Another article – and wood usage update

Those who follow these things will by now have seen an article on this house in the June issue of Self Build & Design magazine.  This was an interesting experience, in that the journalist, Debbie Jeffery wrote the article based on a phone conversation with us – and probably from information in this blog – and the photographs were taken by Caroline Bridges separately, taking most of a day, relatively few of which appear in the magazine.  Impressive (apart from a picture of me looking worn out!) And we were sent a complimentary copy of the magazine – and I realise that this post should have been written much earlier.  Anyway, I hope that, like the other articles in this magazine, readers found it useful.  This is not a “stunning” house not, as noted elsewhere, a “Grand Design” – we doubted Kevin would have been interested and, having talked it over, decided not to submit it.  And, as it turned out, there wouldn’t have been enough drama – thank goodness!

It just works.  Here’s the wood usage graph updated.  The log burner has been lit 5 times since the beginning of March and the 5th time only because we had a house guest and wanted to ensure there would be plenty of hot water.  And it’s interesting to see that there were only 4 weeks when we had to light it every day. All the rest of the space heating and hot water comes from the sun!

Log burner usage by week

Log burner usage by week

Another few weeks and we’ll have the whole year’s record.  I have been cutting, splitting and stacking quite a lot of wood lately for next winter. I’d stored what I thought were 55 barrowloads last year in 5 stacks and we used almost 4 of the stacks – 80% of the store. But I see that the graph shows 35 barrowloads.  Hmm.  The barrowloads being brought into the house were bigger – all I could get into the barrow each time!  But much of the work is because we lost 3 large branches from the weeping willow in the storm last autumn and I’ve been working my way through this.  It’s a substantial volume, all wet of course, so it’ll need storing for at least a couple of years to dry out – and won’t be very good wood even then, being very light – probably half the value for burning that other hardwoods are.




This entry was posted in Log burner, Solar thermal, Thermal Store. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Another article – and wood usage update

  1. graham allen says:

    Hi, I’m not surprised you continue to get the publicity this project deserves – I’m about to start a similar build process with similar ideals – what I can’t find on your blog is detail of the design process and which professionals you used (and how you felt about this process!) as I have yet to engage anyone.

    • davidl says:

      Hi Graham,
      It depends on what you mean by the design process. We had an architect which gave us a basic design which we liked. We had fairly clear ideas ourselves already that this was a house “for an older couple” and had written a design specification of sorts. The first architect, Rachel Moses, with whom we’d worked successfully on an extension to our previous house didn’t feel she knew enough about “eco things”. So we found another, Green Architect (Jenny Bishop) through the Uttlesford Sustainable Homes Network (which still exists, though in a rather different form. The same organisation gave us a builder, Touchwood Homes, whose attitude and principles we liked – the external airtight layer, for example – and also the contractor for, as it turned out, the solar thermal panels, thermal store, log burner stove boiler and the solar PV – Dragon Contracts. The other trades were sub-contracted either by Touchwood or by ourselves. Touchwood have structural engineering company and a timber design company with whom they work regularly who turn even a fairly basic design into a realisable implementation. They also employ one Dr Rod Williams who runs the PHPP and carries out the ventilation design.
      So now you have the house design from the architect, a foundation design based on the the soil survey I’d had carried out, and a structural design that meets passivhaus requirements. We did all the decorating and I carried out the electrical second fix (and then had the work certified).
      Let me know if this is enough or whether we carry on a more detailed discussion outside this blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *