Staff training WARM style

Staff training WARM style 12 – Finishing touches…

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 12 – Finishing touches…

Staff training WARM style 12 – Finishing touches…

 The sun is shining, the pigs have cleared the brambles and the mud has solidified. No more excuses, it’s time to finish the outside. Fortunately the wood fibre insulation was still OK after 5 months despite the recommendations of only leaving it exposed for 2.     So in pictures, here we are doing the last bits of wood cladding, fascia and the external reveals around the window and door back in April. Ales and Rowan finishing the wood cladding on the south. Ales & Rowan finishing the East elevation with a helping hand from Amber. The window before installing the external reveals June 2014  – from a clearing in the woods June 2015 – Thanks to the pigs clearing efforts it’s not quite the hidden away location we originally envisaged, but the undergrowth is making a comeback.  1 year from when we started clearing the ground, we finally completed our project. I guess that original 6 week programme I had was a little ambitious! Still to come: Air tightness results   Cost analysis    Post-occupancy monitoring Blog written by Caroline Martin...

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Staff training WARM style 11 – Moving in…

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 11 – Moving in…

Staff training WARM style 11 – Moving in…

While we were waiting for the electrics to be installed we spent a few cold, dark winter evenings up at the office doing some of the finishing touches to the interior. Taping up the roof joints with Tescon tape. This was then covered with a beam so was not on show. We spent a few evenings covering the joins between the panels with air tightness tape. We used two different brands, the first was Tescon no 1 tape left over from the Enerphit retrofit of the WARM office, this was very flexible and nice to work with. The second brand was a UdiSTEAM Tex Tape which came from the same company that we bought the wood fibre insulation from. It was much thicker and less flexible, and therefore less easy to work with, than the Tescon tape and the glue tended to remain on the edges and stick to things but was cheaper than the Tescon Tape. We liked the black finish.  Ingrid concentrating very hard trying not to get stuck to the air tightness Tex tape.   After we had finished the air tightness taping we painted the ceiling white to improve the lighting levels (we left the OSB walls as they are, they give off a warm golden glow when the sun shines on them). We used left over white gloss paint donated to us by helpful friends. As we painted we were very much enjoying listening to nineties trance music and feeling quite light headed, until we remembered that we were in an extremely air tight space and opened the window and door. So just in time for Christmas we had a useable office! And on the 5th January 2015 Rowan moved in.   Blog written by Caroline Martin...

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Staff training WARM style 10… ‘Let there be light’ (and internet)

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 10… ‘Let there be light’ (and internet)

Staff training WARM style 10… ‘Let there be light’ (and internet)

Once the window and door were fitted and all the insulation installed, we realised that if we had electricity and internet up at the office then Rowan could actually move in. Maybe he could move in before Christmas? I thought this would be the easy bit. You just get a really long extension lead and data cable out to the office right? Wrong – for many reasons. It took a long time and much indecisiveness and asking of opinions and Googling before we decided on a solution, partly because I am a mechanical engineer not an electrical engineer and partly because there wasn’t an easy/cheap solution. So it turns out 70m is quite a long way to run an electricity and data cable. An extension cable isn’t viable because 1. The cable size is too small and the voltage drop would be too great. 3. They can be damaged too easily to be safe as a permanent solution. 4. Doesn’t meet any kind of building regs. Normally over this distance you would bury the cable, but we can’t bury it because we are trying to make this build have minimal impact on the landscape. Burying the cable would have required digging up ancient stone pathways and crossing a centuries– old Devon stone wall/bank. So it needed to go above ground. Possible solutions considered: Off grid solar generator (I really wanted a Yeti (http://www.goalzero.com/p/138/goal-zero-yeti-1250-solar-generator-kit) but the site was too shaded and we required more power than it could provide). Off grid petrol generator (urgh Petrol) Rechargeable batteries and charge them up in the house each evening (Urgh batteries). LPG heater (too much moisture, difficult to vent safely). Heat brick heated up in our wood stove inside each evening (too time consuming, might not stay hot long enough). Wood burning stove (too much heat, too time consuming, difficult to vent safely). Rig up a catenary wire and sling an external cable from it connected to the mains supply from our flat (feels very permanent, and required a lot of ladder climbing and tree surgery). After a crash course in power, voltage and amp hours we decide to go with option 7, as this seemed the most robust solution and the least hassle in operation. Once we tracked our electrician down and rigged up the catenary wire and cable (quite an exciting job involving climbing very tall ladders, chopping down lots of laurel and hanging precariously out of windows), it took him a few hours to make the final connections and install the consumer unit and sockets in the office. There was a last minute panic when the electrician got to site and he told me that I had bought and rigged up the wrong type of cable; a two core instead of a three core. Apparently some types of two core aren’t used very much anymore as they aren’t as robust as modern armoured three core cables. Fortunately on closer inspection it turned out that it was armoured and had a much thicker protective casing than the old style two core cables and so our electrician decided that it would be OK, and in actual fact we think it may have been better in some ways than a three core as it is a lighter cable and we are spanning long distances (it was also much cheaper). Threading through the jungle The cable enters the building… Consumer unit Now for data; this almost stumped us completely. Google informed us that we may or may not be able to run a data cable that far; it may or may not get interference...

