Greenconstructionuk's Blog

Loft Walls
26/01/2014, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Green Build

I made a hole in the wooden walls in the loft and can see some insulation on the other side. Its a bit uneven.

The mystery remains, what are they for? They must have been relatively expensive and difficult to build. I can’t see that they serve any purpose. The loft is too low to be converted to an upper floor. Perhaps it prevents squirrels or pigeons entering the loft, but why have a wall in two layers?

Loft Insulated
17/01/2014, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Green Build

As mentioned in the previous post, I’ve used these industrial sheets of roof insulation in my loft. They were from an over order on a building site so are already reused .

I still have to get behind the strange side walls. I suspect there’s not much insulation. They are made of surprisingly thick sheets of wood.

New House In Woodley
05/01/2014, 7:07 pm
Filed under: Green Build

I moved house 3 weeks ago, so once again I’m busy making it greener. It’s an end of terrace in Woodley, Reading.

A bit smaller than the last house, but very near my children’s nursery and primary school, so that’s another challenge.

Starting at the loft, I put some insulated boards down on top of the normal fleece. This makes storage space and improves insulation. One odd feature, there are wooden walls on the sides of the loft, and I can’t see how much insulation is behind them. I need to drill some holes in this to find out. More on this in a future post.

The front door is in what seems an extension, in a small room. It’s always cold in there and I noticed the wall that has the door is very thin and cold. I didn’t want to put in big insulation boards in this small room so I experimented with a metallic looking sheet I found in a DIY shop (B&Q).

I had to cut holes in it for the post box, and used matching silver duct tape I happened to have handy. It seems to have worked perfectly so far.



Water Leak Shame
25/12/2013, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Green Build

With most bills I am used to checking that everything is ok, but I’m used to water being fairly stable. Recently becoming a family with 2 small children I did expect an increase in usage. I did not expect it to jump from £39 a month to £133 though.

The shame is this happened last year, it took that long for me to notice! Oops.

I called Thames Water and they said it was based on water meter readings. When I bought the house four years ago I had no idea there was a water meter. I had a look in the pavement and there it was, spinning away. I shut the stop cock and it was still going, so there was a leak outside the house.

Fortunately Thames Water said that even if it was on my property they would fix the leak. Eventually a team came and dug up the garden, and finally fixed it.

Initially they told me the would pay back the thousand pounds I have overpaid in the last year. Then they said they would not take any payments while it was being fixed. At the start of the month I got charged £133 as usual. I then got two letters in two days saying they would charge me £117 then £63 a month.

I had two months of paying £63 then they gave me back nearly £1800 ! Wow.

They said it had been leaking for years.

Bauhaus Barge
10/09/2013, 2:23 am
Filed under: Green Build

I have seen solar canal boats before but this is great. This post is from the website

Bauhaus’ a solar electrically powered cruising houseboat 15.24m by 4.1m


What makes Bauhaus unique is the combination of the technologies listed below. A boat like this can be built from £120,000

25m² POLYCRYSTALLINE PHOTOVOLTAIC panels rated at 1.7kw (more details and how to get more from your own solar panels in technical info).

Electrically powered using the most efficient Lynch motor 10 horsepower also saving you 25% on the British Waterways licence (more details in technical info).

No gas, diesel or petrol on board! You cook and heat with the electricity the PV system generates.

Huge, 1.2 ton battery bank, cruising range ca. 40km (more details in technical info).

All steel flat bottom shell, built to the highest specifications 12/8/6/4mm (14 tons of steel) by a very well established boat builder in Britain (more details in technical info).

Hydraulic steering.

Unsurpassed multilayer composite Passiv Haus insulation using the surrounding water as an energy source (more details and you can insulate your boat better check out technical info and some of the articles in the press section).

Under-floor heating throughout and an Art Deco – Bauhaus style 1930’s solid burning stove.

Bauhaus is classified as category D-Inshore

Through its unique design and layout Bauhaus offers much more internal space than many Dutch barges or double width narrow boats of 15.24m overall length, but importantly has exactly the same if not better manoeuvrability then any other vessel of this size. The inside dimensions of the cabin is 3.66 by 14m, apart from three steps into the boat everything is on the same level. Bauhaus is divided into a very big lounge/kitchen, 25m², a bathroom, and two cabins 13m² and 7m². There is plenty of light from a skylight, a large fully glazed door and windows. Plenty can be seen during cruising, but you don’t get the ‘I am sitting in a fish tank feeling.’ The roof can be used as a seating area.

