jonM

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About jonM

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  1. We make a start on 15th October with the diggers arriving on 16th October. By the 17th October, state of play is as per the picture below. The gabion wall on the right of the plot was put in by the vendor as part of the infrastructure works. The trench on the left is for a gabion wall that we are putting in on the other boundary. As there is quite a slope from back to front, we are putting another gabion wall across the plot to act as a retaining wall. All OK so far, but there is a surprising amount of muck that came out of the trench for the gabion wall which will need to be taken off-site. On the plus side, the plot had already been stripped of topsoil and as we are using a passivhaus foundation there was not too much extra muck on top of this. The builder we are using has been involved since the early stages of the project. We didn't go to competitive tender but worked with the Architect to look for someone with experience of the build method we are using who we felt would be able to build to our budget. We are living around 3 hours drive from the site and made a decision out of necessity to continue working in our day jobs throughout the build, however we are purchasing all of the materials ourselves or via our own accounts which we expect will make the build more cost effective. This arrangement works to my strengths as whilst my practical building skills aren't great, I should be OK tracking costs and getting good prices on the materials. Original plan was to get the gabion cages in place and fill them as time allowed, but the Passivhaus foundation could not be delivered for the requested date of 24th October, so once the drainage is complete, filling the gabion cages becomes the main task to keep the team onsite busy. By 26th October, the majority of the drainage and gabion walls are complete The following week is spent finishing of the gabion walls, landscaping, groundwork and preparing the grit base for the Passivhaus foundation. There is however a further delay on the Passivhaus foundation, so a decision is made to push on with the garage to keep everyone on site busy. At the end of the week (2nd November), the slab for the garage is laid The garage progresses quickly the following week and the Passivhaus foundation arrives on 8th November. There are some small dimensional inaccuracies with the Passivhaus foundation base that need to be corrected, but I am thankful this is spotted before the concrete pour when it is relatively easy to fix. It is however another delay and distraction we could have done without. On the bright side however, there have been no nasty surprises with the groundwork / drainage. Work continues on the garage w/c 12th November with prep for the house slab starting at the end of the week. DPM and steelwork for the house slab go in on the 19th and 20th and following a review of the weather forecasts, we go for the 23rd November for the concrete pour. The concrete and concrete pump are ordered again, the rain holds off, temperature is ok and the pour goes to plan. Garage has also now been boarded.
  2. Finish our build without too many dramas and moving in. I set myself a goal to move to a more rural location when I finished university, but life and work rather got in the way of that. Hopefully 2019 will see me meeting that goal (albeit 30 years later 😁).
  3. Thanks @PeterW and @JSHarris. The feedback is invaluable. I don't think that high temperature DHW is something that is really needed so it sounds like a standard ASHP with an unvented cylinder is the way to go here.
  4. Responsiveness, simplicity and a requirement to heat upstairs together with differences in floor surfaces downstairs (slab) and upstairs (IBeam). We will have to go with radiators now as the slab has been laid, but are looking into oversizing and using K2 radiators to allow us to reduce the heating flow temp and make the most of heat pump efficiency.
  5. I am in the process of building a Passivhaus. As there is no gas, I will be using an ASHP for Heating and Hot Water. Heating will be via radiators located downstairs and upstairs. I am in the process of deciding between two Mitsubishi heat pumps - the 4KW QUHZ (CO2) which is matched with a Thermal store and the 5kw PUHZ which is matched with a Hot water cylinder. I have phoned up Mitsubishi and spoken to them about the QUHZ (CO2 air source heat pump). There is no additional maintenance required for the QUHZ. I also asked them about reliability and there view was that as they've had to increase the spec of the QUHZ in several areas to take into account that CO2 is the refrigerant so they expected the QUHZ to be as reliable or more reliable than the PUHZ. I think there is a big difference in the way that it heats up the water as the QUHZ uses a thermal store rather than a hot water cylinder used by the PUHZ. Not an expert in this area, but research I have carried out suggests thermal stores are less complex than hot water cylinders. Idiots guide from Mitsubishi was to use the QUHZ if your hot water energy requirement exceeds your energy requirement. Using the more detailed data for range of temperatures supplied by Mitsubishi the services engineer checked performance in PHPP for specific loads and temperatures for our house. It indicated that the heating is indeed slightly better with the standard unit but hot water is considerably better with the QUHZ which correlates with the feedback from Mitsubishi. These were both modeled at 45 C heating design flow temp and 55 C DHW supply temp. So on the surface it would appear the QUHZ is better suited to my needs. The only caveat is that it is a relatively new technology for Mitsubishi (introduced 3 years ago) and I think in the market place in general. I had an early condensing boiler fitted to my current self build and it was always breaking down, so I am a little cautious of using anything new on the market because of that experience. Heat pumps seem to be tried and tested technology however so maybe I am worrying unnecessarily. I would welcome any thoughts / feedback on this.
  6. jonM

    Getting to the Starting Line ...

