Great Yarmouth Retrofit – Entry 20

All finished at Great Yarmouth! The secure entry system has been completed, final checks have been carried out and the site has now been cleared away. The retrofit has proved to be very successful, evident in the fact that the tenants haven’t needed to use their heating even on the coldest days.

This is a great step towards eliminating fuel poverty for the residents – we anticipate an 80% reduction in heating demand. Deep retrofits like this are essential if we want to ensure that the UK meets its ongoing commitments to reducing Carbon emissions, and we’re seeing a real drive in the industry to achieve this, as seen in this article: https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/CLC-National-Retrofit-Strategy-final-for-consultation.pdf

We would be very happy to welcome you to visit the finished retrofit once we are out of lockdown. Please get in touch with us via email (enquiries@beattiepassive.com) or by telephone (01953 687332) if you would like to book a visit.

Many thanks to our partners Enhabit and Oxford Brookes University for their help on this retrofit, and we look forward to seeing how the flats perform over the next year, with continual monitoring carried out by Oxford Brookes University.

Great Yarmouth Retrofit – Entry 19

Almost finished at Great Yarmouth! The new balconies have now been installed to replace the old balconies that we removed right at the start of the retrofit.

The Passivhaus door at the back of the building has been fitted, with the front door going in by Friday 4th December. The fibre glass roof has also been fixed on the front and back of the porch. The Automatic Opening Vent (AOV) has been installed within the second floor hallway, and inside each flat, the remedial works around the windows are now complete. Final decorations are now underway, and we are looking to complete handover before Christmas!

We would be happy to welcome people to site to see the finished result – please get in touch if you would like to visit: enquiries@beattiepassive.com.

Going for Gold: Passivhaus – the pinnacle of building standards

You’ve decided to build your own home, and naturally you want to build the best home that you can. Passivhaus is the gold standard of building – with superior insulation, airtightness and energy efficiency. Passivhaus (or Passive House) gets its name from the fact that around 80% of the heating in a Passivhaus building comes from ‘passive’ sources such as sunlight, body heat, and heat from appliances such as ovens, hairdryers and so on. As a result, a Passivhaus building rarely needs a traditional central heating system and can instead just rely on one of two electric radiators for those especially cold days.

Five key elements combine to bring a Passivhaus to life:

  1. High quality thermal insulation: High performance cavity insulation is applied on-site by skilled installers to guarantee the delivery of a continuous insulated building. The Beattie Passive system in particular enables the insulation to flow around the whole structure, meaning a complete insulation system with no gaps and no joints.
  2. Passive-certified windows and doors: Specially designed windows suitable for Passivhaus builds, Passivhaus windows are triple-glazed, and filled with Radon Gas in between the panes to stop air transfer through the glass. The frame is also designed to eliminate thermal transfer through the frame.
  3. Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery (MVHR): A Passivhaus building is incredibly airtight, which is great for heat retention, not so great for breathable fresh air! Enter the MVHR – a ventilation system that is on 24/7 all year and provides a continuous flow of fresh air into the property, while expelling the stale air. What’s more, the heat from the outgoing air is transferred into the incoming air within the MVHR unit, further reducing the need for central heating. On average, it costs around £60 to run an MVHR for a whole year – which is far more cost effective than your average central heating system!
  4. Airtightness: The Passivhaus requirement for airtightness is an incredibly stringent 0.6 air changes per hour, compared to the building regulation of 10 air changes per hour. This is achieved by meticulously eliminating gaps, cracks, holes, splits and tears through which air could escape. In Passivhaus construction, special membranes are applied all throughout the internal and external of the property to ensure all gaps are covered.
  5. Thermal bridge free designs: A thermal bridge is an area or component which has higher thermal conductivity than surrounding materials, in effect creating a path of least resistance for heat transfer. A home with a lot of thermal bridges will lose heat to the outside quickly, and so a Passivhaus is built in a way which minimises thermal bridges, either through design, or by making good with extra insulation.

Because of the above points, it is generally agreed that Passivhaus homes provide a superior living environment. The excellent airtightness and insulation will keep your home warm during even the coldest months, giving you a very comfortable home with a consistent, ambient temperature all year around. The MVHR unit providing a constant stream of fresh, filtered air that can also filter out pollen and other allergens to keep you healthier at home.

Passivhaus as a concept has come on leaps and bounds since it’s introduction into the UK, and now many of the early limitations are a thing of the past – want to open a window in your Passivhaus? No problem! Want a wood burner in your home? Go for it! Want something more than just a basic box? Passivhaus can be built to any shape or size. Passivhaus buildings now have none of these early limitations and will now feel the same as a normal home, but with the added benefits!

