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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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Custom Build Serviced Plots Loan Fund

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Passivhaus Family Farmhouse

Background:

  • This is a modern Passivhaus farmhouse situated in a rural location in Cambridgeshire.
  • The owners were looking to build a new farmhouse adjacent to existing farm buildings - the farm holding did not have a dwelling so the idea was to construct this new building, next to the farm buildings, overlooking a designated nature reserve.
  • The homeowners wanted to construct a modern Passivhaus farmhouse large enough to comfortably accommodate two families - allowing them to each enjoy their own privacy within the same home.

Delivery:

  • The site was already within the homeowners' land. Gaining planning permission was challenging as the site was originally outside the development boundary and only had planning for a small cottage close to the cowsheds - however planning was eventually gained for the larger family home, helped by the home's environmental Passivhaus credentials.
  • The idea of a very low energy-consuming house was introduced to the homeowners at an early stage and they developed a real passion for an eco-house design. The homeowners chose to build with the Beattie Passive System which delivers Passivhaus standards with no design limitations.
  • Beattie Passive project-managed the entire project from start to finish on behalf of the homeowners - who were involved throughout the design and build process, from initial designs and system selection right through to selecting their bathrooms, kitchen and the like. The homeowners attended all of the project meetings and were fully engaged in all decisions but did not physically build any of the house themselves.
  • Beattie Passive operated on an open-book project management format with agreed overheads, prelims and profits - this allowed the client to closely monitor and understand all the costs involved.
  • The home has four reception rooms, a kitchen, utility room, seven bedrooms and a study.
  • The designs allowed for the potential of sympathetic living for two families, using separate entrances, kitchen and living areas.
  • The designs included open plan spaces, large openings, cantilevered construction and ceiling lines to follow the pitch of the roof.
  • The home was constructed using a timber frame using Beattie Passive's Build System - a patented construction method that provides a continuous insulation seal around the core of a timber framed structure. Beattie Passive was responsible for the manufacture and erection of the timber framed structure and the patented continuous insulation - working closely with the architect, Tim Christy Architect Ltd.
  • The continuous layer of insulation passes from floor to roof, providing a complete thermal jacket to the entire building enclosure.
  • The total frame is clad in fireproof cement and fibre boards, both inside and out.
  • A Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) system was supplied and installed by Total Home Environment - the MVHR unit runs on small amount of electricity generated by an associated solar photo-voltaic (PV) array installed on the adjacent farm building roof. Fresh air for the house is drawn through a large 'earth-tube' which pre-heats (or cools in hot summer temperatures) the incoming air to the MVHR unit.
  • Windows are triple-glazed and the largest windows are shaded with a zinc-clad canopy at ground floor level.
  • Three highly-efficient, low-powered wood burners are installed, with all wood sourced from the farm. These are not required as an additional heat source, but used more for aesthetics. Air supply is directed straight into the base of the fires from ducts within the sub-ground floor void, thereby not compromising the air tightness of the construction.
  • Lighting is power by 100% low energy lamps, using the latest LED colour-changing technology with some low-energy compact fluorescent fittings, all of which are dimmable.
  • The interior is completed using solid oak with limestone tiles and luxury bathroom fittings.
  • The new working farmhouse with the adjacent PV array has become a highly sustainable and 'negative carbon' construction, with performance equivalent to, if not exceeding, Passivhaus standards.

Finance:

  • No financial outlay was needed for the land as it was already owned by the family.
  • The house covers an area of around 750m2, giving a build cost of £1,700 per m2.

Timescale:

  • April – May 2012:
    • Groundworks and setting out and pad foundations
    • Installation of radon barrier and damp proof membrane
    • Ground beams positioned
  • June – August 2012:
    • Timber frame and insulation layers erected and installed
    • Windows and doors installed
    • Stud wall partitions installed
  • October – December 2012:
    • Structural building complete and tested
    • Air-tightness detailing
    • Air-testing and thermal image test
    • Insulation injected
    • First-fix MVHR external brick facade erected
    • Plasterboarding fitted internally
    • Electrics and plumbing installed
  • January 2013 – December 2013:
    • Internal finishes completed
    • Further work to electrics and plumbing
    • Internal decoration
  • June 2013: House completed

Learning Points:

  • Passivhaus is seen as the gold standard of building and can result in a high-quality building through detailed planning and testing; a high level of comfort with a consistent temperature and no drafts or overheating; a 90% reduction in heating bills; and, up to a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions.
  • This home was built on an isolated plot - it's not something that immediately springs to mind but, in this case, it might be worth installing some sort of lightning protection. Towards the end of the project the house was struck by lightning - however, due to the high level of insulation and inherent fire layers in the Beattie Passive system, the fire was unable to take hold and there was no structural damage to the building.
  • If your site has a soft surface it may be sensible to lay more hardcore around the site than you think you need - it can be removed and re-used later. This site was formed of heavy clay and putting more hardcore around the building site allowed the team to worker safer and easier.

Related Links:

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