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JSHarris last won the day on September 21

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About JSHarris

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  • About Me
    Retired scientist, made the decision to build our own home a few years before retirement, then had the good fortune to be able to retire early and start the self-build journey. Started our build in late 2013, took far longer than anticipated to finish, but have now moved in and we are enjoying having a house with no bills at all (except for the blasted Council Tax...). The house pays us a modest income from the excess energy we generate, over and above the energy we use for heating, cooling, cooking, hot water etc, so we now have a healthy retirement holiday fund.
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    Wiltshire/Dorset Border

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  1. Worth looking at glazing cost comparatively. With that area of glazing you are going to have to use some fairly high specification 3G glazing, most probably with laminated glass for a lot of it. Sage glass is going to roughly double the cost at a guess, and will allow solar gain to be reduced to maybe 50 W/m² in hot, sunny, weather, a big improvement, but it will still mean having maybe 7.5 kW of active cooling. Using solar reflective glass will give about the same results as using Sage glass, for maybe half the cost, so will still need a fair bit of active cooling. The main disadvantage of using solar reflective glass is that you will also need more heating in winter, as there will be much less solar gain during the four months or so of the year when it might be useful. The cost of that additional heating may well equal the additional cost of Sage glass over solar reflective glass after a few years. Realistically, I think you'll be looking at a glazing cost, including frames, just using conventional glass, with the required laminated panes, of around £450 to £500/m² at the budget end. You can get really budget windows for around £300/m², but not with the large areas of laminated glass you are almost certainly going to need, and not with the thermal performance that you will need to try and meet the regs requirements. I think you may really struggle with meeting the regs with 150m² of the very best glazing available, TBH, hence the earlier comment that doing a SAP assessment of the design now may well make a lot of sense, before you get too committed. If that shows that there is just too much heat loss through the glazing then you are going to need to have a re-think anyway, and better to do that before you've gone too far down the road at looking at different glazing options, perhaps.
  2. You need it for washing stuff, including hands (HS&E requirement), mixing concrete, plaster, tile cement, diluting paint, and cleaning up after all this stuff. You may also need it if, like us, your have a condition requiring that mud isn't tracked into the lane from vehicles, meaning that tyres and tracks may need to be washed down.
  3. Sage glass isn't that expensive when compared to things like solar control films - for us using Sage glass would have been maybe 20% more expensive that what we ended up doing, which was having solar control film applied to 3G glazing. There are alternative ways to reduce solar gain using glass, by opting for glass that is designed to reflect heat outwards. It's the stuff that's typically used in offices that have a large glazing area, where solar gain can be a real problem. The advantage of Sage glass (and it is a very big advantage) is that it's controllable. In summer you can turn the solar gain right down, in winter you can turn it up. At least one member here has it, @NSS, and finds it works extremely well. My inclination would be to massively reduce the glass area, but place the glazing so that it frames the views you have. Often framing a view can make it more attractive than just having a vast expanse of glass, especially if you have those framed views arranged so that they provide a different aspect of the view. Rather than limit the impact of the view, often framing it can enhance it and make it more interesting, as the light changes from one window to another. It needs some expertise to get right, but when it is done well the result can be stunning, and add to the "wow factor" rather than subtract from it. The key is to get an architect that understands this, as in many ways just fitting floor to ceiling glass is a cop out, as it doesn't require as much careful thought and ability to produce the view you want to be able to see. As a rough rule of thumb, the very best glazing available will be around 4 times worse than an average wall, in terms of thermal efficiency. Average glazing may well be 8 times worse than a wall. Thermal efficiency works both ways, not only does it keep the house warmer in winter, but it also keeps it cooler in summer. In terms of using PV to run an ASHP in cooling mode, then this can work very well, but it's still worth considering how much heat might need to be pumped out of the house. Good glazing, with a fairly high external reflectance, might allow in about 100 to 200W per m² of glazing area. Fairly standard glazing will be around 3 to 4 times that figure. You can work out how much heat that is in total by just multiplying the area of glass that will be exposed to the sun, as that will give you the rough cooling requirement. Using your figure of 150m² of glass, then with an optimistic solar gain of around 100 W/m² that's a 15 kW cooling requirement, which is pretty high. Worst case for normal glazing might be a cooling requirement of over 100 kW. To put this into perspective, our house is smaller than yours, at 130m² (about 1,400ft²) and has ~ 11m² of South facing glazing, that is covered with solar reflective film (we added the film as the house overheated very badly). We have 25 solar panels in the South-facing roof that reduces the solar gain a bit and generates a maximum of around 6.25 kW of power. For around 8 months of the year we have to use active cooling, using floor cooling from our 6 kW ASHP, cooling from our 1.5 kW active MVHR system and cooling in our bedroom using a 2.5 kW air conditioning unit that I installed this summer for additional cooling. Without active cooling our house that is around half the size of yours, with less than 1/10th of the South facing glazing area, would seriously overheat from around April until October. We are in a sheltered valley, though, with low wind speeds, and a mean air temperature that's a degree or two warmer than typical for this area.
