Once again the house is buried in snow but through it, and the scaffolding, the roof and the new granite walls are visible. The mason has done a tidy job and the granite walls are looking really good so far. The roofs over the porches are built and waiting on the zinc cladding that will finish them off. The roof on the main body of the house has been mostly slated with just the area where the solar panels are going left un-slated.
Inside the house is where change is most evident. On the ground floor, where at the last site visit preparations for the pouring of the concrete slab had just begun, we now have not only the slab but also floor insulation and the change doesn’t end there. There are now complete partitions on both the ground and first floors and with that the beginnings of rooms that we’ve all had in our heads for so long are taking shape. It may sound odd but a simple thing like walking from one room into another through what will be a door, instead of clambering through gaps in the half built stud walls is an extremely rewarding experience.
Most of the wall insulation has now been fitted throughout the house. On the first floor, as the roof-lights are in and the shell up there is effectively complete it feels remarkably warm. It’s not necessarily a surprise that it feels so comfortable but when you remember that there’s no form of heating in the house at all, and the build is far from complete, it’s quite remarkable. It is a testament to the effort made by the entire team because it demonstrates just how much impact the combination of specifying and detailing things like insulation with the skills of the guys on site can have on the energy demands of the house and it’s comfort levels.
During the visit the contractor was also busy fitting the air tightness membrane to the inner face of the building. This skin will help control the amount of air that’s allowed to escape the house and with that heat as well. The control of air escaping from a heated building is a requirement now placed on all new build houses by the Scottish Government and is aimed at making sure that new buildings meet the Government’s energy saving targets and as such they provide minimum standards that need to be achieved.
Being able to control the air tightness of a building doesn’t equate to sealing it up completely, it goes without saying a building and its occupants need air to function properly. The key word is control, it’s all about knowing and controlling where the air is coming in and going out which is much more efficient than letting it seep in and out wherever it finds gaps in the building’s skin. To cut a long story short if you can control how the air that you’ve spent money heating leaves the building then that’s a bonus in more ways than one! The building’s air tightness will be tested when the shell is complete, and all the windows and external doors have been installed. At this point all the windows and doors will be closed and an air pressure test conducted but that’s another story to stay tuned for.