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Just what DO we want to build?

Sue B

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I uploaded my draft floor plans a while ago and I have lived with them a while and am fairly content that they will meet our needs.

 

We have one elderly parent left  who we could easily argue needs to move in with us ( that is closer to the truth than I like to think about as it is my MIL not my own mum).  That gives us the need to a downstairs bedroom and en-suite.  Everything else is fairly normal but of reasonably generous proportions in line with most self builds. We hope to have a comfortable, energy efficient home that we can live in for as long as possible.  Our need to move as we get older and frailer will be more to do with the lane that we live on and our inability to get the 1 mile down the track to the nearest corner shop than the house with luck.  Low maintenance is a biggie for us of course - we have no wish to be doing regular maintenance as we get older.

 

We have appointed an architect technician to look at my floor plans and check that it is buildable but we have given them permission to come up with better ideas if they can.  The house will run from east to west - the longest wall faces south and I have planned an overhang from the floor above along the entire length of that wall to keep the ground floor cooler in the summer.  The only window I have planned on the first floor facing south is on the stair well.  The east and west balconies will again give shade to the bedroom windows hopefully helping to keep them cool in the summer aswell - a woman of my age needs no help at all to get to hot, especially overnight.

 

I've posted these plans before but as this thread is going to be all about the design i thought it would be a good starting point so that we can see the progression up to and including planning consent being granted (note the confindence in that sentence :) ).

 

My intention was to have a flat roof so the house would have a very modern look - all render and block like with maybe a little wood cladding as a feature to break up the render in a couple of places.  The architects are trying to talk me out of the flat roof as they believe we will struggle to get the plans approved as they are not in keeping with other houses in the area.  It's a bit hard to know what other houses they may consider as our nearest neighbours are horses on each side who do have stables but tend not to object to planning permission so long as they get a carrot or apple in payment.  Neither plot is likely to get planning appoval for a house in my lifetime (one side has tried and failed).  Very few plots down the lane have lawful houses on them but there are a few plots occuplied by one of more travelling caravans, most of which have enforcement notices served on them.  So finding what is "normal" is a little tricky.  The SSSI which we are close to is a hill that is home to a number of reptiles.  We have walked up the hill many times and you cannot see our house from anywhere on the hill, you can see the end of the plot, but not the house.

 

I understand that flat roofs have inherant issues that require careful detailing by good roofers - I have been reading @pocster's thread today to remind me of how badly things can go.  I don't like flat roofs.  However I like the look of PV panels even less but I know that I want them.  We have considered putting the PV panels in one of the paddocks on a ground mount system but the dogs love rompng up and down like idiots.  Having space for them to run was one of the big drivers for our move so filling up ground with panels is not something I want to do.  A flat roof to me would be the lesser of the two evils and it means I can have PV panels facing any direction that I want.  

 

So here are the opions I am seeking from the collective:

 

Is a flat roof a sensible compromise to allow PV panels to be hidden from my view?

Is it worth having PV panels facing east, south and west to get the optimum solar generation?

What limits are there on PV generation - I saw something today mentioning 4kw and not sure what dictates that?

I know we won't be getting the FIT tariff so is there anything stopping us going above the 4kw limit (if that is what it is) and just "wasting" the excess if that is possible so that we don't overload the network?

 

As you can probably tell, I know very little about PV but am reading whatever I can find.  I've been meaning to put this thread up for a while now and seeing @Russell griffiths post about solar panels reminded me to pull my finger out and ask the questions.

 

Thank you

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Re solar PV.  See my thread about my DIY solar 

 

 

The 4KW limit, is actually a 3.68KW limit, and is not a limit as such but at that power level you have a "right" to install it and then just notify your DNO that you have done so.  Anything above 3.68Kw and you have to get permission from your DNO first before you connect it and they may if they think it necessary charge you to upgrade the network.

 

It is quite normal to like me have 4KW pf panels, but an inverter that limits the output to 3.68Kw, though it did cause some "confusion" when I submitted the notification and they intiially rejected it until I provided the paperwork to prove the inverter was limited to 3.68Kw

 

I chose to mount mine E/W as that will make the useful generation per day longer, but at the expense of total generation being lower.

 

To split them 3 ways,  E, S and W is harder as most inverters only have 2 inputs, so you would probably end up with 2 inverters, but no reason why you could not do that.

 

 

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But can you generate more and store it in batteries or just let it “ escape” so that you are not pushing it back into the network if you are not using it?  It was you thread that I was reading that made me wonder if I was going to struggle to do what I was expecting to do.

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I am still finishing my immersion heater dump load controller and I then need to install my own export meter. Then I will have a measure of how much does get exported and how much we are actually managing to self use.

 

I am sure batteries will some later but too expensive just now.

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Hi Again @Sue B

 

General points, since you are still thinking generally. I am trying to be a little provocative, so apologies if I have missed anything you have already told us.

 

Firstly, I am having trouble with the sharpness of this plan. Do you have your compression level set to less than "best" on the PNG file, or something similar?

