Why a Passivhaus should be on your self-build list this year

In this week’s article, we take a look at the very essence of what makes Passivhaus so great – and why one should be on your self-build list this year.

Extremely low heating and cooling costs, despite rising energy prices – Passivhaus buildings use up to 90% less heating / cooling energy. Just 10 tea lights or even the body heat of four people could keep a 20m2 Passivhaus room warm in the middle of winter, even in extremely cold climates. In reality of course, Passivhaus buildings are not heated with tea lights; they use energy efficient building components and draw on the Heat Recovery and Ventilation System.

Passivhaus made simple

High levels of comfort – Passivhaus buildings are characterised by consistent indoor temperatures without temperature swings or draughts during cold winter months
as well as hot summer periods. Summer heat is controlled through shading, window orientation and passive ventilation to prevent overheating. The Beattie Passive highly insulated structure combined with high-performance windows also helps dampen unwanted noise generated from outdoors.

Consistent fresh air throughout the building – Passivhaus buildings’ superior ventilation system ensures acontinuous, consistent supply of fresh air at room temperature and ensures high indoor air quality. The filters remove airborne pollutants such as pollen reducing allergies for residents.

Affordability – As there is no requirement for radiators or other h

eating / cooling systems, the running costs for the building are a lot less than an equivalent building constructed to current building regulations. Passivhaus is now being recognised in the market with a higher asset value than traditional construction.

Perform as designed – Passivhaus buildings perform as designed. In an industry where there is often a discrepancy of as much as 100% between the drawing board and as-built performance, this is crucial.

High quality – Passivhaus standards require a high level of quality in building materials and construction methods to achieve the levels of air tightness and insulation required.

Sustainable (up to 100% reduction in CO2) – As no heat escapes from a Passivhaus and very little, if any, extra energy is spent on heating, carbon emissions are minimal. Some Passivhaus buildings are also fitted with solar panels to provide electricity and hot water, making them completely carbon neutral.

Flexibility for design features – Despite the high-energy performance of the building meaning you shouldn’t need a fire to heat the house, some owners install either electric or wood burning fires for aesthetic reasons. We certainly allow for the design and installation of fireplaces into any Beattie Passive building, allowing Santa to still make his grand entrance in the most traditional manner!

Find this blog on the EDP property website

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London Self-Build Project

Four-bedroom Passivhaus family home in Clapham

Project Description

Nestled in the heart of a conservation area in South London, construction is underway on a self-build project to create a stunning three storey four-bedroom family home. The detached property is approximately 119 sqm with a brick façade which conforms to strict planning regulations for the area. Given its location in a busy part of Clapham, access to the site could have proven challenging for the delivery and erection of the timber frame panels, as no mechanical lifting gear could be used. This usually  problematic situation merely highlighted the simplicity, flexibility and scalability of the Beattie Passive Build System as we have been able to manoeuvre the frame, panels and all other elements by hand.

Interview with the client, Daniel Springer

When and why did you start out planning to build your own home?

I had carried out a previous renovation project and given the work involved, thought that if I ever I went down this route again, it would be for a new build only. The plot is the end of a family owned property in South West London with a large garden.

What led you to choose Passivhaus?

I had visited an open house in London which had been built to Passivhaus standards and was really impressed with the concept and performance, particularly for energy efficiency, in comparison to a traditional build. I have a young daughter and wanted to offer the best living environment for her and believe Passivhaus was the way to do this.

How did you hear about Beattie Passive?

I went to the EcoBuild event and visited the Passivhaus Trust stand. I spoke with a few of the representatives and having outlined the type of property I wanted to build, was recommended to contact Beattie Passive. I have been very impressed with the communications from the outset.

How have you found the Beattie Passive design process?

The house is being built in a conservation area so there were tight restrictions and  criteria imposed on the house design, all of which Beattie Passive could easily accommodate in their design and build solution.

