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  1. Well, it’s been quite a while since my last blog post but we’ve not been idle but I do admit to having been slack in updating the blog. At the end of the last blog we had a superstructure and the roofer was about to begin his journey up the scaffolding. This is where that tale begins….. ’Twas a sunny November morning when all was quiet that a white van man arrived at our site to felt, batten and slate our sloping roofs. And he wasted no time at all in cracking on with it after the site orientation was complete. With his dad along to help with the battening it didn’t take long for the membrane (or ‘felt’ if you’re a roofer) and battens and counter battens to be done. After discussions with our BCO it was decided that we would fully fill our rafters and use a breathable membrane (Proctor Roofshield) attached to the roof trusses and then 25mm x 50mm counter battens and then slate battens which gave us 50mm ventilation. This allows us to not need soffit vents (or indeed soffits) which fitted in to the design of the house better and also meant we don’t have to worry about creepy crawlies living in the soffits. We started with the southern elevation so that the solar PV array could be installed and the roofer (Chris) fitted the first few rows of slates and some flashing leaving it ready for the solar team to arrive before moving on to the northern elevation So while Chris was busy working on the north side of the house the solar installers arrived and fitted our GSE trays. Once done they started to fit the panels. But it was then discovered that the company who did the ordering ordered the wrong size GSE trays and the panels wouldn’t fit. So the solar installers took all the trays down and left site after wasting a day’s work. Meanwhile the flat roofers attended site to single-ply membrane our flat roofs and balcony. A great bunch of guys from a company recommended to me by Chris so I had every confidence of them doing a great job, and they didn’t disappoint. DPM, PIR, OSB then single-ply membrane. First roof which will have a wildflower green roof being overlooked by our bedroom balcony Second roof above our utility room which links the house to the garage which will have a sedum roof They will return a little later on in the blog to install the green roofs. Meanwhile the solar installers returned after the correctly sized GSE trays had been delivered and managed to fit it all in a day. We think it looks brilliant. 28 x 375W LG panels, each with Solaredge optimisers as we have lots of trees around us. And when they’d finished each panel was giving out 1V and was confirmed each was working by being shown the 14V on each string in the loft. Job done for now until we get electrics first fix done and they can come back and fit the inverter. The only real issue we had with the solar is that the panels were resting on the slates making them lift up in places. I created a thread about them (https://forum.buildhub.org.uk/topic/24530-slate-tiles-lifted/) and after much discussion and deliberation I decided to simply use black CT1 to stick them down which worked nicely. A bit of a bodge but you can’t tell from the ground and a lot less disruption to timelines than other solutions. While all of that was going on Chris was busy slating the northern elevation and it was all coming along nicely. During that I had another discussion with the BCO about vent pipes. I asked if I could have one by the STP but she was adamant that I had to have one through the roof. When I mentioned I didn’t want a pipe sticking out the top of the roof she said that they do slate vents. A quick google search revealed what she was talking about and I purchased the item and it was installed. Looks fab and from the ground you can barely notice it which is just what I wanted. And now the solar PV install was finished he could move on to the southern elevation. But while he was doing that the flat roofers came back and installed our green roofs. The wildflower material So that’s those finished although we were still waiting on a Velux roof light for one of the roofs which was delayed but the flat roofers came back to install that for me and finish off that roof a bit later. They also installed our patio paving slabs which we think look ace. So, back to Chris and he’d now finished the main house roof slating and it finished off around the PV panels nicely. He did make a start on the garage roof but as we were still waiting on Velux windows he couldn’t finish that so he left site and would return once the Velux’s were delivered. During that period our windows and doors arrived! We used Norrsken for these and went for alu-clad triple glazed windows and sliders. The majority of our windows are fixed and we had quite a small profile for the frame which means more glass. The installers, Elite Installations Nationwide (https://www.eliteinstalls.co.uk) were brilliant and Jim and his team were a joy to have on site. They brought their spider crane with them which made lifting our windows up to the first floor a breeze for them. We decided to be bold and went for a red front door. We love it. As the window install was done the week of Christmas the installers couldn’t finish them all in time before the Christmas break so we wished them a safe trip back to York and would see them in the new year. Happy new year!! (Belated). With the new year came the return of Jim and his team to finish off all our windows and doors. Once they were installed it made the house feel so much more like a house. Closing the front door had a feel of shutting out the outside world and we were (almost) water tight at last. We also eventually received our Velux roof light and sloping and vertical windows. So the flat roof was finally completed and so was the garage roof. So we are very nicely watertight at this point. All that’s left now is the time-lapse video for this period of time. Sadly our camera only shows the south side of the building so we only get footage for stuff that happens on that side but it still makes for an interesting watch and I hope you enjoy it. Until next time.
    14 points
  2. Since the basement was finished at the end of June things seem to have been dragging on for ages but we are finally out of the ground and ready for the timber frame. It has taken 13 weeks and we had delays with materials that held things up but when I look back at the photos from the basement being finished to where we are now it is amazing how much has been done and we’re very excited about the timber frame going up next week. When the groundworkers came back post-basement they started by insulating the basement walls externally with 200mm of EPS 100 and then backfilling with clean crushed as per the structural engineers specifications. Then they started digging the foundations for the ‘arms’ of the building as I call them and you’ll see why from some later photos as the main building looks like the body with 2 x arms coming off it. These are a garden room (that links to the kitchen/diner) and the utility room and garage. These are designed as insulated slabs with 300mm EPS underneath which you can see in the photos. Here we see I had to put some Perinsul blocks in, thank you to @ToughButterCup for getting them to me. While that was happening the brickie was also on-site building the internal walls for the basement. We have a 3m ceiling height in the basement so we had to get scaffolding in to build them safely which was another expense I hadn’t planned for (beginners naivety) but something that had to be done. It was around this time that I purchased a DJI Mini-2 drone. It is brilliant and has given us a whole new perspective on the build. Here are a few videos from before the slab pours (please excuse the auto-added cheesy music that DJI added). And some photos of the slab pours. I also put in some VCL between the basement and ground floor as a Tony tray. Once the slabs were poured we move on to the block and beam flooring. This caused the biggest issue with getting materials as the company the groundworkers were using moved their lead times from 15 days to 6 - 8 weeks which would’ve put us stupidly behind schedule. So I sourced some beams from a local builders merchant and paid the beamers to cut them to size on site rather than waiting for the correct sizes to be fabricated and delivered. It was pretty stressful to say the least. But what made it worse is that I decided a while ago to move from precast hollow core slabs to block and beam but no one along the way told me that the beams couldn’t take the load of the walls above like the hollow core could and, by chance, during my conversations with the block and beam company designing it I found out that I had to put supporting steels on top of the basement walls to take those load bearing walls from above ground. Back to the structural engineer to get those designed and then fabricated and installed. And then the beamers tell us that they won’t do the work without a complete fall arrest system across the entire basement 600mm down from the top of the basement walls. Back to the scaffolders to come and put that up at yet another expense (although the safety of the contractors is important to us so I didn’t grumble too much!) and we were finally ready for the block and beam to be installed. So what turned out to be the decision to save a few £k by moving to block and beam has in the end cost me a lot more due to the extra work involved. Oh well, you live and you learn. Anyway, the day came for the beamers to install it and they were a smash and grab outfit but that is, apparently, what all block and beamers are like. They just turn up and smash it out and leave without any due care and attention. To say they were miffed that they couldn’t do that on our build due to the steels on the basement wall is an understatement and comments like ‘if I’d known there were steels I wouldn’t have taken the job’ and ‘I’m losing money of this job’ really filled me with confidence. And if I ever do this again I will probably do the block and beam myself as, although hard work, it’s not complicated and I would’ve done a much better job. Anyway, it was done and they left and we could get on with laying the coursing blocks for the sole plates to sit on. This is where I insisted on precision and I spent a lot of time out there with the brickie assisting with setting out to make sure everything was spot on for the sole plates and checking that the levels throughout were within 5mm - 10mm across the building. It was time consuming but I think the accuracy will pay off in the end. While that was happening and with the timber frame imminent the scaffolders came and put up the required 2 lifts around the entire building and by 5pm the Friday before the frame was due it was all finished and we were ready……or so we thought. The timber frame ended up being delayed by 4 days due to the chippies testing positive for Covid-19 (the first time we have been directly impacted (not including the material shortage etc) by Covid) and during that 4 day delay the contract manager attended site and noticed that the garage (which is 120mm below the main house) had it’s coursing blocks below the main house. After a quick email exchange it was pointed out to me that I’d misread the plans and that those blocks, and the sole plates, need to be at the same level throughout so I needed to raise the coursing blocks by 120mm in the garage by the end of the following day. The groundworkers have moved on and I couldn’t get anyone to do it so I knocked up some pug, borrowed a disc cutter, bought myself a trowel and got laying. I’ve never laid blocks before but I did spend a lot of time watching and helping the brickie so I had a good idea as to what to do. I started after work on Wednesday (sole plates due to be fitted Friday) and finished half of it well after dark and then got up early the next day to finish the rest off. And it worked! Level and straight (ish) and still standing the next day. Phew! And this is where we’re at right now. Timber frame ground floor wall panels are due next Tuesday so we should really start to see things happening rapidly now and within 4 weeks our superstructure will be up. But that will be the subject of my next blog. Here’s a time-lapse video of this part of the build. I had to speed up the footage x10 and each day is about 4s long so things happen at quite a speed but it’s amazing to look back and see what has been done these last 13 weeks. Thanks again for reading and I hope you’re enjoying this journey as much as we are. Until next time…
    13 points
  3. We moved into our new build mid-December 2017 in time to host an extended family Christmas. We are now over 4 years into living in our new home. We have lots of accumulated experience and made a few small tweaks. However, we are delighted about how the house has turned out, and we love living here. There were no material cock-ups, or regrets on design decisions, so we have probably fared a lot better than most new purchasers or self-builders. Maybe a general experiences post should be on the to do list, but what I want to focus on here, and a couple of follow-ups, is a general topic that others on the forum have asked about over the years: that is how our central heating system works in practice, and how I control it. The system as currently implemented is still largely the same as when I first commissioned it, that is a now 5 year-old RPi-based custom control system directly controlling the CH and DHW subsystems. This is a pretty minimal headless system running Node-RED, MySQL and MQTT client for control. The three material changes that I've made since moving in are: I have followed my son and son-in-law in using Home Assistant (HA) for general Home Automation. My server (an RPi4 in an Argon One case) uses an attached Zigbee gateway, and I have a lot of Zigbee devices around the house: switches, relays, light sensors, etc. and I do the typical home automation stuff with these. There are loads of YouTube videos and web articles covering how to implement HA, so please refer to these if you want to learn more. My HA installation includes an MQTT service for use as a connection hub for these IoT devices. I also have another RPi4 acting as an Internet-connected portal / Wireguard gateway/ file-server for caching video snippets from my PoE security cameras. Note that none of my IoT devices directly access the internet, and the only in-bound access into my LAN is via Wireguard tunnelled VPN, and my HTTPS-only blog. All other ports are blocked at the router. Before moving in, we assumed a target internal temperature of 20°C. In practice, we have found this too cold for our (fairly inactive OAP) preference and so we have settled on a minimum control threshold of 22.3°C. As you will see below, because we largely heat during the E7 off-peak window the actual room temperatures have a ~1°C cycle over the day, so the average temperature is about 22.8°C. This hike of 2.8°C increases the number of net heating days since my design heating calcs and the increased delta against external temperatures in turn increases our forecast heating requirement by roughly 18% over our initial 2017 heating estimate. Because our UFH is only in the ground-floor slab, we found that our upper floors were typically 1-2°C cooler than the ground floor in the winter months. We also need more than the 7 off-peak hours of heating in the coldest months, so I have added an electric oil-filled radiator on our 1st-floor landing; HA controls this through a Zigbee smart plug that also reports back on actual energy drawn during the on-time. HA uses MQTT to pass the actual daily energy draw back to the CH control system. This radiator provides enough upper-floor top-up heat, and does so using cheap rate electricity. Note that all servers are directly connected to my Ethernet switch, and the CH/DHW system has all of its critical sensors and output controls directly attached. It can continue to control the CH and DHW subsystems even if the HA system or Internet is offline. There is also no direct user interface to the system, with all logging data is exported to MQTT, and key CH/CHW set-points and configuration are imported likewise. This integration with MQTT, enables user interfacing to be done through the HA Lovelace interface. If there is sufficient interest I can do follow-up posts on some more of the "Boffins Corner" type details on these implementations, or if this turns out to be more of a discussion then it might be better to move this stuff to its own BC topic. However, for the rest of this post I want to focus on the algorithmic and control aspects of the heating system. In terms of inputs and outputs to the control system, these are: There are ~20 DS18B20 1-Wire attached digital thermometers used to instrument pretty much all aspects of the CH / DHW systems. Few are actively used in the control algorithms but were rather added for initial commission, design verification and health checking. Some are also used to monitor and to trip alarms; for example, there is a temperature sensor on the out and return feed for each UFH pipe loop. These were used to do the initial zone balancing. However, the average of the return feeds is used as a good estimate of the aggregate slab temperature. One of the temperature sensors is also embedded in the central hall stud wall to act as a measure of average internal house temperature. There are two flow sensors on the cold feed to my 2 SunAmp DHW storage units to monitor DHW use and to help automate during-day DHW boost. There are 4 240V/20A SSRs used to switch the power to my (2-off) SunAmps, my (1-off) Willis heater, and my (1-off) circulation pump. These and the rest of my 240V household system were wired up and Part P certified by my electrician. These SSRs are switched by a 5V 50mA digital input, and so can be driven from an RPi or similar. (I used a I²C attached MCP23008A multi-port driver to do this, as this can drive 5V 50mA digital inputs, but its input I²C side is compatible with RPi GPIO specs.) There are many ways to "skin this cat", but whichever you choose for your control implementation your system will need to control some 240V/12A devices and take some input temperature sensors. My preference was to directly attach all such critical sensors and outputs. My heating algorithm calculates a daily heating budget in kWh (each midnight) as a simple linear function of the delta between average local forecast temperature for the next 24 hrs and the average hall temperature for the previous 24 hrs. This budget is then adjusted by the following to give an overall daily target which is converted in minutes of Willis on time. heat input from the heater mentioned above. a simple linear function of the delta average hall temperature and the target set-point (currently 22.3°C). This is a feedback term to compensate for systematic over or under heating. I initially calculated the 4 coefficients of the two functions using my design heating calcs and an estimate of the thermal capacity of the interior house fabric within the warm space. After collecting the first year's actual day, I then did a regression fit based on logged actual data to replace the design estimates by empirical values. This was about a 10% adjustment, but to be quite honest the initial values gave quite stable control because of the feedback compensation. The control system runs in one of three modes: No heating is required. Up to 420 mins of heating is required. The start time is set so that heating ends at 7 AM, and the slab is continuously heated during this window. More than 420 mins of heating is required. 420 mins of heating is carried out in the off-peak window. On each hour from 8 AM to 10 PM, if the hall temperature is below the set-point (22.3°C), then an N-minute heating boost is applied, where N is calculated by dividing the surplus heating into the 1-hour heating slots remaining. Here are two history outputs from HA showing some of the logged results. The LH graph is the slab temperature over the last 7 days. The general saw-tooth is identical from my 3-D heat flow modelling discussed in my earlier topic, Modelling the "Chunk" Heating of a Passive Slab. The 7 hr off-peak heating raises overall slab temperature by ~4-5 °C; well within UFH design tolerances, and no need for any HW buffer tank: the slab is the buffer. The RH graph is the hall temperature. Note the days where on-hour boosts were needed. (Also note that the CH system only updates the MQTT temperature data half-hourly, hence the stepped curves.) So the approach is fairly simple, and the system works robustly. ? And here is a screenshot of my HA summary interface, which gives Jan the ability to control everything she needs from her mobile phone or tablet.
