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Found 44 results

  1. Hi Everyone, Amazing forum here and so much information by all thank you so much (I've enjoyed endless scrolling!). I know it is dependent on engineer but I am just looking at what spans is available above sliding door openings (Pre-Planning Stage in Ireland). I have a 5m opening and was wondering what height of concrete and rebar is needed above the opening? It is bungalow with just roof load above head of door. Would anyone have a something similar and to that end would anyone be willing to send me their engineers drawings of ICF Walls and Roofs. Thanks in advance, Brian
  2. Good evening all. We are about to submit these drawings for planning, and just wanted some feedback of what you all think. Any improvements and recommendations will be highly appreciated, as we may have missed something amidst the excitement of planning a new home. Many thanks Elevation Drawing:
  3. I've read various threads and views and back and forth and done some calculations based on information I have found here and of course from the very helpful spreadsheets provided by our friend @Jeremy Harris. I had pretty much decided ages ago I would get an 8.5kW Ecodan, which might go up to an 11.2kW ecodan unit. However I have not really advanced it beyond basic assumptions, what others done and some quick back of the fag packet calcs. I'm about to start foundations shortly hence, need to firm up on the UFH design for the in slab pipework and would appreciate some sense checking/ a wee nod that it seems ok. Build is SIPS with Kore insulated foundation, aiming for high levels of airtightness but not near PH (basically as best as I can get it without major hassle), Vent Axia Sentinel MVHR. ASHP which does UFH and DHW (UVC 3-400L tank). Secondary heat source of Log burner (I'm aware it's overkill likely - but I have 2 acres of woods, vaulted ceiling and need a backup in the event power ever went out). I would like to map out the steps in layman's terms to ensure they are right and I have followed it correctly from what I have read, then hopefully the thread can then be followed by others. Step 1 - Heat loss calculation: So I completed the heat loss calculator - see attached. I have a few checks to do on areas and might make minor adjustments but near as dammit it's close enough. I have added the OAT values for my local area (West Scotland, south of Glasgow) from the MET office. Now do I basically just use the 'Total daily heat loss power for average OAT (W)' value to find the maximum based on historical data and that defines the minimum amount of heating system required such below: which seems 3.6kW heat loss for January. The simply - I select a heating system which can supply this amount of heat as a minimum (ignore losses for now). So just simply selecting an 8.5kW unit would do the job easy? Step 2 - UFH design So Having found out the maximum heat loss above (3602W) then we can just plug this into the Heat loss and UFH calculator, which I have also attached. And provides the following output. So essentially, going on bare minimum I would need an UFH system which provides 27.7W/m^2 , based on 130m^2 of floor - so essentially if I don't use some slab area then I need to compensate and adjust the calc. Step 3 - UFH loop spacing So I know the total heat loss, I know how much heat input I have to supply per m^2 if I cover the whole area of 130m^2. So I get loopcad, then draw the circuits. Aiming for counter flow circuits as they provide the best option for even heat distribution, keeping circuits less than 100m in length. Now this is where I get a little lost, I have a figure of 27.7W/m^2 for the whole area to get my required heat input, however how do I correlate that with loopcad and also deciding what my spacing should be?! I have seen @PeterW mention quite a few times about the the spacing had to be adjusted but I am struggling to find the route here to confirm easily what it should be. My loopcad drawing (I've attached my current draft) showing for example 105W/m^2 in my living room, but I'm not sure how this should read in relation to my calculated figure. I'm pretty sure I'll need 200mm centres, but I'd like to ensure that was right. I've some adjustments to make to my circuits, but it's not far away. I was finding that the auto generate function for pipework isn't ideal but it works ok. The garage can be ignored - I ma installing pipework in there pre-empting possible future conversion of that area and hence pipe is cheap, so why not add it now. The manifold will go below the stairs - seems to make sense to me, I have a plant room directly adjacent and was going to put it in there but seemed better to get it out of there as I will have lots of ducts and this would clutter that up. Is it ok to run underneath the stairs? I assume I just have to tell the Joiners not to fit the stairs to the floor with big screws?! Step 4 - Zones I am only having downstairs heating, so it is a single manifold. I would prefer as few zones as possible, but a single zone wont work. I was thinking I can have two /possibly three. Zone 1 - Main family room area Zone 2 - Everywhere else excluding shower room and garage Zone 3 - Shower room Zone 4 - Garage (permanently isolated at the moment. I assume you can have multiple zones on a manifold, and can just split them up by using salus actuators?. So a single thermostat for family room can control three loops (each with an acutator) in that room? and so forth?. It's a long post , and actually I wasn't going to talk about zones but thought it was worth adding in. Thanks. Heat loss calculator - SuperJohnG.xls.xlsx Floor heat loss and UFH calculator - SuperJg.xls.xlsx Looopcad - SuperJohnG.PDF
  4. Hi guys, Although we have planning permission for a New Build with an off white render, we're now exploring other options to add a bit more interest to the front of the house. The house will be 13m wide and we would like to clad the Gable end in something else. The windows are dark grey. We like the look of a light grey composite laid vertically. Would welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Al
  5. caliwag