At Beattie Passive, we have been simplifying the delivery of Passivhaus since 2010. Our patented build system delivers Passivhaus as standard, and we test at key points and on completion to ensure that our high standards are met. We’ve worked with many self-build clients across the UK and have been happy to help bring our clients dreams into reality, and the testimonials speak for themselves!

Great Yarmouth Retrofit – Entry 18

Following our remobilisation to site, we have made sure to make changes to the way we work and take precautions to ensure safe working in the era of COVID-19. We’ve implemented social distancing measures, ensured that masks are now worn all the time while on site, and are taking temperatures of work staff daily to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

With our safe working environment in place, we have progressed well with work on site. The scaffolding has now been fully striked, and all the Passivhaus certified windows have been installed.

Work is almost complete, but there are still a few bits of beautification to do on the exterior and making good on all flat interiors. COVID will throw up some difficulties in this regard, but as on site we will be implementing measures that will put the safety of tenants first and allow us to carry out the required works in a safe way.

We are on the home stretch now and are very excited for final completion. We also look forward to hosting an open day once work is complete, where guests can visit the finished product.

Budgeting Brilliance: Keeping your self-build project on budget

When you start building your own home, it might be tempting to envision a grand design, with any number of unique and exciting (and expensive!) gimmicks and gizmos – after all, this is your dream home, so why not right? Whilst of course it is exciting to have the opportunity to build your own home exactly how you want it, it is also important to recognise that, as with any large scale project, it is very easy for the costs to add up and become far more expensive than you planned for if you don’t keep on top of it. Here are some of our top tips to help you keep control of your costs.

  1. Decide on your budget before you start, and prepare a contingency fund

Deciding on how much you want to spend in the first place is the most important first step – setting a realistic budget will help you effectively plan your spending and manage your money from start to finish – for a simple example, say the equity in your current house is about £300,000, and you are able to borrow another £100,000 – this would very roughly give you £400,000 to build your home. Review your budget at each stage of the build, as the project progresses you may find that spending priorities change. It is important to keep your budget somewhat flexible, so that you can rework it as needed to ensure that is stays on track.

We also recommend that at least 5-10% of your budget is held back for contingencies. During the build, things may go wrong – mistakes in the build, material prices fluctuating, problems on site and any number of other problems. Being prepared with a contingency fund will ensure you don’t end up too far out of pocket if something goes wrong.

On the flip side, you may find that some aspects of your build go very well, and that you actually save money on what you originally budgeted. You might be tempted to use the extra money to treat yourself since the money was budgeted away anyway, but by saving this as extra contingency you can make doubly sure that you don’t go over budget.

  • Get quotes and solid costs agreed in advance and watch out for hidden extras

A quote is an agreed, fixed price for particular materials or jobs. Quotes (unlike estimates) are legally binding, and so getting quotes in advance will fix the price of the materials or projects being undertaken, giving you a better idea of the exact costs before you start. Be sure to shop around and get quotes from several different suppliers and contractors to make sure you are getting the best value for your money.

It’s also important to keep an eye out for any hidden extra charges – there can be many in construction, from utility connections to landscaping insurance. Make sure you get correct and in-depth investigations done early to minimise additional costs. Where these are unavoidable, get these costs agreed and fixed in writing to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

  • Avoid sunk costs where possible but don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board

A sunk cost is defined as a cost that has been incurred and can never be retrieved, either in full or in part. An example of a sunk cost when building your own home might include the cost of landscaping the site in an unsatisfactory way, necessitating further landscaping to make it right. Being vigilant and doing the proper research beforehand can help you avoid sunk costs like these.

That said, if a certain aspect of your project is starting to get out of hand cost-wise, don’t get sucked in by the sunk cost fallacy and throw good money after bad – don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board to rework or redesign as often there is a cheaper, more effective solution that can be found.

  • Complexity adds cost

The universal truth – the more complex something is, the more it will cost to make happen. The most cost-effective build is the simplest build, a box with a roof. Adding extras, like balconies, curves, structural glass etc. will add to the cost. If this is what you want and your budget can handle it, then absolutely go for it. However, if you want the biggest house and the most space for your money, keeping your design simple will get you the most bang for your buck.

  • Fabric first!

If you choose an optimal structural system and have your home built to a high standard initially, you can save yourself money in the long run by avoiding complex heating systems and so on.