    12 points
  4. It’s been over a year since we got our completion certification and we’re still mopping up tasks in the garden and generally cleaning up. It occurred to us that some aspects of the discovery process of the build may be off use to others on BuildHub. It’s too hot in here: Thermal modelling limitations. Our thermal modelling done as part of the design stage SAP suggested we had minimal thermal gain problems. However we suspected that thermal gain from our east facing windows would be a problem and indeed it has been. The first action we took was to put on a solar film on the outside of our east facing windows. After some research we opted for Johnson PD75 which claims to reduce thermal gain by 40%. It cost £1,170 so seemed like a good place to start. Well, it may have helped but by mid May it was clear it was not enough and we would need something more. We looked at air conditioning units and decided we would retrofit some. We hadn’t planned on this and the thought of messing up the clean lines of the build and the pristine plaster work did not appeal. Purely by chance it turned out that the false wall in our bathroom built at the request of my wife and much muttering from me (who needs somewhere to put a wine glass while your in the bath) was a saviour. It meant we had a service void from ground floor to second floor in which to route pipes to the internal units. We contacted Mr Harris and he kindly lent us the pump gear required for installation testing, so far so good. We identified the units with the best energy efficiency only to discover you are not allowed to purchase them without having confirmation the installation will be done by a certified F-gas installer. We wanted to do the main parts of the installation ourselves and just have the F-gas engineer do final test and connection. Sounds reasonable but we had a lot of difficulty finding anyone. Mr Harris came to the rescue again and recommended Artech Air who were unbelievably helpful. We ended up with two Midea Blanc units, a 2.5 kW for our bedroom and a 3.5kW for the open plan living area. Result – bliss, and a very reasonable bill for £1,800. In the long term they will add to the comfort of the house all year round. On a slightly different subject MVHR summer bypass. It sounds perfectly reasonable, don’t heat the incoming air form the outgoing air in once a set temperature threshold is reached. The incredible heat of the last month has made us completely rethink it’s use. If the air inside the house is colder than the outside air, then cool the incoming air ie you don’t want to bypass the heat exchange. Also when it very hot between 9:00 and say 20:00 don’t run the MVHV, there is plenty of air in the house and we certainly never felt stuffy. We set the MVHR scheduler to do this for us. Similarly in winter it goes off at 22:00 and back on at 07:00. PV We didn’t put any PV on when we built, the house should need such small inputs it simply didn’t make sense in carbon or cost terms, or so we thought. Two things changed our minds, the air conditioning and we bought an EV. Doing anything more than 4kW is a pain as it involves more certification and silly cost items like Southern Electricities £300 fee for observing testing on equipment that was already certified on the MCS database. Again we had not planned this in so it was a retrofit...grrrr. Very annoying as we were pretty smug about having thought through the whole build. Fortunately our standing seam roof made it as easy as it could be to fit panels and hide all the wires. With the panels added we are still in surplus on the air conditioning units, not cooling for free as we had to pay for the panels and inverter, but no additional utility cost. Bye the way this was done before some nameless psychopath started a war and energy prices rocketed. The house now sits at a very comfortable 23c while not drawing any energy from the grid. We even have enough surplus to charge the EV between 10:00 and 15:00 on sunny days at a very slow 6A. We also opted to put in battery storage which we ordered in February and has only just arrived, it should have been 8.2kWh but in the delay they manufacturer introduced a 9.5kWh version for not a lot of extra money. We’re not up and running with the battery as the manufacturers decided to change the inverter battery connection cables with the new model and there are no cables shipped with the battery. I must confess I found it very hard to see the funny side of this. House wiring We did this ourselves and got it tested and certified, but made no provision for an EV charger, inverter and PV. Fortunately we did put ‘Routabout’ access points into our floor intended to allow access should anything go wrong. We also have loose lay flooring which has made the four times the utility room floor has been up no drama. Providing access to fix and change is something definitely something that should be done early not as an afterthought, when we put the traps in we had no idea how useful they would be. Fixings and fastening Our build is ICF and while it’s great in may ways it does present some interesting challenges when it comes to mounting anything on the walls. The ICF system we used came from JUB and has a very tough vertical nylon strip every 150mm about 30mm from the internal surface. With a course thread screw you can hang things like TV’s but not heavy stuff cupboards. For heavy items it’s a case of drilling into the ICF concrete core 75mm internals and 170mm externally from the ICF surface. This makes for a significant cantilever, internally this is fine you just use big fastenings. Externally the problem is two fold, 1700mm cantilever and you don’t want any thermal bridging, this makes using big fastening as real no no. We ended up using four fastening types: Internally we used cheap and easy to use concrete frame fasteners for heavy stuff. For lighter stuff on plasterboard we used GripIt fastenings which do the job remarkably well. The largest size claims to be able to hold 70kg, but I wouldn’t trust it with anything like that. Externally we use Fischer ‘Thermofix’, expensive and not available in this country. Fischer say they don’t sell enough here to make it worth there while. It seemed lost on them that we were buying from Germany along with every other UK user of the fastening. For light external fixing we used pasta twirls supplied by JUB. Useless for anything heavier than a letter box. DIY cabinets We found we couldn’t always source ready made furniture that was the size we needed. Some friends run a bespoke kitchen business and pointed us a site “wood online” who make up panels to your specification complete with edging. Using a ‘Pocket hole’ jig and these panels allows you to create you own furniture simply and quickly at a fraction of the bespoke cost. We also found some very neat panel clips for panels that need to be removed for access. Garden We finally got round to sorting out the garden. It’s small, just 11m by 5m and like a lot of self builds it had been used as a storage area (dumping ground) during the build. As we’re getting on a bit we wanted to make it low maintenance and low water. Raised beds and a patio area seemed to fit the bill. As the house is a contemporary build and we wanted to the garden to complement the house which is white and two shades of grey. For the patio we have used 600 x 600 porcelain tiles for ease of handling and laying. Getting a patio right is not the easiest of jobs and I was not looking forward to. With the patio base prepared, materials were order, tiles on Tuesday followed three days later by 5000kg of limestone chippings. Of course it just happened to be one of the hottest weeks on record…returned the rapid set tile cement and bought standard set. This still went off at a frightening rate. Trying to get a large are flat and true is not as easy as it sounds even when you’ve done all the preparation. With the first slab set to the correct run-off the other tiles were laid using it as reference. Despite our best efforts to get it right, the first tile was just off and as a result by the tile the 8th tile in the row was reached we were using a significant amount of tile cement, about 10mm deep. The four 20kg bags of cement that should have done the whole job disappeared quickly and another 7 bags were required to complete the job. The hoop and wedge helped keep everything flush and the result is perfectly acceptable. Lesson learnt, do buy the expensive laser measuring and levelling gear at the start of the build, it’ll pay for itself many times over by the time you finish. I’ll know for the next build, however my wife may well threaten divorce if I mention the idea….
    10 points
  5. Greetings! Apologies for the crass title but I am still a kid at heart. ? After a brief delay due to Covid-19 the carpenters were able to attend site and erect our timber frame. Thanks to the accuracy I insisted on and ensured for the coursing blocks the sole plates were a doddle and were done in no time at all although we did have a bit of rain and I had to get the puddle pump out! We used Flight Timber for our timber frame and they have their own lorries with cranes built in and so each stage of the build was delivered by the lorry and then craned in to place. Here’s the ground floor panels arriving. It took them just 2 days to finish all the ground floor external and internal wall panels. The speed of it all is very impressive. Then the posi-joists arrived These took a few days to do but thanks to the 8mm designed deflection and 300mm centres they are rock solid even across the 6.2m spans. It’ll be a bit of a nightmare trying to run MVHR, electrics and plumbing but we won’t have any bounce on the floors! Plus when the sun shines through it creates some lovely lighting effects Next we had a weeks delay as Flight didn’t have any chipboard flooring in stock as they were let down by their suppliers. This was a frustrating delay but with the current material shortages not one that I should really grumble about too much. It was eventually delivered and the chippies got on with laying it and the first floor panel starter plates. And then it was on to the first floor wall panels. These took 2 days to do as well and so within a couple of weeks of starting we had both floors done ready for the attic trusses They were also a couple of days delayed due to Covid-19 but arrive they did They didn’t take long at all to go up and I love the symmetry of them Then it was another week or so getting the roof finished and building the vaulted ceiling in our entrance hall etc and then they were done! It was 18 days on-site from start to finish. Amazing to see. I took some time-lapse footage and you can see the video below: And so we have a superstructure! The roofer is not far behind so my next blog will be about the roof slates and Solar PV array. Thanks for reading and until next time…
    10 points
  6. Wow, we have finally started, and what a journey. The goal of the last 8 days was to try to make the the stars align. We had planned several meetings / connections deliveries all to happen the 1st week in April, and this was it, lets see what unfolds. Firstly, the plot, being located high up on the East coast in the highlands, which is basically a large un-serviced field has a few logistical issues, the main one being storage, the second distance. We had quotes for containers to be purchased and delivered in the region of 4.5K so alternatives were needed. The initial solution is the back of an Asda delivery waggon, 12ft long, 7ft wide,6ft high, with 3 lockable doors, and racking for the green trays, also a larger roller shutter section. £250 - with working fridge if required - (this may have a second life once were up and running with rare breed pigs🙈). just need to get it from Morecambe 430miles North. Secondly how to get everything to site. We bought an old removals wagon - 7.5Tonne ally box with tail lift. MOT till NOV 515,000KM - 1 careful owner Our hope was for this to get there in 1 piece, and be left on site as storage. the sum of £1200. all in with insurance (which may be cancelled) its has cost us £2K. Talking with my timber supplier, he warned me of impending price rises and possibility of shortages due to the unrest in the UKRAINE. so out of the blue I bought all the timber 450M of 6x2 C24, and 56 off 11mm OSB for the PODS. In addition to this I found a contact selling factory rejects of 120mm PIR insulation. In Scotland the pods need to achieve good U values, so 120mm on roof and in floors was required. Basically this guy buys pallets of insulation that are usually end of production run , or slightly damaged corners etc, and not full sheet sizes. I went to look, as he has had some bitumen coated and fibreglass coated boards. Generally the sheets are all 1200mm wide, min 600 long, most are around half board length, but will need to be trimmed to make them suitable for the warm roof. I did a deal to buy the equivalent of 44 Boards of 120mm some Bitumen coated, some fibreglass for the sum total of £660. This is a massive saving on 'Box Fresh' Now I had a problem, with the insulation tightly packed into the back of the truck and leaving some pockets to slide the timber in I had filled about 2/3rd of the truck, I didn't have room for all the timber or the other stuff I was taking. The revised plan was to cross our fingers and hope the truck will not only get to Scotland , but now return with a view of making another trip. Living accommodation. We found a static caravan, 2 bedroom in V good condition, delivered to site included in the price. The deal was done and he would get the van to site for our arrival on the Thursday, along with the delivery of our other investment an old Ford 550 Backhoe Loader, with buckets and pallet forks. We decided to set off Wednesday evening, with the plan to see where we got before we were too tired, then to sleep in the Wagon / Car. The picture below was us all loaded with 430Miles ahead. Me driving 'Nessie' as Mandy has called her, and Mandy Driving the Car / and trailer. I know we look like 'Travellers' but needs must, what will the new neighbours think when we turn up..... The Journey was horrendous. Setting off at 18.00 the trip was uneventful, with he exception of filling Nessie to the tune of £245 with diesel and not knowing how far these 150 litres will get us. Uneventful until we got to the A9 around Perth, then the snow started. Visibility was poor, and the local truckers seemed oblivious to it. Mandy had a big scare on a dual carriage way where she lost visibility of the edge of the road, and found herself nearly hitting the verge, a stab of the brakes and forgetting about the 16ft trailer saw said trailer try to over take her. Luckily she managed to correct this, and coming to a stop in the dark with snow on the dual carriageway, composed herself and set off again. At 03.30 on Thursday we pulled into a layby just after Inverness. Got our heads down for a couple of extremely cold hours (-4). and set off to the croft, arriving around 8.30.. During the drive we were informed the Static- our accommodation for the week was not going to make it - COVID... I managed to make a few calls and Borrowed a 3 berth Tourer from GOW Plant Hire / Groundworks in Caithness.. What a top bloke.... This is us on site day 1, digger arrived..... The Plot.. So down to it. Day 2 on site Friday. Electricity was to be connected on Wednesday 6th, we needed to dig a 30M Trench and install the cabinet / concrete base. This had to happen. Over to the digger to fire her up.... no go. Quickly the battery went flat. We moved Nessie closer, did a quick 30Mile round trip and bought some jump leads and by lunchtime and still no joy, turning over but not firing..... it was running the day before but they had to jump start as it had been sat in the yard for a few week. Ok looking at the battery it wasn't the correct one, so another 30mile round trip and the owner of a monster battery we tried again. no luck, I phoned a mate mechanic he advised trying spraying cold start into the air intake. ok another trip? , No, he told me to try deodorant as the propellant may well work, one quick spray and the old girl fired immediately. Best smelling digger in the highlands... Now to get to grip with an old backhoe, I've experience with up to 5 tonne 360 machines but never a back hoe, so this took a while to understand how to dig a straight trench next to a fence.. I managed to excavate the connection pit and around 15M of wandering trench by the end of the day. Day 3 Saturday It was cold and no amount of deodorant was working on the digger. The mighty battery was losing power... Time to try Nessie to give a boost, we got the Truck stuck in the mud... FFS. we needed the digger to move the truck, and the truck to help start the digger... This was a testing day, and I know from experience in building game you have days that just fight back, and this day was fighting hard. Mandy set off in search of some supplies and some cold start. By lunch she was back, I had made the shuttering for the cabinet base just needed the digger to get the concrete over to the hole. Cold start didn't work and we both felt deflated... Numerous attempts with planks, stone etc to free the truck were not working. As a last resort as the sun was now out and shining we gave the cold start another go and the digger jumped into life.. Obviously not a morning person... We moved the truck to relative safety of some drier ground with the aid of the digger and concreted in the cabinet. Another 10 M of trench, and we made a start exposing the water main. I noticed the digger was beginning to be sluggish and leaving hydraulic oil pools, when I check the level it was nearly empty. So Parked up the digger, next to the truck, batteries next to each other - just in case. We retired to the un heated caravan, and I went to the Generator to start it, we had a 2KW heater that helped take the chill off, A couple of pulls and the cord snapped😂. the day was going to round 12 like it or not. So tools out and repair underway. Day 4 Sunday. No Hydraulic oil till Monday so left the digger alone, and marked out the position of the pods, and the septic tank, I wanted to do some digging here to confirm the suspicion that the rock level was high, and some breaking out will be required. We hand dug a trial hole for the water main, as we found electricity cables running towards where the trench was going. We hit rock 300mm below ground, so were happy to dig this with the machine on Monday, We also started unloading the insulation and timber from the truck. We sandwiched timber and insulation with visqueen and ratchet straps to create a heavy mass that hopefully wont blow away whist were not there. Day 5 Monday. With Hydraulic oil on board and the shelter of the truck the digger fired first thing, and we were off. Mandy continued un loading insulation. We dug a small trench for the water (we new the main was laid in a blasted trench to a depth of 800mm) we had to breakout our trench with a 110V Breaker to obtain the 600mm depth and hand dig to expose the water main, I left Mandy to this while I dug the septic tank hole, I got to a depth of around 800mm before I hit the rock. This will need pecking out now. We installed a homemade standpipe, and blue pipe, then asked for a track inspection via the online portal. We were given date of 11/12/13April, but we put a note on to say we were on site until the 8th. They responded and the Meeting was set for Wednesday 6th - result. Day 6 Tuesday - the night was very windy and wet. A cold and wet start, We finished off the electrical trench, laid the ducting / draw cord and all was set for connection the next day. Made a start on the pods foundation dig. Day 7 Wednesday - electrical trench was full of water, and the ducting was floating. the heavy rain drains towards the sea, and thus straight into this trench, I was concerned that the Install may be called off. SSE turned up around 10.00 and were not bothered in the slightest. They connected a new length of 95mm Wavecon to the pole and jointed the existing 2 houses and our new supply - 2 core 35mm straight concentric to this 95mm cable. Resin pour joint box, and fitted the 100A cut out in the cabinet. They were done in 2 hours. left me to throw the cable in when the resin had gone off. Scottish water inspected the trench, and this has been signed off and will be added to the works list, hopefully a few weeks. I filled in the cable trench, We managed to rough dig out the pod foundations and found the rock is close to the surface. so the slab foundation will be pretty much mass fill concrete around the perimeter, with some MOT to reduce the thickness to 4" for the slab. This will then have a Radon barrier on top and a floating floor insulation on that, Due to the poor living conditions and more rain and wind we made the decision to leave Thursday morning. Day 8 Thursday, We packed up the caravan and Nessie then dragged the caravan out of the mud with the digger. The trailer was also dragged clear with the digger, but Nessie was so at home she didn't want to leave. I was pushing here through the mud, but she was sinking. Fortunately tour Farmer neighbour saw our plight and came along with his massive tractor and dragged her clear. We left site battered, bruised but happy in the knowledge that no matter what was thrown at us, we had achieved what was required and more to boot. Thanks for reading... its all possible, Mandy made a few videos if you want to see them https://www.facebook.com/The-Windy-Roost-101816829105927, you can follow the progress there as well...
