Staff training WARM style

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Staff training WARM style | Comments Off on Staff training WARM style

Staff training WARM style

Grand designs at WARM


 Since starting working for WARM last September, my knowledge of low energy building design and the fabric first approach has increased hugely, however with a background in building services and building physics I recognised at my last training review that there was a gap in my knowledge… hands on construction… what actually is a noggin? how do you fit a window? What kind of screws do you use?  How sticky is air tightness tape really?

After spending a few evenings researching construction training programmes I couldn’t find anything I felt was appropriate.

In parallel to this my husband (Rowan) and I had been throwing around the idea of building our own low energy house. After watching many episodes of grand designs, avidly reading books on self-build and speaking to the planners, we decided to downscale our plans somewhat to a more modest garden office. This was not only considerably cheaper than building a house but also avoided any planning issues and for two novice builders felt a bit more manageable.

Then over lunch one day at work, Sally and I came up with an ingenious idea….and so it was that our latest in-house staff training scheme has taken the form of designing and building a garden office for Rowan using a fabric first approach.


The brief for Rowan’s office (not a shed):

1. We don’t own the land so the office needs to be dismantleable and not have permanent foundations

2. Rowan needs to be able to work (and be comfortable) all year round.

3. Our Garden is in a deep dark damp Devon valley.

4. We want to minimise construction waste (construction waste contributes to about 1/3 of the UK’s annual waste).

5. Use low embodied energy materials, recycled if possible and recyclable.

6. Use materials that are nice to work with.

7. Electricity & Internet access required (but need to minimise electricity consumption as property already at its limit).

9. Budget £3000 ish

10. Timescale – 5 weeks… going on 10.


NICK and SharkThe concept


I give all credit for the initial concept to Nick Grant who described it to me last May whilst we were taking a boat from the Carbonlite training venue at Plymouth Aquarium to an evening social event. As it was after two days of teaching the Carbonlite building services module and was followed by a few glasses of wine, some of the details are a bit hazy. But the general gist, as I interpreted it, was: get some slabs of xps insulation; lay them on the ground; put something heavy on them so they don’t blow away; lay some sheets of osb boards on top; Make a frame using ibeams; fill with sheeps wool; line internally with osb and externally with sarking board; use similar construction for roof; stick a window and door in; clad it. Enjoy your lovely new office….


Self Build Office


 Blog written by Caroline Martin