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Starting your PassivHaus project

Wow! The end of 2023 and beginning of 2024 has been busy for us here at Living Space Architects, and despite our best intentions, we could not keep up with the Blog Posts recording Ellen’s progress through the training for the PassivHaus Designer course.

2024 has bought excellent news for Ellen and the team at Living Space Architects, passing the exam with flying colours and confirming Ellen’s status as a fully qualified PassivHaus Designer!

What is PassivHaus?

What does this mean for our clients?

Ellen is now qualified to provide the expertise required to realise your PassivHaus aspirations. Whether you are looking to uplift your project’s eco status, or take it to the next level of comfort with a PassivHaus, we are here to help you.

So are you dreaming of a low energy, high performance, comfortable home with low heating bills? Get in contact to start your PassivHaus journey!

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PassivHaus with Living Space Architects – Week 2

Week Two has focused on solar gains and internal gains.

Solar gains (using the sun to warm up) look at window placement, design, size, and shading. Getting these aspects right will help balance your solar gains (warming up the building) against your heat loss through the windows – windows do not insulate as well as walls.

There are lots of things to consider here – do we want solar shading, where should the shading be, do we want openable windows, do we want blinds, where do we want our windows? Openable windows are desirable, but security, external noise or even just stopping the pets from escaping could stop you! Blinds are helpful in reducing glare and increasing privacy, but internal blinds will not stop the glass itself from heating up, and maybe we want to maximise our views out.

Internal gains refer to everything else inside the building (apart from the heating system) that can warm the building up. This will include how many people are in the building, what type, and the number of appliances in use. The internal gains will change dramatically based on how the building is being used – is it a home, a school, or an office building?

We make assumptions about occupancy and build these into our calculations with a generous buffer to ensure that the comfort of the occupants is maximised while reducing reliance on space heating.

Lessons Learnt

The lesson from this week has been the need to talk to our clients really early to understand how they want to live and work in their homes and PassivHaus projects. Everybody lives in slightly different ways; some people sleep with the window open, some people need complete silence; some have vegetable plots and want extra freezers to store their produce; some families work from home with extensive office setups; some people bought their home for the view, and don’t want to spoil these with blinds and curtains.

So tell us how you want to live, because every detail is important to us and will help ensure your PassivHaus will reflect you.

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PassivHaus with Living Space Architects – Week 1

Week One has been an introduction into the key rules of PassivHaus and a closer look at thermal efficiency, heat loss and thermal bridges. There has been lots of maths involved, but also some really helpful rules of thumb, general guidance, and dispelling some myths!

Thermal Envelope: the SHAPE of the building is important and can be described with a simple Form Heat Loss Factor graph – the more exposed sides, the worse a building performs (but don’t worry – this can be overcome with some consideration of the next rules…)

Glazing: orientation is not everything, consider position, size and shading.

Insulation: how much do you need, what type do you need, and has it been installed well?

Airtight: get rid of those pesky drafts!

Ventilation: using mechanical ventilation to provide fresh air to your home, while also removing pollutants and pollen.

Myth #1: You CAN open your windows in a PassivHaus home – but you don’t need to for fresh air, or to cool down.

Fact: A PassivHaus cannot exceed 15kWh/m2 in space heating in a year. If electricity costs 27p/kWh (2023), how much electricity costs would you save for your home?

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PassivHaus with Living Space Architects

Autumn is bringing change to Living Space Architects.

Our project architect Ellen Sinclair Harris has commenced her PassivHaus Designer training with CoAction to become a certified PassivHaus designer. This means that Living Space Architects will be able to provide our clients with industry leading advice, design, and technical ability to build better, more sustainable and energy efficient homes.

Over the next 6 weeks, Ellen is going to share key aspects of PassivHaus design, enabling everyone to better understand what energy efficient homes look like.

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Site visit to our Stoke Poges build

It’s always exciting to see a project that you have created coming together.

That’s exactly how we felt on our latest trip to Stoke Poges, to visit the site of our innovative new build with a contemporary design and similar feel to a German Huf Haus.

The greyness of the day didn’t attract from the immensity of the building as it has begun to take shape, complementing the plot with its innovative structure and creative design.

With the main structure built, and character of the interior being established, we are well on our way to completing the project in time for our May target.


So, what makes this project so unique? 

Even at first glance it is clear that this property doesn’t fall in line with convention. Its dramatic pitched roof, high ceilings, glass exterior and timber structure give it a different feel to the brick houses that Britain has grown so accustomed to. Its open-plan design and use of windows and glass allow it to capture sunlight and create a bright and modern place to live.


What inspired the design?

Our client came to us with a brief of creating a house with a similar feel to the award-winning German Huf Haus design. Big open spaces and natural light appealed to them, however they wanted the house to have a little more privacy and a more ‘homely’ feel than the original German design. We therefore designed a house with some Huf Haus characteristics, such as the pitched roof, high ceiling, terraces and large glass windows to capture natural light, while maintaining some more British features of a home and tailoring the property to suit our clients preferences, such as supplementing a brick wall on the outside ground floor.