    It is a very clever system. Not something I had come across until I started looking into Passivhaus. Fortunately my architect and builder are familiar with this system so it was the natural choice.
  7. jonM

    Getting to the Starting Line ...

    Hi Peter - yes we are stick building on site with the i-beams. We have made good progress erecting the frame, it is just that I have been a bit delayed setting up the blog due to everything else going on with the build. On the surface, it sounds similar to your self-build - I enjoyed reading your blog very much.
  8. jonM

    Getting to the Starting Line ...

    I couldn't agree more with this. Our current road is all self-build and we formed some lasting friendships with other people doing the same thing. We are the first plot to start on our current site this time but already have made some good contacts which have been of great use.
  9. An introduction to myself, my plot and and my self-build can be found in the following thread: Having carried out one self build which turned out to be a lovely family home, we were keen to do another now that both our children had left home. We were drawn towards Passivhaus and started looking on the Southern side of the English Welsh border around 2015. The plot we eventually purchased was in Shropshire and one of 9 self-build / custom-build plots. The plots have a design code but there is a lot of flexibility within the design code and energy efficiency is encouraged. All infrastructure work (roads, lighting, mains services etc) are being sorted out by the developer which removed some of the risk. Timetable to the start of the build was as follows: Oct 2017 - Offer accepted on plot. Architect appointed. The architect was somebody who had already provided feedback on some previous plots we had looked at and we felt was very much in tune with our own ideas. Feb 2018 - Initial Design completed. Pre-App submitted to planning. Jul 2018 - Full Application submitted to planning Aug 2018 - Completed on plot Sep 2018 - Application approved by planning with one condition Oct 2018 - Started Groundwork / Landscaping. Planning condition discharged. So, over 3 years from starting to look for a plot to starting with the build which seems to be around par for the course. The house as mentioned previously is Passivhaus using a Passivhaus raft foundation and a timber frame that is being built on site using I-Beam / Glulam Beams. It is very different from my previous self build which was brick / block.
  10. We are just commencing our second self-build (started onsite last week). In both cases we have used Architects and in both cases have been very happy with the results. We have outlined how in both case we selected and worked with our architect which we hope will assist other people starting out on their self build journey. 1) Start thinking about which architect you are going to use when you start looking for land and not when you have found land. 2) Draw out a requirements list. My approach is to provide a brief / framework for the architect to interpret rather than prescriptively dictating to the last detail. Requirements should be no more than 2 pages. By making the requirements generic, you can apply them to most plots of land. Include in the requirements why you are building as well (develop and sell, house for life etc) 3) Checkout your architects previous designs. There is likely to be a common design pattern and if that is way off what you want then maybe the architect isn't for you. Also go and see a couple of houses - just viewing from the outside can tell you a lot. 4) If you see a plot that is a potential candidate, email architects on your shortlist for feedback. Most architects will provide feedback for free within reason and the reply will help you to decide if the architect is thinking along the same lines as you. Also, meet with your architect before you engage formally to check that they are a person that you can work with. 5) Be completely upfront with the architect about your budget, put it in your requirements list and be very clear what that budget includes and doesn't include. 6) Be completely upfront with your architect about their fees. Fees based on a %age of the build cost are OK as long as the build cost used is your budget for the build at the outset (fixed) rather than the actual build cost (variable). 7) Good architects are in high demand and don't need to advertise so you will need to research (a lot) and do your legwork. Be prepared for the fact that you might need to wait for the architect you want to become available. 8. Check whether the architect has any experience in the build method you want to adopt and the energy standards that you want to achieve. Find out what the build costs have been on recent build projects and how these compared to budgeted costs . 9) Check with the relevant boards that any claimed registrations are correct. 10) Fees may seem expensive, but for the amount of work that goes into a design I have always felt I got good value for money. In the context of the cost of the project it is a small percentage much of which can be quite easily recouped with a little restraint on the fixtures and fittings. 