We built the house in our garden as a retirement downshift solution. We had a big garden and realized that it had space and potential for a home on it. We wanted to build a Passivhaus as we wanted it to be energy efficient and take action on climate change. We knew about Passivhaus through our Green Building Store, which is a local company to us. After visiting the Denby Dale Passivhaus during the Passivhaus Open Days we became convinced – Sue in particular really feels the cold and having that constant and steady warmth through the house was a big plus. Visiting Denby Dale also made us feel that taking on our first selfbuild project was doable and not too difficult.
The building and planning process turned out to be a bit harder than we had anticipated – there were a lot of decisions to make and sometimes needing to make quick decisions eg what bathroom fittings or lighting we wanted. Selfbuild projects are not for the faint-hearted but we learned a lot on the way.
Through the seasons
We moved in 9 months ago so have experienced one winter, spring and summer in our new Passivhaus. We moved in in October last year and had our first Passivhaus Open Day soon after. It was good to be able to share the Passivhaus experience with others. Winter in the house was brilliant – that constant warmth that we’d felt at Denby Dale all through the house. We love the big PROGRESSION windows and views of our garden, the clean air supplied by the MVHR system. The house is incredibly peaceful and quiet, sometimes eerily so, with noise blocked so well from the outside sometimes we can’t hear the local church bells chime!
Summer has been a bit more challenging as we have not completely resolved or implemented our overheating strategy. The automatic blind is not currently automatic so we have to remember to close it. We haven’t used the internal blinds yet and have only just become aware of the idea of ‘Mediterranean purging’ (keeping windows and blinds closed during the day and opening them at night to allow cooler air in to cool the house down). All these issues are solvable with good shading solutions and something that all Passivhaus dwellers need to consider carefully. We are lucky having an upside-down house and so our bedrooms are on the ground floor and therefore cooler.
We are very happy with our Passivhaus and this is definitely our forever home. The energy bills over the winter have been pleasingly low. It has been a great place to spend lockdown in and we are slowly restoring the garden to its pre-building-site glory.
We are pleased that Green Building Store has been able to share the building details with others to inspire and encourage them down this route as well. The next step is Passivhaus certification, which Green Building Store is currently preparing for us, ready for certification by WARM. Who knows if the Passivhaus Open Days will be taking place this November but if they are we will probably get involved as it is good to spread the word.
Peter & Sue, Kirkburton Passivhaus