What has impressed you so far with the build process e.g. speed of frame delivery and erection and the way the frame is manufactured (e.g. using the prison service)?

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I’ve been very impressed with the speed and simplicity of the system. I believe the manufacturing process is definitely the way forward. This combined with the accuracy and testing of the frame when delivered, adds real value to the system.

I have also been impressed that Beattie Passive takes such a proactive approach in bettering lives within the community, from teaching important life skills, for example, to training people how to manufacture and install the structure.

Is there anything that has been a surprise about the project?

Flexibility of the build – I originally thought some of the curved walls would be a problem for the system but Beattie Passive had a solution for all options and any challenges were resolved swiftly.

What are you looking forward to about your new home?

Sound quality – even though the house is detached, it’s in a busy part of London so it will be interesting to see how quiet the inside of the property will be. I’m also curious to see the new level of my energy bills each month as I expect them to reduce significantly which in turn will reduce my carbon footprint.

Why did you decide to take holiday to be involved with the project and what have been the main benefits?

The team on-site has been great, as has Ron who has been to London on many occasions and even joined in on the build. I’ve been really impressed with the overall team effort and everyone made an excellent contribution to the whole process. Having these builders’ experience plus the flexibility of the Beattie Passive system makes a great combination!

“I have been impressed that Beattie Passive takes such a proactive approach in bettering
lives within the community.”

 

The Coventry ECO House

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Project outline

Location: John Rous Avenue, Coventry
Client: Orbit Homes and Force
Brief: Beattie Passive to design and build two 3-bedroom detached homes to meet the needs of the local community
Build Requirement: Two x 3-bedroom homes – 86m2 each
Build Certification: Passivhaus Certified
System Provider: Beattie Passive

Project delivered:

The Coventry ECO House project was a collaborative, learning legacy project, which aimed to develop and demonstrate local capability for the design, build and operation of sustainable homes. The original vision was to engage the local supply chain in a project, which sought to compare and contrast the differences between the Code for Sustainable Homes and the Passivhaus standard. Whilst the client had planned to build two detached homes, one Passivhaus and the other Code 6, using the Beattie Passive build system ensured that both houses achieved the stringent requirements of Passivhaus within their budget. The homes were certified to the Passivhaus energy performance standard and also through the Code for Sustainable Homes at Levels 4 & 6.

“The FORCE project in Coventry is an innovative and exciting project and as the client we want to ensure the highest possible energy efficiency standard using the Passivhaus principles. We are confident that the Beattie Passive Build System is the right one for the project and will enable us to set a precedent for how Passivhaus technologies are used within Orbit and the sector as a whole.”

George Obeng-Manu, Head of Construction for Orbit Homes

Benefits delivered:

Social benefits:

  • A site foreman was given two weeks training on the build system, enabling him to train two new carpenters on site for the whole build process
  • Up-skilled construction students from Coventry City College. Four 17 year old second year carpentry students at Coventry City College who attended college for two days a week manufactured the Beattie Passive frame
  • They completed two 86m2 frames in just five days and finished the assembly of 5.6 metre ladder rib sections in an impressive 2 minutes 48 seconds
  • The students then progressed onto site to erect the frames and learn not only the Beattie Passive Build System but also additional skills such as air tightness and thermal bridging detailing.

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Economic benefits:

  • Cost innovations: When the project initially went out to tender, local contractors were reluctant to bid for the work. Those who did tender prices were up to 30% over budget and it became clear they were pricing in an element of risk associated with delivering their first Passivhaus scheme. Beattie Passive were invited to tender, recognising that their Passivhaus certified build system had the potential to deliver both on performance and cost

Environmental benefits:

  • Primary Energy Demand: 170kWh/m2.a
  • Heating Demand: 12kWh/m2.a
  • Heating and Cooling Load: 10W/m2, no cooling
  • Air pressure result: 0.54ach @50Pa
  • U values – Ground floor: 0.07W/m2K, Walls: 0.08W/m2K, Roof: 0.08W/m2K, Windows: 0.75W/m2K

“The Beattie Passive System appears to offer the chance to construct extremely energy
efficient dwellings to Passivhaus standard and above at an affordable cost, and my involvement in the demonstration project at John Rous Avenue in Coventry with Orbit Group and FORCE will enable me to learn and understand how this can be done and eventually enlighten other affordable housing groups. Anyone who can break the mould and deliver homes which are both cheap to run and construct deserves our undivided attention.”

