What you should consider as part of your self-build project.
In recent years, more and more people have become interested in energy efficiency. Whether that’s to help them save money, or to play their part in saving the planet, it’s become important for homeowners to understand how efficient their homes can be. Scotframe has teamed up with Piers Taylor to find out more about why energy efficiency is important to self-builders. So, take a look at Piers’ video, and read further to find out more.
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There are elements that can be looked at and considered to understand the efficiency of your home. With U-values for roofs, walls, floors and windows, as well as Passivhaus standards for the whole house, understanding these standards and measurements can help you to predict how efficient your home, as a whole unit, will be.
U-Value – is the rate of heat transfer through a structure, divided by the difference in temperature across that structure. U-value is used to measure how well or how badly a component transmits heat from the inside to the outside. The slower or more difficult it is for heat to transfer through the component, the lower the U-value.
Passivhaus Standard – is a very thorough and exacting way to build, which ensures your build is airtight, well-insulated and energy efficient. The standards of Passivhaus exceed those of current building regulations.
When it comes to efficiency, it’s important that the home is built properly, as a lot depends on the workmanship. There’s no point in putting in all the key elements, such as wall or roof insulation, or triple glazed windows, if they’re not installed correctly as they won’t be working to their highest efficiency. In this video, Piers Taylor suggests thinking of the house being made up of individual components, which all need to work collectively to achieve the best results.
There are many different ways to build a property – it could be using glass, steel frame, timber frame or masonry, for example. And there are certainly pros and cons of using each building material, depending on what you want from your property. Your designers will be able to best advise you on what is most appropriate for your build.
Types of build systems:
- Timber frame
- Brick & Block
- Insulating Concrete Formwork
- Structural Insulated Panels
- Oak Frame
- Thin Joist Blockwork
Timber frame builds can be more predictable – and now it’s possible to build the frame, walls, roof and windows off-site and then transport it to the site, all ready to be installed. Off-site timber construction enables homes to be built faster, and with a timber frame, it’s easier to achieve good and high-quality workmanship, which makes them more cost-effective to build and live in.
Timber frames are also low in embodied energy. As timber is a renewable resource, it’s much better for the environment compared with other building methods.
At Scotframe, our timber is obtained from sustainable sources and transported to the manufacturing centres in bulk to reduce our carbon footprint. Scotframe also operates a recycle and reuse policy, which ensures minimal waste.
Fabric first homes
When we consider heating our homes, we want to generate as little heat as possible, due to cost and environmental factors, and to do so, insulation and airtightness is extremely important. A fabric first approach to building a home enables the walls, roof and floor to be as efficient as possible, so when you do have your heating fitted, your hardly need to use it.
Years ago, buildings leaked considerably due to sash windows letting cold air in and warm air out. Buildings didn’t perform as well as they need to now, and in more recent years, we have depended on insulation to keep the heat in and cold out. High-quality insulation promotes heat retention and reduces heat loss.
Properties are also critically in need of airtightness, and airtightness can be better achieved with timber frames, where you can control the manufacturing process.
But how do you build something you don’t need to heat? It’s important to consider renewables, as they lessen the impact on your wallet and on the environment, using systems such as air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps or photovoltaics. Ultimately, you need to build with a system where you can use good insulation and achieve good airtightness to make your home more thermally efficient.
When planning your build, consider how you can maximise solar gains. Think about your build orientation, choose your window positions carefully and consider installing triple glazed windows for heat retention.
And make sure to consider the natural ventilation of the home, as it can help to reduce condensation and mould. It’s important to also consider a low-level air inlet for fresh air, and a high-level vent to remove stale air. Finally, think about the amount of wind around your location and how cross ventilation can create a natural method of cooling.
And so, when looking to start your self-build project, it’s important to consider the energy efficiency of your home and how you can predict it. Think about the benefits of fabric first and consider the thermal efficiency for your home, and what needs to be completed to ensure a thermally-efficient house.
To find out more about how Scotframe can help with your project, or if you’d like to speak to one of our experts for any advice on planning a self-build project, please complete our online form or contact a member of the team.