Households produce around 28% of UK CO2 emissions mainly through space heating, hot water provision and lighting. Here at Touchwood Homes we are passionate about reducing these emissions (and so running costs) in the home through improved quality in house design and construction methods.
The fundamental first principle is to minimise energy use, followed by supplying energy in a low carbon manner. In the home, space heating is wasted through:
- Poor insulation - no point having the heat you pay for conducting straight through the building fabric to heat the sky
- Draughts - controlling ventilation is vital -hot air escaping through draughts in the building fabric / windows / doors loses masses of heat
- Cold bridging - having spots in the building such as steel beams going right through the structure will draw cold from outside into the building, wasting heat and potentially causing damp areas where hot air hits the cold and loses moisture.
Using passivhaus building principles we can successfully reduce energy loss via these three principles by 90% - thus instantly reducing CO2 emissions and heating costs by 90%. The remaining 10% can then be provided via a low carbon solution such as a log boiler. It is fundamental the solution is approached in this order – producing heat in a low carbon manner is wasteful if that heat is still being lost from the space via poor insulation, draughts and cold bridging.
To achieve these goals we build our homes with a pre-cut timber passivframe system, where our designers will use your ideas to make you a bespoke home, meeting your layout and aesthetic aspirations, whilst achieving the low energy principles for minimal running costs.
Due to the pre-cut nature of the passivframe, labour time on site is minimised with the frame being erected on site in as little as 4 weeks, providing an air tight structure ready for your local trades to install the roofing material (tiles / slates), render (or cladding / brick skin), and internal services.
When a client first approaches us we would typically take them to see a recently finished project so a feel can be gained of how it is to live in one of our homes, followed by a discussion of their own project. From this we are then able to provide an accurate quotation, and explain how the process will run with anticipated time lines. The main stages would be:
- Initial discussion of project design
- First design draft sent to client in 3D Google Sketchup format so client can look around
- the proposed new house on their own computer and provide comments / alterations
- Design signed off for cutting
- Foundations / ground works begin
- House frame delivered to site
- Frame erected on site by our team
Typically clients then use their local trades to install tiles, render, and begin the internal 1st and 2nd fixes – often with advice from Touchwood. This is often managed by clients themselves to save costs.
With clients managing the follow-on trades for the build, they have achieved build costs varying from £980 - £1500 / m2. The £980 build in particular was managed by a retired couple, reached the passivhaus standard with ease (9kWh/m2/year) and included a log boiler, thermal store, solar panels, PV and our Optiwin passivhaus windows. Costs were saved on finishings such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Who are Touchwood Homes?
Touchwood Homes is a family run company who have been in the construction industry for three generations, building all types of homes. Since the 1990s we realised the construction industry, like all aspects of industry will have to undergo major changes to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions.
We are passionate about doing all we can to reduce emissions from our sector, the urgency of which was brought home when one of the team studied for an MSc in Climate Change – there is no time to carry on building normal high energy demanding houses, we can now build houses so efficient that a standard central heating system is not required, so that is what we must do.
Does the Touchwood Approach work?
We have many successful projects behind us – homes where clients are using minimal energy to live comfortably in a healthy environment. Please see our gallery pages for full details of some recent projects, and if you require detailed explanations of the technology behind the houses, please see our technology page. We are able to arrange viewings of completed projects so you can experience firsthand how it is to live in a Touchwood Home.
Advantages of living in Touchwood passivhaus timber home:
- Minimal heating demand so very low heating bills
- Stable internal air temperature from heavy weight insulation (typically 6-8 tons of insulation / house).
- Foundation slab inside the thermal envelope so is thermal mass
- Excellent air quality from MVHR unit supplying house with constant filtered fresh air
- No cold draughts due to air tight construction