Bauhaus look rather like a house above water however, there is much more to bauhaus than meets the eye on every level

Bauhaus-Barge is utilitarian at its best whilst offering all comfort, having a lower environmental impact than comparable cruising barges, houseboats or indeed most flats or houses of this size.

DRAUGHT: With the current load/ballast at the lowest point centre stern 78cm, and between 48 to 53cm on bow and stern.

AIR DRAUGHT: With the current load/ballast the higest point is 2.18 to 2.23m in the center and 1.67 to 1.75m at a width of 4.04m the cabin is 14.40m long by 3.94m wide.

WEIGHT: 18 to 22 metric tons

For those interested in facts rather than fiction regarding renewables, fossil and nukes:

And above all, the best way of reducing our carbon foot print and reduce our dependents on fuel is by reducing our use! Nobody needs to live in caves and you don’t have to dispose of your car, just use it wisely.

Interesting blogs or rather article on sustainability, renewables and nuclear power:

Building Melts Car
03/09/2013, 9:51 am
Filed under: Green Build

Reflected light from skyscraper melts a car in London!

“It may sound like science fiction, but it was no joke for Jaguar XJ owner Martin Lindsay, who parked his pricey ride near the under-construction building, officially called 20 Fenchurch Street, but known by many Londoners as the “Walkie Talkie” for its distinctive shape.”

“When he returned to the car, he found some panels warped beyond repair by the beam of light reflected down from the curved side of the landmark glass tower.”

“The developers of the 37-floor building, Canary Wharf and Land Securities, have said they’ll pay for the high-spec vehicle to be fixed.”

“Canary Wharf Construction and Land Securities have been very good and agreed to pay for the damage, and accept that there is an issue which they will resolve,” Lindsay told CNN.

“I am in construction and sometimes things go wrong which nobody would have envisaged, and this is one of them.”

“The City A.M. newspaper said light reflected from the building had also previously damaged a van parked on the same street, Eastcheap.”

“A joint statement from Land Securities and Canary Wharf said they were taking the issue of light reflecting from the building seriously.”

“The phenomenon is caused by the current elevation of the sun in the sky. It currently lasts for approximately 2 hours per day, with initial modeling suggesting that it will be present for approximately 2-3 weeks,” it said.

“The developers have been in touch with local businesses and have arranged with local authorities for three parking spaces which may be affected to be suspended, it said.”


I say shame not to use all that sunlight to generate power, rather than cause damage.

The First Two Storey Straw Bale House In The UK
29/07/2013, 8:04 am
Filed under: Green Build

From Low Impact Living Initiative

After getting planning permission…
“From there I worked with stone from the ruin as a plinth wall for the straw balls to sit upon a wall plate. Women friends from the village came up to help and to learn how to build stone walls with lime mortar. There was a timelessness about it and a deeply buried memory of how this was done before; friends, families, communities building homes together.

Four hundred bales arrived along with Barbara Jones for our first straw bale build course. It was very exciting, as building and working with straw always seems to be. I discovered that this was to be the first two storey load bearing straw bale house in the UK and the second in Europe. Load bearing saves on timber, having no wooden framework and hence less carpentry involved, however it does require attention to keeping bales dry during the build until the roof is fixed down to a roof plate with tie downs to foundation level.

More courses happened for internal clay and external lime plastering and over the 2/3 yr process we had over two hundred volunteers coming to learn, share and help and then leaving to take their skills into their own lives and builds. The roof was covered with cedar shingles. Most windows were salvaged and most timber locally sourced larch and oak.

One woodburner heats the whole house with back up under floor heating system running from a back boiler, also heating the water. Five hundred watts of solar panels and 1kw wind turbine powers the house and rainwater is harvested for bathroom use. The two storey house cost around £60,000 to build, at a size of 160sqm. This includes all renewable energy and a few learning curves… and now no bills except a gas bottle every few months for cooker backup. Biomass is coppiced on site.

In 2008 the house was nominated and voted by the public as Grand Designs Eco Home of the year. Since then we have run the Quiet Earth Project and Retreat, supporting and running courses for other straw bale and low impact projects. From this woodland home now we also offer conferences and courses in Off Grid and Sustainable Living, Open Days, Contemplative retreats in Nature, Yoga, ceremony and currently a forest garden is being cultivated. There are wwoofing / volunteering opportunities and time also available to spend retreat time in the woodland. I’m presently working on a book about the life here in nature and the process and creation of a natural dream home.”



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