    Design Book

    Hello, If any readers have bought, read, borrowed etc my book 'Self Build Home...The last thing you need is an architect' (only £5 on Amazon btw) I welcome your feedback, comments, criticism. Jim on I know I've been critical of plan books on here and other forums, but I thought, for my second edition (!?)I'd include plan designs of some of my projects (realised and doomed), but illustrating and annotating a few important (well I think they are!) design features. Just a thought to stave off retirement dottage!
  6. We have the architect coming for a meeting on friday, he has done some initial designs and we are just going through iterations but currently facing a conundrum we are finding it hard to resolve. See layout below, we have a very large open plot and hence can position our house anywhere, layout also included below of house position on plot. We are ticking most boxes but we are struggling with our open plan area. The brief being - nice big open plan area, but when we are sitting in the living room area of the open plan area - we don't want to feel like we are in the kitchen. The First revision looks like below, which was not bad - but we want to modify it as I want the island located right next to a set of bi folds so I can float in and out while bbq'ing without feeling like I'm walking through the living room. I had completed this - see second and third layout, but still struggling a little getting it to feel right. We are trying to add a partition to mount a tv and split the room up slightly and zone the areas, as we feel this is what we need, but everywhere I put it seems like a hindrance. I can't make it bigger again as the house has already went from 200-260 m^2 (eek!) So I'm not really sure what I'm asking, possibly real world experiences of a completed build compared to when you were doing the design?. Will it still feel cosy if I don't zone the room up and we are worrying too much about it not feeling cosy and it'll be fine! any other advice? Other thing I should add is that the shape needs to stay as this annex gets sun all day in winter and summer and works really well for our view, its just a difficulty dividing it up. Hopefully once this is done I can get the full design up in a week or two and show you all. Also FYI, it's a standard height room so not double height or anything. Layout 2: Ignore weird line between the island and wall its a dimension between the island and the wall units (which stop just at larder door) Layout 3: Site layout: orientated to north, so annex points to SW (or SWW if you're really looking hard!) Overall design: Still some changes to be made, but pretty pleased with the architects work against my design brief so far.
  7. I’ve talked to a few architects /architectural designers and still to fully decide who I would like to go with or whether I might use an in house design service. However one thing I am noticing is the lack of ‘compatible’ architects in my area. I originally had my mind set on a well-known self-build architect who done fixed price (circa £25k to do everything, which included CDM and SE) but as time went on discussing with them I felt my budget (£240-270k for build @ £1200/m^2) was not really their preferred market and it put me off a little plus they are 80 miles from where the plot would be. I then came across an experienced AD who I am meeting on site this week, even though I haven’t actually finalised the plot purchase as I wait for a few things to fall in to place, but he seems to match my expectations on price (£12k including SE) and is experienced in SIPS and timber frame. But he is from 200 miles away. My only reservation so far is the distance and the ease of being able to go through those initial stages of design collaboration. So the last few days I spent some time phoning local architects in the Ayrshire/ Glasgow area. But struggling with people who understand what I want to do. They are either way out there and looking for customers who wants a turnkey managed process and a % based fee. Or they are cheap but don’t necessarily understand modern building methods or tools. Ideally – I will use an Architect/AD to help with design, planning and building warrant. From there then contract with TF/SIPS supplier to supply and erect and then manage subcontractors myself. The selected person would ideally provide a fixed price and be well versed in modern methods of construction for TF/SIPS as above and understand building to a budget, but I seem to be struggling to find this locally. So two questions: Do we think distance is an issue? (I know we can do everything online, but sometimes a 5 minute meeting can do what takes days be email). Does anyone have any good Architects / AD contacts in the Glasgow / Ayrshire area who are well versed as above? Can anyone tell me what I actually want - as I swing between doing it myself / using and AD / Using in house design almost daily 🤣 I am a Chartered engineer (mechanical design) so I can do all the learning and planning and managing bits and very easily understand and draw my house. But I believe there is value in using a professional with regards to house design to do things that I wouldn’t think of. However I don’t want an architect who is away with the fairies or not on my wavelength. Hence I feel like an AD is where I need to be because they can add this value at a reasonable cost. Note: I’m not looking for fancy glazed gables with spiral stairs. I’m looking for good fabric first well thought out functional house with some (budget) appropriate features which take it from what I would design to something a bit better that flows well and make sense for my family and needs. A pragmatic approach to house design with a little bit of architectural flair.
  8. caliwag