    8 points
  7. We left you with a poured slab and we were chomping at the bit to get the ground floor Nudura walls up before the end of the year. Well, I am glad to report we got there - almost ? After getting the slab done, I figured I'd get ahead a bit and it would be a good idea to talk to someone about the waterproofing we would have to put on the outside the walls before we started backfilling. To cut a long story short using waterproof concrete in walls such as these is a complete non-starter, so Type-B waterproofing cannot be used. Visqueen's R400 Radon barrier is not an effective waterproofing method and so we now face having to use a Type A and a Type C waterproofing method - basically this will mean for us a waterproof screed being added to the floor with channel ducting where the walls meet the floor and the "egg-crate" plastic material across the screed and up the inside of the walls. That should eat into our contingency ? ? ? But also it meant a dash to get some waterproof slurry to paint round where the Nudura blocks would be laid the following morning and mixing and painting it on under floodlights (it's the dark grey stuff in the picture to the right). Oh what fun!! But, the following day we were up early to welcome out walls, the bracing and two fine chaps (Louie and Harry) from The Fell Partnership who would be helping us Day 1 to get the first row in place. We then scurried around unloading things off trailers and flat beds, and installing the waterbar between those pieces of upright rebar. By 10am we were ready to go. By about 2pm we had most of the first row in and part of the second row (see below). If it hadn't been for some non-standard corners in the design, we would probably have been at Row 3, but that's what you get for following a design religiously ✝️ (FYI - the T-corner is all to do with the design - don't ask yet) On the second day we were left to our own devices, I had to make a dash to collect some extra Nudura parts and some waterproofing equipment (due to the direction our waterproofing system now had to take) so we made a later start but still we were very pleased to get up to 4 rows installed. Day 3 we were ready to begin installing all the bracing system, and after hitting her head SWMBO was made to wear the Christmas present from her children. and on Day 4 it inevitably rained in Cornwall ? , but before our help arrived again we had managed to just squeeze a block on to Row 6 (the final row before the first pour of concrete) After the help on Day 4, we continued to finish things off on Day 5 by constructing part of an internal load bearing wall, and a wall with the only window opening at this level which will be for the family bathroom. FYI - the rest of that side of the house will consist mainly of windows into bedrooms plus some extra small sections of walling (to be determined) Where we were not able to complete things before the pour happened (time didn't allow) was where the internal wall meets the external wall and there are two doorways to construct (this is why I said we almost made it). I will have to do these in the New Year, mixing and pouring the concrete by hand (just under 1 cubic m) so that'll burn off the Christmas pudding ? A week later (during which we had some more high winds) I came back down to finalise a few bits (like lack of scaffold planks and bracing in some places) to be greeted by a snaky ? wall. so that was all straightened up, the rest of the bracing fitted, and the Nudura joist hangers inserted. (Between straightening and the pour we had Storm Barra, but my remedial work held up nicely) I won't bore you with pictures of hunky men doing manly stuff with concrete pumps etc. but suffice to say it all went very well, with no leaks or blow outs so "he who shall not be named from Channel 4" would have been very disappointed if he was allowed onsite. And so, last weekend (after a midweek pour in the remnants of Storm Barra) I was able to deconstruct the bracing and we are now the proud owners of some freestanding, high-wind-proof walls. Really happy at the attention to detail that Louie and Harry paid to ensuring the walls were straight and true before the pour began - right up my street. So now we have a tidyish site again (for a short while) ready for steels installation in the New Year. We have to finish off the internal wall, then waterproof and backfill outside, and install joists and flooring before we can continue with building the upper floor walls. We're hoping that by middle of next year we can start on those upper floor walls. So until 2022, and the inevitable next lockdown, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas ? and a Happy New Year ?
    8 points
  8. I had a few spare minutes on this lovely sunny Sunday evening and decided to spend it writing up a blog post for our basement UFH install and screed. We have a 250mm reinforced concrete slab sitting on top of 200mm EPS300 in the basement. The slab wasn’t very flat and so we decided to use a cement based liquid screed to give us a nice level base for our finished flooring. So we put down 25mm of PIR to level things out and also to allow the UFH pipes to be stapled to. I did some quick maths and I figured out that it was cheaper to use the 25mm PIR and UFH pipe staples than to use pipe clips fastened to the slab and a thicker layer of liquid screed and so an order was placed with our BM and it was delivered and fitted by my lovely wife and me. We found this is a pretty easy task to be honest and only found we had to put a small bit of sand blinding to level a couple of dips in one room. In the rest of the basement the PIR just took the bumps of the slab out. We taped the joints and foamed around the edges for a belt and braces approach even though there was a DPM going on top. Next came the DPM layer. We found this a bit of a pain to do! Not hard but trying to smooth it out and keep it square so that a constant amount was taken up the walls was just fiddly. In the end we got the laser level out and set it about 150mm above screed finished level and then used that to ensure we had enough DPM up the walls. Then we had to tape it to the walls but soon found that standard gaffa didn’t stick to the concrete walls nor the dense concrete blocks! We painted the concrete with a PVA mixture and that helped a lot for that but just didn’t work on the concrete blocks at all. Off to Google and this awesome forum and I eventually found Gorilla Tape which sticks well to concrete blocks and we were off and running! Following this we laid the UFH pipes. This was a job we actually really enjoyed. It was very satisfying creating those wonderful spiral shapes. We made some spacers and I was laying the pipe according to the layout designed by Wunda and my wife was walking behind with the stapler ‘kerchunking’ down the staples as we went. At the end it looked so good we were sad to think all our hard work would be covered up and never to be seen again. This was my first time running UFH pipes and also my first manifold fitting and I was very happy with how the manifold turned out. I filled the pipes with water and the pressure gauge showed that there were no leaks. That and the fact there water wasn’t pissing out anywhere! With the liquid screed booked in we needed to get a move on and get everything finished off and ready. The last stretch was to fit the temperature probes, perimeter expansion strip and create the expansion joints for crack mitigation at the doorways. Thanks to advice from this forum’s users I ran the temperature probes in UFH pipe with the end crimped down so as to not allow screed in just in case they need replacing in the future. I got the expansion strip from uHeat on eBay. It came with a plastic skirt and adhesive already attached so it was a real breeze to fit. Not much more to say about that The final thing was crack mitigation strips for between the doorways. After speaking to the screeder I decided to use 5.5mm plywood board. It was an inexpensive and simple solution. I was asked to cut them to size but leave them to the side of the doorways and the screeders would add them as they went around. Obviously I had to put them in place first to ensure I got the sizes right! So here are photos of our basement ready for the liquid screeders. On the day of the screed they turned up early before the screed lorry to setup their pump and check on my prep work. They said it was exemplary and that I wouldn’t believe the state of the prep work of some of the jobs they turned up to! They had absolutely nothing to do to the prep work which made them happy and made me happy that all our hard work was worth it. They put down their little tripod level thingies and waited for the screed to turn up. Once it did it was really quick work and very impressive. If it wasn’t for the fact that they ordered 6.4m3 of screed but the company only sent 6m3 they’d have been done in a few hours but, as it was, they ended up having to wait a good 2 or 3 hours for the last little bit of screed to turn up. They were not happy as, in the end, they had to spend the whole day here when they could’ve been on to the next job. But, at the end of the day we had a wonderfully flat looking basement floor. And 48hrs later we were walking on it. 🙂 All in all very happy with the whole process and I will be getting these guys back in to do our ground floor screed. thanks for reading.
    7 points
  9. The next stage of the setup of the site took place over the last 3 weeks. with some good progress. The trip up North, 433mile from our current rental in the NW of England. I set off on Wednesday morning in the 7.5T truck, and the 2 dogs for company. I took some materials with me, and had a gut feeling I was overloaded. I had worked out the approx. weight of what I was taking, but was unsure of the TARE weight of the truck. so I didn't take all I was planning. Luckily the nice guys from VOSA, At Carlisle (Todhills check site), confirmed my suspicions when the invited me in for a check. I was over weight, but the truck and my paperwork were all in good order, and they give the truck a thorough looking at. The upshot of this was me renting another 7.5T truck for storage, offloading the excess weight, driving the remaining 333 miles, unloading, returning the next day with the empty truck, re loading and driving back to site. 1100 miles in 38 hours. not what was planned, but you live and learn.... I arrived back on site on early Friday morning, 02.30am. and slept in the cab of the truck, until I was woke up at 05.10, by the guy delivering the Static, he was at the end of the road... Here's a screen grab of our new home arriving to site, this was 05.25 am... I hired a contractor to carry out the highway works for the site entrance, basically as he had the correct insurance and RAMS it was easier to get this stage subbed out. The idea was he would open up the site, with a 5 T digger, start the initial road and stone this up with around 60T of type 1. I would then meet on site and hire his man for a few days to assist with the pecking of the treatment plant. This didn't go to plan, they had to use a 13T machine, as it was available, so when I eventually get to site on the Thursday, due to the size of machine, the operator has completed the initial works, then pulled out approx. 60M of the road, and pecked the treatment plant hole, and I got this for free... 😁 Having a 13t machine on site, with operator for the Friday, I needed to make the most of it, as I was only paying for the rental of a 5T machine. Mikey the operator, made short work of pulling out the remainder of the road up to the location of the house, in total this road is around 90M. Next I had him strip the area for the house. The house is around 13M x 7M, so I wanted to strip back a working area around the house, my thought was we would hit the bed rock so this was the plan, we marked out a 16M x 11M rectangle, and he set to it, it took him about 2 hours to strip the land and scrape it clean. The above is the bedrock where the house will be, and the road coming up the side of the house. (I used a geotextile as a separation layer for the road, although in sections the road is on bedrock anyway,) You can make out that there is a fall from the top left falling to bottom right, this will be made up with type 1 stone, raising SW corner of the house around 700mm, I will raise the road in this section and use some of the top soil to level this out a bit and soften the impact. The last Job for Mikey was to dig me the trench for the services, he dug a 600mm wide trench about 8M short of the Treatment plant (to allow me access to move the spoil, and a similar distance short at the other end for me to connect to the water. just shy of 60M. Friday was a busy day on 3 hrs sleep. The treatment plant also arrived as can be seen above, I went for a Tricel unit, this was based on cost, treatment, dimensions and availability. Last job for the day was to move the caravan, Mikey helped me with this and we stripped a bit more land and located here temporarily for the night North / South. Saturday I decided to get the water connected to the caravan, for this I needed to complete the trench from the standpipe to the large service trench. I never dug this on the first trip as I was concerned about the electrical supply to my neighbours property. Cables seemed to run across my field at around 300/ 400 mm depth. I used my contact at SSE and he arrange to get the cable moved / deepened. This was carried out a few weeks prior and we discussed the position of the new road, and he made a site visit and we talked about me extending the water pipe trench in both directions so that I could also lay a utilities duct to the road for broadband. So to say I was a bit surprised, and p***ed off when I cut through the neighbours supply cable. The cable was as I was worried about 400mm deep, and the marker tape was next to the cable.... How to upset your new neighbours by having their electricity supply stopped two times (1 for the initial connection, 1 for the remedial works), only for me to cut the cable for a third time.... At least they were very prompt, they arrived after about 40mins, and it took him around an hour to re-joint the cable. I then removed the water standpipe and ran my new water main up to the caravan. It will tee off for the pods at some point, and then continue up to the house. SO now I had running water in the van, and gas for the water heater and hob / oven. Sunday was glorious, so I caught up on my sleep, and had a restful day. Scottish Power were due to fit the meter on the Wednesday, so I needed to get my service cables from the meter box into the service trench and up to the caravan and to the pods. I dug a trench across the road and through to the service trench. I used a 125mm Duct, and inside here I ran some 6mm SWA to supply the pods and some 50mm Duct to run a service cable to the caravan and ultimately up to the house. I pulled the cables through, and I have put a caravan hook up point next to the static. Tuesday / Wednesday, I had 80T of Type 1 MOT delivered in stages, I spread this out using the Back hoe, and vibrating roller. so by the end of Wednesday I have the base in for the road. which will give me good access for deliveries. Scottish power were a no show..... Discussing the caravan with the neighbour they advised turning the caravan 90deg, so it was end on East / West as the stronger winter winds tend to blow from the West, and being side on would ultimately be unstable. I dug out another section of land next to the caravan with the idea of swinging the van around at weekend when Mandy Joined me for the last week. It took me and Mandy all Saturday to move the van, using the backhoe to pull it around. and most of Sunday to get it jacked up off the ground and levelled. We dug 4 pits later on in the week and concreted some anchors in to chain the van down. The van in position with Mandy getting the best job of the week to squeeze under the van and start to insulate the water pipes... Scottish Power let us down again with a missed appointment on the Tuesday with a promise of Friday.... They actually turned up late Thursday and fitted the meter, so we had power on the Thursday night. We spent a couple of days moving spoil around the site to create a mound of earth to shelter and soften the impact of the pods, this was also a planning requirement for the neighbours amenity. Still work in progress and there's 10's of tonnes more to move. Last job before packing up on the Friday was to level the base of the treatment tank pit. At this point we were still waiting for the building warrant. so couldn't actually install the plant. We end the week by getting the Building warrant approved, and the certificate for discharge for the treatment plant both on Friday. Thanks for reading..
    6 points
  10. As promised a little update on the Battery Storage. Firstly i'm very glad I bought when I did, as everything battery storage wise has skyrocketed in price since, even the prospect of adding a US2000C seems unlikely for now, though to be honest, going on my usage I don't think it would add a great deal of benefit. So I'm running the Solis 5th Generation AC Coupled Inverter, which does have a couple of niggles, which at present are reducing its savings potential. Those issues are: Whenever the battery isn't at 100% SOC, it pulls an amount of power from the grid, somewhere between 60W and 100W Even when the battery is actively charging, it still pulls the same 60-100W from the grid, regardless if there is enough PV power to charge the battery and cover loads at the same time. Once the battery is 100% SOC and im generating PV more than my load, I import 0W. Pulsating loads (such as induction hob) the unit can find hard to track, due to their pulsing nature, and the delay in reading the CT clamp and acting upon it. Now my base load is around 45W, so that means that since i've had the battery, i'm actually consuming more during the nighttime than i did previously, which is a negative. I got in touch with Solis UK Support about this issue, and they say they are aware of it, and are going to be adding 2 offset values which will be user configurable to combat this problem, and they've told me it will be available in around 2 weeks time, so we shall see. So although it will be a static value, i should be able to get much nearer to 0W import from grid whilst ever there is charge in the battery, but its not at 100%, and its not over its maximum demand (around 1.8kW). To better news, aside from the issues above which should get resolved, the system is essentially running off grid now, and has been since the middle to end of february, pretty much every day without fail, just with the odd bit of import for things like kettle and oven, to cover above the 1.8kW if the Solar isn't generating enough at the time, which is getting an ever smaller occurence. So the graph above is from March, with the Red bits on the top graph being the bits of import. The bit at the top showing 22kWh import, the majority of this was during the early february days after install when solar PV wasn't doing an awful lot. As you can see I'm still exporting ample amounts to the grid also, not that it would make any difference at this stage. Until I get the full years amount, its almost impossible to say how much this will have reduced by. Today I've done a load of washing and then dried it in the heat pump dryer, and following that I ran the oven on its Pyro clean cycle, and come tea time, i'll be fully charged again and ready for the evening (Thai Curry if you were wondering!). This one I'm keeping an eye on, obviously we know that these inverters will never be 100% efficient, but from those figures i've sent 177kWh to the battery, and only been able to get 124kWh back out again. Some of this will be down to the BMS consuming power to keep the battery healthy. So the inverter is 94.0% efficient at charging (100kWh sent to the battery will yield 94kWh of charge in the battery), and 94.5% efficient at discharging (1kWh being discharged from the battery will yield 945Wh). Please correct me if my maths is off! Entirely possible as I've got the plague at the moment! For how much its changed my import amounts, another tricky one which will have to wait for the end of this month, or maybe even next. I didn't get the smart meter installed til the end of March last year, but as a comparison: March 2021 (18th to 31st) - Imported 46.9kWh March 2022 (1st to 31st) - Imported 48.3kWh And this will drop further with the firmware upgrade. Will keep you posted in another couple of months time!
