the first Certified Passivhaus in England, by Seymour-Smith Architectsthe AI PassivHaus

2nd May 2009

The pin-up of the month has to be the fantastically vivid oil seed rape.

The below-slab drainage work is well underway, and should be finished by the end of next week (lots that has already been done has been backfilled, so doesn't show in this picture).

The pipes are surrounded in pea shingle to accommodate any movement.  There are also rubber connectors creating rocker pipes where the pipes pass under the edge of the building.

Rubber connectors also allow for some movement just below the point where the pipe will pass through the concrete slab.

Our weather station fixed to the roof of the caravan measures and logs wind speed and direction, temperature and rainfall.  Not that there's any doubt really about the amount of wind up here - we'll be very grateful for our walled garden.

6th May 2009

The drainage installation is progressing nicely...

Les and Robin demostrate a typical trench - this one is from the kitchen sink - how exciting!

8th May 2008

The drainage is complete, and the site has been tidied up ready to start digging out the slab edge thickenings...

... which are being carefully set out by the guys from Storm Geomatics.

9th May 2009

By the next day, the digging out for the slab edge thickenings is well underway.  This is the last big bit of digging down - from next week, we should finally start building UP...

13th May 2009

The first bit of concrete blinding has been poured, to give a level base onto which the shuttering for our slab edge can be built.

14th May 2009

... and the next load.  Robin uses the digger to place the concrete, while Luke and Jamie level it.

17th May 2009

The extent of the building is now really clear, with all of the edge blinding poured.

This is the kitchen sink drain pipe.  The inner face of the perimeter walll will be 100mm to the left of it.

And this is the apex of the building, very accurately marked with a nail in ply screwed into the concrete blinding - this should (in theory!) be millimetre perfect...

18th May 2009

Our first really big delivery!  Two huge lorries from Dow bring the insulation that will wrap all around our house to keep it nice and snug.

This is pretty exciting because it's the first really large delivery of materials to help us to build up rather than down

Richard and Malc from the farm very kindly help to unload the insulation.  This extruded polystyrene is a particularly brilliant product because it is happy sitting outside the waterproofing envelope, and below the structure too - so there will be complete continuity of insulation, so important for a Passivhaus.

20th May 2009

Robin & co have done a fantastic job of preparing the substrate...

...  so they then move on to the foul drainage system.  The yellow line shows the pipe route.  The green cylinder to the left of the track is a clever bit of kit called a "Bio-Pure" that will digest all of our waste, spitting out clean water.  It should only need emptying every 3-5 years.

21st May 2009

The same view the next day...

and the gadget that will digest all of our waste...  an aeration pump in the lid helps to create an aerobic bacterial colony to establish inside it to digest the organic matter.  Simple.

26th May 2009

It's a real bore that the position for the Bio-Pure is the only place in the field that doesn't have rock a few inches below the surface - this is the one place it would have been useful, for our soakaway, which will now have to go much further.

Checking the hole is big enough...

The barn poking up behind the insulation puts it into perspective.  Most of this extruded polystyrene will be used below the slab (250mm thick).

Back to the job in hand, and the Bio-Pure is filled with water and surrounded with the left-over aggregate from the slab preparation.

Then the topsoil is replaced.

Job done.  For now, anyway - the brown pipe to the right will go to the soakaway which we will construct once the oil seed rape has been harvested.

27th May 2009

We are treated to a demonstration of a very cool bit of kit.  This Faro Photon scanner was placed in two positions for just 7 minutes each, and produced this video:  It's just a bit of fun for today, but we will use it to check all of the formwork just before the slab is poured.

28th May 2009

A new team and a new load of materials arrive to prepare for the base slab.  This stuff is the below-slab waterproofing.

And this is the steel reinforcement for the slab.  It arrives pre-bent to the structural engineer's schedule, and the fixers then tie it together to make a series of interlinked cages.

30th May 2009

Good progress has been made laying out the insulation.  Two layers, each 125mm thick give us a fantastic U-value of 0.1W/m2K.  We chose this Dow Floormate 300-A insulation because it is strong enough to sit below the structure, and it will not absorb or be affected by water, so is happy sitting below the waterproofing.  Another bonus is that it's the only product like this that's actually made in the UK.