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Self building Sustainably

For the majority of today’s self builders, there’s going to be some level of focus on sustainable building practices. Now, this could be anything from simply making sure the property has plenty of energy efficient measures right through to designing a full on eco-house. If you’re not sure about the options, here’s a bit of an overview of some of the main areas to think about!

Fabric First

It’s vital to properly insulate a property and a ‘fabric first’ approach should be addressed if you’re looking at a traditional type of build. Installing a brand new boiler with efficient radiators in an un-insulated property is like filling a bath without putting the plug in first – the heat would instantly be lost through the building envelope, and energy bills would not be reduced. It might sound simple – but ensuring the fabric of your home doesn’t allow heat to escape is absolutely crucial.



Similar to insulation, installing efficient windows is crucial to make sure that energy isn’t lost through the glass and panes. As such, there are windows available in the market that are manufactured with timber, which is a great natural insulator and will contribute to the sustainable credentials of a property, as well as windows that deliver exceptional U-values.



When it comes to a property’s electricity and water heating requirements, self builders are urged to consider installing renewable systems such as photovoltaic solar panels and solar thermal systems. These products enable you to use the sun’s heat rather then rely upon mains electric or gas-fuelled systems, which will increase energy bills.


Water management

Did you know that one third of water usage in a home is from baths, showers and basins, with as much water again used to flush toilets? Therefore it’s worth investing in water management. For example, a popular option for self builders are rainwater harvesting systems to reuse water to fill toilet cisterns for example.



If you’re looking at including timber within your build then you should opt for certified timber. The variety available is huge and your local merchant will certainly stock a wide range of softwoods and hardwoods. Make sure you speak to staff about Chain of Custody certification – this identifies timber sourced from ‘legal’ and well-managed forests.


Today self builders have a responsibility to adopt sustainable building practices wherever possible. Those who can and are willing might opt for a PassivHaus or an eco-house, in which case it’s worthwhile involving an architect who can provide expert advice.

Alternatively, you can contact your local Jewson branch and book a free consultation with the Self Build team: http://www.jewson.co.uk/working-with-you/for-self-builders/preliminary-planning/free-consultation/