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

6th October 2009

Breather membrane, battens and counterbattens have been installed on the barn / office roof.

and the guys from AJS Roofing make a start fixing the slate to the North facing side of the roof.

On the South side of the roof however, it's a little less conventional.  Solex Energy are installing their brilliant solar water heating system.  These black absorber strips are installed between the tiling battens, to eventually give us around 1 km of solar pipework.

7th October 2009

The Grand Designs crew turn up to film our solar roof...

and they are duly impressed by the toughened glass tiles, which are installed in exactly the same manner as conventional slates.  Indeed the whole premise of this clever system is that it can be installed by a plumber and a roofer with no special extra training. 

9th October 2009

The slate roof to the North is looking good, with the ridge tiles going on...

... and we're thrilled with the solar tiles on the South side.  There's a bit of condensation on the underside of them because the insulation got rained on as it was being installed, but that should dry out fairly soon. 

12th October 2009

With the roof complete, the scaffold starts to be dismantled.

BAHull get started on a trench to bring electrical and telephone connections up to the house.

13th October 2009

With the scaffold out of the way, the remainder of the steel frame can finally be removed.

Lots of inventive uses being thought of for all of this steel...

And some patching in is now required to all the holes left behind once the steel has been removed.

Still thrilled with our lovely Solex roof.  No need for unsightly, expensive bolt-on solar panels for us!

14th October 2009

Shuttering is fixed to all the holes left by the steel frame, ready to be filled with concrete.

22nd October 2009

Rendering starts in the kitchen garden.  The base coat (at low level anyway) needs to be done before we can waterproof this part of the roof.

Concrete all patched in now to the base of the barn, ready to be rendered and waterproofed.

After all this time, it really is a treat to see the barn without its steel frame, and with its lovely new roof.

26th October 2009

With the trenching finished, our electricity cable arrives, ready to be pulled the 380m or so from the transformer in the bottom corner of the field.

Wesley & Co knock out the temporary blockwork from the original barn door (this had been infilled to give added stability when the barn was suspended).

This will be the entrance to the office.

Insulation is fitted to the front face of the slab.

A blockwork upstand has been formed over the projecting upper slab.  There will eventually be a balustrade here.

The base of the barn is rendered to give a (relatively) smooth substrate for the waterproofing.

And we begin the process of putting mortar fillets into, or cutting off, all right angles, in preparation for the second phase of waterproofing.

27th October 2009

A truly big moment in the build, as our windows arrive from Austria (on time and unbroken!).  These Passivhaus Certified triple glazed Optiwin windows are the most thermally efficient windows available with the slimmest profile.

Once they're all unloaded, the first one is installed.  These windows are going to keep us fabulously toasty, and will allow the building to start drying out.

Photo by Samuel Ashfield, courtesy of Dow

Putting these screens in completely changes the feel of the internal spaces.  We need to work on the view though...

Sheeting has been tented over the upper terrace to ensure it stays dry in preparation for the waterproofing tomorrow.  Window installation by the expert team from Optiwin Ireland and BAG in Huddersfield continues apace.

Once installed, the gaps around the windows are filled with foam

Photo by Samuel Ashfield, courtesy of Dow

and silicone is applied inside and outside.

28th October 2009

Whilst the window installation continues below, more excitement as the remaining upper deck is to be waterproofed. This photo shows the terrace after it has been primed.

The Grand Designs crew film the guys from Walford services as they spray the Fosroc Polyurea WPE waterproofing coating onto the terrace.

And here it is, all done! This brilliant waterproofing system dries instantly, and is incredibly durable and flexible.


29th October 2009

Photo by Samuel Ashfield, courtesy of Dow

The following day, the windows are all installed, and the building looks completely different. Careful attention is now paid to the junctions between the windows and the concrete structure, as airtightness is paramount in a passivhaus.

We are using a 3-part system called Install & Go, developed specifically for this by Dow and Dow Corning. First, Dow 7Flex foam insulation is used to fill the gap, using a special nozzle.

Next the outside is sealed with Dow Corning 796 silicone, which is durable, elastic and weatherproof. The inside is then sealed with a very airtight sealant, again very elastic, and also able to be painted.

We also add a layer of airtight tape to the outside. It’s not really necessary, but there’s no harm in the belt and braces approach when it’s so easy to do now, and would be so difficult to remedy if there were ever a problem later.

The window frames (along with the walls) will shortly be covered with lots of this Sto EPS insulation which has just arrived on site. Covering the window frames with insulation is an excellent thermal and visual (in our opinion anyway) detail, often done on the Continent, and rarely in the UK.