Small, affordable eco-house

State of the art eco-house is easy and cheap to build.

Check Google images for tiny house, small house, eco-house, green living module or just a modern house. See anything you could imagine building reasonably cheaply and easily then enjoy living in?

Here is something to stir the imagination, a concept sketch of the Original-Twist Eco-house. And this is not just an eco-house by name; it is a thoroughly engineered, practically off grid living module where the technology comes first and the house is made to fit it.

On the first floor a massive structurally open space gives adaptable options.  There is space to the left for a huge kitchen diner (7m x 3.5m) or a smaller kitchen and a bedroom/study. Next comes the massive living room (5m x 5m). The raised bedroom platform (4m x 5m) follows and off that a bathroom and an office or child’s bedroom. These are exceptionally large and impressive spaces and with some expensively extravagant oak frames supporting the roof they are characterful too. Everyone loves heavy rustic looking beams and that ‘barn conversion’ look.

Bye the way; as a protest against flimsy curtain rails there would be heavily mounted industrial Henderson tracks. Even Tarzan could be trusted to draw the heavy curtains across the windows or the bedroom section.

First floor layout

On the ground floor a properly large garage at one end and a full height kitchen conservatory at the other, contain a variable layout of rooms to make a separate living unit. Thus the upper and lower floors combine to make a family house or each make fully independent living spaces. There would be no difficulty making a Granny annex or securing some rental income to pay back some expenses. The foundations for the conservatory should be laid from the start to make it easy to add that on later.

Care has been taken to keep the house very basic and thus avoid unnecessary overspends. We want wonderful living spaces and enough cash left over for something special in the double garage. The simple construction suits ICFs (giant foam Leggo blocks with concrete poured in). It makes more sense to stick to ICFs all through; one contractor, less interference and anyway the clever flooring solution that comes with Quadlock ICFs is worth having. The extra thermal mass is a big plus point and also gives good soundproofing between floors. ICFs are particularly suitable for the wooden cladding shown here although the choices are almost endless.

Another cash preserving strategy will be to delay a whole list of things until after moving in.  The sooner you move in the sooner you stop paying rent somewhere else? The ground floor kitchen/conservatory, home cinema, and all the solar panels can all wait until later and the rent you save will help pay for them. Self builders will appreciate the idea of finishing one floor and living-in to finish the other.

A house designed for the hard times of ex-growth Britain deserves a catchy name – we’ll call it The Brexit.
The side and rear overhangs allow the house to fit into a small plot. It can be built to within a whisker of the boundary and yet you can still walk round the outside. The balcony at the front echoes the overhang to give a pleasing uniformity.

The Brexit is quite small which leaves something in the budget for all the latest mod cons like the home cinema, that car in the integrated garage and of course the eco-kit  and the heat pump pod in the garden. It may look fairly conventional (planners note) but the eco-credentials of this house are exemplary.

The south side has plenty of glass which adds to the feeling of space and allows for enough solar gain to take us into passivehause territory.

Of course the eco-technomologicalness will be state of the art, not just token gestures as in many eco-houses but the highest expression of the art. The 24 Sunerg hybrid solar panels actually dictate the size and shape of the roof and the roof trim panels are fixed directly to the panels (PV and wet solar are both 2m x 1m).  4 of the panels on the steep roof will be wet to give a massive 8sqm to feed the Original Twist twin tank heat bank design. If you are involved in creating anything remotely like an eco-house you should study this system here. The other 20 panels give a nominal 6kWp and a real 2-3kW in the winter to run the little air source heat pump which also does some neat heat recovery from the house and uses some ground heated air too.  Batteries make a huge UPS which largely makes the mains supply more like a backup especially if combined with the batteries in the electric car. The Brexit is designed to be future proof as much as possible. More detail can be found in the e-book ‘Dream House – Down to the Details’ here. Don’t start any project without investing £2.45 on this book.

