Monday 3rd October 2011
This month we have focused on getting the ‘first fix’ work completed, which essentially means getting the building to the stage where we put the plaster board on the internal walls. As such, we have had as many as six different trades working on the house at the same time; Manor Roofing and Timber Construction have been doing the roofing and cladding outside the house, while EBS, Proheat, Allergy Plus and Thinking Bricks have worked on getting ‘first fix’, electrics, plumbing work completed on the inside.
This ability for the trades to work in inside and out at the same time isn’t always possible with other forms of construction. Aside from the fact that the timber frame super structure, or the skeleton, of the house can be erected in a matter of weeks, it’s this ability for the trades to work in tandem that helps speed up the building process.
From the outside, the house has been quite literally transformed and is now taking shape. The Sahtas roof tiles look beautifully weathered and with the roof on and the feather-edged boarding, supplied by Ridgeons, fitted to the external walls, this property is now beginning to boast the rustic appeal and charm typical of a barn style home. To get the sustainability credentials, solar panels have been fitted to the roof on the south facing elevation, which will provide most of the energy needed to heat the hot water for showers, baths and washing machines.
At this stage it’s important to consider both the aesthetics and the practicalities of modern day living. It’s now the time to make decisions on where our appliances will go in order that the electricians and plumbers can make provisions for sockets, taps, drains and aerials. Because we want to ensure this property meets and perhaps exceeds Code Level 4 of the Code for Sustainable homes, Proheat have put in pipes for a rainwater harvesting system; these pipes need to be differentiated from those being laid for the normal domestic supply. Meanwhile EBS put in the cabling for the general electrical supply and Thinking Bricks started the wiring for the ‘SMART’ technologies, like the intelligent lighting, home entertainment and computers which will be installed into the house during the second fix stage.
To get as much light flooding into the property as possible, we have opted for Velux roof light windows which are specially insulated around the edges to prevent as much heat loss as possible. Sunfold are supplying the windows for the rest of the house, which are timber internally combined with a powder coated aluminium externally. These are 50:50 composite windows, making them both low maintenance and thermally efficient. Then, to comply with Lifetime Homes we have ensured that the window handles are positioned so that someone in a wheelchair can open them too.
Making the house Lifetime Homes compliant will not only future proof it so that it remains suitable for anyone, regardless of age or ability, it will also help get us additional points needed to get our Code rating under the Code for Sustainable Homes.
For Lifetime Homes compliance, the bathrooms have been designed to accommodate someone in a wheelchair or with limited mobility. This might mean including a seated showering facility, or putting in shallow shower trays or a perhaps a wet room that a wheelchair can be pushed into. Building these features into the house is neither costly nor difficult to achieve but it does make life easier and more pleasant for someone with mobility problems so why not include it?
To provide as much comfort as well as energy efficiency credentials for this property as possible, we will be installing an under floor heating system from NuHeat as well as a MVHR (Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery System) from Allergy Plus. The under floor heating will be at both ground floor and first floor levels and will remove the need for radiators throughout the house. The MVHR system will take stale air out of the house, and, thanks to the heat exchanger inside the unit, will heat clean fresh air as it comes in. These systems improve the indoor air quality, which is great for everyone especially those who may suffer from allergies.
Once all this work has been done we will down tools for the next Open Event which is planned between 12th and 15th October. At the event, we will be running tours of the barn by one of our self build experts on the hour giving you the chance to find out more about the building products needed and the project management issues to consider at required at ‘first fix’ stage. Factory tours will also be available - click here to register your interest.
Click here to see the video update by our Project Manager, Brent Ackerman