Alan Leary, Director, Walker Cotter, Tetra Group

PH_LOGO_2014AWARDS_PURPLE2 200x200Coventry ECO House project was the winner of the prestigious award for the Cost & Build-ability category, UK Passivhaus Trust Awards, 2014.

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Cambridgeshire – An Inspirational and Futuristic Family Farmhouse

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Setting new standards in build quality and environmental rewards, this large bespoke farmhouse in rural Cambridgeshire provides an outstanding exemplar property which is 120% energy efficient.

Client Brief:
The client wished to create a stylish and unique home using the most environmentally friendly resources and materials available.

IMG_0186 (1)Project Scope:
A large bespoke detached family farmhouse constructed with a highly thermally efficient timber frame structural system. The farmhouse is 657m2 and is zero carbon negative. Using Passivhaus certified components for heating and ventilation, and Beattie Passive’s patented continuous insulation system, the architect designed the farmhouse to provide outstanding environmental benefits as well as a stunning building to compliment its rural surroundings.

Client’s Verdict:
“The Beattie Passive Build System has transformed our ‘grand design’ vision to a living, breathing reality. Nestled within the family farm, our home blends seamlessly into the rolling landscape and will be extremely cost efficient for years to come.”

Finalist at the LABC Awards 2015. Shortlisted for the Buildings and Energy Efficiency Awards 2015.

How to improve your self-build experience by being more hands-on

Across the growing number self build projects taking place throughout the country, there is still a huge variation in the extent of how ‘hands-on’ people are willing to be. For many, self build is about designing your dream home, totally bespoke and tailored to your every design whim and desire, and the pleasure comes from seeing it rise from your carefully selected plot to become a beautiful forever home.

But for those on the other side of the coin, the dream is much bigger and that involves going beyond the project management side of self build and getting truly stuck in and building it yourself. The level of which depends on your own skill set but also the type of property you’ve chosen and the way in which it is to be constructed. Most self builders tend to be good at DIY rather than qualified builders however they have the drive and passion to learn, so how do you go about this?

IMG_0886Many look to the internet for guidance and this can of course be a very useful place to start. There is no end of ‘how-to’ videos but the core construction elements should always be done by a fully qualified person, or this will end up being very costly indeed and often not meet with strict building regulations! But for many, putting up some walls, tiling, or fitting a kitchen is the extent of their hands on capability and will satisfy the need to be part of the build process.

Some self build companies offer classroom based training as part of a package with courses often covering elements such as managing a build effectively, planning and regulations, build systems and stages’ and even snagging, testing and completion certificates. All such courses are invaluable to ensure your self build project runs as smoothly as possible – after all, knowledge is king!

Going that bit further, there are various courses you can attend to learn about the basics of foundations, construction, plumbing etc. but rarely do you have the opportunity to learn about the entire build process in a short space of time that will allow you to physically build your own home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo at Beattie Passive we like to go that one step further and have helped many self-builders to build their own homes from scratch. Our Training Academy courses help self builders to understand the fundamentals of Passivhaus construction and be confident on the delivery of the Beattie Passive Build System. And uniquely, you will manufacture and assemble a two storey, 27m2 Passivhaus structure in just 5 days – enabling you to take these newly acquired skills directly onsite to your own Beattie Passive Build. Now that’s hands-on.