To convert the living space into a dining room the table comes up from the floor – (see the design here)…… the TV disappears behind a roller cover and the sofa glides back into the recess behind it; fanciful maybe but it makes excellent use of the space and easily accommodates large dinner parties. The sofa mechanism is quite simple with the sofa parking on top of the cover door when it is deployed. The table concept is equally simple but pretty spectacular in action and the small extra cost effectively produces an extra room.
With all the clutter cleared away there is plenty of room for partying with the ‘bar height’ raised platform making a safe place to put food and drinks. This house really is an entertaining machine.

And what a super house to start the day in.  A cuppa in bed on your lofty bedroom, as the heavy curtains automatically retract you watch the morning news on the big screen; time for showers then a sunny breakfast downstairs before nipping through to your dream car. The garage doors rise automatically and you are off on your day.

How much roughly? 188 square metres at £800 is around £150,000. £25,000 for the eco-tech and heating systems, so maybe £180,000. Call it £200,000 plus the plot cost. Looks like a lot of good living for the money, and don’t forget, this versatile house has considerable earning power and almost no running costs. Think clever, think Brexit.

Tiny Affordable Eco house

Tiny Affordable Eco house

view - South side

view – South side

Eco house from the end showing garage door

Eco house from the end showing garage door

Check Google images for tiny house, small house, eco-house, pod, green living module or just a modern house. See anything you could imagine building very cheaply then living in?
Here’s the Original Twist idea of a simple modern looking house which, by using blocks or ICFs for the first floor and SIPs (structural insulated panels) on top, is quick and correspondingly cheap to make. It is also quite small which leaves something in the budget for all the latest mod cons like the home cinema, a nice car in the integrated garage and of course the eco kit – 24 solar panels and the heat pump pod in the garden.
The actual building is conventionally cubic, clad in vertical wood, with all the metallic looking curvy edges added on later. The edges conceal wires and pipes and are made of polystyrene or zinc covered forms. The upper south side is nearly all glass which adds to the feeling of space and allows for enough solar gain to take us into passivehause territory.
Small it may be but it is huge inside with the main living area 6m x 10m and a similarly massive room downstairs, both with cavernous ceilings. The raised bed platform gives a visual separation from the seating area and allows the big room to be a sitting room, bedroom and dining room all in one go. It will feel like a large expensive modern house but without the heavy price tag.
The main seating backs onto the big step and faces the partition wall which neatly houses a huge 4K TV, and all the usual kit, beneath a roller tapestry. This prefabricated wall incorporates storage on the reverse side and integrates all the gear for home automation, security and communications.

To convert the living space into a dining room the table comes up from the floor – (see magic table on http://www.originaltwist.com)…… the TV disappears, the bed tips up and away and the sofa glides back into the recess behind it; fanciful maybe but it makes excellent use of the space and easily accommodates large dinner parties. The sofa mechanism is quite simple with the sofa parking on top of the cover door when it is deployed.
With all the clutter cleared away there is plenty of room for partying with the ‘bar height’ raised platform making a safe place to put food and drinks. This house really is an entertaining machine.
There is a doorway either side of the big screen; one for the upstairs loo and the other to the kitchen. The generally high ceilings allow for an optional extra bedroom over the upstairs kitchen, accessed by a stairway along the back wall. It has to be very light and airy looking to preserve the cube like look of the main structure.
The house is suited to be built on a sloping site so access to the first floor would come from that level and ideally via a glass entry vestibule to the front door on the wall opposite the big glass south wall.

Conservatory, kitchen, bedroom, car - what else do you need?

Conservatory, kitchen, bedroom, car – what else do you need?

Downstairs the large breakfast room enjoys a wrap around conservatory and incorporates a second small integrated kitchen. Doors to the rear lead to an en-suite bedroom, a loo and the garage.
The daily grind won’t seem so bad when you start with a cuppa in bed watching the morning news then a shower (in the small shower-room on the bed level) before going downstairs to a sunny breakfast before nipping through to take your Porsche off to work.

Of course the eco-technomologicalness will be state of the art. The 24 Sunerg hybrid solar panels actually dictate the size and shape of the roof and the red trim panels are fixed directly to the panels (PV and wet solar are all 2m x 1m).  4 of the panels on the steep roof will be wet to give a massive 8sqm to feed my own twin tank heat bank design – my speciality. The other 20 panels use micro-inverters to give a nominal 6kWp and a real 2-3kW in the winter to run the little air source heat pump which also does some neat heat recovery from the house and uses some ground heated air too.  Batteries make a huge UPS which, combined with the batteries in the electric car, largely makes the mains supply more like a backup.

