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News

NaCSBA Task Force announced

NaCSBA annouces the launch of new Custom and Self Build Task force at the House of Commons

 

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Minister states: "We are committed to helping people build their own home"

Richard Bacon MP has welcomed industry guests to the National Custom and Self Build Association’s Right to Build Summit to mark the Se....

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Register for your Right to Build

Local authority self and custom build registers are now in force across the country

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Government confirms plans for councils to keep self build registers

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis makes announcement as part of plans to provide more homes

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Plymouth's Nelson custom build scheme moves forward

Land for the scheme is being transferred from Plymouth City Council to housing association DCH and contractor Interserve

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Case Studies

Contemporary Timber Frame Home

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Passivhaus Family Farmhouse

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Steel Farm

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Merlin Haven

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Timber Frame Home, Ventnor

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Aldcliffe Yard, Lancaster

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Walthamstow Social Rent Scheme

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Prefabricated Passivhaus bungalow

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Cookham Dean, Berkshire

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Harvest House

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Bickleigh Eco Village, Devon

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Stoke-on-Trent Serviced Building Plots

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Forevergreen House

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Housing People Building Communities

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Sülzer Freunde, Cologne

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Berlin - 'Building Groups'

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Manor Farm, Kirton

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Straw-baling, Perthshire

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Findhorn

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Almere, Holland

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Hockerton

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Top tips

George Clarke's
Top Tip

George Clarke's Top Tip Read more

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Building Methods: Sustainability

Eco Guidance

Many self and custom builders are keen to be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.

Insulation

The most important thing that any self builder can do is invest in really good levels of insulation, so that any heat generated within the home is not lost. Aim to install significantly more than the levels demanded by the Building Regulations, so you create an extremely snug low energy home. A very well insulated home will cost hardly anything to heat and won’t need lots of fancy gadgets or expensive heating systems to keep everyone warm. So, especially if you only have a modest amount available to make your home sustainable, insulation should be your first priority.

There are many ways of boosting the insulation levels in a home – for example, you can simply add thicker levels of insulation, and opt for triple rather than double-glazing. There are also several new technologies on the market including aerogels, vacuum insulated panels, multi-foils, sheeps wool, hemp, wood fibre and recycled paper products. Working out which is right for you will require some serious study.

Our Suppliers Directory lists various companies that are specialists in insulation and other eco products.

Eco-Technologies

Once you have ensured your new home is really well insulated you may want to consider some of the new eco-energy generation technologies such as solar panels (some produce hot water, whereas photo-voltaic generates electricity), air and ground source heat generators, wood pellet/biomass boilers, log burners, wind and water turbines, and mini domestic combined heat and power generators. Some of these can be quite expensive to install, and if you already have a well insulated design, they may be hard to justify.

You may also be interested in mechanical ventilation and heat recovery systems (MVHR), the latest generation of really efficient gas boilers, and smart control systems, low energy lighting, and ensuring you fit the most energy efficient domestic appliances.

In 2011 a team of experts from the social housing sector looked at some early feedback on the pros and cons of each of the various eco technologies, and the main types of insulation that are being trialed. These slideshows may also be of interest to you:

Great care must be taken in calculating which eco features are affordable and appropriate - beware of 'eco bling!' and 'greenwashing'.

Passivhaus

Passivhaus, or 'Passive House', buildings meet stringent energy-efficient regulations. A typical Passivhaus home would be air-tight, equipped with a high level of insulation and designed to use a bare minimum of eco-technologies for heating and cooling. They can prove to be more expensive to construct but, with almost no financial outlay for heating, costs can be recovered quickly. Passivhaus homes are ultra-sustainable and are acclaimed for their low carbon footprint. The Passivhaus Trust has produced some very good guides on the topic.

Financial Incentives

There are some financial incentives available for self builders to help support the use of low carbon solutions and there is a good description via Homebuilding & Renovating.

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