11) If you use an architect local to the build, it is more likely that he will be able to advise on securing good contractors based on experience of previous builds. My architect has more than recouped his fee by drawing up an attractive house that is straightforward to build. Insulation is what we need to get to passivhaus but no more and the size of the house is what we can build to meet our budget (based on his previous build costs) and requirements. Listed below are the requirements we drew up which may assist others going through a similar exercise: Build Budget: £325K (House, Garage) excludes landscaping, external works and professional fees. The Plot There were a large number of objections to the development from residents but planning permission was granted on appeal. Plot width is around 16.7m. Plot length is 44m. Electricity, Water and mains sewerage (but not gas) available at the plot boundary. Functions of the Building Home for ourselves and the dog. Enough room for friends, grown-up children to stay and family get-togethers. Building a house for life as we can’t get what we like on the open market. We love cooking and the outdoors, so it should support that. Combine open plan living combined with a segregated quiet room downstairs Provide a comfortable and healthy interior environment with a stable temperature and no drafts. Design Direction and Requirements Good natural light to rooms is really important with dual aspect windows in as many rooms as possible but not too keen on huge oversized windows that require complex and expensive shading solutions Designed to Passivhaus standards in a cost-effective manner but don’t over-rely on technology that has high cost to install and maintain. Downstairs Open plan kitchen, dining room and seating area Utility room (able to dry clothes in using pulley) Lounge Small Study if possible WC / Washbasin Good Storage – larder cupboard, cloakroom and cupboard for cleaning utensils Somewhere to sort out a muddy dog and muddy boots (A covered porch with a stone floor and bench maybe). Sliding doors or similar out to the garden from the sitting area. Bottom of kitchen window to be level with the kitchen worktop. Back door into the utility room No large step into front or back door WC away from front door if possible Upstairs 3 to 4 double bedrooms. Small study if not room downstairs (or 4th bedroom) Built in wardrobes Cathedral ceiling. Master bedroom should be able to comfortably take a king size be. En-suite in master. Separate shower in bathroom. General Heating / DHW – no mains gas. Solar PV with a diverter? ASHP (noise?) Consideration given to some acoustic insulation between rooms and between downstairs / upstairs. Doesn’t need to be completely soundproof however. LED lighting throughout and up the staircase Point for charging electric car. Ability to use battery storage in the future should it become more cost-effective. No requirement for chimney or wood burning stove. Agnostic about whether the garage is attached or detached, but should have storage for bikes and a little workshop area. Could be modified for easy access upstairs in the future (Straight staircase maybe). Point for charging electric car. Low maintenance exterior for windows and wall facings. House to have a more contemporary feel inside. Outside to tie in with planning / design code. Window frames recessed into the openings. Other Stuff Recess in shower wall for soap etc. Built in bookcases Lots of sockets Sockets in cupboards for charging hoover etc. Room in utility room for dog crate Built in water filter Water softener Lighting on dimmers with switches that gradually turn LED lights on so they don’t blow. Good outdoor lighting (pathways) Outdoor power point / tap Phone point in every room
  11. jonM

    Leicht Kichens

    @Hecateh that looks like the Luca style from DIY Kitchens that you are having fitted which is what we have got our eye on when the time comes. Looks good - what colour / type of worktop are you going for and did you go for the gloss or matt finish ?
  12. jonM

    Fitted wardrobes

    Thanks. Looks Good - something to bear in mind for us as well.
  13. @lizzie Thanks, I think that's good advice. We will most likely build the house and garage in parallel and use a different storage option for materials to save money on the inspections. I also need a warranty to prove I am a self-builder for my CIL exemption which is another good reason. @curlewhouse Thanks, I read your blog and that is unreal ! I am not using mainstream (ibeam timber frame with cellulose insulation) and for that reason am using a building inspector familiar with the build method rather than one provided by the warranty company. It is more expensive that way but will hopefully prevent any unnecessary delays. Stunning location and lovely house by the way.
  14. Thanks and yes I did try them, but they came out quite expensive. It seems an awful lot of money to pay for something that only seems to be of use if you wish to sell the house in 10 years. I will probably swallow hard, take a deep breath and purchase one even though I don't plan to move again as a "just in case" insurance policy. Likely to go with selfbuildzone although they have doubled my audit fee (extra £800) because I am building the garage first then the house so they need to do double the inspections.