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Finishing the Shell



Sorry for the delay since the last blog. Things have been very hectic keeping a track of everything that is going on with the build and holding a job down ! 

As we approach end of January and move into February there are lots of things going on simultaneously on site including battening the roof in preparation for the roofers, finishing of fitting the smartply in preparation for blowing in the insulation and fitting the windows and doors.





The first window goes in on 30th January. Many of the side reveals to the windows have splays to help spread the light from the window. 

We are using Green Building Store Progressions windows and Green Building Store Ultra doors. The Progression windows are expensive, but the narrow sight-lines give a lovely contemporary look and very little of the frame is visible outside, so it should be as maintenance free as you can get and seems like a good investment. The Ultra doors look very similar to the Progression doors and are of a similar thermal performance but are more cost effective to purchase.  




From the 12th - 15th February, the Warmcell insulation is blown into the frame. I hadn't realised, but you can do this before all of the windows are fitted, as long as the boarding out is completed inside and out. 


By 21st February all windows and doors are fitted. A lot of time has gone into ensuring the windows are fitted properly and are as airtight as possible. In parallel, the brick plinth is built. Whilst you won't see all of this once the ground levels are built up, I am really pleased with the quality of the job. 




Next job is and fitting the Aquapanel in preparation for the rendering.





The roofer we had lined up pulled out at the last minute, but we are able to get a local firm with a good reputation to take their place at short notice. We took a lot of trouble selecting the roof tiles and  we are particularly looking forward to seeing the tiles laid. The roofers are on site beginning of March after a small delay due to rain to do the counter-battening and lay the tiles. 




The roof is a pretty simple shape so the roofers make quick progress. We are using plain clay smooth machine-made tiles made by Dreadnought tiles and supplied by Ashbrook Roofing. We found out about them at a self build show we attended and have had great support from both Dreadnought and Ashbrook. We are using two colours - 70% staffordshire blue and 30% blue brindle mixed randomly. Before you know it, the roof is in place.




Big Day on 8th March as it is our first Air Test. We'd put 0.3 air changes per hour (ach) @ 50pa into phpp so we were hoping for something similar or better. Results were:

0.08 ach @ 50 pa 
0.11 m3/hr/m2 @50 pa

Absolutely delighted with the results. Given building regs are 10 m3/hr/m2 @50 pa and Passivhaus standard is 0.6 ach @ 50 pa, this is over 90 times better than building regs and over 7 times better than Passivhaus standards and a great testament to the attention to detail shown by the build team. 


Flashings between the wood cladding and the render are fitted. These were made by a Herefordshire based fabricator. 




Work continues fitting the cladding. We are using Douglas Fir, supplied by Ransford which is literally 5 minutes down the road. 




Once the roof has been laid and the weather allows, the rendering starts. We are using the Weber system, with a base coat applied first followed by a thin silicon based top coat which will be sprayed on. 




The roof and detailing around the dormer window are completed 








Once the cladding is complete and before the scaffolding comes down, we need to treat the cladding. The gable ends need a fireproof coating due the proximity of other houses, so it's one coat of primer, two of Envirograf and two of Osmo. The front and back of the house get one coat primer and two of Osmo. It's one of those jobs that costs more and takes longer than expected. We hadn't planned on having to to apply so many coats of product and in my naiveity I thought it would be a layer or two of fireproof coating on each gable. 


The wood looks a little orange at the moment but that is typical when new and it does weather down nicely which is what I plan to allow the wood to do. Hopefully to osmo will help even out the weathering but I have no plans to keep on applying it. 


The guttering is attached whilst the scaffolding is still up (Lindab galvanised)





The scaffolding on the house comes down and goes up on the garage to allow the roof to be completed on the garage. The second coat of render is sprayed on and the shell of the house is now complete. 





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13 hours ago, bissoejosh said:

Looks great, is that insulation under the brick plinth? EPS Raft of similar?

Yes it is - supplied by Isoquick. 

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fantastic results from air test - MVHR fitted I assume?



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@CC45 Thanks - the air test results were a very pleasant surprise but all the taping was carried out with great attention to detail. 


We are using a Zehnder Comfoair Q350 for the MVHR. It has been fitted now, but that is for the next blog !

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Is smart ply the airtight variety?

Are joints glued or t&g or all taped?

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@Oz07 We used smart ply propassiv https://www.buildingcentre.co.uk/news/smartply-propassiv-sets-industry-first-standards-for-airtightness which is the airtight version. The joints were all taped. 


@Russell griffiths Fabricator who did the flashings was ACL Sheet Metal in Hereford. https://www.aclsheetmetal.com/ 

I would recommend them. If they had any questions they asked, the order was turned round quickly and we were pleased with the quality of the final product. 

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@jonM what are the flashings made of ?


How did you deal with corners? Prefabricated corners or folded on site?

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nice house, how many sq m is that internally? and what cost roughly for the build if you dont mind me asking? thanks

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Thanks very much.  

The house is 174 sq.m. Completion to lockable shell of house including groundworks and foundations cost around £175,000 excluding professional fees. I didn't do any labour myself, just ordered the material in. 

We are just about to move in, so another blog posting is both over due and imminent ! 

Interior costs will come in at around £800 sq.m.

Architect designed a house that looked good but was cost effective to build. I feel that his fees were a good investment. 


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That looks *very* similar to @Grosey's in Cornwall, who also came out with very good numbers but built himself. No idea why it is upside down; stand on your head to look 🙃, or "right click open in new tab)


His blog is here:




Edited by Ferdinand

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Somehow I missed this post when it went up. Some amazing quality work going on there - I'm jealous! :D



0.08 ach @ 50 pa


This is a frankly stunning result. I can't see any sliders or (God-forbid) bifolds, which I'm sure helped. I'm sure that half of the leakage on our house was around our large sliding door. Your windows are clearly nicely-adjusted for sealing too.


Any chance of an update? Have you moved in yet?

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@jack - We just moved in this week ! Still a lot of boxes around to be unpacked. You are right, no sliders or bifolds which does help. Second pressure test also came in at 0.08 ACH @ 50 pa. We have a big picture window at the back with a window seat. Thought we would get more use from that than sliders 


A few bits and pieces still to finish off, but hope to be totally finished in 3-4 weeks apart from the garden.


Will post another update as soon as my broadband gets hooked up.


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Really excellent air test result.  My guess is that doors and windows were key to this, as every leak we found was from either a door or window, and most of those leaks were related to poor adjustments (the fitters seemingly couldn't be arsed to adjust them properly).

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@JSHarris - I think you are right. The team that built the frame put the windows in and their attention to detail was excellent. I am not sure if 0.08 ACH makes a discernable difference to how comfortable the house is to live in compared to other houses built to passivhaus standards but it is reassuring to know that such care has been taken in this area.

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