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Timber frame

overview

‘Timber frame’ can have several meanings:

Platform frame where walls are assembled on site into 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 […]

Domestic hot water

Traditionally, domestic hot water has simply been a choice between a combi boiler or a vented system (with the odd Point of Use water heater thrown in).

With water saving design, and zero carbonbit of a slippery fish. It tends to mean that a building uses no carbon (oil, coal, etc) to heat it (meaning […]

Emitters (radiators etc.)

Central heating

Emitters tend to be of two types – traditional radiators and underfloor heating. It’s a bit of a toss-up as to which is better. They have their respective advantages and drawbacks.

Underfloor

a pleasanter heat because it is better distributed no wall space taken up by radiators possibly more efficient because of lower […]

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). […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Insulating concrete forms

Insulated concrete forms by Logix

There are several systems on the market which allow you to cast concrete using clip together poystyrene forms. The two leafs of insulation are connected together by plastic ties and the units are clipped together and then filled with concrete, usually by pumping, so the whole process is very […]

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 […]

Insulation properties

A cork oak. The bark (cork) is stripped about every 8 years and regrows

The qualities of insulation types

Assuming that the question of designing in enough insulation into your self build project has been dealt with the question is about what kind of insulation materials to use. Here the issues are –

the […]

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 […]

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 […]

Window design

There are many purposes a window can serve and several of these have important ecological considerations:

Letting light in Collecting solar heat Providing a view Acting as a door The visual character of a house

Windows may have associated drawbacks to consider:

They may let in too much light at certain times Too much […]

Doors

Karen made this beautiful doorway in the attic of her house

Green issues concerning doors are mainly about their insulation values (for external doors) and the materials they are made from.

Good external doors are quite hard to source in the UK because we have had a poor tradition of insulating and draught proofing […]

Stonework

New buildings

As a building material, locally sourced (or possibly newly quarried), reclaimed stone may be a viable option but suffers from the drawback that stone itself has virtually no insulating value.

This can obviously be overcome by including sufficient insulation within the rest of the wall construction but it does tend to lead […]

How Much Insulation?

hemp insulation

“Fabric First”

It is very cheap and easy to build in wall insulation at the beginning of a self build project compared with the complicated job of adding more later. It is only a few decades ago that insulation was not bothered with at all (cavity walls only had cavities to stop […]

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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Brick

The green credentials for brick walls vary, with three main factors:

the embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy depends on what sort of bricks are used the environmental policy of the manufacturer the effect on the wall design

The embodied energy […]

Cob

Cob building, which uses earth, generally subsoil, mixed with straw and water and possibly clay and sand to construct walls is one of the most sustainable ways of building in terms of materials and embodied energythe total amount of energy it takes to make a material (or a building). See more on embodied energy. […]

Rammed Earth

rammed earth can be quite attractive if left unfinished

Rammed earth is an age-old method of building walls by packing moist subsoil into formwork and then compacting it, either by machine or manually. The formwork is then struck and lifted to form the next layer. In terms of embodied energythe total amount of energy […]

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 […]