    6 points
  11. As predicted, progress has been a bit slow. We've been working away on internal joinery/finishing and a bit of outdoor landscaping when the weather allows (in-between baby-management and working). We got our building warrant completion cert. and VAT reclaim back about a month ago which has also helped. Costs For reference, our finalised costs were just shy of £1300/sqm including all professional fees/admin, site setup, construction and fitting out costs. I think this is a fair reflection of the amount of work put in by us vs labour bought in. We had some fairly labour intensive jobs, such as trenching the water pipe ~300m through the woodland that, while they took us quite a while, we would have paid a lot of money (and likely had a lot more destruction) if we'd paid someone else to do it. We did spend quite a bit on labour for the groundworks/founds, framing, plasterboarding, electrics and plumbing, insulation and some finishing joinery. The bulk of the spend was prior to the significant materials price rises. Knocking all the labour costs out and it becomes possible to see where you get closer to £1000/sqm. It's been tricky enough juggling work, looking after small children and trying to finish building and so while reducing the costs might be feasible I hate to think what situation we might be in now if we had tried to do everything ourselves (add in the materials price rises recently and I'm also more relaxed about not drawing it out). The house We've now spent a good chunk of our first winter in the house. Our main heating is a woodburner, with a few direct electric radiators as a backup. We light the stove for a few hours in the evening most days when it's cold (say 0 and below) and every other day for an hour or so if it's milder (~5 degrees ish outside). We've used a small wood store's worth of timber. Despite a relatively poor airtightness test result compared to some others on here the house seems to hold heat well and is fairly comfortable. Finishing off We're now mostly in the realms of landscaping. We're not a massive fan of patio slabs, but wanted somewhere to sit outside. In the end we got hold of a load of broken bits of caithness sandstone, bought by the pallet from stonesource in Inverness. Quite heavy and time-consuming to work with but very solid and the variation in the stone gives a nice finish.
    6 points
  12. Having not had the best of years health wise this year, which has unfortunately made the decision for me that someone else will have to build the side extension, i thought i'd get a bit more work done, but rather than the norm of a room taking me 3 days tops, i've spent weeks on this one, slowly picking it apart and now putting it back together (admittedly it is the biggest area of the bungalow). This is the last room which needed everything out, so I can finally say goodbye to woodwormed timbers (and this one didn't disappoint). This one was quite a bigger task than some others, as I've reopened the chimney breast, which I'm going to board out and put my AV receiving, and bluray/tv box, and in a few weeks when i've had a rest, i've got an acoustic partition to install which will cut sound down between mine and my next door neighbour. Heres how far i've got up to now... This was a before after i'd taken the fireplace out (to be relocated into the to be built dining room) and opened up the chimney breast Discovered a LOT of soot, one of the owners must have had a coal open fire at some point, so cleared as much off as I could and washed it all down. Will put a tube from under the floor into the chimney stack to provide a ventilation source, chimney pot is capped, but has ventilation built in. This room is probably the worst for rubbish out of them all, so a good clean out... Quick re-wire, and new joists in place... Base layer 20mm insulation... And topped up... The top layer was re-used from what was down, hence it being a bit worse for wear, but the 20mm layer is well sealed below. Some of the bits have popped back up a little from when i foamed them, but i couldn't move at this point my back had totally gone, so will sort it out when i do the next stage. Next to do is airtight membrane, and then the chipboard back down which was taken up. The floor in the chimney area will be formed when i've done the main floor, life without a TV is slightly boring lol! So yeah more to follow when i can actually move again and do the work
    6 points
  13. We use 4 phases from rainwater to flushing the loo with it and they are: Collecting, separating and storing in bulk tank. Fine filtering and storing in barrel. filling the gravity tank in the loft Filling the cistern This is not the only system that is possible but one that works with our property limitations. This design and its controls take into account freezing conditions. We use two 12V pumps run from batteries and PV. Here is our system: We were limited for space and you can use gravity to your advantage Here is the design of the catch pit: A circular chamber with a flat base side entry pipes angled to make the inflowing water circulate around the edges. A Tee set vertically with the branch horizontal. Construction details could be concrete slab and engineering brick sides with manhole cover and frame like ours. Needs to either be under the ground or drained before frosts if using a plastic tank. Ours was 900 internal diameter, really the bigger the more sediment settles, but this is for about 200m2 catchment area. If your going for smaller I would go for as tall as deep as you can. The separated water goes directly into your bulk storage ready for further filtering. Ours has just been cleaned out and I will take photos tomorrow. M
    5 points
  14. After pondering battery storage for many years, and then the energy prices rocketing this last year, i finally decided to give energy storage a shot, working out how it would sit financially was extremely difficult, and a little bit of a finger in the wind, but as the batteries have a designed lifetime of 15years now, and energy prices rarely go down, I figured it would pay for itself with some profit over the long term, whilst also reducing my carbon emissions and reliance on the grid. As i'm just dipping my toe in, i've decided to just get a single US3000C Pylontech Battery for now, meaning that the max discharge W is around 1.8kW. I will see how this fits in, which will cover most of my loads, and if I see fit I can add a US2000C later on to give the full 3kW discharge. Went for a Solis AC Coupled 5th Generation Inverter, the graphs it produces are really informative. Will get round to taking the rackmount bits off at some point. Example of the graphs available: I will add bits to this thread over time about electric consumption. My annual consumption at the moment is looking to be around 1200-1300kWh before the battery, Export sitting around 2400kWh as excess from the solar farm, so be interesting to see what these figures do over the next 12 months. Cost so far £2450 including installation which was £650. An additional US2000C will be £748 if i decide to go ahead.
    5 points
  15. This info relates to a DIY rainwater harvesting system, not a commercial system, and therefore the water must not be drunk! You should be careful using rainwater not to mix it with mains (Potable) Water as it is not suitable to drink and you could poison your house supply! To be clear birds poo on your roof and then it rains. However there are ways to elevate the problem in a DIY system so there is no smell or colour problems but it still cannot be drunk! You should not use the recycled rainwater for cooking, bathing or showering. SHMBO will not allow it to be used for clothes washing either. The main uses are for garden watering and toilets, and some people use it for car washing and some for clothes washing (we do not have enough storage). How much rainwater are you going to use on loos? Rough estimates suggest that you use about 70 litres a day flushing loos for 2 people. That's about 25m3 a year. More people more flushes more water... How much rainwater are you going to use in your garden? Well that's a good question and trying to work that out is basically a waste of your time because when its raining you won't need to water the garden. Is it going to rain when you need it is the impossible question to answer. so we used a pessimistic view. Our calculation about storage volume went like this: The averages on the isle of Wight where we are suggest typically 4 rainy days in each month from April through to September, however the actual events over a year are much more uneven. In 2 months, it was assumed no rain for 6 weeks: So 2 people 70 litres a day for a 6 week drought = about 3000 litres or 3 cubic meters. and Garden 200 litres a day for a 6 week drought = about 4200 litres or 4.2 cubic meters. (This was based on 200 drippers supplying plants (no lawns) 0.5 litres a day each) Total requirement about 8m3 Well, we don't have room to store that amount of rainwater so for us it came down to what we did have room for which was about 4.5 cubic meters. If we had the room I would have gone for 10 cubic meters. So this is what our loo water looks like after 4 years: No smell, no clogging up valves no discolouration. and the garden: Yes we run out of rain water, and have a backup from the mains. Based on the volume of water used and the cost of, our DIY installation, we will not save money doing this for many years, however it will reduce our bills going forward for as long as it works and we prefer to use rainwater on the garden. Good luck M
    4 points
  16. We use 2 × SunAmp PVs for our HW system in a household of 3 people. According to our water bills, our consumption is about 83 ltr per person per day. Our pattern of use is pretty even across the year: more showers in the summer; an occasional shared bath in the winter. The year round average temperature of our rising main is 11.3 °C (Oh, the wonders of logging everything in a DB and knowing how to do SQL subqueries). The H/W manifold is mixed to 53°C (perhaps a little too hot for kiddies but we are an adult household). I estimate that ~40% of our water is run as hot. (The washing machine and dishwasher, bogs, etc. are cold fill.) Cranking these number into a heat calculator, this gives a total heating requirement of just under 5 kWh / day + another 1 kWh / day heat loss as the SunAmps are tight side-by-side and amazingly insulated. (I don't separately meter the SunAmps, but a quick sanity check of my actual half-hourly electricity meter readings would indicate this figure is about 20% too high, but let us stick with this figure for estimating purposes. All heating is done at cheap rate tariff ( fixed at 9.66 p / kWh inc VAT) so this costs us ~ £211 p.a. Using an ASHP to supply the SunAmps at 40 °C, say, would drop this to 2.5 + 1 kWh saving us less than £100 p.a. or about £1K over 10 years. So in our case if we decide to install an ASHP, there aren't enough savings to make it worth installing an extra pump, a buffer tank and a two temperature ASHP to use it to (part) heat the DHW. We will stick to Keep It Simple Stupid. A couple of caveats here: I think our pattern of water use would be very different with children in the household. We have a fixed price deal until end 2022. We are going to see a big hike in our next tariff, but I feel that this will settle down in the longer term, so I am ignoring this for now.
    4 points
  17. As usual it feels like progress has been glacial. It probably hasn't but most of the jobs this month aren't exactly visible. The first job was to construct a cabinet for the switch fuses and electric meter since the old back-to-back meter boxes had degraded to the point of uselessness. This of course displaced the drainage installation activity for a while. I did make some progress here too but we are nothing like finished yet as another tonne of gravel disappears into the ground... Casting a small reinforced concrete ring beam. The ducts for house and garage SWA in the centre. It turns out that making "model" buildings is a bit of fun. Construction of the timber frame for the meter cupboard, now known as the Woodlands Folly. All materials were offcuts from the house. Meter cabinet installed and beginning to fix the cladding. Again, everything is from house offcuts including the slate roof.The meter will be accessile from near the road - covid safe meters might catch on! Almost finished folly. UPVC soffit and fascia were found in a pile in the woodland during the summer chainsawing work! The inside is lined with floorboards since even I am finding it difficult to burn them. Switch fuse units have been fitted to test sizing ready for connection. One for the house to be connected immediately and one for the garage that can wait for the time being. In the fullness of time a consumer unit will be fitted to the back wall so there is accessible power in the folly for lights and car charging. Nothing like test fitting a consumer unit in a wall that isn't really there... It's a recessed BG unit fed with SWA from the folly. The "wall" can't be installed properly as yet because screeding the floor is one of those little covid/brexit (delete as appropriate) difficulties in the supply chain along with blue facing bricks. But at least I get to have something to look at even if it doesn't do a great deal. I installed two 2.4m earth rods since there's no PME supply to site and it isn't likely either. The earth test gave 2.7 ohms impedance so well within requirements. At least the PIR is all fitted, even around all the tricky areas with ducts through the floor. I am considering decomissioning the death saw although it seems a friend would like it to make insulation strips for his roof trusses. Meanwhile, the same friend wanted somewhere to practice drone flying. This was something I was happy to assist with! These are a couple of stills from a flight showing my extremely untidy site. One day I will have the drains covered up and the treatment plant located in the ground! And maybe further in the future I can have a garage too! But the roof still looks good. Now we get on to some very good news. After nearly 9 months of waiting, the arch windows have arrived! First the frames. They even fit in the holes! And then a week later the glass. I now have a little problem of getting some large 50kg glass semi-circles into the attic without a pair of staircases or scaffolding. This is going to be interesting and may involve heavy plant. What could go wrong??? Finally this month it became urgent to get the solar panels doing something more useful than just keeping the rain out. (My connection offer was due to expire!) So I fitted the inverter in the attic on the first piece of house to be boarded. The DC wires still need clips and some bits are decidedly temporary solutions but all of it passed witness testing so it is good to start generating. Another 6kW of solar on the grid just in time for winter.
    4 points
  18. ... and so, in mid July, we had just a few things to do before we could pour concrete. <CUT, CUT, CUT> That's wrong again, you forgot the three spur walls and you've order some wrong parts. Go again, from the top ... and so, in mid July, we had an unknown quantity of things to do before we could pour concrete ? But before all of that happened, as a family we were all brought together for one of the inevitable things about life - every one must some day some to an end, this time it was my Mother-in-Law, a real matriarch, in the best way. After having gone through several operations and rounds of chemotherapy, her cancer got to the brain, and all other plans went on hold. We were able to get back to site shortly after she passed away in late August to continue. She did get to visit the site, and was so pleased with where we going to be living. So, first on the list was the starter bars for the retaining walls with this amazing double row being installed by my erstwhile wife and with all those complete, it was onto the underfloor heating loops and then the bolts that will locate a couple of steel columns Now, the eagle eyed amongst you will recognise those as M16 bolts (well done to all the bolt nerds), and when a steel fabricator came along, having seen the plans, he fortunately pointed out that they should be M20 bolts. So, if anyone is in need of some 300mm M16 bolts and fittings, tap me up for a deal ? And, so we thought we were ready for a bunch of concrete, until we visited our friendly ICF supplier to talk about the walls and realised I had omitted the shoring for three extra pieces of wall that needed to be tied to the main slab. So after a stupidly self-imposed extra delay, we managed to get everything in place to have some jolly super chaps (Tom, Phil and Ross) to bring along a concrete pump and other wonderful paraphernalia to pour, tamp and float our insulated slab foundation. . We can almost smell the completion of the house ? ? ? ?
    4 points
  19. It's been over a year since we finished our home and I thought it would be good time to reflect. We have not had any major snagging issues with the house. The only product which required some additional work was the LVT flooring, we found thermal expansion was causing some warping. This has since been resolved with the addition of two expansion joints. In my last blog post I discussed how we were heating the house with just a wood stove during colder times of the year. In the first year I had to build up our wood stocks quite quickly, but going into the second year I decided to focus on collecting sticks. I'm still burning home grown split logs but I find that collecting a bundle of sticks to be a great way to maximise the amount of firewood. By the end of the summer I had collected quite a large pile. Nearly all of these sticks are either dead wood, wind blown trees or from trees needing to be cut down for other reasons. In these times of uncertain electricity and gas prices, it's very satisfying to be able to collect and store fuel to heat my family. For our hot water, our exhaust air source heat pump has been very efficient and with no need for electricity to heat our house our usage has been 10-11kWh a day. During the course of the self build I collected a huge amount of stones from the ground. I used the smaller ones to extend the parking area. The larger ones I sorted and then had a go at dry stone walling to line the ditch. In the spring I stumbled across videos on YouTube by Charles Dowding discussing his no dig approach to gardening and I decided that it would be great to grow more vegetables. My take away from his videos was that having access to large amounts of compost was critical to making this a success. I started to hot compost from lawn clippings, hay and a variety of woody materials. I recycled the last of the pallets from the self build to make this four bay system By the end of the summer I had a huge pile of homegrown compost. This is now ready to grow some vegetables in the Spring, any suggestions?
    4 points
  20. As @Russell griffiths pointed Out numerous times... if you dont go over the poured slab often and quick, again and again , you be ending up with a garage floor. So we had the concrete ordered for morning and ready with 4guys to spread and level, tamper and float. Pouring went smooth. Pumping was good. But when we started tampering and levelling the concrete, Murphys law kicked in: -concrete went off a lot faster than my groundworkers seen in quite a while -one Of the guys (concrete pump driver) had a stroke and needed medical attention:which took 2hours until ambulance arrived...taking out 1 labourer to take care of him So we where trying to get it done as best of my(our) skills. Managed levels and no massive dents (unlevel In a few spots but very minor /mm) . Managed getting it fairly smooth . But when it came to doing details/corners, concrete was already too hard to work it ... well , now we need to lay floor over it (later) anyways . Just thinking if that is already good enough to work with tiling on top or if we need to go over it with self levelling compound (I think that's overkill) ..