    House on a narrow plot

    This was a response to a forum thread (elsewhere) and something that has been touched on in an earlier blog. I designed a small mock coach house, at the end of a very long garden. (It was mock to the planners, and a possible nimby backlash, and their were no coaches) The site was less than 5.6m and agreement had been reached to build on the boundary thus leaving an internal width of 3.6m. Plainly there were no projections over the neighbour's land and the wall and gutters etc were designed to be virtually maintenance free. One trick (such as it is) is to create the main entrance half way along, into the side, rather than front. If necessary, the daylight can be dealt with internal courtyards...see Peter Phippen's project in Hatfield for a terrace of very narrow houses... Thus, anything is possible within the blessing of planners and neighbours... a gift of a bottle of good whisky works wonders (obviously not to a planner!) So, don't discount a narrow site...all problems are an opportunity: the wise tell us! huh
  9. I am planning the design for our new build and have created a nicely sized plant room on the ground floor. In our last build, our MVHR was put up in the loft and this appears to be a very standard place. However, it was horrible to get to to change the filters and more importantly, in this build we are having a flat roof so no lofts in sight! Is there any possible reason why the MVHR cannot go downstairs? If the intake and exhause vents need to be at first floor level, is there normally any resitriction on the length of pipework? We haven't even looked at MVHR units yet so checking the spec of "our" unit isn't possible. If there is no reason not to put it downstairs, am I missing something in wanting it accesible? I know you only change the filters once or twice a year ( not sure because I am not the one who would venture into the loft to do the deed), but it just seems to make better sense to me. It also caused us lots of issues when it came to doing the air-tightness tests at the end. We have learnt a lot from that build which was lovely to live in but cost a fortune to heat.
  10. Looking for a good structural engineer for our build on the Devon/Cornwall border. We were strongly recommended to go with Michael Foulkes down in Looe. Sadly he is to oversubscribed to contemplate taking on our project. Any other recommendations?
  11. Can anyone recommend a rock garden design book please. Ideally not North American. Thanks, Jim
  12. No idea where to post this so please move if needed. I would like to have a proper cold larder. Only problem is how to build it in a heavily insulated house. So far it is on the north wall of our designed house (got planning permission last week, now about to do one lot of variations). We were planning a proper external door to access this larder. Looking at MBC timber frame but unnecessary to heavily insulate the larder. Any thoughts on how we might do this? Was thinking we might need to have a separation of the concrete slabs too (so any heat from ufh doesn't "seep" under the door and heat the larder). Or should we just build it afterwards / separately from the timber frame?
  13. I attach some thoughts from Pinterest about small garden spaces. The key is the three dimensional nature of the designs...a clue to success. A clue to garden design is to itemise/list nice to haves, needs and wants, taking into account views, overlooking, climate and seasons, indeed not dissimilar to house layout, and of course changes in fashion, plant growth etc. Another must is to observe sun angles (OK that's climate and seasons) but it's easy to make assumptions. Obviously think about family changes, as you would for house layout.
  14. caliwag

