is a recently completed and very elegant example of a self build detached house. It has, on occasion, been open to the public as part of the London Open House programme. Situated on a small urban plot of land dominated by a large sycamore tree it has taken […]

Rowangarth

October ’09

Jim and Jo Monahan are nearing completion of their passive solar house in Spinningdale, Sutherland. This is a timber frame,self build project which utilizes roundwood for many of the structural members. This is a way of using timber at its maximum strength because it is not cut across the grain. The timber […]

Passivhaus at Denby Dale

the front of the house with 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 Approved Documents] – A raised area or platform around the sides or at the back of a room which […]

Parramatta

This 122 m² self build, passive solar house in Montrose was the winner of the Angus Design Award 2006. It is a post and beamSubstantial, usually horizontal structural member. structure of Douglas fir and has larch cladding with breathing walla bit of a misnomer. A better term is ‘vapour open’ because it is not […]

Orkney straw bale

October 2009

Set on a windswept hillside overlooking Scapa Flow is what is probably the UK’s most northerly straw bale house. At the stage of being wind and weather tight but not yet plastered internally, this is an example of a self build house with very low embodied energythe total amount of energy […]

McKay house, Stonehaven

October 2009

This low energy, self build house is set on a hill overlooking the sea near Stonehaven. Its clean and simple lines echo the vernacular of the area although it is essentially a very modern building based on passive solar construction. The walls are double skin aerated concrete block with 300mm of insulation, […]

McIver House

Evanton, October 2009

This self build, passive solar, larch clad timber frame house has recently been completed. It is highly glazed on the south elevation and has a concrete floor slab for thermal massthis is about how much heat something can absorb – so it involves its specific heat capacity and its volume. It […]

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 […]

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 […]

Houses by Ecos

ECOS, (formerly known as the Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development) is a charity which has been behind several green house building initiatives. Although not self build, their houses are excellent examples of what is possible and are open to viewing on certain occasions. At present there are two schemes which are complete or nearing completion […]

A Pattern Language

Originally a remarkable book (and now on the web) which explains the psychology of architectural design and how to use a wealth of patterns to design satisfying spaces.

Each of the 253 patterns are illustrated, stated, explained in detail and then linked to other related patterns. This pattern – ‘LIGHT ON TWO SIDES OF […]

Design it yourself

see also A Pattern Language Almere, Netherlands Designing with timber Lighting Spiral stair calculators Stair design Straight stair calculator Window design

The Ashley Vale development in Bristol shows a wealth of creative input by the residents

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

Self build, although demanding, can be […]

House in Peterculter

Designed by architect Gokay Deveci. This passive solar house is open plan with the main central living room overlooked by a first floor gallery[for the purposes of part B of the Approved Documents] – A raised area or platform around the sides or at the back of a room which provides extra space. living […]

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 […]

Batavia zero carbon house

On Unst, northernmost island of the Shetland Isles is what may be the world’s first zero carbonbit of a slippery fish. It tends to mean that a building uses no carbon (oil, coal, etc) to heat it (meaning in a ‘net’ way). It usually ignores the carbon which goes into building it (the embodied […]

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 […]

Allan’s log house

October ’09

This traditional method of building is very old. It is believed that the timber Saxon church of St. Andrew’s at Greensted is about 950 years old and still in use. It is the oldest timber building still standing in Europe. Norway has a great tradition of log building which they may […]

Eco house examples

This section (the pictures in the carousel at the top you can scroll and click on) covers a selection of domestic scale eco buildings in the UK. They are mainly new selfbuild but increasingly renovation of older houses is featuring as standards such as EnerPHitthe Passivhaus standard as applied to refurbishment of an existing house. […]

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 […]

Architects

Although architects have been quite slow on learning about green design principles there has recently been a bit of a scramble to catch up and they all now claim to know about the subject. In fact most architects practices leave the technical work to architectural technicians they employ. It may pay to ask quite detailed […]

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 […]

First Ideas

Collecting information

This section is about all the inspiring information you can find, much of it on the net. Collect all the best ideas you can –

Remember how past experiences felt. For instance on holiday or when you were a child. Try to remember specifically what made you feel good about certain houses […]

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 […]

Green Design

Denby Dale 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 […]

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 […]

Self Build Courses

4 day 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 course Celebrating the legacy, 30 […]

Exhibitions, seminars, conferences & visits

Many of the following are regular events related to self build. You will need to check the web sites to find the latest information

 

The Self and Custom Build event at Hethel Innovation Centre, Norwich. see moreSelf Build Showcase at Hethel Innovation Centre, Norwich on Thursday 5 May (11am-7pm). The event will provide prospective […]

Ashley Vale, Bristol

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. This is one of the most interesting recent examples of group selfbuild in the UK, not only because of its commitment to green values but also […]