Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Touchwood Homes on The Telegraph website!

The Telegraph website has a feature on Touchwood Homes for their Innovations at Work section where they focus on our low energy buildings and the quality required to achieve an air tight build. Please see the video featuring an interview with Adam at:

Friday, 1 November 2013

£59 Annual Running costs for a Touchwood Home!

With all the talk of energy costs in the media, we asked David and Penny, clients who have been living in their Essex Touchwood Home for a year how their energy costs are, particularly compared to their old house.

David reports tiny running costs of only £59 / year, compared to £2,860 in their previous house! How was this achieved? firstly by designing and building the house structure to the passivhaus principles - 300mm thick walls packed solid with Warmcel insulation, so minimal heat loss through the walls. Similarly 360mm thick rafters. Just like a very thick jumper all around the external surface of the home, holding the heat in.

The foundation used was our Passivhaus foundation slab which ensures heat loss to ground is completely minimised. This is well demonstrated when shoes are taken off when entering the home - the tiled ground floor does not feel cold underfoot.

These design principles combined with our special air tight layer and PAUL MVHR system to provide constant fresh air result in a building with an incredibly low heating demand.

Once the design has minimised heat loss through the structure, then renewable energy technologies can be utilised to meet the minimal heating and hot water demand. Here, that has been achieved using a 3 panel solar thermal system, with heat stored in a 1000 litre thermal store. Winter heating back up is from a log stove with back boiler. The home also features a 4kWp PV array which under the feed in tariff receives £800 / year, aswell as reducing imported electricity.

As a back up heating method, underfloor heating was installed within the foundation slab. On our recent visit we asked David how often this has been needed - he responded  'I've never switched it on'.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fox Barn receives Passivhaus certification!

Our Fox Barn project in Hampshire has now received official Passivhaus certification from the Passivhaus institute. We are very proud to have achieved another certified project, a result which relied on our super air tight construction method - achieving an air tightness result of 0.13m3/ at our frame diagnostic stage, and 0.20 at final test.
Fox Barn also incorporates a PAUL heat recovery system designed and installed by Touchwood - with all duct route holes pre-cut in the timber frame for quick on site installation. Pre-cutting the holes also ensures rigid ductwork can be used, a much more robust solution than the flexible alternative. PHPP analysis and certification was undertaken by Touchwood and Williams Energy in collaboration with Warm associates.

Please find the URL for the Fox Barn passivhaus certification below:

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Roundhouse update

On his visit to our Roundhouse project last week, Kevin McCloud took time out from filming to put his signature to our site sign!:
The project is progressing well with most of the structure now in place ready for works to commence on the sheathing and roof. A recent image is below:

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Our Round House project filmed for Grand Design!

The Grand Design team are on our Round House site today filming for the next series of the show. This stunning project shows the incredible versatility and accuracy of our pre-cut method, with  the complex circular glulam structure fitting together perfectly and going up very quickly.
Day 3 on site

The image above shows the site on day 3 of our works, the majority of the main glulam frame structure will be completed within the first week, with all the subtly reducing roof levels built into the frame being no problem at all for the computer controlled milling machine - where as working these angles and falls out on site would have been a major headache!

Image from the roof showing the gradual reduction in roof height as you go round the circle
How the finished house will look with the green roof installed
The home features our 300mm thick I beam external walls to be pumped solid with very dense Warmcel insulation, so providing superb levels of insulation and internal temperature stability, which coupled with our air tightness levels to the passivhaus standard results in a home with minimal  heat loss through the structure, and so minmal running costs. 

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A rated EPC

We have recently been reminded of the A grade EPC rating achieved on our Porters project, a stunning result. The report continues with an assessment on the tonnes of CO2 emitted to run the house - in particular:

'The average household causes about 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Based on this assessment, your home currently produces approximately -0.8 tonnes of carbon each year.'

If a retired couple along with Touchwood's build method can create a home which is carbon negative (as stated on the EPC's spurious definition of carbon), then the UK building industry has no technical excuse to not do the same! There is no need for the housing minister to create a panel of experts to decide how to build this way, Passivhaus has the answers.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Howe Park passivhaus wins Green Apple Award

Howe Park passivhaus has won the Green Apple Award - the home featured on our gallery page ( ) was designed and erected by Touchwood Homes - our airtight build method and detailing resulting in a superb air test result of 0.09. This air tight build method combined with our extremely high levels of dense insulation were critical components to the project achieving passivhaus certification. We are proud to have our timber frame build method used on this project by Eco Design Consultants, and main contractor Parkway Construction.

This news article released by the passivhaus trust :

PHT member's EcoDesign Consutants have won a Green Apple Environment Award for Howe Park Passive House in the national campaign to find Britain's greenest companies and products.
The Green Apple Environment Awards were established in 1994 as an annual campaign to recognise, reward and promote environmental best practice around the world. Previous Green Apple Award winners have gone on to win European awards, and many have taken on the status of International Green Ambassadors by helping others around the world to help the environment.
EcoDesign Consultants competed against more than 200 other nominations in the Green Apple Awards for the Built Environment & Architectural Heritage, and will be presented with an award at a ceremony in the National Self Build & Renovation Centre on June 24. The trophy and certificate will be presented by Doreen Lawrence, campaigning mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Open Day for National Self Build Week

As part of the National Self Build Week, Touchwood Homes will be holding an open day at a timber frame home we are currently putting up in West Essex. The visit will show you first hand what it is like to build your own home, with us, the clients, and their project manager on site to answer your questions and concerns about embarking on your own project!

For details of the Self Build Week please see

The Touchwood team will be on site to talk to you about your self build project,  along with Trunk Services - available to help with many aspects of a low energy build. The clients whom we are building this home for will also be present to offer first hand insite into the process.
The open day will be on site in West Essex, near Chelmsford and will run from 9am to 4pm on saturday 11th May. Please note this is a working buiding site during the week, so access will not be possible for children - access for others at your own risk.
To register your interest and book a visit time slot please email

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Porters house performance

During the recent cold snap, our clients who are now living in their Porters house have been amazed by the house's incredible performance, with very little heat required to warm the large 297m2 house. In fact during even the coldest days a 4 hour run on the small lounge log stove (with back boiler) charges the thermal store sufficiently for the MVHR heater battery to provide all the heating to the large home for a 24 hour period, along with all the hot water requirements of the home.  And on the odd winter day when the sun did shine, this allowed the large solar array to charge the thermal store sufficiently for a days worth of heat and hot water.

With rising oil and gas prices and huge concern over climate change, building a house to the passivhaus specification provides a 90% saving on heating demand (and so cost), with the heat required provided by locally sourced logs - much more reliable then foreign oil!


Home Building and Renovation show NEC

Thanks to all who visited our stand last week at the NEC in Birmingham, we had a very busy time and learnt about some very exciting new projects - despite the weather!