    Consideration of gardens

    Just caught a piece on the Today programme (about 8.45am R4. 23:4:18) . This was a brief interview with the Editor of Country Life, gardening section, Catherine Bradley-Hole who is leaving the role after 18 years. Her view suggests that there has been a generational rise in garden design and planting as much to do with the environment, health, food and general well-being often promoted by Radio 4 and TV. I am not a great gardener, but my student and teaching experience with Landscape Architect Par Gustafsson, showed me a new way of viewing 'The spaces surrounding and in between our houses. He always used to suggest (in a school of Architecture, would you believe?) that in any project, the first person to be consulted should be a landscape Architect...well, he would do I guess! However, this all must've rubbed off as in my book "Self Build Home...the last thing you need is an architect!" equally appropriate for custom design, bespoke work and extensions, I attach a list of mini chapters, blogs, references, observations and teachings of Par, on approaches to landscape and especially garden design. The site Site Analysis Outdoor Room Repose The Seasons Threshold and Entrances Survey, Analyse and Propose Courtyards and the spaces in betwwen Transparency and Character National Garden Scheme Garden Design approach Two Gardeners How about a garden to be Proud of? The Bible...A Pattern Language, Chris Alexander et Al Wither Fashion Gardens again Amongst other chapters, I cite these chapters especially as they are about adding value and wow factor to your pride and joy...Happy designing. Email for more info
  15. caliwag


    Hello again...a recent Pinterest garden design vision of approaches...if you don't like lawns! Well you've got to pamper them and cut then 20+ times a year
  16. I was too keen to download and play with Loopcad and unfortunately my 30 day trial has expired before I could finalise our ground floor plan. Has anyone any idea how I could extend the trial by a week or 2? Here's my latest effort at the layout design - all feedback welcome, but be gentle!
  17. So our build probably can't qualify as a passive house.... aspect and glazing area don't fit. But it has been suggested that the Passive house planning package might well aid us in speccing insulation, heating etc even so, rather than SAP. What have other folk used for designing a highly insulated airtight house? Thanks Dee
  18. Hi there, I work for a PR agency and we handle the PR for Ideal Home Show Scotland 2018. We are looking to gather some case studies for a media feature promoting the show. I'm looking to speak with families in Scotland who saved space in their home through innovative design or furniture, and families in Scotland who use smart home technology and feel that it has changed their lives. If you think you can help, or would like further information - please either reply to this post or PM me. Thanks!
  19. I'm looking to speak with families in Scotland who: saved space in their home through innovative design or furniture. use smart home technology and feel that it has changed their lives. If you can help with either of these, please respond to this post or PM me Further details will be provided. Thanks, Louise
  20. caliwag

    Barn conversions

    Appreciate that this is old news but the Yorkshire Post (Yorkshire's National Newspaper!) ran an encouraging article in the farming section of Saturday's paper.
  21. caliwag


    Howdy, I'm just exploring the implications/costings of selling my book 'Self build...the last thing you need is an architect' as an e-book......any help or assistance/experiences gratefully received. (Price link removed by moderator)
  22. caliwag

    Future ebook

    Please click on if you may be interested in a copy of an E-book of 'Self Build Home...the last thing you need is an architect'
  23. Aye, the subtitle of a book, that inspires me, by Diane Maddex called "Wright Sized Houses". Published in 2003 (about £20 on ABEbooks), this is a dissection of some of Frank Lloyd Wright's house designs over six decades. He lived from 1867 to 1959. As the title implies, he shows how, amongst his big houses on huge spreads in the States, his tenets apply equally to small houses on conceivably restricted sites. Commenting on FLW's attitudes to entrances Ms Maddex writes "...You couldn't tell where the architecture leaves off and the garden begins". She writes "Front Doors of FLW houses do not usually call out to visitors, who are gently taken in hand on a little voyage of discovery...The Architect makes us work hard to uncover his grand scheme" (Ha, romantic stuff eh?)...This is an attitude (however) espoused by Arthur Martin, Chris Alexander, Baillie Scott, Peter Blundell-Jones and others mentioned in former blogs and blogs to come...intriguing stuff! The book generally takes a cross-referenced page a theme, with some plans and excellent illustrations. Some of the themes are 'open plans, 'human scale', 'built-ins', private spaces', 'outdoor rooms', 'natural materials', 'entrances', 'walls and screens' (interior) etc etc. Altogether I thoroughly recommend this interesting design book which forms yet another useful check-list, reminder and inspiration to add character to your home.
  24. caliwag

