Introduction

This blog is partly a re-creation of our original house self-build blog from the now defunct Ebuild forum and also a means for me to present a commercial-free view of the process of self-building and some of the many challenges it presents.

First a word of caution, though.   It is with great reluctance that I have to bring to the attention of anyone reading this blog, or looking at the images here, that an Irish Company, Viking House, is using some copyright images of our house build, some which are on this blog, for advertising purposes on at least two of their websites, together with false and misleading information about our build.  We have never had any contractual arrangement  with Viking House, or with the gentleman who runs it, Seamus O’Loughlin.

I would very strongly recommend that anyone thinking of doing business with Seamus O’Loughlin think carefully and do some proper background checks before doing so.  We are heartily sick and tired of meeting, and hearing of, people who have been disappointed, misled or just confused by him.  We are about to commence legal proceedings against him, for both copyright breach and misrepresentation.  He has refused to remove images that are my copyright from his website and has also refused to correct the significant errors in his description of our house, errors that are a consequence of the fact that the house wasn’t built by him, his company, or any company  that he controlled.

For clarity, I have granted a licence to use images to several of our suppliers, some of whom use them in their advertising material with our full consent.

Back to this blog.  I started writing this a week or so after Ebuild went down.  Given the susceptibility of forum-hosted blogs to disappear at very short notice if a forum goes down (as happened with Ebuild), I, and one or two other former Ebuild members, thought it sensible to have a record of our build that was under direct, personal control, and properly backed up locally in case something failed (this is backed up every night locally to a Raspberry Pi, that’s running a LAMP stack and WordPress, believe it or not!).

This is the only copy of this blog that is maintained and where comments will be replied to.

Feel free to comment, but please no commercial content or use of user names that are related to a commercial enterprise.  I will only edit content that is either in breach of copyright, is unlawful or is, in my view, aimed at promoting someone’s own business interests, as this is a strictly not-for-profit, resource for self-builders.

 

 

20 thoughts on “Introduction”

  1. Hi Jeremy.

    Just wanted to wish you all the best for this blog, I am very glad to see you active on the web here and sad that you will no longer contribute on buildhub but very much respect your views. I take great solace from the fact that I will be able to glean a great deal of valuable information and directional advice from your entries on this site.

    All the best.
    Mike Sharp

    1. Mike,
      Sorry, just realised I’d missed replying to your comment here. It’s not true to say that I will no longer contribute to Buildhub, I’ve just taken a break, for a few reasons, only one of which was related to an issue over the way Buildhub was being moderated, which I thought was counter to the moderation policy that had been agreed by the majority of the founder members (of which I’m one, and I wrote the agreed policy!).

      If Buildhub returns to the agreed moderation policy, or changes the moderation policy to reflect the way moderation was being inappropriately (in my personal view) applied, then I may well post there again. To be honest, I have a feeling that some of the behind-the-scenes issues may well have been the teething troubles of a fairly large group of people trying to work collectively when they didn’t really know each other that well.

      As in the intro above, my main reasons for trying to focus the blog on just this website is because it’s under my control (so not likely to go down if I can help it, and I have local backups) and because I didn’t like the idea of having to reply to comments on two different websites. It’s far easier for me to just read and reply to comments here.

      Best regards,

      Jeremy

    2. Hi Jeremy

      I’m not sure how to comment in the relevant section as I’m currently view the blog on my phone.

      I remember reading on rebuild some time ago that if you had access to natural gas you would have used a gas boiler.

      I’m am just very interested on how you would have designed the system if this was the case.

      I am finally about to start my new build and have access to gas.

      Regards
      Melvyn

      1. Hi Melvyn, and welcome.

        I’ll have a go at seeing if I can do something about making the blog easier to use on a smaller screen, like a ‘phone, as I know that, at the moment, the structure is a bit “linear” and needs a lot of scrolling to see the relevant sections. There is a menu to the right, listing all the posts, but sadly I gave most of them fairly cryptic titles! I really need to go through and add loads of tags, so that the search box, also over on the right hand side, works more effectively.

        The problem is, I’m finding it a bit slow going trying to learn how to set up things like this. It’s enjoyable learning how to do it, but it takes up a fair bit of time.

