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Guide to building an eco home

Chris Bates takes a look at how the main building systems fare in some of the core aspects of creating a low-energy, low-bills home
This 470m2 timber frame project by WeberHaus includes a raft of eco features, including a mixture of mineral wool and wood fibre insulation, triple glazed windows and renewable heating systems

Speak to any one of the experts at our Build It Live shows about constructing a sustainable property that doesn’t cost the earth to run, and you’re likely to hear the phrase ‘fabric first’ as part of their reply. That’s because, alongside careful design and good workmanship, a high-performance structural envelope is one of the key components when it comes to keeping energy usage to a minimum. Get this element right and you’ll reap the benefits for years or even decades to come – and the good news is, upgrading the fabric is frequently the most affordable way to make a project more eco-friendly. Of course, every building system is different – so how do they compare on different aspects of sustainability? Here’s what you need to know.

Stommel Haus builds its projects using natural, untreated timber panels filled with eco-friendly rockwool insulation – creating airtight yet breathable walls


Achieving good thermal efficiency by insulating the fabric of your home isn’t exactly a new idea, and today’s Building Regulations set a decent underlying standard for new houses. Walls must attain a U-value (a measure of heat loss through structural elements) of 0.30 W/m2K or better – but in practice most developments will need to achieve 0.18 W/m2K or lower to pass overall. And a key step to doing that is to get the insulation right.

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About Build It

The October edition of Build It magazine brings you a wealth of information to help make a success of your self build, renovation, extension or conversion project – including: • A 1960s property transformed into a characterful home (page 22) • 10 tips to make the most of your self-build plot (page 62) • The best glazed doors for your project (page 75) • Complete guide to building an eco home (page 81) • How to get the planners on side (page 105) … and more!