We have specialised in energy efficient building since about 1996.
In 2007 we started using the Passivhaus zero thermal bridge detailing where possible on our jobs.
In 2010 we started an extension and renovation that had been designed using the Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP) to achieve 30 kwh/m2/yr.
In 2011 we started the first new build certified Passivhaus in Herefordshire. Since then almost all our work has been to Passivhaus standard. We are constantly improving and developing our construction processes and detailing, and regard energy efficient building as an ongoing journey.
By the end of 2021, we will have done 22 Passivhaus certifiable newbuilds, including our current projects, and 3 near Passivhaus newbuilds. Most of these have been built to completion, some have been done to ‘lock up’ , where we build a completed airtested shell for the owner to complete, and one has been done as a specialist subcontractor to another main contractor.
Since 2010, we have also done 5 Passivhaus detailed whole house retrofits, and 6 Passivhaus detailed extensions.(see ‘View our work’ for explanation of ‘Passivhaus detailed’)
Mike is a carpenter with over 35 years experience of building and contracts management who first worked on a carefully designed energy efficient building in 1996, and since then has been on a steadily improving journey.
“I first worked on an ‘Eco- build’ Project in 1989. I was re-introduced to air-tightness detailing and high levels of insulation when building a lecture hall at the Greenwood Trust in Shropshire in 1996, having first come across it in 1980 while working in Canada. Since 1996 I have been developing my own building methods to support these goals- alternating stud frames, minimising cold bridging with I beams, airtight window installations.
I have always regarded energy efficient building as an evolving process, and I have specialised in developing and improving our detailing with every job. The adoption of the Passiv Haus standard was a natural progression for us”.
Mike has done the 2 day PHPP (Passivhaus Planning Package) course, and has been an invited speaker at AECB (Association for Environment Conscious Building) conferences, UK Passivhaus Conference, and Ecobuild on various aspects of Passivhaus and energy efficient construction methods.
In 2005 we were main contractors for the Duchy of Cornwall on the conversion of 2 barns into offices for the sustainable architects Architype, a project which won the 2007 RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Sustainability Award.
In 2017 we built the shell of Old Holloway Cottage for self builder Juraj Mikurcik, which won the Small Projects category of the 2018 UK Passivhaus Trust Awards…(see ‘posts’….)
Our core full time team of 8 to 9 people are direct employees with carpentry and general building skills. They have all been trained in Passivhaus building and are supported on site by Director/Manager Mike Whitfield. Most modern construction companies do not use direct employment, they tend to use subcontractors and ‘false self employed’ (zero hours contracts). We believe that employing people directly is the only way to ensure that we can offer a service with continuity and reliable people who are experienced in our specialism. It also gives them stability and allows them to apply for mortgages, rental agreements etc.
Our specialised subcontractors- groundworkers, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, tilers and decorators- have worked with us for many years and are all familiar with our Passivhaus construction methods.
Membership of Professional Bodies
UK Passivhaus Trust
The Passivhaus Trust is an independent, non-profit organisation that provides leadership in the UK for the adoption of the Passivhaus standard and methodology. Passivhaus is the leading international low energy, design standard. Over 65,000 buildings have been designed, built and tested to this standard worldwide.
The Trust aims to promote the principles of Passivhaus as a highly effective way of reducing energy use and carbon emissions from buildings in the UK, as well as providing high standards of comfort and building health.
The Carpenters Fellowship is a database of some of the best timber framers around. Although we’re not yet in a position to offer accreditation to our members, it’s something we are working towards. In the meantime, we are confident that our members include some of the leading timber frame companies, experienced individual framers, architects, engineers and designers.
Association for Environment Conscious Building
The AECB is a network of individuals and companies with a common aim of promoting sustainable building.
It brings together builders, architects, designers, manufacturers, students, educators, housing associations and local authorities, to develop, share and promote best practice in environmentally sustainable building. We pride ourselves on our independence, relevance and practicality
1. Ensure that all main employees and regular subcontractors are genuinely committed to, and sympathise with, the company policy.
2. Work within 40 miles of our base at Garway Hill, Herefordshire.
3. Use home-grown sawn timber and locally sourced materials wherever possible. Develop and maintain supply lines with local companies providing ecologically sound products and sevices, both to support their businesses and benefit from their specialist knowledge.
4. Use recycled/reclaimed materials where possible and practical.
5. Avoid using uncertified tropical timber and plywood. Raise awareness with suppliers of the need for certification of timber products.
6. Build to high standards of insulation and airtightness and carry out airtightness testing when practical. Continually develop techniques and detailing to raise these standards.
7. Encourage clients to install renewable energy systems and to use energy and water conservation measures.
8. All waste to be separated into the following categories:- metal and plastic for recycling, cardboard for recycling/composting, timber for re-use or fuel for woodburners, rubble for hard-core. Landfill to be kept to a minimum.
Procurement and contract management
The majority of our contracts are carried out on a collaborative basis, where we are engaged very early in the design process with the clients, architect, and consultants. We have a large database of recorded costs for previous energy efficient and PH builds, and working collaboratively means we can use this to the best advantage for all parties by pricing to a tighter margin and honouring the trust placed in us by the clients. Our aim is to encourage the general adoption and spread of the Passivhaus standard, not to make it an expensive and limited option.
We do also do competitive tenders, but this can result in inflated costs and unnecessary work for all parties.
We can also take on jobs post-planning and work up the PH detailing and Building Regs application ourselves.
We are happy to work with any architects, but we would advise the appointment of a Passivhaus consultant early on in the process if the architect is not experienced in Passivhaus or energy efficient construction.
Our main co-conspirators are
Charles Grylls of Dempsey Decourcy Architects http://dempseydecourcyarchitects.co.uk/
Nick Grant, Passivhaus Consultant http://www.elementalsolutions.co.uk/
Alan Clarke, Heating and Ventilation Designer
Date established 1994
Legal status Ltd Co since 2006
Company Registration No. 05762145