Read the blog on the EDP property website

Coach House – Graven Hill

A modern one-bedroom Coach House designed to provide the best space and comfort

“We started on this journey a year ago, and have now been living in our lovely new home for two months. We are very excited to be part of this exciting new development.”                    Sandra Dunn

Interview with the client Sandra Dunn

What made you choose Graven Hill?

I heard about the development on the news and thought that it sounded like a very exciting project. Is it a great location and I really liked the idea of living in a mixed community with an array of different architecture.

What attracted you to the Coach House?

The contemporary look of the Coach Houses really appealed and the fact that they are super energy efficient is a big plus. We particularly like the fact that when buying the tailored finished Coach House we had a choice of two layouts and choice of all the fixtures and fittings, meaning that we could make the house our own right from the beginning.

What do you like best about your new home?

Coach Houses 1

I am really pleased with both the internal and external finish. I particularly like the look of the exterior cladding combined with the render. We love the triple glazed upstairs doors with the Juliette balconies, which along with the windows keep our house at a
constant comfortable temperature. I am looking to buy a two-bedroom Coach House next!

How was the process?

Buying and moving into my new home at Graven Hill, was all very easy. The sales team at the Graven Hill Plot Shop (Marian, Sarah and Gemma) have been brilliant and very professional all the way through. Steve, and the Beattie Passive construction team have been great, very helpful towards any questions and proactive in making sure that the house meets all our requirements.

Did you know anything about Passivhaus prior to enquiring about the Coach House?

I am a big fan of Grand Designs, so had some understanding of Passivhaus and the  benefits. I thought this is something I would love to be a part of. I attended a Graven Hill event where I heard Ron Beattie presenting about Beattie Passive and since moving in I have learnt more about the benefits and living in a Passivhaus from both the Beattie Passive and Graven Hill teams.

Have you noticed any of the benefits of Passivhaus during the short while you have
been in your new home?

I have definitely used the heating a lot less, even with the colder weather coming now in
November. If it is very cold outside and I have been out I only need to put the heating on for a very short period of time to take the chill off.

Any additional benefits you have experienced?

The sound proofing of the house is really good. Even with diggers directly outside, I can hardly hear them – this is a great benefit, especially with the continued construction works going on. [Beattie Passive homes deliver sound protection five times better than Building Regulations].

“The house has been finished to a high spec, and very energy efficient. We will certainly buy another Beattie Passivhaus and highly recommend to people who are looking for an energy efficient, good quality built house.”

Sandra Dunn

Hands-on Self-Build in Caister

This 3-storey three bedroom home is set in a dramatic seaside location directly on the edge of the sandy Norfolk coast. It has been constructed and project managed by the owner following his attendance on the Beattie Passive Training Academy. The Beattie Passive team were on hand to offer advice and support throughout the build.

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What led you to Passivhaus as a construction method?

There were two key reasons: firstly I didn’t want to
be a slave to conventional fossil fuels, and secondly
I had various site restrictions given the location on
the coast and therefore I needed to build a home with
a timber frame and specific materials that would
withstand the direct coastal conditions.

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How and why did you approach Beattie Passive?

I was introduced to Beattie Passive at the early stages of them having developed their Build System, and with such a glowing report on the quality and performance of the structure and
technology, I had to be part of it.

Why did you choose to attend the Beattie Passive Training Academy and did you feel this gave you all the skills needed to tackle the project?

Beattie Passive Training Academy 007I was one of the first people to attend the one week course at the Beattie Passive Training Academy for self builders. However, I had already seen Beattie Passive building some homes in the local area and had gone over to the site to see first hand what they
looked like at ground level. I went once or twice a week just to see how the construction unfolded and asked for an explanation of how it all worked, which they kindly provided!

The course was very comprehensive and provided all I needed to know on Passivhaus and how to build the system. John, the course trainer at Beattie Passive was always happy to help answer any queries.

“Thanks for access to the Training Academy
course, it just reaffirmed to me how clever it all is
and simple enough even for me” – James Snelling

How has the team at Beattie Passive supported you during the build?

