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.

Thursday, 2 June 2011


Hip hip hooray! Our house is a year old.

The house is performing very well, the bungalow is a dim and distant dark memory.
We feel very fortunate and happy. It has been a great adventure.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Good morning, Sunshine!

Passersby have been wondering why we might have scaffolding up on our house again. Thankfully it is good news as our photovoltaic panels were installed this week.
We have employed the same contractors to do the work as for our solar thermal panels and heat pump.

We chose the Sanyo Hit 250W panels and have installed 12 of them. They should have a theoretical output of 3kWh peak.

Here is the roof with the brackets in place before the panels were attached.

Work in progress.

Job done! Fab! Thank you Neil, Steve and Liam.

When the system was connected within the house, we were amazed to find that it generated 3kWhp when the sun shone. Apparently there is often a drop-off of up to 20% but not with these panels. Having a good angle on the roof helps, without shadows from trees or other buildings.

We are very happy with the results. The first day we generated 13.5kWh, and yesterday we generated 12.8kWh even though there has been a significant amount of cloud cover! We have been charging everything and using the washing machine the minute the sun comes out!

The good thing is that with our low-energy house, the demands for energy are relatively low (even with three teenagers in the house). The installation of the photovoltaic panels to generate electricy should allow us to get sufficient income from the Feed-in tarriffs to cover the cost of our electricity the rest of the time when there is no sun. Net result: no bills!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Snagging ends but the garden grows

We have had some snagging problems; such as the calibration of the rain water harvesting tank but that has been resolved now. There are some remaining problems with the mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system which is not meeting the planned specification for the house. We hope for a resolution of this in the future.

The house itself is working very well. The airtightness and high level of insulation have offered us a very energy efficient way of living. We are very happy with it. The house is so comfortable that the bungalow is a dim and distant nightmare. We have lots of space and light and could not imagine living in a conventional house again. Anyway, we are now looking at improving the garden so I will only occasionally be adding now posts to this blog.

Meanwhile, if you want to continue following the goings on in our project, you can see the new blog: blog my garden. Watch as the garden takes shape again after the build, although, the results are not going to be as fast!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The grass is greener or is it?

It's been a long time since I last wrote on the blog. The house hasn't changed much but we've started to look at the back garden.

From a distance I was pleased because it looked like the lawn was growing back. However, on closer inspection I saw

it was ground elder!!! These tiny shoots bode alot of back-breaking work. They will keep coming back unless you get rid of all the long roots.

After two days of work, I'd hardly made an impact. I think I may have to think of a plan B. No weedkillers though as we plan to grow veggies here.

The digger may have helped to spread the ground elder around, but it also helped by making the pond. About two months ago we put the liner in the pond and waited for rain. It didn't seem to come. Then suddenly it started to pour down. A couple of days ago it looked like this. The liner was a bit big but I'm using it help collect more rainwater.

Meanwhile the front garden looked devoid of life as we decide what we're going to grow in there. But miraculously, perhaps caught on the digger tread, a small crocus tulip is flowering. Perhaps it is telling me to get on with planting before ground elder spreads to the front garden too.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Snow progress

Amazingly, just before Christmas, our newly moved summer house received a new layer of felt on the roof, thanks to our intrepid handyman, Harry. Despite the snow he managed to complete the job, so like the house it is water-tight.

Our house is more than water tight. In the recent snow, even when the snow was melting on the neighbours houses ours was still intact. How's that for the good insulation in action.
Now it's a new year and we realise that in comparison to the house project, the garden will be more straight forward. Like sorting out the snagging problems, both will progres slowly but I will continue to update the blog occasionally.