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Looks can be deceiving. The home of Neil and Kyra Orr, an imposing edifice in the County Antrim countryside, does look like what it is. What it does look like is a sizeable, comfortable, three storey home ideally suited to family life. On finding out about the owners, things become a little more clear: Neil Orr is himself well-versed in sustainable building as head of timber frame house manufacturers Advanced Timbercraft, also based in County Antrim. Sustainability is a key concern for the firm — not only is it dedicated to building high quality and efficient homes, it also concerns itself with the material which is used to build in the first place: The company employs seven manufacturing staff and two dedicated air-tightness and insulation fitters.
No Kingspan Century, to be sure, but not an insignificant feat for a family business in a market that has traditionally been hostile to change: Building the dream The 4, square feet square metresthree storey, detached building not far from Templepatrick, County Antrim, is the culmination of months of planning — and years of dreaming.
Biomass Wood, Pellet & Chip Boilers
Orr and his wife Kyra wanted a period-style Victorian home influenced by the traditional three storey terrace. The first hurdle that the couple faced was that one of the main aspects of their urban-inspired home — having three storeys — was going to prove difficult. The solution involved some creative thinking. Instead of building a normal three storey building, Orr settled for a two storey with a 40 degree pitch in the roof.
Put simply, this meant that what would otherwise be turbomati space was immediately available for use resulting in a house that meets planning requirements by being two storey but is functionally a three storey building. Construction work on the property started in December and lasted twelve weeks.
Turbomatci says he feels a duty to be as sustainable as possible but realises that this intention must be balanced against costs, needs and desires: The cellulose insulation is of varying depths, millimetres at its shallowest, millimetres at its deepest. The u-value of the walls averages at 0.
The external blockwork features a 50 millimetre cavity with oriented strand board and breather membrane. The Orrs were, at the time of writing, expecting a blower door air-tightness test to be performed by Commercial Connections from Crossgar, County Down.
Orr notes one interesting aspect of air-tightness in the home: From an insulation point of view, if you install fibre glass well it will still insulate well if you air-tighten the house.
Instead of polystyrene we used Kingspan insulation. The floors are also well-insulated with seven inches Finally, a service duct on the first floor is insulated with 40 millimetres of Thermohemp insulation, also supplied by Ecological Building Systems. Ultimately, though, large houses are going to be built, as are even larger commercial and industrial buildings, and it therefore makes sense to build them as sustainably as possible. Size is not the only compromise with sustainability.
The mahogony window frames were supplied by Hayburn Wood Products but, in keeping with the intention of frolkng conservation, the glazing is double-glazed low-e K glass from Pilkington. Energising The principal water and space heating system for the house is a wood chip burner and boiler. This hot water heats the home via an underfloor heating system on the ground turbo,atic and conventional radiators on the two froping floors.
21st century Victorian –
The boiler, burner, underfloor heating system and radiators were supplied and installed by Powertech based in Carrickmore, County Tyrone. Martin explains that the key to success with such a system is knowledgeable plumbers: The turbpmatic of the pipework depends, simply, on the volume of the room to be heated: In terms of fuel costs, Martin says that the wood chip system is a winner: Wood chip could be as low as ten per cent.
We have a log burner in the office. Indeed, Martin notes that one developer he is turbomaitc with is currently thinking in terms of five kilowatts per house — a figure much lower that the 35 kilowatt system Orr is using.
Between the rafters they put in cellulose — that froing that they get a u-value equivalent to twelve inches of fibreglass. In addition to the wood chip for space and water heating the house also includes heat recovery ventilationsupplied by home ventilation specialists Homecare based in Donaghmore, County Tyrone.
Both systems are primarily involved in keeping a healthy indoor environment. Fitzsimons says that a single system would have sufficed but by using two in tandem, control is improved: The zoning is an efficiency and comfort issue.
Each is able to support a kitchen and up to six additional wet rooms and apparently has a heat exchange efficiency of up to 90 per cent. Villavent systems are designed and manufactured in Norway, a country with decades of experience with heat recovery turbomatix.
Villavent itself has been in business for over 35 years.
Up to per cent of the total cost of self-building can be mechanical and electrical systems [and] as houses become better insulated and air-tight better ventilation is required.
Conserve the energy first and then look at downsizing heating.
The two streams come through the unit [without mixing] so the natural thing to do is take as much heat as possible from the stale air and transfer it to the clean air. Once installed, the system left very little visible trace of its existence: Out of those, high humidity air will be continually extracted. The fresh air is supplied into other inhabited rooms. Happy home Orr freely admits that in building the house of their dreams his family had to make choices, compromises perhaps, but ultimately they are more than happy with the results.
If only the attention to air-tightness and insulation was to become commonplace in similar buildings then the typical rural house in Ireland, north and south, would be greatly improved. Indeed, Orr is clearly not afraid to put his money where his mouth is: We used to spend a lot of time convincing turbomahic that it was a normal method of construction, now people are interested.
As always, the proof is in the pudding: Advanced Timber Craft Air-tightness and natural insulation: Ecological Building Systems Additional insulation: Powertech Heat recovery ventilation: Timber Rfoling May 13, Add new comment 21st century Victorian Just outside the quiet rural town of Templepatrick, County Antrim, located ten miles north of Belfast, is a timber frame house that sets new standards for comfort and, the owners hope, sustainability.
Jason Walsh visited the house and found a traditional aesthetic that belies its ultra modern sustainability features Looks can be deceiving. Factory turboomatic of Solitex, one of the Pro Clima products supplied by Ecological Building Systems, which were used to seal the house. In addition to the wood chip, the house also includes two HRV units which work in tandem to improve both efficiency and comfort. The clients, Neil and Kyra Orr, relaxing in their front courtyard, are able to reflect on a job well done.