Gareth, one of Beattie Passive’s architects has been exceptional and without him there could have been issues with design and the adjoining party wall but both he and John in particular really took their time to work on ironing out any problems which otherwise could have taken up a lot of time and resources. I would highly recommend the team at Beattie Passive, they are very experienced and knowledgeable.

What has been the best / most surprising aspect to the build and the system from Beattie Passive?

I already had some knowledge of the German Passivhaus standard as well as the benefit of seeing Beattie Passive homes being built locally to me. However, the course and building my new home, has reaffirmed to me how clever the Beattie Passive System is, and simple enough for even a self builder with limited construction experience to build.

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Have there been any downsides to the project?

The structure of my home has some tricky steel elements, which has made getting services from one side to another a bit of a challenge. Plus getting a gas / solar combi boiler has proved difficult to source from suppliers. However, I was slightly ahead of the curve, and many more products are coming to the market now.

Would you build another Passivhaus?

Yes I’m already planning a modern / mock Victorian manor house around 4500-5000 sqft which will definitely be Passivhaus otherwise it will be too expensive to heat.

 

 

Spacious family home in Bergh Apton

“It was hard not to be convinced by a construction method offering a warm and energy efficiency home without the need to burn fossil fuels.”

Project Description

This 186m2 3 bedroom family residence is nestled in the small village of Bergh Apton with beautiful countryside views. It was designed for modern family living and includes a fitness area in the basement.

Interview with the client, Paul Golding

What led you to selecting Passivhaus as a construction method?

BP-032-001_Perspective Views_RevAWe bought the land with planning permission and then set about looking at various methods of construction such as SIPS and a Huf Haus, as well as being open minded and reading a lot of articles in the industry. This also covered Passivhaus and it was hard not
to be convinced by a construction method offering a warm and energy efficient home without the need to burn fossil fuels.

How and why did you approach Beattie Passive?

I attended an industry event where Beattie Passive were giving a presentation and it confirmed what I had read about the key being air tightness. Having spoken to Beattie Passive it was clear they offered a simple yet high performance system which would be easy to build and offer all the benefits of Passivhaus as well as the additional benefits that Beattie Passive delivers. Also, they are a local firm to us in Norfolk which we felt would make the process easier for us.

Bergh Apton (Cropped)

What has been the most interesting aspect of having both a Passivhaus and a system from Beattie Passive?

Being part of the construction process and seeing it go up on site has been really interesting. Also, many solutions insist on all decisions being made on day
one, but with Beattie Passive they allow flexibility so that we could amend or discuss layout changes even when the shell was complete! We had contracted another company to deliver our bespoke basement and this was integrated well with the Beattie Passive system.

What has been the best/most surprising aspect of the build?

The speed of the structural build. The team arrived on site in February, then returned when our windows had been fitted. Now the roof is on, it’s watertight with first fix stage on the inside, and the outside is about to be rendered. That wouldn’t happen with a conventional build!

Have there been any downsides to the project?

There are always some issues with a self build! We changed tack in the early stages by  changing from a local builder to carry out the manufacture and erection of the Beattie Passive system, to asking Beattie Passive to manage both the design and construction themselves and this has worked out well. It’s been a challenge at times to project manage the build whilst co-ordinating various contractors and trying to get schedules and delivery times from everyone as they impact other trades but on the whole it’s worked well.

How has the process been on site?

Surprisingly smooth for a self build with a real ‘cando’ and positive attitude on site especially from the Beattie Passive team. Everyone seems happy to chip in with other elements of the project where required.

Which aspects are you looking forward to the most once the build is completed, due to it being a Passivhaus?

Energy efficiency and low fuel bills will play a part but we’re really looking forward to living in a warm and comfortable home that we designed and built ourselves, with a beautiful view over the orchard. It’s what self build is all about.

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Air tightness

The results of the airtightness test was an impressive 0.368m3/hm2 @50pa.

Any other comments?

