Since my last post a month ago we have been busy with things that need to be done but don’t feel that exciting. We have navigated a building consent amendment; incidentally we could have purchased a small second hand car instead….. but needs must. Prewire and pre plumb are complete, drains are in, the holes for the heat recovery system have been drilled, exterior cladding battens are on, the totara cladding is dried, machined and delivered. Most importantly the upper floor ceiling and walls have been stopped and painted allowing the mid floor scaffolding to come down later this week. The electrician is mounting the light upstairs today and Thursday the scaffolding will be down. This will give us the first real indication of the volume and light in the house. The thick magroc roof looks amazing now the ceiling has been painted particularly around the skylights. Below photos of the upper area. The next photo of this area uploaded on Thursday will be without the scaffolding which is in the foreground. Now that will be exciting.
With the scaffolding down, all the PV’s in and the glazing complete we now have the opportunity to track how warm the house will be in the winter. This morning it was -1 outside and inside the house it was 12 degrees. It had been left open last night until about 6pm and that point it was 14 degrees and still about 14 degrees outside. Next Monday morning it is supposed to be -6 degrees so it will be very interesting. Below a photo of the house with the scaffolding down and the PV’s sparkling in the sunshine. It is sad not being able to walk so close to the PV’s and rest of the roof, the view up there was amazing but my wallet is much relieved to see it come down.
Simon from Proclima came out to the Parklands House today and tested the airtightness of the house. The test calculates the air leakage when the house is pressurised and depressurised. The house achieved an average result of 0.8 air changes per hour. This is very close to Passive House standard. Congratulations to the team at Third Little Pig for achieving a building envelope that performs so well particularly that tricky roof. This result is particularly surprising given we still have aluminium windows. The team at Raylight have worked hard to put in good seals and reduce the air leakage where possible. We have also use Proclima tape on the back of the windows at the corners to seal help reduce the leakage at the joins and also where the aluminium extrusion screws to the magroc. The magroc panels joins have all been taped on the outside again using Proclima tape. Below the blower test result and some photos of Simon talking to the group today. Blower Door Test 20 Lamorna Rd. In the background you can see the red canvas over the external door opening this houses the fan and electronics that does all the work.
The PV (photovoltaic) panels are 90% installed on the roof of the Parklands House now. These will be connected to an inverter and also battery storage to provide night time boost when power usage is likely to be high. This system supplied by CPS solar is critical to our success achieving Net Zero Energy. It’s interesting as the cost squeeze has increased not once have I thought about reducing the system we are putting in, in fact it’s made me even more determined to ensure that we do achieve certification. The beauty in registering the project with the Living Building Challenge before we started means that we can’t chicken out, it’s become non-negotiable right from the word go.
I’m sure the neighbours are relieved to see the Green Hut in Parklands has windows. Our big white chilly bin has holes in it now to take the windows.
Our magroc external envelope is now completed. The roof has proved to be a bit of a labour of love but the final product is worth it. Below a photo of the space created upstairs by the magroc and portal frames we made onsite. Although it has taken a while the space created is worth it. Next step get the windows in and then we should quickly see how warm our house will be. The roof also achieves a whopping R7.2 insulation rating. I can’t wait to get the windows in because then we have a fully insulated building envelope without one piece of wall lining or insulation being installed. I intend to put a thermometer inside the house and monitor the temperature inside now in the middle of winter to see how we will go next year without any heating
A good day on the Parklands site today. 3 portals and panels up today. Makes a difference when there is no frost, the sun is shining and the wind stays away. They are now constructing the area over the living area.
It’s been a stuttering start to the Magroc roof construction in Parklands between the weather, medical emergencies and head scratching on site progress has been slower than anticipated. The roof panels are slotted over I-beam portals constructed on site. It seemed like a good idea when designing this house but the reality is slotting a panel over a build element is much easier to do on a computer than on site! But now the team from Third Little Pig have got the production line sorted, we will see the balance of the Magroc up this week. Cleverly Simon decided to ask a Joiner to cut all the gusset plates so that the portals can easily be made the same. Below the sequencing of a panel install. Magroc takes a bit more time and accuracy is required but once up we have a lovely clean space and I’m sure the process will be worthwhile. The Magroc achieves a whopping R7.2 which is double the minimum building code requirements. This will definitely help us achieve our goal of net zero energy. Plus we have this fabulous space to live in.
I have been watching with interest on these fine frosty Canterbury days the amount of sunshine streaming into the north facing areas of the Parklands House. This is a stark difference to our current rental property where the sun pours into our ensuite and the dressing wall where there are no windows. I tell all my clients that the sun is free, not only heating our houses but improving our mental wellbeing immeasurably just by being able to access it. To me it is a no brainer to orientate a house to the sun. There are no excuses either. Layouts can be changed to make the best use of the sun irrelevant of the orientation of the site. The sun just needs to be the top priority. The key elements to Passive Solar design, orientate your spaces to the north where possible, have more glazing east and north, limit your west glazing a bit to limit overheating. If possible include some thermal mass – think of a concrete slab or brick wall in the late afternoon radiating heat back out. It also stores heat to create a cooling effect as well. In the Parklands House we don’t have any thermal mass which will be interesting when we come to the final wash up of meeting our net zero energy goal. We chose not to do this because of the ground conditions and the risk of flooding.
We have a gable end today on the Parklands house and it’s amazing how we can now see the form the house will take. Successfully building with Magroc, SIP’s generally or any prefabricated panel system takes some thought and patience to get it right as you go rather than swinging a hammer and hoping for the best. Even the logistics of getting the panels where they need to go to put them up needs some co-ordinating or brute force, the builders tried brute force for a day and then thought again! Below our panels being lifted to the mid floor and the gable end completed tonight. Tomorrow we should see the roof work speed up with all the thinking and plotting complete.