What other features does the house have?

We decided to use innovative construction for the new building, settling on Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) from Kingspan TEK. These are made of wood, but their invisible structure gave us freedom with the interior design. Furthermore, their prefabrication meant that construction time was less and there was limited on-site waste. The panels also have high energy efficiency, allowing for a thinner construction than usual insulation.


What comes next?

Although our Stoke Poges build has begun to take shape and acquire character, there are still things to be done before our May deadline. Currently, underfloor heating and electrics are being fitted and then decorating and finishes for the property will commence. We can’t wait to follow the progress of this contemporary and modern design, and are looking forward to seeing the finished product!

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Big things expected from Living Space Architects after completing ‘BIM’ training

This week, two of our architects attended a three day ‘Building Information Modelling’ (BIM) training session in Bristol, equipping them with the insight and tools to more efficiently design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure.

BIM is an intelligent 3D model-based process that uses innovative software to better quantify data and manage information and costs for elements of the build. It is often used by large firms, as it increases the ability to deal with larger scale builds. It also allows architects to make more informed design decisions, build more efficiently and cost-effectively, and maintain buildings with greater ease.

A rising number of government and commercial organisations are making the use of BIM mandatory, and with increased work with local authorities and larger scale projects, Living Space Architects were pleased to be able to participate in the training.

“BIM training allows a firm to develop from a micro-practice and take on larger-scale projects” said Stuart Bayley, Director of Living Space Architects. “With the training, we can continue to step up and achieve the scope of our ambition.”

BIM is managed by Autodesk, which claims that the software not only allows businesses to operate more productively, but also produce higher-quality work, attracting new talent and winning new business. The benefits of the software are evident throughout the project building lifecycle, from enabling better design decisions, to accommodating efficient building and  guaranteeing predictable managing costs.

“We had a great grounding in all of the software functions which will enable us to get modelling our schemes from an early stage” said Living Space architect Kate Sammons, who attended the training. “It allows us to gradually build up the levels of detail and building information until we have a really intelligent model.”

With this competitive edge, Living Space Architects is looking forward to realising its creative visions using these innovative technological solutions and fulfilling its promising potential

“The training was excellent” Stuart commented. “It was very detailed but also quite interactive. We’ve come away with the feeling that we can take it on and get stuck in!”

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Published in Real Homes Magazine

Our beautiful house extension and refurbishment project in Grey Wings, Cornwall has been featured in the ‘Design Guide’ for Real Homes Magazine under ‘Sustainable Style’.

This was a wonderful project to be part of, and we worked with obsessive detail to make the property the best it could possibly be.

The result was a highly sustainable and innovative design, embraced the stunning views and location of the property in a contemporary, stylistic manner.

To read more about the design, and see more pictures of this impressive extension, click here.

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How to find a new development opportunity

Decided to take on a property development opportunity? We don’t blame you! There’s something incredibly rewarding about seeing a property come together through your own planning, dedication and hard work.

However, at the beginning, such a project can seem a little intimidating and daunting and it’s difficult to figure out where to start. So how do you go about developing an existing property- or building on from scratch?

Here are some ideas on how to find that perfect project so that you can get to work!


1. Make contact with the local commercial agents

A quick Google search will point you in the right direction.

rendells.co.uk

wardchowen.co.uk

salisburyhenderson.com


2. Research old and redundant buildings

Look at examples of others who have undertaken this type of work to draw inspiration. Then do some research into old and redundant buildings- do any have potential?

 


3. Auctions for land

Land auctions are a good way to find suitable plots but transactions are conducted on a ‘sold as seen’ basis and therefore require a quick sale, leaving little time for research:

uklandandfarms.co.uk/land

cooperandtanner.co.uk/Proeprty-and-land-Auctions

cliveemson.co.uk

countrywidepropertyauctions.co.uk


4. Local authorities

Cash-strapped councils often have parcels of land they are willing to sell.

tavistock.gov.uk


5. Utility companies 

Some utility organisations such as water, gas and electricity companies have surplus land available to buy:

southwestwater.co.uk

britishgas.co.uk

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12290/BT-raise-2bn-property-sell-off.html


6. Previously approved schemes which have not been built

savills.co.uk


7. Change of use on office to residential

The objective is to allow changes of use of a building or land from B1(a): offices to C3: residential to happen more easily. The intended effect of the proposal is to support an increase in housing supply, encourage regeneration of offices and bring empty properties into productive use.

jll.co.uk


8. Barn conversion under permitted development

Agricultural buildings can be converted to a flexible, educational or residential use under permitted development rights:

millertc.co.uk

gibbskirby.co.uk

fulfords.co.uk


 

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