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Staff training WARM style 9… Out of Africa

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 9… Out of Africa

Staff training WARM style 9… Out of Africa

Cladding… an area I hadn’t really paid much attention to. The difference between an Engineer’s and an Architect’s approach to designing a building? I figured we would just get some generic wood cladding like you see on most garden sheds when the time came. But then when I thought about it a bit more, I realised we’d spent all this time and money on avoiding thermal bridges and I was about to screw multiple times through all my insulation layers to hang my cladding. If this was a Passivhaus I would have just failed my heating target by introducing a multitude of point thermal bridges. In reality the thermal bridges on this project would probably be insignificant as a percentage of heat loss as my insulation isn’t very thick, but I wanted to think about how I might attach cladding as if I were trying to minimise thermal bridging to understand the difficulties encountered in Passivhaus design. If I’d thought about it a bit earlier, maybe I should have got the woodfibre board suitable for external render e.g. http://www.backtoearth.co.uk/product/udispeed-40mm-wood-fibre-insulation-board and then we could have just rendered it… but I didn’t think about it earlier. I also wanted something quick and easy to take on and off in case we ever decided to move it, (although as it becomes more and more solid I am less and less sure that it will ever be moved!). Also, when it came down to it, I wanted it to look a bit more interesting than a generic garden shed. So I put my Architectural hat on, and started looking at alternative materials for cladding. I even emailed the highways agency to see whether we could recycle old road signs, inspired by one that turned up in our garden during a winter storm (the answer was no – they already get recycled). My next thought was old sails, but I thought old sails are probably old for a good reason and may not stand up to the battering of a Devon rainy winter. The inspiration came in the end from Africa. We realised we had seen a lot of wood and canvas clad structures when living in South Africa, usually a hybrid of a safari tent and wood cabin. So I googled images of yurts, safari tents and gazebo’s and eventually found an image on the internet of a canvas solution that I thought could work http://www.protectivetextile.co.uk/media_protective/image/Blinds%20for%20Hut.jpg We decided to go for a canvas panel on the west, north and south facades. The east facade with the door and part of the south façade around the window would be conventional ship lap wood. I contacted a couple of companies that specialise in gazebo and yurt making and finally, at the end of October, placed an order for three large canvas panels from Spiritsintent http://spiritsintent.com/, a company based in North Wales who specialise in all things canvas. Just in time, as they were all just about to head to sunnier climes for the winter (which is what we should have done). The panels duly arrived a week later. By this time sunny dry spells were few and far between and we didn’t want to risk putting the cladding on unless the wood fibre board was bone dry. The wood fibre boards are treated such that they can be left exposed for around 8 weeks, so we wrapped the office up in some unwieldy and slug ridden black plastic that we had been using to keep weeds at bay in the vegetable garden and decided to wait for dry weather before we finished the cladding… …and...

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Staff training WARM style 8… Room with a view…

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 8… Room with a view…

Staff training WARM style 8… Room with a view…

My last blog took us up to early September (almost as behind on my blogs as we are on finishing the office).  If you cast you minds back (or just read the previous blog), we had just finished the roof and had installed the sheep’s wool and wood fibre insulation on the north and west elevations. At this point we realised that we couldn’t continue until we had installed the window and door. I hummed and ha’d a lot about what window and door to get.  In the end we opted for a good quality double glazed PVC window & door from Rehau  (the cheap, impulse buy, B&Q door was duly returned). The final decision was mainly down to cost, but also we thought that in the damp environment of Devon, PVC would be lower maintenance. As we are not meeting Passivhaus standards of wall insulation it wouldn’t have been cost effective to get a triple glazed door, we would have been better spending the money on thicker walls. The bad news – the door & window had a 4 week lead time. The good news – some free weekends! Oh the things you can do when you aren’t spending every weekend trying to build an office … The window & door finally arrived in early October, just as Rowan disappeared to Zambia for a couple of weeks to look for some Love Birds… Maybe we could finish the office while he was away?? Or maybe not… we did however manage to install the door, not an easy task with no instructions. However Mike assured me that he had ‘once fitted a door’ and so was therefore immediately promoted to door installation expert. Rowan came back and although he was deeply disappointed that the whole thing hadn’t been completed in his absence, Mike soon impressed him with his amazing window installing expertise and Rowan soon cheered up. And by early November, with a bit of extra help from our family celebrity (Professor Graham Martin), we finally had a fully insulated sealed building. Just cladding & electrics to go … Blog written by Caroline Martin @cazzam2...

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Staff training WARM style 7… Feeling a bit Sheepish

Posted by on Jan 12, 2015 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style 7… Feeling a bit Sheepish

Staff training WARM style 7… Feeling a bit Sheepish

  It may not have the best u-value in the world but I do like sheep’s wool, partly because it means you can get the whole family involved.    We have now completed two sides of the office, apart from the final cladding. We slightly compressed the sheep’s wool in the panels to ensure that there were no air gaps between the sheep’s wool and the wood fibre. This slightly reduces the performance of the sheep’s wool as it increases its density but is preferable to having large air gaps.     The sheep’s wool and wood fibre were very easy to work with. I was expecting much hilarity with large rolls of sheep’s wool falling on top of people but I was pleasantly surprised with how easily it stayed in the wall panels just by friction. No pulling the wool over our eyes… hahaha.   We used these funky thermally broken fixings that attach through both the sarking and woodfibre layers and had little marsh mallow shaped bungs to cover the screw head. Only watch it was don’t put the bungs in until you are sure the fixing is in correctly as it was difficult to get the bungs out without damaging them.  We decided that before we do any more insulating, the next job is to get the window and door installed…   Blog written by Caroline Martin @cazzam2      ...

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