The Kepler Hut is being built on Avonside Drive by the river. Work is progressing well on this fantastic site. The hut will have a great view of the river and will never go anywhere with the substantial TC3 foundations underneath. Our clients John and Erin Hammond are enjoying building and Zbuilt are romping along with the build, keeping all concerned happy. Magroc panels are on so not long until the building will be closed in.
I started the week with jokes like how many men does it take to stand a piece of Magroc but now that the guys have got the hang of the SIP’s it’s amazing how much happens in one day. We will have all the lower floor exterior walls up by tomorrow!
The Green Hut at Parklands is the first time I have used SIP’s – structural insulated panels. So far, the experience (if you don’t include the frustration of not understanding how to deal with something new) has been a positive one. Building with SIP’s provides a highly insulated envelope with minimal thermal bridging. This departure from the industry standard of insulating walls between the timber framework members means we will achieve an insulation rating of R5.4 for our walls – the building code minimum standard used by most is R2.6. Some may ask why do we need to build better? The current way we build is fine because NZ has a temperate climate. It’s much more cost effective to put in an extra heat pump than change the building envelope. My answer – if we live in such a temperate climate why do we need such elaborate heating systems in the winter and cooling systems in the summer? Why don’t we design and build houses in the first place to use less heating and less power? I believe if we are building to our environment we shouldn’t need heat at all. By trading our heat pump and gas fire for a superior building envelope, using the sun to heat our house (passive solar) and minimising heat loss hopefully we can negate the need for a heating system at all. Below a photo of our SIP panels (Magroc) going up today.
The Magroc floor is now complete on the Green Hut at Parklands. Although we haven’t had great weather, progress is going well. The floor achieves an insulation value of R5.4, well in excess of the building code minimum. To find out more about Magroc as a building product visit their website.
Bob Burnett was on Campbell Live last night with the first Greenstar 9 house in New Zealand. How exciting to see a focus on the environment rather than build cost! I jumped on the homestar calculator after the show to work out where the Green Hut at Parklands would sit and couldn’t find options to suit our building product or method … I might have to give Bob a call to see how many stars we will achieve. Looking at the initial list required, the only thing we don’t have is thermal mass but we do have other things to mitigate that. I agree with Bob’s comments last night that the building code is simply not the level we should be aiming for. It’s so easy to build better and sometimes it’s not just adding more money to be “greener”, it’s thinking about things in a different way.
Here are our wall panels arriving last night.
Recently included in the NZIA sustainability seminar series and designed to meet the Living Building Challenge seminar, work has started on our first Green Hut. This low energy house has been registered in America with the Living Building Challenge team to achieve Net Zero Energy. The building needs to generate enough energy to meet the needs of the occupant. To find out more about the challenge visit their website (http://living-future.org/lbc)
Follow us here on the Black Hut blog as we share our journey building the house, and then monitoring the performance for 12 months to achieve certification. Its plans are now for sale for anyone else keen to take up the challenge.
Check out the extensive TC3 foundations on our recently started Hut project.
Hut is great for all sites including the most challenging!
“… A Christchurch house built in just 14 weeks was a direct response to the 2011 quakes – able to withstand movement, and small and flexible enough to be able to be shifted to another site, on the back of a truck, if necessary.
Dubbed the Black Hut, the 97 square metre home was constructed on a long, narrow site in Merivale, owned by Carolyn Hughes and Sandie O’Brien. Elevated 600 mm off the ground in case of flooding or liquefaction, it was clad in timber and lined with ply, with a timber foundation, in case they decided to shift it down the track.
In fact, says architectural designer Fiona MacPherson, the house was built on a temporary building permit of five years, so that if the owners decide to move it on, they can easily shift the structure to a new location. It was intentionally built at 4.8m high – the maximum height allowable to transport a building on a truck.”
Our Office Road Hut Design (in Merivale, Christchurch) was extensively featured on Seven Sharp’s recent program titled ‘Houses of the Future’.
As the presenter said, “You could compare this house to Richie McCaw – it’s not flashy, there’s no sidesteps happening in this house. A to B, we get a World Cup, thank you very much … We’ve got to get our heads around living in a more compact life.”
The Office Road Design in Merivale, Christchurch has been nominated as a Finalist in the Residential Architectural Excellence category of the 2012 NZ Timber Design Awards.
Timber was fundamental to this project – providing structure, surfaces, internal and external joinery, access and security to the property;
Laminated timber subfloor and roof structure exceeds building code requirements. The house can be deconstructed or relocated if required. 140×45 wall framing allows extra insulation and achieves the double height space. Plywood is used to brace the building.
The exterior cladding is western red cedar vertical weatherboards. Access and outdoor living is achieved using hardwood timber decking on a timber subfloor.
The entrance gate and fencing is also timber – the gate clad in plywood uses a Resene paint finish to affect a cor-ten appearance.
This innovative design by Case Ormsby uses every inch of its 100m2 footprint to deliver a spacious two bedroom home. The building is carbon negative, includes solar panels and rainwater collection is on the way. Coupled with relocation possibilities, sun orientation, material selection and energy efficiency decisions this home rates as highly sustainable.
The interior is lined with plywood and white washed. The finished floor is solid French Oak on plywood. The plywood linings provide a durable surface plus resist earthquake damage.
All joinery throughout is Futura plywood.