The premier example of this is building to Passivhaus standard. Built with excellent insulation and airtightness, and using a Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery system (MVHR), you can almost eliminate the need for central heating entirely, being able to fully rely on a few electric radiators around the home for the coldest days. The outlay might be slightly more, but overall, you will be saving a lot more money on energy bills year on year which over time will more than make up for the initial outlay. (At Beattie Passive we specialise in building high quality homes that go beyond Passivhaus standards and can reduce your heating bills by up to 80%).

If you’re looking to make savings on your build, it’s best to look for them on things that are easier to change at a later date (e.g. kitchens, decorating, bathrooms) – invest in the fabric of your building first and foremost, as this is incredibly hard (and expensive) to change later down the line.

Whatever your budget size, and however prepared you might think you are, any project is likely to throw any number of curveballs, so making sure you have every avenue covered should help you avoid any unwelcome surprises and smooth the way to the home of your dreams.

Land 101: Finding the perfect plot

Finding a plot of land to build on is the crucial first step towards building your dream home. While plots of land for building may sometimes be difficult to find, don’t lose hope! On average, as many as 13,000 people every year are able to build their own home. Here are some of our top tips for finding a good plot.

  1. Narrow down your options – deciding where you want to build

Weston Longville 001The UK is a big place, and a countrywide plot search would probably be quite overwhelming and would stretch your resources too thin. It goes without saying then that it is a good idea to decide on at least a couple of ideal locations to build your new home before you start. This will keep you focussed and help you identify sites that are at a distance away from major roads, schools, shops or other amenities that suits you. Search the area and keep an eye out for suitable build sites, including disused sites and even plots with a damaged/abandoned building which could potentially be demolished to make room for your new home. It is important to be open minded though and keep a few areas in mind in case it turns out that there are no plots available in the area you are searching in.

  1. Go digital! Online land databases

There are now a number of useful websites you can use to find plots of land to build on. Websites such as www.plotsearch.buildstore.co.uk, www.plotbrowser.com or www.plotfinder.net feature thousands of land listings, and general property hunting portals allow you to refine your search. Registration to these sites is usually free of charge and can be a good way to get an idea of the different kinds of plots available and help you decide on the kind of plot you need to build the house that you want.

  1. Get help from local professionals

Estate Agents, local surveyors, architects and auctioneers can all be worth talking to in your search for the perfect plot. While not every Estate Agent will sell land, local agents, especially those who run property auctions, are likely to be able to help. Surveyors and architects in the local area will be able to tell you about new plots cropping up. Land auctions are also a good place to go as selling plots to build on is the name of the game!

  1. The Right to Build Portal

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Right to Build legislation was introduced by the government in 2016, and this places a legal obligation on local councils in England to make plots available for people wishing to build their own homes.

You can register your interest with local authorities using the Right to Build portal at https://nacsba.org.uk/campaigns/right-to-build-portal/, and you can sign up for any number of registers if you are interested in a few different locations. The Council in question will then have three years from the date of your registration to make land available, with planning permission, to fulfil self-build demand.

The drawbacks are that the plot may not be exactly what you envisioned, as well as the three-year wait, however registering can be useful as it obliges councils to make more land available for aspiring self-builders like you.

  1. Brownfield land registers

‘Brownfield’ refers to a site that has already been developed and is now for whatever reason no longer in use. These kinds of plots may typically be more expensive overall as you will need to take responsibility for clearing the site and making it ready to build on, including any demolition work, however these plots can appear in areas where space is otherwise limited or where planning permission might be difficult to obtain, and these sites are also less attractive to other potential self-builders looking for a typical greenfield plot, meaning less competition for you.

A word about Planning Permission

Planning permission is a legal necessity in order to be able to start building your home, and obtaining it can be a lengthy, complicated process. Where possible, try to make sure that the land you are buying already has planning permission. If your perfect plot of land doesn’t have pre-approved planning permission, you can research the planning history of the plot on the local council’s website, and it might be advisable to also arrange a meeting with a local planning officer, who can help you understand the local planning policy, and help you assess your chances of securing planning permission for your desired plot.

How to get started on your self-build

Many of us have dreamt of building our own perfect home. What you may not know is that this is becoming more and more common, with more support becoming available for self-builders. This means that building your own home may not be as far away as you might think! Here are some of our top tips to help you get informed and hopefully get started!

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Land: Finding the right plot

Finding land for self-building is increasingly becoming easier – there are some great online resources to help you find the perfect plot. www.plotbrowser.com and www.plotfinder.net are some great examples, and signing up to the self-build register will show local government that self-build is more in demand, thus making it more likely that more self-build plots become available. The key element to securing a plot is flexibility; go into it with an open mind and keep your options open in terms of location, size and landscape, the quicker your search will be and the less you will end up paying. This is where a good imagination and being able to see the potential of a plot can help.

