Colin’s Story: An Energy-Efficient Self-Build

Colin, a retired pilot, set out to fulfil his long-held ambitions of building his own home. Colin wanted to create a large, open-plan house that would be particularly energy-efficient, and included renewable technologies. After an extensive search and interview process, Colin appointed eco-home specialists, Allan Corfield Architects, to design his new self-build home. Given their experience of lending for self-build projects with high energy-efficiency ratings, he chose Ecology to help fund the development.

Work on the site in Auchterarder, Scotland, had been started by a previous developer who had solely completed the foundations. This meant that the architects had to design a bespoke home which met Colin’s brief, but also fitted onto the existing footprint.

Colin’s brief was structured around the ‘fabric first’ approach; the house was to be as airtight as possible in order to keep energy costs down. Colin opted to use structurally insulated panels to build his house, which consist of insulated foam sandwiched between two structural facings and are great for high insulation values.

Despite not pursuing Passivhaus certification, Colin’s house exceeded expectations in the airtightness test after the triple-glazed windows were installed: “In the end we actually managed to achieve an airtightness value of 0.8, which is pretty incredible,” said Allan Corfield.

The light-filled timber-clad house features a range of renewable energy technologies. These include an air-source heat pump, a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system, triple-glazing, and 4kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

Due to the airtightness, high insulation values, and the heat and power from renewables, which are eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Feed-in Tariff (FiT), Colin’s home is actually generating more money than he spends on energy.

Colin is really pleased with the performance of his home, but he’d like to go one better should he manage another eco-home project:

“My next project would proceed along the same lines, with a little more research into new technologies – such as wind generators and storage batteries. I’d also spend more time educating the different trades on the concept of achieving a zero running-cost home, and how they contribute to that in the way they carry out their trade.”

Colin’s self-build was featured in Channel 4’s ‘Building the Dream’.

Find out more about Ecology’s self-build mortgages.