Updated House Sketch

An Eccentric Anomaly: Ed Davies's Blog

The planning application is, at last, in. It's taken a while with toing-and-froing between me and the house designer being fairly slow. He's been working on this a couple of evenings a week and a few hours many Saturdays which is plenty of time to allocate to the actual work but this design has been a lot more interactive than many of his projects - if I leave something to think about overnight or whatever it can easily mean a few day's delay before the next cycle completes.

Christmas and New Year blew a big chunk of our time budget as well as we both went away at various times. We were one day short of four weeks between one of my messages to him and his response. Quite understandable in the circumstances but tedious, none the less.

My original plans have survived reasonably well but we've made a few tweaks.

In the application design statement I included the following explanations of differences from the pre-application inquiry I made last August:

  1. The overall dimensions of the building and locations of the windows and solar thermal are tweaked slightly to reflect a change in the proposed construction method (background here if relevant: Roof Rethink).
  2. Similarly, the profile of the attached porch/greenhouse is changed – with the changed construction it would have been almost but not quite the same size as the main house which would have looked odd so it has been made different enough to be obviously distinct and, it's hoped, to make the overall profile of the building more visually interesting.
  3. The entrance route has been changed to be more direct to the road as suggested in the pre-app response.

The result is that it now looks a bit like this:

Visually, I'm quite pleased with the change to the greenhouse/porch roof profile as it makes the whole building look less monolithic. It does, however, mean a bit less heat gain and a bit more heat loss, particularly when the sun's low, which is not ideal. Also, it reduces the volume available to hoist laundry, or even plants, up into.

The gaps in the solar thermal panels are to allow the two end windows to be used for escape from the two bedrooms.

An associated minor tweak is to take the feed pipes for the solar thermal round the corners and through the gable walls. Previous drawings showed them going down the roof then up through the floor. The advantage of keeping them high but downward sloping is that they can be drained completely if that's necessary for frost protection.

Previously draining would empty the copper manifolds at the top of the evacuated tube panels but would have left water in the U of the pipes under the floor. These could be protected from frost damage by using silicone pipe which easily expands to accommodate ice. However that would have left a slug of ice in the tubes with no easy way to deliver heat the following morning potentially losing a good day's heat production - cold clear nights often being followed by bright clear days. I'd been puzzling about that problem for a while when moving the end panels to near the gable for escape made the solution obvious.

The PV panels are also moved to the west end of the roof. Previously I'd left that area clear thinking I might add solar warm air or some such which would be more easily ducted into the house via the greenhouse gable (going via the greenhouse separates concerns of basic weather sealing and building airtightness and also reduces cold bridging). However, I'm now pretty sure that any extra solar collectors added to the roof will be further PV so location is less critical. I might as well make the wiring runs for the immediately planned PV as short as possible.

Now to wait and see what the planners make of it all.