The Beattie Passive team on site have been great and their positive interaction with the other trades has made a real difference to the overall running of the project.

Have you thought of saving money by doing a small-scale self-build?

With the self-build revolution in full swing and the continued growth in the number of people registering for self-build plots, there is also a new ‘niche’ forming of potential self-builders who are looking for high performance, energy efficient living, but may not be in a position to go the whole hog with a full on self-build project considering the time and cost factors that this would involve.

Coach House Right hand view 1bd.pngHowever, not wishing to miss out, they are dreaming up alternative ways to benefit from bespoke living environments and we are seeing a growing demand from new clients taking on ‘recreational’ projects.

Over the past year we have been involved in a number of these more diverse recreational projects such as a 106m2 pool house offering two bedrooms and a large open plan living space. We are also working on the design and construction of home offices and guest/family self-contained cottages, all built on the customers’ existing plots. High performance, energy efficient buildings with very little heating requirements bring a new dimension and added value to their current way of life.

We are fortunate to design and build a variety of homes from two-bedroom terraced properties in new build developments through to the ultimate ‘Grand Design’ self-build complete with six bedrooms and underground cinema room. Regardless of shape, size and style, all properties come with the same high performance Passivhaus and its long list of benefits, proving that when it comes to achieving the standards of Passivhaus, size really does not matter.

BP-House_Type-2B4P-Standard (Thermal Image - Warm Roof)-2.pngAny planned building can be moved away from conventional methods of construction to fully embrace Passivhaus standards and the significantly enhanced living environment this offers to the owner, so why not enjoy Passivhaus living, just on a smaller scale?

As with any additional dwelling, the usual planning consents must be obtained, but given the flexibility of Passivhaus and its design, there are no limits to the type of building that could take shape in your garden…anyone planning a treehouse?

Read the blog on the EDP property website.

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From A to B – Just how long does a self-build take?

The dream may have taken years to formulate, another room here, another balcony there, and readjust a hundred times to be a perfect vision. But just how long does it take to turn into reality?

Naturally there are many elements to building a home and any one of these can influence the timeline, in small or large degrees, but based on an average sized three-bedroom home, you could expect the following…in a best-case scenario.

Planning with your architect from concept to final drawings, allowing for back and forth discussions, should be around three months.

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Onto planning which, when research is done beforehand so you’re as prepared as possible, is likely to take around 12 weeks if planning is granted first time round. But if you have any special areas that are possible issues e.g. access, neighbour objections, unusual use of materials etc. be prepared for a longer timeframe.

Once planning is granted, it’s all systems go. At Beattie Passive we can turn architectural drawings into a fully modelled Bettie Passive Build System in just 6-8 weeks. Then you’re ready to start building!

The industry average from start of foundations to a completed build is approximately 25 weeks but a self-build project can take longer especially if the client is doing some of the work themselves or cannot be on site managing the project full time.

It only takes one element to have a knock-on impact to cause delays on the whole project with the biggest causes of delays being weather, labour and availability of material. However, by manufacturing the main component of the house – the Structural Thermal Envelope (STE) – offsite, you can mitigate a lot of the risks.

The demand for off-site construction is growing quickly and as such, Beattie Passive has recently launched a volumetric build system where modular units are manufactured in dry conditions with labour and pre-ordered materials, which greatly speeds up the entire process and reduces risk of delays.

When we are supplying the volumetric STE, the units arrive onsite with all the structural elements complete, generally the windows and doors are then installed on site. The airtightness membrane is also finished onsite to ensure the rigorous airtightness requirements of Passivhaus. The complete STE is craned into place in just two days and the full STE can be completed within five days.

 

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When planning your self-build, it’s important to factor in all the time elements as they can also impact the finances considerably. And especially if you’re building where the weather can be somewhat temperamental, it’s worth considering an off-site manufacture to ensure at least the manufacture and delivery of the structure is guaranteed, come rain or shine.

 

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