Eco pod

Eco pod

At the moment this is just an exploratory sketch but with serious intent. Local councils are being encouraged to make space available for self build houses and after a bit of polishing this design might gain some followers. Value for money would be very good if the drawings were all available and various trades all lined up and ready to make the next one. Practice makes perfect.
What next? Comments and criticisms would be good and then a list of the interested suppliers to put underneath here. If you are interested in owning one of these just let me know on the form and I’ll let you know how it develops.

Suppliers please step up:
Architects to draw it all up and polish the detail
Builders who like ICFs and SIPs
SIPs supplier (note the curvy roof)
Curved trim supplier – polystyrene.
Engineer for raising table and gliding sofa
TV partition wall
ASHP supplier
Solar pod for ASHP
Panels and micro-inverters
Power router
Panels – I’m set to import these.
Heat banks and energy design – that’s me.

Eco-house delivered in a day – cheap too.

Root2Eco-house delivered tomorrow morning and ready to live in by tea time? “Yes Sir, no problem, will that be the £130,000 ROOT2 or the ROOT2 MAXI for £170,000?” The smaller Root2 Eco-house comes in 3 towable modules that are parked in a ‘T’ shape with the gap in the middle covered by a hexagonal roof. The hexagonal living room under the roof is a spacious 4.5m wide and the fully glazed front side gives a modern airy feel to it. Each module is constructed in structurally insulated panels (SIPS) with smart double glazed PVC windows and doors. The roof, floor and end panels are wrapped in zinc to give a modern look and water proof durability. Being just 2.25m x 5.25m the modules can easily, and legally, be towed by most family cars. The ‘wet’ module goes in the middle of the ‘T’ and comes pre-fitted with a wood burning stove connected to a 475 litre heat bank which is also heated by wet solar panels (6sqm on the roof), an immersion heater and an lpg Vaillant Eco-plus gas boiler just in case. The wet module also houses a neat galley kitchen, a shower and chemical lavatory which can be exchanged for a normal one when a septic tank and soak-away is installed. Of course the wet modules wouldn’t be wet without water so a 1,000 litre tank is placed over the roof to give adequate supply and pressure. A trailer is available for fetching another 1,000 litres in an IBC if necessary. The other 2 modules together provide 2 small bedrooms, one double bedroom and an office – useful 50msq accommodation for a family of four. Under-floor heating is pre-installed throughout and quickly connected at the setting up stage along with wiring, made simple with Z-Wave wireless lighting and switching which also enables many functions to be controlled remotely on any i-pad or mobile phone. Root2 is a proper Eco-house with 42% of the build cost going into sustainable energy equipment. The other 2 modules at the sides have a total of 18 PV panels on their roofs to give a total of 4.5kW (kpa) and the power, stored in batteries, is handled by a Power-Router unit that also allows connection to the mains when available. While the Eco-kit incorporated might look a bit excessive at first it does allow the house to be placed very quickly on site in a fully working state and provides a most economical off grid user experience after that. The extraordinarily low price also comes without the need for expensive extras such as site preparation and various professional fees; a patch of land with permission for 3 caravans will probably suffice. Being a new house built by a contractor Root2 should qualify for the UK ‘Help to buy’ scheme and will enable many owners to enjoy comfortable living without a huge mortgage burden. No doubt some users might sell existing properties and release cash for holiday villas or ski chalets. Corporate purchasers will value the instant hassle free solution for housing workers on site with all the proper modern comforts of home. The ROOT2 MaxiThe maxi is built to the same concept but each module is 6m x 3m and the central hexagon is 5m wide. While ROOT2 is like a flat in size the Maxi is just like a house. ROOT2 Maxi is not towable and is delivered on a truck with a crane and in that respect can be installed almost as quickly. If you want a well appointed 5 bedroom Eco-house next week then this is the way to go.