  4. Worth looking at seeing if you can get a reduced rate for a longer period of hire. The one I hired came from our local plant hire place (not one of the big national tool hire firms) and they offered a better deal for hiring it for a month at a time. I think I had it for around 2 months in total, then reverted to using 20 litre jerry cans, filled from home each day.
  5. The tanker I used was small enough to tow behind a car. The hire places have these small ones: https://www.hss.com/hire/p/250-gallon-water-bowser Our site was pretty tight, but we managed to find space to put this, although it did need moving about from time to time.
  6. If you order directly, then you will pay VAT at 20% on materials, but be able to claim back 15% of that from HMRC on completion. There's a useful VAT thread here that goes through all the intricacies of VAT reclaim that is worth a read, as there are some potential gotchas to look out for. PV is probably of far more benefit for a house like yours, where you are likely to have a high risk of overheating and a need for active cooling for a fair part of the year. The PV offsets the cost of cooling (which may well be much greater than the cost of winter heating), so the sums look more favourable. If roof mounted, the PV panels also reduce solar gain into the roof by about 20%, as they turn that energy into electricity, so it's a bit of a win-win really.
  7. That's an advantage, as you should be able to lay a reasonably well insulated slab and then look at ways to deal with the insulation of the stanchions, if they are going to be within, or partially within, the thermal envelope. Are you looking at building what amounts to a new house inside the existing barn, in effect? Would seem a reasonably good option, as that way you're not constrained by the stanchion load bearing capacity.
  8. ^^^^ Definitely this! Couldn't agree more. We can all give advice based on our own experience and knowledge, but your house must be your own, and meet your needs first and foremost. Our views will be coloured by what we each prefer, and where we are each prepared to make compromises, and that may well be a million miles away from what you're seeking. We're also scattered all over the UK and NI, living in a fair range of different weather patterns, from members up in the Northern Isles and Hebrides who battle with high winds and rain, to those of us like me, down in the South and living at the bottom of a sheltered and very warm valley. All these things will colour the advice we give, even if we try not to let it.
  9. I had to fit solar film when we found that solar gain was too high, as have one or two others here. It works, but it's not as effective as solar reflective glass, you can tell there's film on the glass and it was more expensive overall than if we'd have fitted solar reflective glass in the first place. External blinds or shutters can be very neat and effective. Worth designing in, as then they can seem invisible when retracted. One or two here have then fitted, and have described how they look and work in other threads, so might be worth seeking those out. Retrofitting external blinds is possible, but never looks quite as neat. If not done yet, then I think that an early run through SAP would be a great benefit, to see how far off you are from meeting the regs. Having bifolds will make things worse thermally as they will inevitably end up with poor sealing after a while, reducing airtightness and increasing heat loss. Have you considered something that will be significantly better thermally, like lift and slide doors? You can still get large openings, but without all the intrinsic issues that beset bifolds.
  10. Welcome. As above, you're going to need to do a massive amount of work to mitigate overheating. Stopping heat getting in is far, far easier than trying to get rid of it once it's in, so I'd suggest making sure that the arrangement of brise soliels you have will be effective for all sun angles, consider using solar reflective glass, or perhaps Sage glass, and look to see if you can fit external blinds or shutters. The latter can be very effective, more effective than probably any other solar gain reduction method. There are lots of threads here on dealing with overheating through glazing, but I don't think we've yet seen a house with that much glass, so your challenges may well be significantly greater. Not sure what you're considering as a heat source, but a heat pump would seem a good candidate, as it could be run in reverse for most of the year to remove heat from the house. Floor cooling using UFH pipes works well, but with the amount of solar gain you're going to get I would consider fitting lots of fan coil units run from chilled water from the heat pump as well. Both these systems could also provide winter heating. Out of interest, how have you managed to meet the requirements of Part L1a with that much glazing?
  11. Having access is a big plus, and removes much of the incentive for any of the companies that go around looking to acquire ransom strips, I suspect, as the value just as a visibility splay is a fair bit less than as an access strip, I think. One thing I've just thought of is if there is a requirement that you have to be able to ensure that visibility is maintained over that land. Sometimes LAs have written conditions that require there to be a legal agreement with the landowner to this effect (something along the lines of not allowing anything higher than 1 metre for a distance of X metres in front of a designated visibility splay line). Hard to deal with that if the owner cannot be traced, perhaps, and that may be where some form of insurance might work, perhaps with you undertaking to ensure the area is kept clear in order to satisfy the planners.
  12. I don't know if you've looked, but there are some simple, and ingenious, hinge arrangements that allow ordinary gates to swing up a sloping drive, like this rising gate hinge: It would be pretty easy to fix an electric opener to such a gate, such as these ones, for example: https://www.easygates.co.uk/electric-gates/automaticgates.asp. Our local farm supplies place stocks rising hinge sets just like the one used in that video. My guess is that they are probably a stock item, as needing a gate to open uphill seems to be a fairly common requirement.