    4 points
  21. In July also the I-Beams for the timber frame and the OSB (or should i call it GOLD - prices went through the roof since i first had some quotes)arrived. https://tintabernacle.blogspot.com/2021/09/1-house-on-1-lorry.html
    4 points
  22. There were two obstacles blocking me from proceeding with my build. After finding a professional who could sign off the compliance paperwork (I couldn't afford the Architect) I had a boundary issue which I agreed with a neighbour to resolve and then I had to add a window to the plans and submit them for approval before I could lodge a commencement notice and get going. Issue 1: When the house was built years ago a hedge was planted at 90 degrees to the house fronts but the land registry boundary was different, meaning when I go to put in a new driveway, some of this land is owned by the neighbour. This could be a major headache when selling the old house to fund the self build. The neighbour was very agreeable and it only took a few goes with the solicitor to get all the forms signed, get some mapping errors resolved and the land registry map THEN matched the Architects plans / assumptions they were drawn up with at the time. Simple fix but it took a call to the Land Registry office to get hold of the person who was dealing with the query. As they were on holidays for a week, the system automatically demotes unresolved issues from "waiting for attention" to "request for more information". They dealt with the issue the same day they were back and thankfully the revised map coordinates all matched and the file / folio was updated. Case Closed!! Issue 2: There were a number of planning conditions attached to the grant of planning permission. Some were protect trees, etc but one was to add a window on the gable end for passive surveillance of a public road. I've written about this before but the grant of planning was very clear that updated drawings would be required to be accepted as compliant before I could commence building or else!! I wrote to them in September 2018 looking to have this removed and told them why. Never got a reply to this date. I had other issues finding a path through the building regulations without access to an Architect. It was September 2021 when I got my finger out and had another go! I expected it would be a few weeks, it was an easy decision for someone to make, I'd get the ok in early November and I could start selling up / planning my build from January 2022. Christmas came and went, no word. I did reach a very lovely administrator who did reply to my enquiries but had no idea when a decision would be reached. There was a change in the law in December 2021 (Ireland - Republic Of) requiring responses to compliance issues to be made within 8 weeks. I assumed I would be fast tracked to clear the backlog but as January went and February was reaching the end I wondered if everyone like me was at the bottom of the pile as the newer applications would be given priority. I made that exact enquiry and it was politely suggested that if I resubmitted the same drawings they would THEN be covered under that new legislation. This was going to mean a winter build though, not what I wanted at all. But I needed that decision. So on February 28th 2022 I resubmitted the plans and waited 8 weeks. In the ninth week I had received no word from anyone but thankfully as it was a bank holiday they were running a day or two behind and on the first day of a two away holiday break, my first in three years, I got the word, the compliance submission was approved. Now, I had a fallback plan in mind where I could extend my planning by another 5 years - this was a hangover from the last crash, making it easy for people to extend planning due to that disruption - unknown to me however it was rescinded last year. I only found out recently. My planning expires next June 2023! I can only extend it if the building work is expected to be substantially completed by that time. Bit open to interpretation but I really need now to make a call to proceed or not. If I can get started by January 2023 I should be well ok. Later and it might get fun!! I'm on variable rate % on my current house so I need to get all my ducks lined up and sell to proceed. Anyway, long story short (amazing if you're still reading this!) but I can now lodge a commencement notice. That clears the way for my to realign the driveway, put in a new boundary fence to split the property and sell the house, and build on the side garden site I've been hoping to do for the last 7 years! My mortgage application has expired and a lot of the quotes have too. Can I still afford to build and find reputable trades to do the work? Remains to be seen but the plan is to finish all DIY on the current house, get it cleaned up ready for sale and go from there. 7 months of legal/planning issues finally over. I've read and heard of far worse but a window in my case has been partly to blame for a delay of 3 and a half years!! Certainly the last 7 months for sure but that's how it goes. But with a few really good people onside (land registry, planning office and solicitor) a result was reached and delivered. And I just started a laying a new Patio last week in frustration....!!
    3 points
  23. Running all 4 in the winter is quite interesting: PV generation: About a week with overcast skies and then a couple of days of sun. January is supposed to be the low point for PV generation. Based on the EU calculator we should produce about 180kWh in January. We measured 195 which is about 6.3kWh a day on average. However generation happened spasmodically along with the weather. For example 14kWh on a good day and 0.86kWh on a poor day. EV Having the electric car meant that on the few days in the month when the PV generation was over 2kW we charged the car. We use a 3kWh plug in charger. Even with a 5.12kW system on the roof at peak generation during January we only saw a top of about 3kW, so rather than waste (send to the grid) maybe a kW or two we charge the car when generating 2kW or more and reduce the overall cost of charging the car. We calculate that over a ten year period that 1kWh used will have cost us about 10p. Hot water: Most of the excess was captured in the hot water tank using the Solic 200 controller and a 1kW twenty seven inch immersion. Twice even reaching over 60C resetting the countdown timer designed to warn us when the tank has not been over 60C for more than 10 days. MVHR The MVHR is now running smoothly with all controls working. One of the interesting items is the water coils that have been installed in the air ducts. These have increased the inlet air temperature from 17C up to 25C depending on the heating water set temperature and flow rate through the coils. Quite nice to have warmer air into the rooms in winter. Can't wait to use them in summer when cooling the bungalow using the ASHP and powering the ASHP using the PV. ASHP: ASHP kWh use over January roughly 9kWh a day for 100m2 for average 20 C over 24 hours indoor temperature. Had to move the ambient temperature sensor on the ASHP the other day because it was exposed to direct sunlight and effecting the temperature compensating mode. If it wasn't for Build Hub and the helpful contributors I would have struggled with half of this..... Thanks to everyone on here who helps. Many people who are new to the idea of ASHPs will find this a good place to start. Good luck with your project. M
    3 points
  24. Results for us as they come forward...(and not what I expected) Our Cool Energy inverTech Air Source Heat Pump CE-iVT9 4.3kW-9.5kW has been on standby only, for the last few weeks, and I have measured the power consumption. It appears to use about 0.1 kWh an hour. That's about 2.25kWh a day in 24 hours. We use a Solic 200 to direct our excess electricity produced by the PV to the hot water immersion. Whilst the Solic way of heat the hot water uses more energy, because it only runs using power we would otherwise give to the grid, its better for the bills to turn the ASHP off all together rather than use it to heat the hot water tank. You would think that with a high COP it would be better to use the ASHP but with the other things on in the home and the car being charged, you can never be sure your not buying all the power. Secondly I think the ASHP runs at a minimum of about 1.5kW when heating the water. The Solic can use any spare power from the PV: 10 to 3000 Watts. We could turn the ASHP off altogether and on only when we need hot water and I have decided this is a bit fiddly so won't do it. Another benefit is the fact that the hot water tank is set to 70C ( the ASHP will only do up to 60 and that is at its least efficient) and this lasts us at least 2 or 3 days before needing to be heated up again! ( We do have a super insulated tank) Days when it could be cloudy and we would have to pay for the power. ( We will turn it up higher in the winter and use it as a thermal store for night time warmth...) And finally I would rather wear out the £50 immersion than the £3180+VAT ASHP! Good luck with your project. M
    2 points
  25. A short blog to show my Mini spilt Air2Air install, in the Windy Roost Static. I looked at installing a wood burning stove, but we have zero trees on site, so when I looked at the costs of twin wall flue, terminals, flashing, creating a heat shield and making the caravan tidy plus the hassle of getting wood / coal, the costs were adding up. A quick question on here - Build hub, some options were suggested and I decided to go with the a cheap Air 2 Air heat pump from Appliances direct. The unit is a Telefunken 12K BTU split unit. cost around £375 but did not included the pipe to connect from indoor to outdoor unit. I got 5M twin insulated copper pipe with the flair nuts from ebay for £56. Our Static has a gas fire - useless, and a chimney breast made from chipboard, the side panel just screws off to access the flue. This was the perfect place for the indoor unit, as it would be a neat install and the rear will allow for the pipes to be hidden, also I could use the hole in the floor to route the pipes/ drain and power for the remote unit. I removed the light fitting, screwed the bracket on the timber, and drilled a 80mm hole, for the pipes / drain and power. Then its a case of posting all the pipes/ drain and power cables through the hole, really straight forward, the indoor unit then just clips into place. The indoor unit comes pre wired with a 13A plug top, and you need to run a 3core and earth cable from the indoor unit to the outdoor unit. this is Live, Neutral and a control / switch cable. Next to the chimney is a double plug socket, so I wasn't messing around running new cables, I just drilled an 8mm hole in the side of the chimney breast and used 2M extension lead to plug the unit in. I used some zip ties to secure the extension lead and plug to the pipes (these were put on after the photo below). and that was the internal work complete. zero mess, and no rework / decoration required. The outdoor unit was going to sit directly outside, behind the chimney breast, the ground outside was not level but it is bedrock, so a made a simple frame and made level concrete pad, and cast some hook bolts into the concrete. For initial research I spoke with a Local (ish) refrigeration engineer, and he said he would connect for £120. but was telling me there is nothing to it, and if I was doing everything else then maybe I do it all??? I found an American You tube guide which was helpful on the pipework side. (linked below) Basically, the unit comes pre charged with gas, so you are not filling with gas etc. the main issue is removing the air from the two pipes you install. This is done with a vacuum pump. (some more expensive units come with pipes and they are pre-vacuumed with quick connectors) I found a vacuum pump and gauge set for sale on Vevor for £79 so £41 cheaper than the refrigeration engineer. I bought one, and an adaptor. I'm not suggesting anyone does this without an F - Gas Engineer, but the main issues are leaks, if when you connect the pipes up and they leak you are going to loose the gas, and the unit wont work. To Purge the pipes Step 1 connect your pump to the centre of the two gauges with a hose Step 2 connect a second hose to one of the gauges and the other end to the one way valve on the outdoor unit Step 3 Open the valve on the corresponding gauge from step 2. Step 4 Run the vacuum pump for 15mins to remove the air, and you check the gauge is reading negative. (-30 blue gauge in pic below) Step 5 turn off the pump and wait 15mins, and check the gauge is still negative. (-30) - this proves there is no leaks Step 6 close the valve you opened in step 3. Step 7 Open the 5mm Allen screws on both valves to the gas fill the internal unit. That is disconnect the pump plug the indoor unit in and you ready to go. Notes: I used expanding foam in the hole at the rear of the fire. We have no intentions of using the fire as it is /was rubbish. Also the indoor unit should not be near a source of heat. The total install time was around 4 hours. and total cost £530 More importantly my caravan has warm air. lets see what its like in winter.🤞
    2 points
  26. After following others journeys into the self build world for years, it looks like I'm finally about to embark on my own after several soft starts. The first major work is to realign the driveway and I've opted for paved over other styles and to do most of it myself. I got a driver & digger to take up the concrete driveway and grass and pile it up and hired a grab truck to take it all away. Less than two days later I was left with a barren front garden! Since then I've been figuring out a few details and grading the site to prepare for the required level of MoT. There was some damage done during excavation to be repaired which is underway. The current list of problems are: Get Earth Rod reinstated and connect house ground to it - Electrician Buy another wavin universal gully 110mm as the first was to replace one cracked during digging, this one is to replace the old one which doesn't have a swivel head and its at the wrong angle to the house and will make the paving cuts a lot harder to achieve and look wierd. The new ones let you turn the gully to different angles to run parallel to the house. Buy adjustable connector for linear drainage channel to connect to inlet of universal gully as they are nearly level but not quite. Trace broadband cable from house to a point where I can create an access point and run a pipe from there to my site next door (I tried digging to find it on the other side of the site to only find a gas main where it's not meant to be!). To dig this alternative position out tomorrow and see if it's viable. Decide if I'll keep the loose soil in the original broadband excavation hole or remove and replace with hardcore (I've asked this question under the driveways topic on this site) Hire concrete / kango hammer to remove concrete surround of manhole cover and replace with a recessed unit and gain access to drain on other side of house for linear drainage channel over there - the side of this drain has a mass of concrete beside it for an unknown reason. Dig out holes for more concrete posts to form new front boundary but mind electrical cable heading in same direction Assess how much MoT I'll need to build up 2 x 75mm levels on far side of site which was grass and will take the most vehicular traffic. The old concrete driveway sub base is still there and its nearly at the right level, won't need to do much to it except whack it a few times and it'll be good to go. Risks: We found the water pipe near the far side of the house but I didn't take a photo before covering it back over. Now I can't find it again. The builders dumped a load of concrete beside a drain that I need to plumb a linear drain into and I'm concerned I might hit it. I have to chance breaking that concrete. Concrete fence post holes vs main electrical cable to house Finding broadband line - it's a 1 inch black cable but so are the electrical and gas lines! I'll have to excavate the whole route of the broadband pipe to ensure I'm looking at the right one. There is tape to show which is which eventually but nearer the house they don't bother with this. Marking on pipe aren't clear what it's for either. Site Safety: I've Heras fencing up & warning signs and put a temporary post box and wireless doorbell on it to avoid people coming onto site unnecessarily and twisting an ankle. Dust is a big problem. We had some rain last night which helped. The new side gate is up and the back is secured again. Today I was replacing the cracked drain gulley and nosing around a few builders providers trying to find what I was after. I'm back to work next week so things will slow down. If I can get that broadband junction sorted out tomorrow that would be great, otherwise I might have to try dig more holes again! This is definitely the biggest project I've taken on to date. Bits of civil engineering, drains, electrical, using a digger, compactor, line levels and more skills besides! The head is definitely taking a bit of a beating but I've had some great answers to my questions on this forum which has been a BIG help! At night my brain is going 90 mph though so need to balance things. At least going back to work will be a distraction. I'm past the point of no return but do wonder am I mad and should I have gotten someone else to do this for me!?! But the budget wasn't there and I'm learning a lot. Expect the unexpected. What lurks under the ground level for decades can't be put into words...strange cables with no purpose, concrete and gas lines where they shouldn't be, aching arms and head! Would I go it again? Ask me when it's over! Hopefully my next post will be it completed but until then, good luck with all your summer projects and I am VERY sympathetic to anyone taking on a house, I'm aghast at just a driveway!!
    2 points
  27. To finish my 22 days on site. I started timber framing, decided to start on the amenity block, as this will initially be for our washing machine and dryer, plus some storage. My aim was to get water tight -ish. before I had to get home for the weekend. The poly tunnel (constructed this visit) - is my cutting shed, I set up my chop saw and worked to my cut list. This was proof of concept on my build plans, and it needed tweaking, the roof to wall junction has been modified and will work, but I want a better / neater solution for the cabins. here's my first attempt with the Binno camera. amenity.mp4 The wind picked up (20mph with 35mph gusts, so I needed to get some structure and racking boards in place, so the camera set up didn't happen day 2. I left site with it wrapped, and with the vapor barrier on the OSB roof. (with some 6x2 to reduce the wind uplift. I'll need BC to have a look before I put the insulation on the roof, as I want the insulations and rubber to go on on the same day. This block and the cabins will be clad in Scottish Larch. There's a gap above the door, that needs the final framing to be finished, but generally happy with the result. so far.
    2 points
  28. My dual roles for the first 10 days of the June / July trip was to get ready for concreting. This breaks down into two slab / raft foundations for the Cabins, 1 slab for the amenity block, and some backfilling of the treatment plant, and while I'm at it, concrete for the Polycarbonate Polly tunnel. another blog to follow. In my opinion, the structural calculations for the slab rafts were well over engineered. the slabs will be ground bearing (rock) foundation and thinner slab, all poured at the same time. The Radon barrier and timber frame will sit on this, with an insulated floating chipboard floor. I know this will give some thermal bridge on the timber frame, but these are camping cabins not the house. Costs said this was the way forward. I'd already exposed the rock for the cabins, so BC could see this, and was happy for me to crack on. I framed the the cabins with 6x2 timber, and levelled this formwork. Then used crush and run to raise the central slab area up, to leave me a 100mm thick slab with thickened foundation perimeter. This perimeter varied due to the level of the rock. I used around 6 ton of MOT in each cabin., then A252 around the base of the foundation and A142 across the slab. At the corners of each slab I ran the WC waste, and also a feed for H&C water, power and internet supplied for the amenity block. The amenity block was a simple 150mm Slab on compacted hardcore. With this prep done, my wife, (the now only breadwinner for the next 8 weeks), was due on site, for a baptism of fire..... To be fair Saturday and Sunday consisted of me and Mandy getting the mesh in place and getting the post support for the extended roof of the cabins dug, tying the mesh, getting the post support brackets ready. and some land clearing/ hole digging for the Poly tunnel. Monday is concrete day..... The plan was simple. the truck would reverse up to each cabin, drop around 5 Cube in the cabin, whilst I'm levelling, then the remainder would go into the amenity block. we would float this, and then when the truck came back pour the second cabin, finish the amenity block, and whilst waiting for the truck to come back get this floated off. the last load would be the treatment plant (this would be using the loader bucket) and leave a little for the poly tunnel.. easy 15cube, no problem.. It didn't work this way, Mandy, who is game for anything, but being an engineer needs to know what she is doing. She has never laid a slab.. didn't matter, because I was going to do it, no problem. she was there as a go for, and edge trowel-er (I must point out, I knew that the surface finish wasn't important, as its being covered with insulation and membrane - but) The wagon turned up around 10, after a 30 min trip to site, the day was damp, with slight rain, not overly hot, the driver would not drive on to the earth next to the cabins. So I had to use the loader. (an old Ford 550) the first half bucket was solid, I could tell by the colour, there was a lot of cement in the mix, I told him to add water, lots of water, but he didn't have "loads" so the best we got as a stiff slump, I loaded as fast as I could, and Mandy was trying her best to rake / shovel this level, and she was doing a great job, but she didn't know what she was doing, and it was hard work. I thought the concrete was wetter than it was. after about and hour we had the concrete out and some in the amenity block, but it was far from level, and starting to go off. I had to use the loader to level some more, than then used my beams to get it flat. This was hard, and the bull float wasn't bringing up a lot of cream..... I asked for a wetter mix for the second drop and asked for 2 hours to get set. I got the slab flat and fairly good, but not great. Whilst Mandy was teaching herself to drive the digger, (she wasn't having round 2 with the rake). Round two was worse, the mix although a little wetter, was setting faster. Mandy put the first few loads into the amenity block and I levelled this, then started on cabin 2, it was a real graft. Again the loader was used to move the setting concrete, there was some concrete left, so this went into the treatment plant pit. With the running around the site, cabin 2 slab was far from finished and I had to resort to putting water on top to help. Not my best day. I get the slab level., but floating was not producing a smooth mirror like finish. We also had to set in the post support into the 4 shuttered blocks. and had around 3/4 of a bucket left in the loader. We rounded the day off with setting the posts in the poly tunnel. We got cleaned up around 18.00. The amenity block and 2 cabins were flat and floated, but not fantastic (hence no photos). the treatment plant had around 1 cube of concrete and the 14 posts were set. 13Cube of concrete, and Mandy politely informed me, she was never concreting again.... Tuesday, we needed to finish off the treatment plant. but couldn't get concrete until late afternoon. The morning we started on the poly tunnel, but decided that we needed more concrete, so created a shutter to link all the posts with a plinth. The 3rd Batch of concrete was the worse, we did about 9 loads with the bucket and it was setting again. we left a full bucket for the poly tunnel, levelled the concrete around the treatment plant. (the driver informed me, that I probably had got more than 2 cube, as there was some in the mixer when he loaded mine, so that explains it going off real quick then. Anyway. we persevered, were still married and talking to each other, and we achieved the goals..... The future house slab pour will need more people, a different concrete company, and a solution that doesn't need my digger, PUMPS are not common this far north, thinking cap on. thanks for reading.
    2 points
  29. Wednesday 26th June, I spent most of this day travelling, in my van and my two helpers for the next few weeks. The trip is 433 miles door to door, the goal before the boss arrives for 9 days was to get the caravan (home) connected to the treatment plant. plus get ready for concrete. other blogs to follow. To connect the Static I needed to install the treatment plant, install some of the drainage for the pods, confirm with BC he is happy and basically crack on with the long days that far north. Previous work had the pit dug out of the rock, so the basic plan was to sit the plant onto compacted, level, stone and backfill with gravel. Then put a top of concrete to hold the whole thing down. In the 8 weeks the pit was open there was no filling of the pit, so I was quite happy the rock was porous, but couldn't be convinced in heavy rain it wouldn't fill with water. The rock at the bottom wasn't going anywhere, so didn't see the point of fully filling with concrete. I backfilled with stone up to around 350mm from the central rib of the TANK (a Tricel Nova 12P) then put 3 cube of concrete over this. this concrete is now bonded to the rock sides to the pit and if my tank floats its going to have to bring the bed rock with it. The observant of you will note it sits a little higher than the ground. This was for two reasons. - to assist with the outflow depth for the rubble drain, and secondly I am going to raise the level of the ground in this and the rubble drain area, to soften the impact of the house, that will sit further East on slightly elevated ground. (I also buried a 5 ft earth rod in the concrete for the future) I got my levels from the pods to the tank a distance of approx. 46.5M, and worked out my fall, the levels of the land assisted this, i..e the pods to the West and the House to the East of the treatment plant are both elevated, with the treatment plant in the lower part, and near the existing rubble field drain. (our initial survey and plans worked. Phew) The trench for the waste pipe was also used for services (Water, telecoms, electricity, Ethernet) , backfilled with stone and fill from site. I then laid the pipe, with a fall, and supported this on flat rocks. Connecting lengths of pipe together on your own is not easy, (I asked the dogs to help, but the lack of thumbs became an issue. ) Top tip, long ratchet straps make this an easy process. the picture below shows this, I broke the length of the run up with branches for rodding points, not required at these distances, but makes sense and easier rodding if required. The ratchet strap is 15 m long, at one point I had two connected together. simply loop the hook around the chamber, or branch and the other end around the pipe you are connecting and a few ratchets later the pipe slides into place. Once all in place and re checking the levels I used stone (lots of stone) to fill the voids under the pipe, re-checking the levels (falls) and compacting as I went. I tested this run of drainage with bungs and water manometer. Building control were happy not to inspect before backfill, as long as I was happy that if it failed the pressure test later that was my issue... My initial meeting with building control, laid the ground for our relationship, I asked what he wanted, showed him my proposals, chatted about this and that and hopefully from this he could see I wasn't a muppet, so we agreed to move forward with a few photo's here and there and he might pop in at anytime if he was passing. works for me. One of the branches that will be a rodding point is doubling up as my caravan connection. For now the Treatment plant is running by being plugged in. I Will run the SWA cable but this will be powered from a house yet to be built, so for now, comes from a Caravan hook up point, with RCBO protection. Part two will be the rubble drain this is still work in progress..
    2 points
  30. So after 2 years since the planning permission was granted, and a 2month delay from the builders I'm finally underway on what will be the last major building work on this bungalow. Having real trouble finding a joiner who's available to do the roof, so I may end up having to do that myself. The one bit i'm unsure on having never done a lean-to roof before, the wood plate which goes on the wall, is it fixed using thunderbolts?
    2 points
  31. Two christmases have passed since I wrote the last entry here and we’re well into another year. The last few weeks have seen us discussing the possibility of another build and I decided to reread this blog in the hope of putting myself off the idea! The land next to us which has planning for 5 houses is beginning to move and the first house will be going up soon, I spent half an hour a couple of weeks ago chatting to the chap who’s going to be building and could feel the excitement brewing in me. We will have to make a move sometime in the next 3 years as retirement looms and this was never going to be our retirement home so who knows what will happen, I’m a great believer in fate and at the end of the day we never intended to build this house but the plot just fell into our hands. There’s no hurry but I just can’t see myself settling for a ready made house and the determination to finally build one that doesn’t give us any grief throughout the build is strong so watch this space!🙄😩
    2 points
  32. Having originally planned then dropped the idea of Solar PV (a combination of budget constraints and drop in FiT rates) I recently acquired a number of Solar PV panels (a pallet bought in conjunction with @ProDave from Bimble Solar via Ebay). Having recently collected the panels, lengths of mounting rail and various other bits and bobs @ProDave had kindly sourced, I fitted the system over the last two Saturdays. First off was mounting the rails on my rear, SW facing garage wall. I decided to mount the panels vertically simply for ease - a ready made structure to fix the rails to, and easy access to a consumer unit for the grid connection. There is a penalty in terms of a reduction in annual generation compared to a sloped array, however simplicity won out. The following picture shows the garage wall with rails fixed; To start I nailed packers to the cladding to ensure I had a drainage gap behind the rails. I then fixed the rails (Unistrut - a tip from @Onoff) through the cladding, cladding battens into the timber frame of the garage using timber drive bolts I happened to have. As the lengths of Unistrut I had were offcuts (only way I could transport them) I used joiners secured to the channel with bolts/channel nuts. Finally, I added hanging brackets for each panels to help carry the weight of each panel / so I wasn't reliant purely on bolts clamping the panels in position. I fitted the panels, sitting them on the hanging bracket and bolting them around 300mm from top and bottom as pictured; The ends were secured using Z brackets I cut down using a grinder (thanks @JSHarris) so that they clamped only the frame and did not overhang the panel itself; Long M6 bolts with large washers were used to secure the panels into the rails where they met with each other; The channel nuts (also known as Zebedees) into which the long M6 bolts were secured; I used M8 bolts and channel nuts for the joiners, end and hanging brackets. My electrician connected the system up, wiring the panels to a DC isolator, into the Inverter which in turn is wired into the garage CU via a meter and AC isolator. 2 hours work for him. Switched on, the Inverter ran through all its self tests and everything okay. Sadly at that point it clouded over and the heavens opened so only a few watts being generated. Fortunately, today has been a bright and sunny day (albeit a bit hazy) and my 1.5 kWp system is as we speak, generating 1.2kW. The following shot was taken yesterday just before the rain came on, but all in all, I'm pleased with the way it looks (panels mounted so they read visually with house windows). Cost wise the system (1.5kWp plus a spare panel), mounting rails, nuts, bolts, brackets, isolators, meter and electrician (@Prodave was kind enough to give me the DC cable he had left over which was just enough for the job) total £550. I already had the inverter. Final job within the next 28 days is to notify the DNO of the installation.
    2 points
  33. Finally having time to update you(and me) about the progress. It s happening fast now. Finally. https://tintabernacle.blogspot.com/2021/12/the-frame-is-going-up-fast.html
    2 points
  34. Since January 5th we have used 222kWh on the ASHP over the last 26 days. That's about 9kWh per day for heating and hot water. However some days the hot water temperature has been boosted by the PV excess power going into the immersion heater so let's assume 8kWh per day for 100m2 home. The heating is running 24 hours a day at an average of 20C. The outside temperature has been low (I will look up the records later) with only about 4 nights of frost. Results from trying different programmes seems to indicate that running the heating all night at about 2C lower than day temperature uses less energy than turning it off over night and letting the building drop lower and then reheating in the morning. Some mornings at 6am it is a lot colder than between 10pm and 4am and I think the ASHP has to work alot harder in a colder temperature a lot longer to enable the house to reach the required temperature. Interestingly, when we were out all day the system used even less power to maintain temperature even though we left it running. Another item that effects these results seems to be the amount of power used in the building almost regardless of the purpose of its use. I will start keeping a record of the whole house energy use to observe the results. Another is solar gain. Others are leaving doors open for extended periods of time, and body heat from things like housework. When we were leaving the heating off in the night I noticed that the north east bedroom became colder than the rest of the house. Having installed the insulation and vapour barrier myself I reason that this is due to wind chill as this is the most exposed part of the building. The ASHP Ambient Temperature probe registered 15.6C two mornings ago at about 9.30 in the morning although it was actually only about 6C. This caused the ASHP to lower its output temperature and the house was a degree or two lower. So I have shielded the probe against direct sunlight and this seems to be working.. The weather compensation mode in the ASHP control system relates the outside air temperature to the ASHP output, in an attempt to produce the minimum heat required to satisfy the temperature required in the building. Set up correctly this will lower the temperature of the ASHP output in line with a rising outside temperature and vice versa. In my opinion, the setting of the weather compensating levels would need to be adjusted for each individual property in order to have any chance of success. Because this bungalow can over heat when the outside temperature is above 10C I have adjusted the water temperatures down in the weather compensation control area. We have not tried out the cold settings yet as the weather has been mild. The coils in the mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR) ducting work well in heating mode. The air from outside , at about 5C, goes through the heat exchanger ( raising the temp to about 19C, then along one of the main supply ducts and through the heated water coil (water circulated from the buffer tank), before splitting up into outlet ducts and entering the rooms at about 26C. The cooling opperation will have to wait until the summer to be tested. Having installed additional insulation around both the hot water tank and the Buffer tank the loss of heat greatly improved. The utility room is now at about 21C unless washing is going on. I am very glad we managed to keep all the tanks etc inside the building's thermal envelope and all the 28mm pipes with maximum pipe insulation. It may be this is long and boring but hopefully someone will read this before installing an ASHP and benefit from my experience. Good luck. M The best combination:
    2 points
  35. The story so far. My background of building has helped; our modest budget dictates the house will be modest and simple. Highland planning guidance wants single or 1.5 storey houses, ideally traditional looking, or architecturally beneficial. Architects as a whole are probably the most important people to take Ideas and turn them into a deliverable home. Unfortunately an architect for us is unaffordable. We have a budget, and we have to squeeze and leverage every penny from it. So doing away with every fee / service we can has to become a mindset. So we sketch out our plans, make paper models for floor space, list what we want, we need then categorize these into must haves. Our must have boiled down to: 2 bedrooms, Office space, utility / boot room, WC in / near the Boot room for when were outside, Kitchen, Lounge, Bathroom I spent hours reading blogs, and topics, researching timber frame companies and the like. Once we had the outline we now needed the land. We visited lots of crofts* for sale, some as little as 10K some with building some with houses with land from 1 acre and 50 acre. Made enquires for electricity on 1 plot to be given an estimate of 30K for connection. Eventually we put a cheeky offer in for the croft and after a bit of back and forth bought our croft. I printed off lots of drawings from successful applications on the planning website, and used these as basis for the information we needed, to make the whole project possible we needed to add a couple of camping pods into the mix, and to this we needed lots of drawings and lots of information. I never asked for quotes as I knew we couldn’t afford somebody else to draw them. I have used cad before, a long time ago when I was in engineering, and to a lesser extent for building works (floor plans etc), but I had never produced scaled drawings. I found the software Arcon Evo, and this seemed like a solution. I downloaded the trial and started messing around with it. It’s buggy, but after a few hours I was thinking I might be able to pull this off, so I spent £300 for the full blown version, and set out drawing. The software is clever, you can make your own walls, similar to build up in a U value calculator, you draw in plan and it creates the 3d model. Once you’re happy you can create plan elements, these are automatic and form the part of the drawings. You then add the plan elements to a plan. This is your final drawing. For example, You create North, South, East and West plan elements, and you can add dimensions, text etc. You drag these elements into a plan called elevations. If you change the floor plan all the plan elements and plans change dynamically. But it is buggy in places so you have to check all is good. As this was not just a house but pods we needed drawings showing the site elevations, landscape plans etc. We now needed a land survey. The plot is 8hr 30mins approx. from our house so we put some feelers out for getting a land mapping done. £1500-£3000 to produce detailed digital levels and dimensions.... We set off around 2pm on a windy day in July, with my trusty dumpy level, 100m tape and sighting staff, also some red flag metal spikes. We arrived in Inverness around 9pm and stayed in a lovely B&B in Inverness for a mere £130 had breakfast at 7.30 we were on the croft for 10.30. The plan was simple, walk around the area the house was going to be, look out to sea and make sure we position it for the best views (there are 2 houses and a stone barn between us and the sea). Then from here get the levels to make sure the drainage works. And start measuring. The sea harr didn’t help, I couldn’t see Mandy more than 35M away never mind read the staff. We set our datum on the corner of the field on the road, we measured in 10M increments to the position of the house plot around 80M in then created a grid of 10M sq 40M x 50M, using our little metal red flagged sticks to mark the way. I had to reposition the dumpy level a few times due to visibility and used previously measured markers to re-define the datum. An hour or two later cold and wet we had the measurements we needed. After a brew in a café, we set off home getting in around 10.30pm just shy of 1000miles. Total cost around £300. I created a full set of drawing, to include Floor plan, elevations, sections, site plan, pod plans, plot elevations, landscaping plan, 3d plan for the pods. - I sent in a Pre planning application, this is a little thing in Scotland where they like you to ask in advance for planning before you ask for planning. Pre planning took 8 weeks, and was a report saying in general it seems ok, they would need more info on X and Y and drawings for A & B. with this I changed and amended the drawings and put forward my full planning application. I did get the feel that me not being an Architect, did rub them the wrong way, but after a few discussions and changes here and there planning was granted around 8 weeks later. so home drawn plans can and do get planning approval.... I have been asking questions on this forum and reading posts / blogs so added my Introduction with the plans.. The feedback was generally positive, but the big black cloud was the post from @ProDave with regards to the problems he has had with the render on Wood fibre approach. This is the blog I found to work and copied the methodology. How did I miss the posts regarding his troubles? @Russell griffiths, and others also got me thinking about the exposure, so a few restless nights with the calculator and looking for options, we plan to change the external finishes; the planner has been responsive and sees no issues with my request to change the external to Fibre cement boards (Hardie Plank). And also change the roof from Metal roofing sheets to Forticrete SL8 thin leading edge concrete tiles. These changes will give a cavity between the rain shield and wood fibre that I will wrap with Breather membrane. That brings us to present day. Now waiting for the formal quote for electrical connection. And an issue with the water main being made from Asbestos concrete running across our proposed entrance, so we need some trial holes before they make a decision on what needs to be done….. Shopping List: JCB Backhoe loader Static caravan portable storage small touring caravan - cheap as chips - this will be lived in by me for a few weeks at a time until we can get access, water, power and drainage for the static sorted. *A trap we nearly fell into is if you buy a croft you need to follow the rules and work the land, you are bound by these, there are upsides of available grants for help, and this is the bit you need to be careful about. If you buy part of a croft i.e. 2 acre, you’re still bound by the rules, but you won’t be able to apply for grants as the original croft will by default have this entitlement. You need to own the whole croft, and as far as I know this is a minimum of 4.5 Hectare, (11.2 Acre) to be able to apply for grant assistance.
