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News

UK-Swedish collaboration to spearhead Cambridge K1 scheme

Construction on innovative 38-home custom build cohousing project set to start by the end of the year

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Government document sums up state of the self/custom build sector

Briefing paper summarises initiatives launched to date aimed at helping people build homes for themselves

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Sheffield City Council unveils numerous self/custom build plots

Right to Build vanguard council brings nine sites to market allowing up to 80 homes

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Custom build homes designated for East Midlands development

Outline planning permission secured for 60-home scheme in South Derbyshire

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Right to Build extended in Cambridgeshire

Councillors choose to continue Government scheme matching self builders with shovel-ready sites

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Case Studies

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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Low-cost Irish House

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Community Eco-homes, Devon

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Lancaster Cohousing

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Cropthorne

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Findhorn

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Almere, Holland

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Top tips

Kevin McCloud's
Top Tip

Kevin McCloud's Top Tip Read more

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Building Methods: Sustainability

Eco Guidance

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

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.

More sources of general eco information include:

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'.

Here are more sources of impartial advice:

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.

Related Links: