Friday, 18 December 2020

 The key elements to building Eco 

There are many elements to implement when it comes to construction and eco builds are no different. An eco build starts from the design stage. By this I mean you have to think about what it is you want from the beginning and how you’re going to get there. For example, Eco builds are, and need to be, extremely energy efficient and the way to ensure that this will be the case is to factor it into your design. Air tightness testing, or an air pressure test (it also has many other names) is one of the most important aspects of any build but no more so than eco. The fewer the gaps you have in your construction the less air that will be able to escape and also enter the build. Ideally you need to be able to control the air into and out of your construction. This will pair up nicely with the ventilation system that you install. Although you want your home to be completely air tight, you also need to have controlled ventilation. This will set you in good stead for your perfect eco build. 

You need to know your plot and its location knowing where the sun will enter the build. Eco builds will use natural light throughout and this will be factored into the design. Roof lights, windows and doors etc will all allow the flow of natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. Windows can also have what is called ‘solar gain’ to trap the sunlight and its heat which can then be used to warm your home.  Also if you’re going to be using solar panels that aren’t on the roof, you will need to know where it is best to place them. 

You must know the thermal mass of your building materials. Materials can absorb the heat from the sun and use this heat to warm the build. This brings us nicely on to insulation. You must have the right insulation for your home; don’t fall short here. By not having the correct products or the right quantity you can loose quite a substantial amount of heat which will interfere negatively with your energy consumption. 

Often when people are building an eco home they don’t always think about how the materials that they are using are transported or made. To ensure that your build is complying with the eco ethos you need to source your materials ethically. Not only do you need to think about this but you also need the right materials for the job; they must be fit for purpose. There can be a fine line here and sometimes you have to make some tough decisions. Remember that the products you choose, you’re choosing to last; they must be durable. 

You also need to think about your structure and what you are going to build it from, such as block and brick, timber etc. There are many structures that you can choose from and some provide better levels of energy efficiency but others might lend more to your design. 

There are many things to think about when designing any home and there are even more things to think about when going all-out-eco. These are just the basics that you need to follow, but the key is in the preparation. Get the design right, build it air tight and source the right materials and you’re halfway there. Eco is a lifestyle not just a build. 

Friday, 11 December 2020

Recycled materials used in construction

In the era of eco builds there is no better time to talk about materials. We already have an array of materials to use and each has its benefits, but we are seeing more use for recycled products. Technology is advancing and we’re starting to see homes built completely from recycled materials. They’re not for everyone, and some are in the early days of testing, but, it proves that we have the capability to advance into a fully sustainable industry. 


The first one I’d like to talk about is newspaperwood. You might wonder what the point of this is. Firstly, it starts off as wood and then gets turned into newspaper/paper/card and then will be reverted back into its original form. What you have to realise is that these are products that are widely used and that are easily recycled; so why not? Once the newspaper and cardboard have been turned back into ‘planks’ they can be sealed and used in the same way as wood, would; sounds simple right? 


Recy blocks can be made from plastic bags, which in itself is amazing. Plastic bags are one of the biggest wastages we have, so to be able to do something of use with them is a massive step in the right direction. The colour of these can vary depending on the colour of the bags used but, they can easily be decorated and you never know, they could even be used as a feature wall?


Cork is another consumable that we can recycle and use as a feature. Corks are often found in wine bottles, instead of throwing them away, collect them. Once you have enough you can easily transform them into a feature in your home. These are becoming quite popular and are something that you will usually throw away. These can be used for flooring or walls; granted, you might have to drink a fair bit of wine! Or you might be able to find somewhere where you can purchase a ‘job lot’  

 Nothing is waste, not really. There is always someone out there who’s willing to put in the time, effort and thought to create our ‘waste’ into something more useful and more beautiful. 


Recycled glass is also a game changer. It can be used for many things such as tiles and countertops. It can give a lovely effect to an otherwise standard fixture and what’s even better is that it is made up totally of recyclables. 

Nappy roofing is another material that can be repurposed. Yes this one doesn’t sound very nice but actually you’re just taking the nappy itself rather than the, er, contents. A special centre will be able to extract the materials that are useable, so don’t worry. The results from this can be used in roofing for example, if you so wish.


As you can see, just from the list above, there are many materials that you probably wouldn’t have thought about using in construction that are being repurposed and there are many more out there. If you research you can quite literally construct your building completely out of repurposed, recycled materials. So, if you’re looking at taking that eco build one step further, this proves that there really are no bounds. Some of these things might well seem crazy, but the research and forward thinking of these advances is something else. We really can take the eco train and run with it. Nothing can stop us, we just need a bit more understanding and perhaps more of an open mind and this really can be the future. 

Friday, 4 December 2020

 The World’s best designed buildings!

Construction at its best can be seen all over the world. The important factor about construction is that you and I can think completely differently as to what we find fascinating. The construction industry is an interesting one with an array of architectural design.

Westminster AbbeyWhat we have to remember is that sometimes a building can tell us more about a specific culture than we realise. Here in the Uk we’re very lucky to be immersed in architectural history. We have many buildings that silently say more to us than we do to each other, for example Westminster Abbey, London. This ancient build has been gracing our landscape for hundreds of years and is known for many things, including a few Royal weddings along the way. The architectural design in the ancient builds is something we rarely see today. The UK really does know how to make the most of a building’s history.  

Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France.
Taking us across the English Channel we come to Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France. On this stunning island you can see the beautiful medieval monastery, a breathtaking view. The history of this location dates back many centuries. This is just proof that architectural design has been around for years and quite frankly, shows us the magnitude of clever construction. 

Now we travel to Switzerland. This build is set into the hillside, blending naturally into its surroundings. This home just shows what you can achieve if you just think outside the box. To enter the building you have to go through the barn at the back and travel through the tunnel. The best bit about it is that you can hire it and make your own memories. 

Taking us across the other side of the world is “Residence amongst trees” in Sydney, Australia. The best part of this build is that it was constructed around council protected trees and even has a 30ft eucalyptus tree growing through the deck. This just shows that regardless of the restrictions you’re faced with there are ways to work with them. The house obviously has sustainable features which marry up well with the setting. You would struggle to have a house such as this and not ensure it is eco friendly. 

Some of the best builds around the globe are constructed using clever design, updated technology and passion. They aren’t to everyone’s taste but, you can take a bit of inspiration from other ideas. What you have to realise is that to make a memorable build, if that is your idea, you need to think outside the box. It is evident from past and present construction that we have the ability to build quite literally anything. All we need are the plans, the inspiration, and the design in order to be able to create. The construction industry is massive and together there isn’t anything we can’t do. 

The only thing holding us back from our perfect design, is our imagination. 

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