 

You say very few plots have lawful houses. Does this mean you may not get PP, or do you know you will get PP for something? Just checking you are not being premature and diving into detail too early.

 

>get the 1 mile down the track to the nearest corner shop than the house with luck

That means you need sufficient provision for bikes (including potentially trikes), and robust (=Type 3) multiple mobility scooters (charge points!) - that you can get to without going outside or cold (wouldn't want to be tripping on returning in winter at teatime and be stuck outside until morning with a broken leg a mile from help), that you will go barrelling together down the lane on wearing purple when you are 86 and 87.

 

>planned an overhang from the floor above along the entire length of that wall to keep the ground floor cooler in the summer

That will need to be incorporated into your heat calculations / modelling.

 

> So finding what is "normal" is a little tricky.  

Pre-app advice? (Need a lot more contextual info to advise whether that is a good idea).

 

> flat roof 

There are options for that. Totally flat, or low angle (say 20-30 degrees), or trad, or a mix eg pitched roof into the wind backed by sheltered flat terrace for enjoying the views. There are pros and cons for all of them. There are always options for hiding them (eg see Jeremy's in-roof system, or I have 35 panels where they cannot be seen from the front), without letting it control your whole roof form.

 

I think you could perhaps consider intermediate space - that is something between inside and outside, such as a sit-outside-but-sheltered-from-the-weather place, with a secure, warm but (storage, maybe work area - eg scooters) and an outside under-a-roof area. I think that is one way to root the new house into the landscape.

 

I think the design is OK, which sounds like damning-with-faint-praise, but is not meant to be that. Have you thought about the house-in-its-setting as well as houseYou may already have done that, but I think we have only seen the plan. I mean things like sun orientation, vistas from rooms into your planned garden, prevailing wind, existing trees, and how the design relates to it all. These are things that architects should be strong on - if you have an AT and muggins, it may not be sufficiently considered. Classically the design process is both outside-inwards and inside-outwards, then the two are resolved where the ideas meet.

 

Can I recommend that you read the blog by a member here called Caliwag - Jim Comrie. Currently @caliwag seems to be on sabbatical. His blog is mainly thought-provokers about design. He also wrote an E-Book called  'Self Build Home...the last thing you need is an architect', which was a set of notes he then expanded into a full book. It has been very beneficial for a number of us.

 

 

 

Edited by Ferdinand

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21 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

You say very few plots have lawful houses. Does this mean you may not get PP, or do you know you will get PP for something?

We have planning for a 4 bedroomed house that doesn’t meet our needs at all and is pretty boring so I know PP is possible.

 

25 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

you will go barrelling together down the lane on wearing purple when you are 86 and 87.

 

We seem to have acquired one mobility scooter from a friend’s parent who passed away already 😂😂. It’s sitting in the stable waiting patiently for us.  However, we have seen locally a TANDEM mobility scooter.  It is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen and causes chaos on the high street - I need to get one, nothing like old age indifference to inconveniencing others to stir some young tempers 😊.

 

 North is the left of the plan so the living room doors face south.  There are no views to be had to the north or south - out of the living room will be straight into the garden which will be beautiful one the current house is demolished.  West is not unpleasant but is really just the greenery of the side of a hill of trees and shrubbery.  East is a view down our plot and onwards onto the Avon floodplains - quite pleasant but nothing spectacular.  

I have avoided windows north and south on the first floor - partially because of south facing glazing and overheating issues but also because of overlooking other plots which I think will be a no no.

 

The plot is 1.5 acres - I’ll see if I can find the google earth snip I took a while back. We have a few trees on the plot and in the surrounding areas but nothing that impacts on the house.  Not really sure which direction the prevailing wind comes from - we’re quite sheltered and have never noticed any particular direction.

 

The ground floor will have a patio all down the south side of the building, some of which will be under the overhang of the first floor.  I am not good at sitting in the sun, being particularly pale skinned, so I hog the shade whenever I can.  This will be my place to sit whenever an overheating “moment” gets me.

 

Not sure if the plans are any better on the first thread I put them on.  I think as you have said - they are OK and while this may seem bizarre - I am fine with that.  Spectacular or stunning plans tend to “age” in my experience as ideas and fashions change.  I’ll have a look at the printouts again and see if scanning them in gets them any clearer.

 

Thanks for your input @Ferdinand  provocation is good - it diverts thinking into different pathways not necessarily considered previously.

 

 

I’m off to find the plot picture.  

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Yep flat roofs - especially of ‘ non standard ‘ design are a nightmare.

We had no proper plan for it , and by that I mean the architect didn’t . Hopefully though we are moving forward on that aspect .

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In that 1.5 acres, and if you are aspiring to be carried out in a box (being a little provocative again :ph34r:), then you have space and time to do something quite spectacular outside - in terms of establishing a treescape etc. That could be done even if you keep the pastures as pastures, bulbs in spring etc. It really is a lot of time.

 

Not quite Tarzan Towers, but potentially a joy to live in and watch.

