Welcome to our blog.

This blog will follow the ultimate in home improvement: demolish and rebuild!

This is our starting point: a 1930s bungalow. While not a bad house; it is too small for us with three teenage children so what should we do? A full storey extension versus complete rebuild - ultimately the stronger eco-credentials and more certain finances of a new-build helped to guide our choice.

For a number of years we've been trying to find the right route for us to build an eco-friendly, low energy home. We tried various architects and building companies and have eventually settled with a German prefabricated build. The new house will be nearly to passivhaus standards (but not quite due to budget constraints). In any case, the house will be heavily insulated and airtight.

As a family, we have not built a house before so everything is new and exciting but the risk of making a mess of things is quite high!

This blog aims to outline the day to day steps involved in our build.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Visit to the factory - part 1

After a last minute panic and frantic research we decided, the day before our visit to Germany, to change the way we heat the house. We had thought to use a gas boiler for the underfloor heating and to heat the water in the house when the solar thermal panel isn't kicking in. We did the sums, however, and realised that when considering the cost of reinstating gas pipework, gas meter, the extra pipework inside the house, as well as the gas standing charge, sticking to electricity was a financially viable option. So now, after my usual U-turn, we decided that we are going to have an air source heat pump.

It was a freezing day when we arrived in Hannover, it was all covered in snow, looking wonderfully picturesque. The UK company representative took us the site of their factory, in Hameln, otherwise known as Hamelin in English; the town made famous by the Pied Piper. We didn't have to worry, the children were safe; they stayed at home! There were rats around but I hasten to say there were none in the factory (instead they were statues in the town).

In the factory the welcome was warm and we felt at ease as we discussed the preparations for the meeting that was going to take place the next day. We rounded the day off with a delicious meal and a room in a cosy hotel (provided by the company - a BIG thank you for that).

The next morning was even colder (-8C) as we settled in for the long day of discussing details. We started with the structure of the building. Ensuring things like the windows and doors were in the right places, and that they opened the way we wanted. We had to consider where the duct work was required for the air source heat pump and then the mechanical heat recovery ventilation. We also had to make sure that the kitchen window wasn't going to be blocked by the kitchen units!

After plentiful coffee we went on to discuss sanitary ware, taps and showers. I don't think I've ever had a formal meeting about loos before! Everything has to be planned and measured so that it will fit when the house arrives.

Lunch arrived, and that meant time for a break but not before there was mention of the dreaded wood-burning stove, had a decision been made in time? Hmm...to be continued...

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