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Insulating a new masonry home

The external walls will be vital in controlling the thermal efficiency of your new house. Tim Doherty explores the energy performance of key brick and block systems
Kingspan Kooltherm K108 Cavity Board is a high performance insulation option with a composite foil facing; it’s used in partially filled cavities

Although there is a great deal of current debate about Building Regulations not changing fast enough to keep up with modern efficiency demands, the rules regarding external wall insulation are an exception. Gone are the days of simply picking an outer brick and an inner block and adding in some arbitrary cavity insulation; today, the process is a fine (and very calculated) art.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AIRTIGHTNESS

External walls make an important contribution to airtightness, which is key to overall energy performance. It’s all very well spending time and effort selecting products, but if the interface and detailing is poor then the house could suffer from heat escaping. The Building Regs set an air leakage limit of 10m3/hm2 at a regulated pressure of 50 Pascals – but in practice you’ll probably need to achieve at least 5.0m3/hm2, which is effectively five air changes per hour under testing. By comparison, a property meeting Passivhaus standard would have to achieve 0.6m3/hm2.

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About Build It

The September edition of Build It magazine will help you get your self-build, renovation or extension project off on the right foot. It’s packed with inspiration and advice, including: • Britain's best self-builds and renovations (page 19) • A contemporary, low-maintenance home (page 30) • Prefab homes: The future of self-build? (page 70) • Why underfloor heating makes sense for renovations (page 73) • How to create the perfect kitchen-diner extension (page 94) • How to get value for money (page 106) … and more!