The Gruen Eco Design blog about how to convert your dream of an energy efficient home into a reality.

We have a roof over our head.

A lot of things have been happening over the last few weeks. So much so that I haven’t managed to give any updates on our construction.

Luckily all is sorted with finance. Finally, and we got several payments through already. There was quiet a backlog ?

The first-floor walls and the sips roof have been installed. The external vapour permeable membrane has been installed. We are using Solitex extasana.

The window frames are in. We are using triple glazed upvc windows from Bluesky Windows. And the glazing will also be installed shortly.

We are still aiming to have the house up to lock-up stage prior to Christmas. Very exciting!

We have done some last-minute changes to the foam cladding we are using under the render finish. And, when building a passive house. No matter how small the changes are, you always have to update the passive house calculations. To make sure that everything still works. And you have to update the details accordingly. Especially if you want to go for passive house certification.

We also had a meeting on site with Hamish our builder and Sam from Stiebel Eltron to discuss our HRV (heat recovery ventilation system). Where all the ducts will go. How we can hide them. And how to get fresh air into all the right spots. We have a lot of raked ceilings throughout. Hence you have to think about the location of the ducts early on. Otherwise, you could end up with ugly bulk heads everywhere as an afterthought. Originally, we had thought we could just go through the ceiling. Given that we had enough clearance under the floor joist. However, we had not considered that the ducts can not go through the floor joists. Or the structural integrity would be compromised. Meaning they can run parallel to the floor structure. But if we have to go the other way we had to find another solution. Going up through a wall and then finding it’s way into the other rooms and upstairs.

 It was almost like a tetris or snakes’ game ?

But I think we came up with a very good solution. The ducts in the living room will be hidden behind a feature shelf, that will run alongside the entire wall. The shelf will also house a feature LED lighting strip and will be used as a plant shelf. Making the crazy plant lady in my very giddy.

We also had a meeting with a landscape designer on site. Discussing all our ideas. Where we want our veggie patches and the native plans. Where our trampoline should go and the fire pit. Where we could hide the little sauna and the outdoor shower. And how to create different areas. And, where we can fit in my little succulent garden and the beehive and chickens. So much to consider….

There were some short-lived dreams about a plunge pool. But we’ve put that away in a nice to have but too expensive basket….

We hope to get a landscape designer engaged this year and then get started early in the next year. Our aim is to have a masterplan ready. And then see which things we can do ourselves and which things we rather get done from the specialists.

Stay tuned.

PS: I’m still working on an extra piece about finance and all the struggles we went through. Hopefully our lessons can help some of you to avoid making the same mistakes…