Funding and finances

For many self-builders, a mortgage will be required to fund some, if not all, of the project. Much like finding a plot, there is an increasing number of online resources that can help: www.buildstore.co.uk and www.maryrileysolutions.co.uk are just two of the lenders that previous Beattie Passive clients have worked with, and there are many more. Payments from self-build mortgages will often be made in stages and released upon reaching key milestones in the project. It is very important when arranging your build programme that it works with your mortgage and you don’t find yourself running short of funds in the middle of the project. It is also important to keep your finances on track during the build, and you can find some of our top tips to keeping your budget on track in a previous article.

Get your team in order

Building your own home will doubtless involve a lot of other people, and it’s important to get your team right to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Seeking help from consultants as early as possible can help you avoid bigger costs down the line by helping you identify potential issues early and fix them before they escalate, or before planning permission is submitted. Various suppliers and tradespeople will also be required to provide the materials, build the structure, fit your bathroom, hook up the plumbing and electricity, decorate your home, and so on. Over the course of building your home there may be lots of tradespeople on site at various times, so ensuring that there are processes in place for trades to hand over to one another will help build progress smoothly. Regular site meetings to discuss the build programme and trade cross overs can prove invaluable.

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Fabric First – and future proofing your home

As a self-builder, you need to stick to a budget, which unfortunately might mean that you may not be able to incorporate everything you would like on your first pass. However, it is important to remember that you can continue to work towards your dream home for years to come. Some aspects like your building fabric are far trickier to upgrade later. Get this right first, and the rest will follow. See our top tips to keeping your budget on track.

Testing and guarantees

Has the product or service you are buying been properly tested and guaranteed, so that you know you’re getting what you pay for? The performance gap in the construction industry is notoriously large so always be careful to use suppliers or products you trust. Beattie Passive inspect and independently performance test every house that we build – we carry out stringent airtightness and thermal imaging tests on completion to ensure that our superior build standard is met and only certify once they are. These tests mean that, if you decide on a Beattie Passive build, you can be sure that you will always get the high quality that you expect.

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How you can get started

At Beattie Passive, we offer a few flexible options for delivery, to help you make your dream home a reality:

 

  1. Passivhaus Design and Technical

We take your architects plans and use our innovative 3D modelling software to provide you with complete design and technical information to deliver your new home. We will fully test the structure once complete to ensure that it meets the high standards of Passivhaus and that your home performs as it was designed. If you want to get stuck in yourself, our Training Academy offers a five-day course that will provide you with the skills and knowledge to complete the structure yourself.

  1. Structural Thermal Envelope

We provide the design and technical information as above, but in addition we will manufacture the structural thermal envelope in our factory in Norfolk, and deliver to site and erect a fully tested structural thermal envelope, which is both weathertight and airtight, ready for you to complete.

  1. Turnkey solution with project management

We can project manage the entire build process from start to finish. We liaise with architects and building inspectors as well as the full range of suppliers to deliver your stunning new Passivhaus home, ready for occupation.

Great Yarmouth Retrofit – Entry 16

The first Passivhaus certified windows have arrived on site and the team are now installing these into the individual flats. We look forward to completing all window installation over the next couple of weeks.

We’re also making sure to join the airtightness layer around each window reveal.

After carrying out our thorough checking process, we required the insulation providers to come back onto site to pump the small amount of insulation missed in the roof. After that, we continued installation of the Catnic steel roof, and the team have finished off the eaves detail.

Great Yarmouth Retrofit – Entry 15

We begin this entry by welcoming our Great Yarmouth retrofit partners Oxford Brookes University and Enhabit Limited. It was good to show our partners the nearly finished product and look forward to welcoming them back after the retrofit is complete.

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Half of the roof installation is now complete – the whole of the back half is now done and we’re looking to have this completed within the next couple of weeks.

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In addition, the Steni-board cladding is now about 60% done around the back, and the Teckwood cladding on the back is roughly 30% complete, and we will be finishing this off next week. We are also looking forward to installing the first Passivhaus windows in the coming weeks.

Finally, it was our pleasure to welcome ITV Anglia to our King Street site recently, to talk about our TCosy retrofit and the greater need for energy efficient retrofits across the country, in the face of a worsening climate emergency. You can find the full story at https://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2020-03-02/the-energy-efficient-homes-helping-to-tackle-climate-change-in-the-region/

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