 

F

 

 

 

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Found a google earth snip that I've annotated.  The paddock to the left will be mosly garden as will the area to the south of the new house.  Just under the N is the startings of a kitchen garden.  The soil is really poor so we are putting raised beds in to improve the soil and get the roots out of the waterlogged ground in the winter.  The paddock where the E is had wild flowers sown last year and it looked beautiful.  We kept the paddock between the E and the kitchen garden clear for the 3 wild beasts to run and play in like the idiots they are.  The pink circle is the electric metre and the approx supply path into the house.  Obviously going to have to do something with that before we put the foundations in.  Red is the existing house, blue is the proposed siting of the new house.  The purplish sqaure is my new sewing room - ooops, garage, which will replace the building you can see a little to the left of it.  It is a wooden carport type thing at the moment with sheds on each side that leak and need replacing.  We won't need LPG with the new house so it will be removed once we are in but don't want to disturb it during the build.

 

Home with layouts.png

Edited by Sue B

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and this is the surrounding area with the yellow pin on our front paddock.

Surrounding area.JPG

Edited by Sue B

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Thanks for the mention Ferdinand...I've been busy and moved house with all associated hassle. The e-book you mention is still extant, but reduced to £5 from Amazon. I post occasional extracts on Facebook, but that generates limited interest! So it goes, so it goes. Cheers to you F

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The first draft of the plans arrived today - I open them all excited and love the initial look of the building.  Then I look a bit closer..........

 

I am SO disappointed that I'm not even going to load them up here. 

 

I mentioned to them many times that I hate being too hot.  That I haven't put windows on the south side of the first floor deliberately - for two reasons.  1) I don't think that planners will accept windows on that side because of overlooking the horses next door and the planners appear to think that they will object and 2) we don't need anymore light and we will overheat.

We spoke about our exrrememly tight budget - the glazing alone would take our budget.

I gave them the roof light sizes from @pocster - why have rooflights when you can have full length windows into your bathroom - right by the bath?

I put an overhang along the whole south side of the house - I appreciate it may be difficult to build and require "boys stuff" to hold it up.  However, it will help shade the ground floor.  It's gone, so the ground floor will overheat as well - no explanation as to why it's gone. If they were going to tell me it's really difficult to build, I would accept that and think hard about it but to just remove it is gutting

The kitchen has so many windows that you can't put any cupboards on the walls  - god knows where the oven will go

The dining area of the kitchen has sliding doors PLUS a single door within 5 ft of each other.  I think even when I'm eighty I might manage the twelve steps to get from one option out onto the patio to the other.

 

There - I feel a bit better now.  I will have a discussion with them tomorrow and we will get back on track to plans that we can afford and that will achieve what I want.

 

 

 

Edited by Sue B
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Really quick response from the architects and most of the issues are resolved.  Some of the windows are now too small but I'l live with it  for the weekend and see how I feel.  I have a few concerns about thermal bridging where the dark sticky out bits are - I can't think how we would build that, but as we know, my experience of building extends to lego (which I am very good at 🤣so it may be easier than I can see).  These are the real things now so comments really appreciated more than ever - thinking  of you in particular @Ferdinand.   They are PDFs that I can't edit so I know the address is on there but I can't redact it - never mind, they will be public documents soon enough with luck.

 

Uploaded the wrong plans first time round - edited with the second draft. Edited again with to replace pdfs with snips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East - from stable end.JPG

First Floor.JPG

Ground Floor.JPG

North - Entrance.JPG

South - West looking to stable.JPG

South from garden.JPG

Edited by Sue B

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LOL - I think I may need the real windows to break up the sugar cube whiteness.  Not given up hope I can use them yet but thought @oranjeboom was interested too.

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Is it worth having PV panels facing east, south and west to get the optimum solar generation?

 

I would consider two banks, one South West and the other South East

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On 08/03/2019 at 19:42, Sue B said:

LOL - I think I may need the real windows to break up the sugar cube whiteness.  Not given up hope I can use them yet but thought @oranjeboom was interested too.

Well it was for my brother's extension and he still needs to finalise drawings etc, so............... 

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On 09/03/2019 at 09:43, Ferdinand said:

Or just a screen grab and draw a filled rectangle

Just uploaded from snips of the PDFs

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On 08/03/2019 at 19:38, pocster said:

What about that walk on glazing ? 😎

 

Just looked that the new plans again on the screen and they are there!!  Hopefully will get the final plans before submission on Monday so you never know, you may just see the back of those windows soon :)

 

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14 minutes ago, Sue B said:

3rd Draft arrived this afternoon - I think we are there!!

East.JPG

North east (driveway view).JPG

Proposed Plans.JPG

South West (garden view).JPG

South.JPG

Walk on glass where ??

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Look in the first floor bathrooms and the walk in wardrobe.  I missed it on the second draft because it's a very fine dotted line

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40 minutes ago, Sue B said:

Look in the first floor bathrooms and the walk in wardrobe.  I missed it on the second draft because it's a very fine dotted line

A fine view from beneath!

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