The Passive House is finished and the client is learning how to maximise the systems within. This Low Energy house has 300mm of insulation in the thermal envelope, triple glazing, a 5kW photovoltaic array, a whole house ventilation system with heat recovery and a house battery.

See the plans and main elevations by clicking here.

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Exposed Glulams

Exposed Douglas Fir purlins and beams are a feature of this house. The entrance porch uses a long charcoal stained one and inside there are a further five with pelleted flitch plate bolting giving the house a hand crafted and characterful appearance on the inside.

External Materials

The Northcott handmade brick complemented the modernist form of the house, softening it to create a human scale. The Rationel windows were rebated in behind the brick openings in the style of the Scottish tradition. This increases the elegance of the installation. Zinc cladding on the sloped roofs and south first floor elevation gave us clean lines and modernity. The low parapet at the front hid the 5kW photovoltaic array from the street. Find the materials by clicking here for the bricks, here for the zinc cladding and here for the triple glazed windows.

Thinking Ahead

This is a forward thinking project in many ways. Not just the environmental measures used, but also in layout terms. The house has three bedrooms plus a study. One bedroom is down stairs with its own ensuite shower room and a desk in the bay window. This room can be let out through AirBnB or more long term to a student. In the future, this room can be used by an elderly person with mobility problems. In this way, the house caters for the current use and for future situations.

PV’s and the House Battery

With a house battery fed by the photovoltaics, the summertime task is to play a game with the National Grid; how long into the autumn will it be before the house needs to start taking power in from the grid? Only time will tell. Similarly, in the spring, there will be a point where the house no longer needs the grid for supply. Fine tuning the occupants connection to the environment and to the weather conditions will extend the period of autonomy and reduce the period of reliance on grid power.

Hot Water

Then there is the question of appliance use and hot water draw off. And here is another game. Can the clothes drying all be done outside without the need for an electric drier? How can the fridge be kept running efficiently? Is a freezer really necessary? With overcast days, will the client be more inclined to use a shower rather than a bath? Maybe the bath won’t be used during winter at all and summertime showering might be coordinated with the longer periods of sunshine.


Regarding summertime over heating, the good thing about roof lights is that they are at high level. They are ideally placed to allow heat to exhaust, particularly at night time. The large south facing windows need shading in the summer. I’m interested to know on how many days in the year the client will want to draw across the first floor movable external louvres. And will the client feel it necessary to erect the pergola that we suggested. Grow an deciduous large leaved creeper over it to shade the patio door from heat-gain?

Synchronising with the Weather

And so, you can see, the house is a plaything. To derive the best from it, it needs to be modified. Tickled. The daily life of the occupants therefore synchronises with the weather. Passive House owners have a wonderful opportunity to get in touch with the environment. In a way, the residents are forced to work with the passage of the sun, not against it. If they don’t, the expediture on the systems will have been partially wasted.