        To answer your question. If we had mains gas then I’d have definitely put in a small combi boiler, combined with a Sunamp PV in series, so that we could have the benefit of solar heated hot water most of the year, but still have the combi for those dull days. A gas combi is pretty cheap, very efficient, and with the cost of gas being so low, cheap to run. Add in that you only use gas when there is a demand, so there are no standing losses, and it really is the best way of delivering hot water, together with the small amount of heating needed. Probably best to run the combi heating circuit into a small buffer tank with the UFH, as that will give the shortest boiler firing times, as the heat demand from the UFH itself is very low – storing heat in a small buffer tank (ours is only 70 litres and works well), allows the UFH to draw from the buffer, and a wide range thermostat (one with a big difference between the on and off points, say 30 deg C on and 50 deg C 0ff) on the buffer tank can then allow the buffer to deliver the low heat flow to the UFH, without the boiler trying to modulate down way below its lowest level, and then going into anti-short cycle mode.

        Hope this helps,

        Jeremy

        PS: The best post here on our heating system is probably this one: http://www.mayfly.eu/housebuild/part-thirty-eight-heating-and-cooling-controls/ but that’s largely about our ASHP driven system, so it’s fine to just carry on commenting here.

        1. Thanks Jeremy

          I am about to start a new build after a long journey.

          When on my phone there is no menu on the right hand side. Maybe its just my phone.

          The new build is timber frame with cellulose insulation similar to yours.

          The U value are, walls 0.10, floors 0.10 and roof 0.12.
          The back of the house is south and has large glazed areas. I’m trying to look at the heating system and still comply with part L of the regs. I don’t think the house will need much heat input (space) and I am thinking of underfloor heating downstairs only. I’m more concerned with overheating. I like the idea of the gas combi as there is no heat losses (to cause overheating) but our household has 2 adults and 4 children. I’m not sure if a combined would cope.

          Then you have a problem with a well insulated house, when the values are entered into the Deap software it can be difficult to comply with part L.

          Then with a combi you don’t have a cylinder for PV (to try and comply with renewables part L) but then I don’t want a cylinder because of over heating. Its a minefield.

          The first A1 rated house in Ireland had a danfoss heat pump a large solar array and a wood burning stove just to get over the regs.

          A lot of head scratching ahead.

          Thanks again.

          P.s. I’m delighted to see you back on Build hub.

          1. Sorry for the delayed reply, Melvyn, something glitched with the email notifications (that’ll teach me to fiddle with it!).

            I remember someone else having an issue with DEAP and PartL with a combi, but can’t for the life of me recall who it was.

            It may well be that, because of the different loadings that DEAP applies, compared to SAP, together with the tighter regs you have there than we have here, that you’re forced down the ASHP route, which is a pity when there’s gas available.

            One option may be a combination heat pump, one with an ASHP and smaller gas combi in the same casing. I remember seeing some details of these hybrids before Christmas, and thinking they were a fairly good idea, but didn’t really make sense here in the UK, because our regs are slacker, but a hybrid ASHP might just get you a good enough DEAP score and still allow you the benefits of a gas combi.

            Not sure about price, that might put this option out of reach, but worth some further research in your position, I think.

            Jeremy

          2. Thanks Jeremy

            I have seen these units but have not looked at them in great detail. I am getting a provision Ber completed so I will see what that throws up.

            I would really like to use a combi boiler but I think I will also have to use solar PV to satisfy the regs. If I go down this route could I use a uvc as a buffer for underfloor and a store for PV? Can this be some how incorporated into the system?

            Regards

            Melvyn

          3. If you’re looking at PV panels and a combi, then rather than a UVC I’d look at using a Sunamp PV. It’s a lot smaller than a UVC, loses a lot less heat (good in summer in terms of reducing over-heating) and is designed to be used in front of a combi as a PV-powered hot water system.
            The way it works is that any excess PV charges the thermal batteries in the Sunamp, and then when there is a hot water demand, they work like a combi and instantly heat the sold water passing through to hot water temperature. If the Sunamp isn’t charged enough to heat the water to the full temperature, the combi kicks in an gives it a boost, automatically.
            We have a Sunamp PV and use it exactly like a combi, except that I have a time switch so that if the Sunamp didn’t get enough charge from the PV panels the day before, then the time switch switches power on at night to charge the Sunamp. The Sunamp will only draw the power it needs to reach full charge, so in winter it may well be the thing is drawing more power from the mains that the sun, in summer it draws no power at all from the mains and runs solely from the PV panels.