    2 points
  36. We have a passive-class house where the net heating requirement to keep the house warm in the coldest winter months is approximately 1kW. The only heating system for doing this an underfloor heating (UFH) system base on 3 ~100m UFH loops buried in our passive slab. That's it; no upper floor systems; no towel rails; nothing. The reason for this is that our timber framed house is super insulated and air tight so there is very little temperature variation throughout the house, but that's all been covered in earlier posts. What I want to do in this post is to provide a simple explanation of how I am going to heat my house and how this works so that John (@joe90) and other forum members understand my approach. This basic heating strategy was first evangelised by Jeremy Harris (@JSHarris), but variants have been adopted by other forum members and their consistent experience is that it works and works effectively for this class of passive house. However, what I am doing is a slight variation on Jeremy's approach: I am using the slab itself as my main heat store, so no buffer tank. I will be heating it by circulating warm water through the UFH loops and this water will be heated by a simple small inline 3kW electrical heater element. The heating charge will normally be done as a "chunk" once per day during the E7 cheap rate period to take advantage of low tariff rates. However, I am also including in the design provision for the later addition of an ASHP, should the heating data collected over the first year show that there is a 10-year payback in doing this. As I said, Jeremy's approach has been well documented by him in his blog and by others. He has recently described that his system settles down into a repeating pattern over the colder winter months winter where his heating comes on for a few hours once a day in the early morning, and the heat in the slab is topped up during this period. This is broadly what I call "chunk heating": unlike a traditional house central heating system which is turning on and off pretty continually, the heat losses in our type of house are so small and the house has such a high thermal inertia that you can heat the it practically with a single daily top-up to the slab; this heat then "trickle feeds" into the house over the day. Yes, there is a slight residual ripple on the temperature in the house, but this is less than a 1°C undulation over the entire day and so this isn't really perceptible to the occupants. I am adopting this same approach, but shifting my heating period earlier so that it ends at the same time as the E7 low rate tariff ends. The main difference in my implementation is that I am heating the slab directly without a buffer tank. I wanted to get my head around this before committing to this decision, so I modelled this in some detail and covered all of this physics and modelling stuff in my Boffin's corner thread. This modelling has persuaded me that the mechanisms and dynamics of heating are pretty simple, and so in this post I want to cut out all of the equations and stuff (with one exception) and focus on describing what happens in plain terms. First, I am using a small 3 kW electric element to heat the water circulating in the UFH loops (the same type is used as a hot tank immersion heating element). Just like an electric shower this heats the water stream a step in temperature. Sorry I am a boffin, so I will call this temperature change ∆T. (BTW, the triangle is just the Greek letter D and is short for difference; blame Isaac Newton for that one.) Just like an electric shower, double the power and ∆T doubles; double the flow rate and ∆T halves, and if I do the sums for a typical flow throw my UFH loops, and for a 3 kW heater then ∆T works out at about 1.6°C for my system -- a lot less than a typical gas-boiler fed UFH installation, but my heater is puny in comparison. So if I start pumping 3kW of heat into my slab, then the system settles down after about 10mins and the heat output is pretty much the same along the entire 3 × 100m runs of UFH pipe, pipe work, that is each 1m of pipe dumps about 10W of heat into the concrete. This lifts the temperature of the concrete, and at the same time cools the water in the pipe pretty steadily along its length so it comes out at 1.6°C cooler than it went in. But cooler or hotter than what? The heat flows radially away from the UFH pipe creating a thermal gradient. [Boffin bit warning, and the only one] this gradient is pretty close to what is known as the steady state radial solution to the 1-D heat equation, which has a formula Tr = Tp - A.log(r/rp). where T is the temperature and r is the distance from the pipe centre, with the p subscript relating to the pipe/concrete interface. The A term is a function of the amount of heat flow. The main thing to note here is the general shape of this gradient: the temperature of the water ends up roughly 4-5°C hotter than the slab average for this sort of 10W/m value, and the temperature in the concrete falls away rapidly as you moving away from the pipe towards the average slab temperature. Since the volume of concrete goes as r2, the actual proportion of the concrete more than 1°C hotter than slab average temperature is small. So the overall effect of the heating is to slowly lift the average slab temperature. There is also a general heat gradient along the water in the pipe but once you get more than a few cm from the pipe centre the concrete is all within 1°C or so of the slab average. There are also local hot regions around the UFH pipes up to 5°C or so hotter than the overall average slab temperature. However, this is factors less than you will get with a conventional UFH system. A key difference of Jeremy's approach is that the water continues to recirculate after the heating is turned off, and now the water flow acts to redistribute the heat rapidly along the pipe levelling the previous 1.6°C gradient; at the same time (without the heat being pumped from the UFH pipe) this central warmer region rapidly flattens out as the heat flows outward, and within an hour or so hardly any heat variation remains and the entire slab is within ½°C of the slab average temperature. A good analogy here is pouring water into a bucket: the surface level steadily rises as you pour it in and the surface itself is a bit churned up by the act of pouring, but as soon as you stop pouring, it rapidly levels out to flat surface. OK in a real slab this is also complicated by the deep elements (the unheated ring beams in my slab are over a third of the total volume) and the heat does flow into these largely thanks to the high thermal conductivity of the rebar. But overall, the slab is acting as a heat battery soaking up the power that you pump in. The trick is not to put a somewhat arbitrary limit of the maximum input water temperature (say 25°C) as this will limit the amount of power that you can apply. This heat gets quickly spread uniformly throughout the slab. By the end of the heating period, the slab is 2°C (or whatever) warmer than the room temperature, and is starting to transfer heat into the room fabric at ~15W/m² whilst itself slowly cooling. This is more than the external heat losses in the house, so this heat both warms the air and the rest of the wall fabric. This creates a very slow rise and fall in the room temperature over the course of the day -- of roughly 1°C. But so long as you put in enough heat each night, the overall house temperature remains stable. So how much is "enough" heat? In my case I use a very simple strategy. I am using the UFH circulation temperature at midnight as my test. If it is less than the previous night, then I add a bit more heat than last nigh and v.v. Simple really.
    2 points
  37. More of the same... When insulating the ducts I noticed that the top of the MVHR was not insulated so I have installed flexi conduit on the cables ready to throw fluffy over the top. This is the inlet pipe running under the ridge. 150 diameter with insulation held on with cable ties An installed air damper in red. More about these later.... Water coil with thermal lid. Lid made from PIR. Lids off: The coils had no condensation drain so I installed one in the bottom. I cut the bottom 100mm PIR layer so the bottom if the box falls both ways to the corner with the drain and painted the bottom with a protection coat of metal paint. White 22mm drain pipe sticking out with temp cap off. Water trap still to be fitted... Side view of MVHR unit. Note the black "Summer bypass" with the white block on the side
    2 points
  38. During August we focussed on clearing the exterior of the site to allow for easier access for future work, such as laying drainage and installing electricity. This was the back passage when we started, at the end of the winter before all the weeds started growing. and this is after most of the roof is gone and the bank & retaining wall are cleared. In the south west yard where the electricity pylon is, this time in the middle of winter. This was what it looked like. during the clearance, lots of mess and now, getting ready for the electricity to come from the pylon. We need to do a trench to within 1m of the pole and still need to dig up the yard, but as that is thick concrete that's going to be quite a bit more effort with the breaker and digger. Aside from that we reduced the size of one of the openings in the barn to allow for the pantry, something I have now and can't do with out. After knocking out the half blocks, this also shows how the back bank looked before it was dug out, lots of bracken. and now reduced in size. What does Sept bring, well I don't know yet, block work to build up the internal walls I hope, but HID has a bad hip at the moment so moving and lifting blocks is a bit beyond him at the moment. So, we shall see. Have fun and 'see' you next month. Jill
    2 points
  39. Wow that took me a long time, what a difference a year makes! I did always know that it was going to be a difficult room to do, and also the largest in the bungalow, but I have reached completion, apart from the carpet which is on order. So firstly there was the repair to the area under the window, which needed the brickwork rebuilding and then replastering... Next I started work on the acoustic wall, comprising of a metal framing system filled with Ultrawool, sheeps wool insulation, and topped with a soundblock 12.5mm board, no photos of the wool, as it was a bit of a battle to keep it in place ? After all the planning, the old chimney breast for my media kit was looking rather tight, but luckily tape measure didn't let me down! All painted up... Gypsum cladding installed, alcoves painted, and TV installed... And finally, window reveal and window board painted (window board at the moment is just the ply holding the bow window up, as at some point (maybe next year) this window is being replaced with a 3G flat window, so this will be removed), curtain pole and radiator reinstalled... Will put a final photo up once carpet is in and all furniture is back. What a push all that was!!
    2 points
  40. While I was uncertain about ever getting to build my new house I decided to hire some plant and build a patio out in the back garden of my existing house. It will allow me to sit out in the morning, absorb the sunshine and ponder things! I found some nice 40x40 concrete flagstones and edged them in and finally grouted them yesterday. They need a cleanup and a wash and I've to fix the drainage in one spot but otherwise it's done! The experience will also come in handy as I'll explain shortly. The Engineer I thought I lined up last year, and signed a contract with a month ago hasn't been in touch. Tried phone calls and left messages with the secretary but ended up writing to them on Friday and telling them after no communication it was off and I was looking elsewhere. He was the only Engineer I could find willing to do the work and sign off the house for the bank though, a crucial step. Architects were charging twice as much and we four times as careful, no opt out (a planning option we have in ROI) and they wanted to revisit the design stage with more potential cost. I somehow managed to find another Engineer via a referral and although nothing is signed, his answers by text were prompt and accurate. He seemed a bit cautious at first as this is a self build using direct labour, no Architect/Builder overseeing things but he knew his stuff, and my answers seemed to keep him happy. I'll definitely sign something with him before agreeing to the sale of my house but it sets me up for the next stage: The Driveway. The site is to the right of the overhead picture below - it's a side garden. The driveway is bisected by the proposed new site boundary. I need to create a new driveway to the left, for the old house, and have decided on using paving blocks. I've contacted a supplier and got a quantity and quotation. Once I get this done I can put the house on the market, sell up and book the Groundworks/Timberframe guys to build my new house. Less writing, more action!! Steps for the Driveway: Order paving blocks, Stone & Sand Book in plant hire - concrete breaker, digger, tipper, flat plate compactor Book in Grab Hire truck and sequence delivery of MOT / Sand vs muckaway of soil/concrete - see if he can delivery stone/sand and take away spoil if there's room on my new site for this Consider hiring a driver for 2-3 days to assist (this is a solo job) Build new shore for broadband pipe junction to new house and lay 2" electrical conduit to new site to carry broadband (neighbours chopped down tree roots have blocked the broadband pipe on his side but I can't do anything about this despite trying, just hoping its fixed someday - existing cables are ok, new ones are impossible to feed through) Install new earthing rod (electrician) & inspection box as required So, that's the plan for July with September for Sale of House. I've to lodge a commencement notice to dish the kerb I believe and will be listing myself as the builder/owner etc using Opt Out regulations available in the Republic of Ireland. Hopefully in a months time I'll be able to post a blog with some photos of the new driveway and some clearing out of shrubbery to prepare the new site. I've to put up some new site boundary fencing too. That's all for this post. Maybe I'm getting somewhere, I don't know but time will tell!
    1 point
  41. As we are in difficult times for installing or using anything Russian-related , i obviously went full blown politically correct and installed a Gender Inclusive Austrian Cladding "Der Holzbau" but "Die Verschalung" https://tintabernacle.blogspot.com/2022/04/start-cladding.html
    1 point
  42. The existing loft insulation irritated the .... out of me. Mainly because I needed to change a lot of pipes in the loft and the roof is only 22.5 degrees and the fluffy was very thick. What with the 150mm insulated MVHR pipes (190mm thick) 2 high and a roof at 1300 ish it was too cramped. Anyone looking at the ducting photos will see the loft was bare. Before insulating, the bungalow was loosing 87% of the heat through the roof because the rest is so well insulated. Gonna have to turn the ASHP down a bit .. Now started replacing with this stuff.
    1 point
  43. Following 1 I try to detail the info so people can check... The bungalow ran on LPG bottled gas for 3 years heating and hot water so I know what was used: I have used the worst 2 years: I am using the conversion rate of one kg of LPG gas giving about 14.091kW hours In 2 years we used about 13277kW of LPG energy for heating and hot water. ( about 10 bottles of 47kg ) If we deduct a modest 2kW for hot water each day ( total 1460kW) that leaves about 11,817 for the 2 years. In summary about 6000kW per year so 60kW per year per square metre of floor was what we were achieving. The target temperature in the house is 21 degrees C generally with 10m2 of rooms at 23C. The MVHR runs at about 6watts an hour or 52kW a year. I have a plug in meter on it. so lets say £20 a year power. It saves masses of heat.
    1 point
  44. I have found during our self build that we have gone against the norm for what you would expect a new self build to contain. One area was how we would heat the house. The main concern I had as we entered the winter was whether we did the right thing in disregarding the need for underfloor heating and radiators. I have found that during the day we do not need to heat the house as having sufficient true south facing glazing provides the solar gains to heat the house during the day time. When you are outside and it's -5c wind chill it's a pleasant feeling to come into a house that is 20c with no heating. At night time the temperature would slowly drop without any form of heating. This is where our centrally placed stove surrounded by dense concrete block is used. Stoves in the self build community are loved by some and loathed by others. I feel if they are used in the right setting they can be a perfect addition to a self build project. For us it was a best choice as having access to wood, space to store and being willing to provide a little bit of hard work results in the heating bills being zero. When we designed the house having a centrally place stove was one of the first items on our list. For our stove we burn a trug load of home grown logs each evening in the winter. I would never have imagined how satisfying it can be to spend an hour on a Saturday morning splitting wood to keep my family warm. It's a great way to keep fit and can be an enjoyable hobby. Recently we cut back some alder and birch trees which will be left to season and will form next year's winter wood. Using coppicing as a woodland management will allow the trees with their established roots to regenerate quickly in the spring and perhaps be cut back again in ten years. It has been an interesting learning curve over the last few months regarding heating our house with wood. I have learnt a lot from my father-in law and also from this book which I would recommend. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wood-Fire-Handbook-complete-perfect/dp/1784726192/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+wood+fire+book&qid=1613167239&sr=8-1 The garden is currently a blank canvas and this will be the focus for the spring. One job that I am working on at the moment is sorting a load of old stone to build a dry stone wall. It's hard work but a perfect remedy after a long week of crunching numbers at a computer. Hope to provide an update in the Spring. Thanks for reading.
