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Escape to the Country: An Airtight House Construction Project

Published 2nd April 2014||

Photo: Escape to the Country: An Airtight House Construction Project

How We Helped a Couple Realise their Dream of Building an Airtight Countryside Escape

For many, it’s the ultimate dream. Not just living in an idyllic rural home, but taking pride in the knowledge that you built it all by yourself. And to top everything off, knowing that never again will your energy bills render you speechless – except with glee, perhaps. Chris and Ann White are now living that dream, having recently completed an airtight house construction project using SIPS.

Chris and Ann were no strangers to self build homes having built their own Potton timber frame house 20 years previously. After this they vowed to build their own home again and, as retirement approached, decided on an ‘escape to the country’.

Together the couple settled on the picturesque village of Little Waldingfield in Suffolk and set to work researching the latest homebuilding innovations. They stumbled upon SIPS and decided that this technology would be perfectly suited to their aim of building an airtight house. It would minimise their energy requirements, thereby minimising running costs.

The plot was located in a conservation area and purchased with full planning permission for a traditional-style building. Using SIPS for the walls and roof would mean that the house could have a traditional finish on the outside but a modern, open plan interior with galleried landing, double height dining hall and vaulted ceilings without trusses.

Chris and Ann went along to the NEC’s National Homebuilding and Renovating Show to suss out the suppliers and discuss their vision. “We visited all the SIPS exhibitors and were impressed by the friendliness and personal attention of SIPS@Clays,”, says Chris. “A visit to the factory and their interest in our project convinced us that Ian, Andy and the team were perfect for us.”

And so, Chris and Ann’s airtight house building project got underway.

Technologies Employed in the Airtight House Construction Scheme

Knowing that building an airtight house would involve meticulous planning attention to detail, Chris and Ann took the project into their own hands. They decided that they would do much of the work themselves, hiring in subcontractors to help out where required, and went about choosing airtight house construction methods and materials.

For the foundation, Chris and Ann chose concrete trench-fill with insulated beam and block floor. The Kingspan TEK Building System (SIPs) would be clad with renderboard and synthetic thin coat monocouche render, bringing further insulation to the outer walls. The roof was to be tiled with Spanish slate and drainage provided by Black UPVC deep flow guttering from Swish, maximising durability and minimising environmental impact.

Last but not least, the house would be heated via a variety of renewable sources, including solar, air-source heat pump, wood-burning boiler stove and thermal store system, all provided by Chelmer Heating. Under-floor heating would keep the ground floor warm and cosy.

The couple were delighted with the results, although the journey itself wasn’t without its little dramas. They stayed in a static caravan for the duration of the project, which was fine in July when they moved in. However, due to unforeseen delays – they had to move a main sewer! – the couple had to work throughout the winter, with temperatures dropping below -4 degrees.

Chris’s last words on the project? “Best investment – an electric blanket!”

If you’re interested in building an airtight house, browse our website. Alternatively, call SIPS@Clays on 01756 799498 for expert advice airtight house construction.