  13. Interesting question. If the land has no known owner, or at least none that can be found after a reasonable search, then using it for a visibility splay does present you with some potential issues. I'm assuming that this is a new access, and that you need the visibility splays in order to comply with a condition imposed by highways (yell if that's a wrong assumption). The big risk is that as soon as someone finds out that you must be able to control visibility over that land there is an incentive to trace the owner and acquire it, in order to be able to ransom you for using it as a visibility splay, as the land has gone from having little or no value to potentially a pretty high value (could be worth a fair chunk of the value of your whole plot and build). The best example of this I can recall related to a company that traced the owner and purchased a narrow strip of grass verge in front of a row of houses somewhere near the New Forest (I think) a few years ago. That company demanded tens of thousands of pounds from each householder, decades after the houses had been built, to grant them the right of access over this narrow strip of land. It seems that the company involved are specialists at doing just this sort of thing, and are very adept at tracing ownership and acquiring land in these sort of circumstances. One option is just to go ahead, erect a low fence around the land, keep it tidy and acquire beneficial use of it, in the hope that no one will do anything. In all probability that may work, and if you can show that you've had exclusive beneficial use of it then you can probably claim adverse possession and get to keep it. As to whether you can get insurance to cover this I really don't know. I think you might be best advised to seek legal advice, as whilst you can ensure against most risks, there are definitely things that you cannot insure against, one being unlawful use. If, for any reason, your use of that strip of land was deemed to be unlawful (hard to see how, but I'm not a lawyer) then you may not be able to insure against it being blocked. The other point is whether it's just the visibility splays that would be on unregistered land or whether the access would, too. if so, then that opens up another can of worms, potentially. Being unregistered isn't the same as being not owned, it just means that the owner isn't recorded with the Land Registry. There is still a fair bit of land in the UK that isn't registered, I believe, as usually registration only happens if the land has been sold since registration became compulsory (around 40 or 50 years ago IIRC). We recently had a problem tracing the ownership of a strip of unregistered land in our village, that runs between the stream and a lane. It took well over a year to trace it back to a local estate, that thought that they had sold all of the plots in the village in 1915. For whatever reason this strip was missed out of the estate sale, and today it still belongs to that estate (so they have to pay to keep it tidy and control the weeds etc in the stream).
  14. I cannot get my head around the current thinking when it comes to preserving and protecting historic buildings. A lot of them were butchered during the Victorian era, and it seems reasonable to keep some element of that in terms of retaining the history of the house through the years, but frankly I find it hard to understand how really poor workmanship from the 1950s and 60's can be defended in the same way. There needs to be room for compromise, so that when someone comes along with a strong committent to preserve and renovate a building, retaining it's intrinsic character, but making it useful, so it can continue to exist for future generations, they are given the support they need by those controlling our heritage. It must be better to retain a slightly modified historic building in good order, than let it collapse and disappear because it's just too difficult to get the necessary consents. Many of our old buildings have been extensively modified and changed, as the needs of those living in them and using them have changed. The second house we bought was a cottage that had been originally built in 1678. with granite rubblestone walls, with very little properly dressed stone (just the corners).It had been rebuilt with solid brick front and rear walls around 1904, following a bad fire in 1903, so looked late Victorian from the front, with sash windows and a timber glazed entrance porch, with Victorian floor tiles. A bedroom had been divided at some time in the 1960's to create a small bathroom, and a single skin brick extension had been added, probably about the same time, to create a separate kitchen. You could still read all these changes in the building, from the clues in the stonework. I changed it further by digging out the ground floor (to install a Radon barrier) lowering the floor in the process to give more headroom. I also insulated a dry lined the single skin kitchen walls, and changed the windows and doors to new timber ones that retained the design of the originals, but were casements, rather than sash (it was a windy area, and the sash windows always made a lot of noise). Looking at the house on Google Earth recently it was still very similar externally to how it had been when we lived there 30 years ago, so the history and look of the building has been retained, by sympathetic repairs and renovation, even though it's not listed. That suggests to me that people who buy older houses like this don't, in the main, want to destroy the very character of the house that attracted them. I would suggest that someone that takes on a listed building is probably even more likely to want to repair and renovate it sympathetically, which is more than can be said for some of the horrors that the Victorians unleashed on our old buildings.
  15. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but to be clear, although you can do the as-built SAP assessment yourself, the assessors have a "closed shop" where they, and they alone, are the only ones that are able to access the database and lodge the final EPC, using their unique assessor reference number. Without this, there is no way for anyone else to lodge the completed assessment and so get it recognised by BC, or anyone else. It's very like the Part P cartel controlling electrical work in England and Wales. As someone who used to teach apprentice electricians, and was a qualified electrician for a time, I'm perfectly competent to carry out an electrical installation that is compliant with the regs and Part P, but I cannot do this, as unless I was a member of one of the cartels that control access to the Part P database I would not be able to lodge the IEC. The cartels will no longer allow anyone that is retired from being a member, so even if I was prepared to pay their membership fee they still would not allow me in. Worth noting that Terry quickly found an assessor and was sorted within 24 hours of his post on this topic, with two offers of assessors that would do the job for him.