            Might be worth a look to see how this would impact your BER and allow you to get a pass.

            Jeremy

        2. Thank Jeremy

          This maybe a good option. I will crunch the numbers.

          My house is 210 sqm.
          2 adults and 4 small children.

          Would 1 sun amp PV suffice?Secondly I assume you would still use a buffer for the ufh?

          Regards
          Melvyn

          1. If you can get through BER with a single Sunamp PV, a modest PV array and a combi then I’d go for it, you can always add a second thermal battery pack later to the Sunamp to double the capacity if you find you have enough spare electricity generation from the PV panels.

            A small buffer would be needed to give the combi something to work into and stop it going into anti-short cycling mode, I think, but our 70 litre one was only a bit over £100, IIRC, and doesn’t take up much space.

  2. Hi Jeremy,
    It’s a pity the sections all appear as one lot of text. It would be great if there was some navigation tools.
    Missing you from the old place but understand you have principles that are important to you.
    All the best.

  3. Hi guys,

    Sorry for the late response, I’m finding it hard to get to grips with this web stuff!

    Sadly, all I have are the copies of the blog from Ebuild as a series of “flat” documents. I’m trying to get them all uploaded here, but both my lack of expertise and my lack of time is hampering things.

    As an aid to learning this stuff I’ve now found out how to make a local copy of this website, which I’ve just done, and so I’ll be playing around there, getting this looking a bit better, I hope, then synchronising it here.

    What I have learned is that there is a very big downside to hosting a blog on someone else’s forum – you have no control over it and can lose a lot of stuff very easily!

    Jeremy

    PS: I have done a couple of interviews for a house build podcast that may be of use to someone, the first one is here: http://www.houseplanninghelp.com/154

    1. Hi Jeremy,

      My Mum is a huge fan of yours – you’ve given her the inspiration and confidence to go ahead with her own MBC house, which I’m already in love with!

      She’d like to thank you for sharing your expertise by offering my website-wrangling services – in particular, to help improve the accessibility of your content. It’s a good faith offer, at no cost to you.

      My background is in technical communications: organising information, making it accessible and working with WordPress. I’ve experience with re-organising and re-skinning existing sites as well as building them from scratch. (I can email you examples.)

      If it sounds like I might be useful, drop me an email and we can discuss what you might need.

      All the best,

      Morag

      1. Welcome, Morag.

        Thanks for the kind words, and the offer of help. TBH, I’m quite enjoying learning a bit about how WP works, even though I’m not that good at it yet!

        I have a duplicate of this site running on a LAMP stack on a Raspberry Pi 3 at home, so can at least play around with changes there, and experiment a bit, without messing this site up.

        I hope your mothers build goes well, we found MBC really great to work with.

        Best regards

        Jeremy

        1. Cool! I find that the best way to learn, and I love how easy WordPress makes it to experiment! Good luck, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like to compare notes.

          All the best,

          Morag

    1. Hi James,

      We’re in the process of doing so. We needed to get the VAT back to pay for the move, but have been having some issues with HMRC (I’ll post about them once I’ve caught up with the rest of the posts that need to be copied over here). We’ve got some of the VAT back, but an error has meant that we’re having to wait whilst HMRC sort some thing out.

      Needless to say, we’ve learned a few more lessons along the way!

      Jeremy

  4. Hi Jeremy,

    Good to see you blogging again and I am glad there is a chance you will be posting (i.e. answering questions 🙂 ) on buildhub as well.

    Following up on both the caution you gave about VK and architects. Is there a private way to ask you a question related to somebody using the picture of your house on their website? Don’t really want to post this openly.

    Kind regards,
    Joseph aka oldkettle

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