    1 point
  45. After the Transport of the Materials was done , It only needed the beams spreading, bit of insulation in between and above , Underfloor heating in and a bit of a plinths wall built around the whole thing... and done. How long can this take - maybe 4-5weeks ? https://tintabernacle.blogspot.com/2021/09/plinths-wall-garden-wall-bricklaying_3.html
    1 point
  46. This blog is for me to look back over time to see how things have changed and to assure myself that we are making some progress, albeit very slow. I appreciate all help and friendly comments, but appreciated that this is not an exciting blog. Looking through my diary for the last month it seems to say, work / work / work and not on the conversion. Moving to a new factory seems to entail lots of extra hours. Good to add some OT to the budget, but by the time the taxman etc. have their cut it's not as much as hoped. Anyway, this weekend 7th / 8th August is the server move which means the rest of the office staff can move so one more busy week with them and it should slow down. The factory is a different story, but that's not my responsibility. Anyway, back to the conversion. After looking in more detail when replacing some blocks we realised that the crack in the middle of the long back wall went from top to bottom and was not level, but luckily hadn't cracked the somewhat limited existing foundations. Thanks to BH and advice we went from the plan to stitch to removing the whole section to replace. So, from this To this, and hopefully soon the gap will be no more. To provide access for drainage and just add more space on the back, which is south facing, we have been removing rotten sleepers and the steel girders which held them up. This picture is back before everything started growing, now the whole bank has been covered in bracken as you can see in the picture above. So again, from this To this, which will ultimately be retained by gabions and cleared the whole length. Getting out all the tree stumps, rotten sleepers and metal girders is quite a labour intensive task, thanks for diggers. As of 2019 this stretch was completely impossible to get through with lots of weeds and tree branches growing through what is now our windows. I didn't think at the time to take any pictures, but I'm beginning to become part of my children's generation and trying to remember to take photos daily of everything that does and doesn't move. Not something that was ever done when I was young. So, onwards to August, building up the gap, extending some internal walls and if we can get a floor saw then breaking more concrete, hopeful at an auction tomorrow. Good luck to everyone on their build and back at the end of August. Jill
    1 point
  47. Time for another blog post as we now have 50 piles completed and a nice shiny ground beam linking them all together. The pilers took 6 days to drive the 50 bottom driven steel cased piled into situ just before Christmas, this was two blokes and a fairly shiny new looking piling rig. The rig, in its simplest form, was a 500Kg weight on a string that was capable of being raised and dropped repeatedly. It had some very fancy hydraulic outriggers and a track that could vary its width, but ultimately it was a weight on a string. The pilers said our required loading on each pile (150kN) was fairly modest and explained how each pile would be driven to set. This involved piling away until either a new 2m section was needed to be welded on or the pile started to move less with each blow. When they felt it was getting there, they sprayed a vertical line on the pile and used a welding rod held at one end, to draw a series of 5 lines on the pile, one after each blow. If the spread of these lines was less than 100mm then the pile would be capable of taking the 150kN load. Interestingly I only ever saw this done when I was on site and watching, not one of the piles done when I wasn't there had the vertical white line and marks - I'm sure that's fine.... From a cost point of view, the piles were £1,200 for mobilisation then £127 per pile down to 4m, anything beyond that was £30 per meter per pile. In the end we had 27 piles at 5m, 2 piles at 5.5m and 21 at 6m, which was a total add-on cost of £2,160. So the total piling cost was £9,710. After Christmas the lads returned and were joined by another crew of 2 and the 4 of them started work on the ground beam. The original plan had been to excavate a trench for the beam and just set the steel reinforcement into the trench. When the pilers first saw the site they said this wasn't going to work due to the water and soft ground and we'd need to dig down to the bottom of the ground beams, so they could shutter the beam. After having a concrete blinding delivered and placed level around the route of the beam, they spent the next week placing and tying the rebar along with positioning the shuttering. By the Friday morning it was ready for our first building control inspection. As we are having a Protek structural warranty, the idea of combining the warranty and building control inspections appealed to me. Protek assigned a private building control firm to oversee the inspections, so our approved inspector, a diminutive Welsh lady duly arrived to look at the work the piling lads had done. Happy with everything we were good to pour the ground beam the following Monday. Monday arrived and the concrete pump and wagons arrived at 9.00am, ready to go. The pour was uneventful, but I was badly unprepared for the splatter so had to pop home and get changed into some clothes I didn't mind getting covered in concrete. In total, I think it was about 35 cube of concrete, so a fair amount went into the piles and beams. The lads returned the following day and took down the shuttering and much to my surprise took away pretty much all of their rubbish. That left us with the ground beam in all of its glory. The ground beam was the most costly aspect of the endeavour. The cost for beam itself was £100 per linear metre, of which our beam was 124LM, for a cost of £12,400. The shuttering was unexpected (well not completely, but you can hope) and an additional £4,000. So the overall cost for the ground beam was £16,400, giving a total spend with the pilers of about £26,000. I'm including the costs in the blog as they might be useful for others as comparison. I'm really pleased with the job that they did, the whole thing is obviously very solid and I know we have a decent foundation for the house. It's so substantial it feels like it should be able to be seen from space.
    1 point
  48. A long time ago (about 15 years) in a county not so far away I met and married my wife. Soon after we had a couple of kids and started thinking about our future. When I was a teenager my parents moved us abroad and built their own house and I think that sowed the seed for me as it seems that I've always wanted to build my own house and would sit down and watch Grand Designs back in the day and be drawn to the idea of it all. So about 10 years ago we decided that we wanted to build our own house but weren't in a position financially to do so but I was always keeping my eye out for something with potential and signed up to self-build websites and plot searches just in case something popped up. As life went on we sadly lost my Grandmother to the sands of time. The upshot of that was my inheritance (every cloud does have a silver lining I guess) that gave us a bit more capital to allow us to widen our search a little. Then about 4 years ago we found a house within 1.5 acres that was ripe for knocking down and starting again. it would've stretched our finances but we could've lived in it for a bit to get those sorted out while we planned for the build. We put an offer in and it was accepted. We were so excited about it all that we got an architect involved and paid for surveys to be done and drawings to be made only for the sellers to let us know while we were out of the country on a family holiday that they'd decided to accept another offer on the house and would no longer be selling to us. talk about a kick in teeth! we were shellshocked. But, life goes on I guess and a year later we found a steel framed agricultural barn with 4 acres of land/woodland that had planning permission to convert to a residential property. offer made and accepted although with the old adage of once bitten twice shy we decided not to get ahead of ourselves and didn't shell out for architects etc at this point, although we did spend a lot on solicitors fees and also a contamination survey so it was not cheap as we moved towards an exchange of contracts. The barn had agricultural access over a 3rd parties land but no residential access and as the seller's solicitor tried to get that access it seemed to be apparent that the owners of the land (the Catholic Church) were against the development as they slapped a £200,000 price tag on the access (about 1/4 mile of farm track/bridle path). as we weren't paying that we thought the negotiations were ongoing with the sellers and the Church until one day out of the blue I got an email from my solicitor saying that he'd heard from the seller's solicitor and that they were no longer proceeding with the sale. this was 2 YEARS after the offer was made. it seemed that we were destined to never find somewhere to build.... ...but never say never as about 2 weeks later we found an old 70's built bungalow that had outline planning permission and full planning permission for a replacement dwelling in 0.8 acres of land surrounded by woodland. it was perfect and we had our offer accepted and started the purchase process. little did we know that we couldn't get finance on the property even though it was a habitable property no one would offer a residential mortgage as the construction of the house was 70's prefab and the banks wouldn't lend on it. I even had a bridging loan company refuse to lend on it despite the inherent value in the residential plot and land. it was crazy and the house was put back on the market while we tried to sort something out. fortunately, our family were able to sell an overseas property to allow us to get the funds to not need a mortgage and we exchanged and completed in October 2019. We're now living in the bungalow as we await planning approval for the new designs our architect has drawn up, but that will be the subject of another post. thanks for reading and I hope you find our journey interesting. I'm sure it'll have many more ups and downs as we progress but we're hopeful that at the end of it we'll have a house that we can live in for the rest of our lives.
    1 point
  49. A busy November saw all the trades coming good, albeit some were cutting it fine for the moving in day – 30th November – However, we have moved in with all the services up and running. Having said that, BT and Openreach have missed the deadlines and as a result we are without any internet, phone line or TV for at least a week! Also the master bedroom built in wardrobes are still be fitted. The landscapers have finished their work, providing us with a patio area and a driveway area which will see plenty of activity. Look closely and you should see the hedging that has been planted. 330 separate plants in all. This was a planning condition and the hedges are a mixture of Hawthorn, Beech, Holly and Maple. Locally referred to as native hedging. The turf will be laid next Spring. Our Air Tightness test was conducted by a guy from Perth - a good couple of hours away. We never set out to achieve such low levels because we didn’t want the capital outlay of such a system as well as the infrastructure it requires. Our score was 4.9 which in our eyes is very good. There are a number of minor jobs which I need to do such as touching up the paint work here and there; re-oiling some wood in places but all that can wait until we have given the whole place a deep clean. The main external jobs outstanding are the erection of the oak framed porch and the downpipes. Both of which should be completed within the next 10 days or so. Anyway, this was not a self build in the true sense of the words but it was project managed by myself and built using a main contractor and sub contractors after the TF had been erected. I hope you have not only enjoyed reading about our project but have found some useful bits of information within the blogs in order to assist yourselves with your projects, whatever that may be. Overall my experience has been a good one. It hasn’t been without its difficulties, such as additional unforeseen expenditure and additional expenditure as a result of our mistakes, or due to us changing our minds! Such examples include ordering the wrong door frame - we failed to realise we hadn't ordered a threshold suitable for level access - a mistake that cost us £1k. Changing our minds over the 3 toilets we had ordered. They simply looked lost in their respective environments so 3 new ones were ordered at an additional cost of £850. A failure to get a full grip of the scaffolding cost an additional £1k and a failure to budget correctly for the foundations and dwarf wall for the carport cost an additional £4k. Final facts and figures - Build schedule – 6 months from the day the TF arrived. Cost per sq metre - £1850 – includes everything, and I mean everything - from the scaffolding through to the landscaping and it includes the car port and porch [ still to be erected] but not the land or fees. Only two skips were used throughout the build – everything else was removed by us to the local dump or burnt on site – best investment was a £25 oil drum which we used as an incinerator. Thanks for reading - Paul.
    1 point
  50. In this entry I'm going to discuss in more detail how I came to choose our heating and hot water system, and how it has performed to date. As other forum members have found, deciding which fuel source and type of technology to use in a low energy house, is a challenge given the different requirements each of us has. We had three stipulations – low running costs, hot water available on tap 24/7 and maintenance of the whole house at an even and constant temperature 24/7. Having calculated our heating demand, taking the impact of solar gain, incidental household gain, human occupancy and wind speed into account, I was confident that I had a good indication of the amount of heating I would need. I was also confident, based on historical use, of the amount of hot water we as a family use. Living in an area without mains gas, my options were somewhat limited to using either oil or electricity as my fuel source. LPG was initially considered but discounted due to the lack of availability in my location. As part of the decision making process, I spent a fair amount of time carrying out a cost comparison of both oil and electricity based heating and hot water systems, using 500kWh increments from 2500kWh to 5000kWh. I considered direct electric of various type, oil and air source heat pumps, both air to water and air to air. Solar PV was also considered and costed in terms of each method of heat and hot water delivery. In line with previous cost comparisons that I had carried out, I found direct electric to be the most cost effective in terms of capital outlay and running costs when both heating and hot water demand were less than 2500 kilowatt hours each year. As heating requirement and hot water requirement increases so the balance began to tip in favour of other technologies. Oil was quickly dropped from the list as it became apparent that any rise in fuel prices over then then low point, would significantly increase running costs. Having conducted significant investigation in respect of the viability of Sunamp units, although attractive in many ways, I found that the capital outlay and running cost was simply too high to be able to justify, given that the main benefit (low heat losses) were not as critical for me as they have been for others. Part of that decision was also driven by the cost of fitting Solar PV, which in our remote location was extortionate. I looked into a non MCS DIY install, but couldn’t make the figures stack up, the break-even point being around 17 years. Much as I wanted to install PV, it didn't make any sense financially. In time, I hope to revisit PV, if and when battery storage reduces the break-even point to a more realistic timescale. A wind turbine, given our location and the virtually constant presence of wind, would have been an ideal energy source and paired with Sunamp technology, probably unbeatable. The proximity of nearby houses ruled out that option in terms of planning permission. Air to Air heat pumps were ruled out based on my own experience of them and a road test at a friends house. Neither myself or my good lady found them particularly pleasant as a heat source. Having gone through the list of options, an air to water air source heat pump, paired with a large UVC and UFH for the distribution of heat, represented the best balance in terms of capital outlay, running costs and crucially, comfort and convenience. We opted for a package from Mitsubishi Ecodan, an 8.5kW heat pump and 300 litre pre-plumbed cylinder fitted with the Mitsubishi FTC5 control panel. Given our location, we opted for the coastal model, which is treated with acrylic resin for enhanced corrosion resistance. Whilst a pre-plumbed cylinder is more expensive than a bare cylinder and associated parts, after taking labour (plumber and electrician) into account, I found there was very little difference in cost. I sourced the package from a trade supplier, Secon Solar. I found their price list while searching online and having phoned the company, and perhaps fortuitously speaking to the managing director of the firm, found they were quite happy to sell me package at trade / installer price, the bonus being that delivery to my location was free. The package is configured for the UK market, the only difference to the system as sold in the rest of Europe (AFAIK) being that the cooling function of the heat pump is disabled so that the product complies with MCS approval for claiming RHI. It is however a simple task to activate the cooling function, by flipping a dip switch in the control module on the cylinder. Cooling can then be controlled from the master controller. As stated in an earlier blog entry, the heat pump and cylinder were fitted very quickly with simple connections on the plumbing side – flow and return from the ASHP, cold water, hot water and flow and return to the underfloor heating manifold. Electrical connections consisted of power to the ASHP, a cable from the ASHP to the control module and a plug-in controller. I had initially planned to have the cylinder in the utility room close to the ASHP Monobloc, but changed the location to a service cupboard in the middle of the house, to reduce internal DHW pipe runs. This does mean a 15 metre pipe run for flow and return to the ASHP, but as virtually all is within the insulated envelope, it doesn’t represent much of an issue, and does not appear to be having an adverse effect on performance. The ASHP Monobloc itself is located beside our back door, open to the elements. It seems happy enough where it is, despite the wind that traverses the space between house and garage walls. Locating the ASHP within the garage itself was an option but one I decided against simply on the grounds that I didn’t want to give up floor space within the garage. A timber housing for the ASHP is something we may look at in the future. We opted to fit individual room thermostats to all 3 bedrooms, to give us the option of being able to reduce the bedroom temperatures if we so wished. We have not used these and keep the whole house at one temperature 24/7, treating the underfloor heating as a single zone. At present I only have limited data as to how the heat pump has performed since moving in. On board energy metering (energy consumed and energy produced) shows the CoP for heating has ranged between 3.5 and 4. DHW is maintained at 47C-50C in the cylinder, boosted every fortnight to 60 degrees by the immersion on an anti-legionella cycle. To date the CoP for DHW is 2.4 As members know, heat pumps are best suited to the production of low temperature heat as opposed to the higher temperatures required for domestic hot water. Whilst the CoP for DHW is lower than that for heating, the cost per kWh of our DHW, based on a CoP of 2.4, is 5p, which is significantly better than an E7 electricity tariff. We may be taking a hit on efficiency, but in reality all of the other options would have cost us more. The 300 litre capacity of the cylinder means that we have plenty of hot water on tap and can comfortably run a full bath and still have sufficient left over for another person to shower. The ASHP is currently operating on a 24/7 basis, providing heat input to the UFH and topping off the DHW as and when it determines it needs to, at whatever flow temperature it determines. Whilst that does sound like a recipe for high bills and high flow temperatures, in practice, the heat pump delivers the lowest flow temp it can get away with to maintain our set temperature. If I so choose, the controller lets me set various parameters such as heating curves or set flow temperatures, or indeed a timed schedule for heating and DHW. However,as the system is operating efficiently on its auto setting, and providing the level of comfort we want, I see very little reason to mess around and create my own settings. If say electricity tariffs were to change from a single tariff to a dynamic tariff, then I would have the option of timing the heat pump operation to coincide with lower rate tariffs. After much thought, and indeed discussion on this forum, I opted for an 8.5 kWh ASHP over a 5 kWh ASHP, as I felt happier running a larger unit more gently than pushing a smaller capacity unit harder. A 5 kWh unit would probably have sufficed, and in time, may be what the current unit is replaced with when it reaches the end of its life. We haven’t yet had to activate the cooling function as any overheating (defined as internal temperatures over 23C) caused by solar gain, can, as modeled, be managed by natural cross ventilation. Neither have we found it necessary to constantly circulate the UFH to even out the house temperature / redistribute solar gain from one part of the house to the other. In the heating season, we found that there was sufficient circulation of the UFH during the heating cycle to maintain the house at an even temperature. Outwith the heating season, when solar gain is at its peak, the house zones itself, the bedroom section remaining slightly cooler than the public areas, very useful on a warm summers day. Overall I’m very happy and impressed with our system. It has, so far, delivered everything we have asked of it in terms of comfort and convenience, and the running costs are low. I have the capability to cool the house (via slab cooling) if I so wish, and the option to bolt on a second zone pack onto the pre-plumb cylinder if I ever found it necessary to install a second heating / cooling function – i.e. fan coil or duct heater / cooler. The one criticism that I have is about the controller thermostat function and its hysteresis - 1C increments only. A finer degree of control would have been preferable. Our installation was recently inspected by an MCS accreditor (our plumber is going through the accreditation process). In due course that will give us the option to apply for RHI, although that will be very much dependant on whether the figures stack up.
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