    Spatial Excitement

    Aye, this was a question raised on another forum, some time ago, and my thoughts. Whether 'Passive House Design should or would spawn spatially exciting architecture?' To my mind passive house design can end up with too much glass, which seems to be trend in new houses. That in itself provoked an inconclusive discussion, mainly based on heat loss versus heat gain...To be honest the jury seemed to be out on that one, without active participation of occupants to open and close external shutters and the attempt to store heat gain in the heavy structure. A digression from spatial interest I know. Anyway it did get me thinking about the whole notion of 'Spatial Interest and Excitement...well does it give pleasure and make you smile' It does open up a vast area for discussion as, perhaps, why all buildings, to a lesser or greater degree, aren't spatially exciting. Plainly there is the impact of walking through a small door into a vast, decorated Cathedral or Minster, or the main stair of St Pancras Chambers, which is awe inspiring...All the senses are bombarded at once. As I haven't written a book on the subject (yet) I'll leave you to ponder on that one. Similarly, a concert hall or theatre can have that effect, especially some of the twentieth century ones: I'm thinking of the Berlin Philharmonie by Hans Scharoun (Post second World War), which appears to have an extra dimension in that the interior is impossible to understand or photograph...Acoustically it is reputed to be one of the finest in the world. However, these examples are rather a long way from domestic expectations. I cited, in said forum, the Petersham Nurseries near Richmond in Surrey, which are a surprise and a expensive culinary delight but a delight none the less. They are just normal timber commercial greenhouses, still selling plants, but also serving as a restaurant. As you can imagine, glare and overheating can be an issue (I guess the place is heated with large blow heaters or gas radiants) so the roof and side walls are randomly shaded with rush matting, and climbers, all with a sort of post-hippy relaxed ease. Marvellous. I may say that the place is also full of distressed furniture and assorted paintings, rusting urns and statuary; but it works: Walking in through the small door is as delightful and surprising as a visit to Durham Cathedral and the Berlin Philharmonie. Full of digressions I know but there is a lesson from Petersham: from the outside it's just a dilapidated greenhouse, the Philharmonie hall from the outside is frankly unusual, and some might say somewhat ungainly, (though 40+ years ahead of its time in that respect!...getting architecturally controversial there, but that's just fashion and expectations, and it was fittingly designed from the inside out according to acoustic needs. As someone on the other forum said, any spatial excitement, at least in 20th buildings, will come entirely from the people who want it. as in any house, if you put your mind to it! Of course it may just come from decoration, but I think that the control of light and shade, surface finish, glimpses to other ares and activities, vistas and awareness of the senses, will all naturally, and by design, work towards a fascinating goal...of course it may be like a model railways, it's never really finished!
  25. caliwag


    Ha, French for pocket: Not a term much used in building or design. A few blogs ago, I described a way of considering garden design as an alternative to creating borders and cutting shapes out of a lawn, or indeed starting in one corner and making shapes, of just planting specimen plants towards another corner. This is a more holistic approach based on listing all conditions of the garden (see site analysis blog), then listing wants, needs, desires, uses of spaces etc for the proposed garden, including the route and entrance threshold, and then considering the space covered in stuff. This may be lawn, grasses (trendy) herbs, shrubs (totally covered), etc then take out spaces for the needs and routes between them. It's really the same as house layout design, but more akin to decollage, the result of removing bits, rather like a political poster that people have attempted to remove. No matter, I hope you get the idea...It ties up the results of your site analysis with your list of must-haves. (The brief) The pocket idea is best seen in heavy walled churches, cathedrals, castles where there are often pockets in the wall created for chapels, spiral stairs, secret rooms and so on, and best exploited in more modern housing where built-in shelves, en-suite facilities, larders, even secret rooms and snugs are worked into spaces between rooms. Interesting spaces may be created where square edged rooms could appear clumsy, or passages would allow better flow. I would agree that it's not for the faint-hearted, but could be great fun especially when building the corrugated card model (one to amuse the kids on a wet holiday afternoon). Don't blame me if they want to be architects after that. It could add a sense of humour to a design and add bags of character...And you do want your extension or new home to exude character don't you! A word of warning, it will be more expensive as builders do not relish curves. Happy designing