Construction materials

Let me tell you - what an odyssey! All the available information and choices have been giving me quite a headache.

Obviously, like everybody else, I also want to make the right decisions, use the healthy materials, try to avoid risking too much, go for the best energy efficiency and make the most of the sun's energy.

To break it down a bit, our main principles include:

  • low carbon foot print
  • avoiding paint and ongoing future maintenance
  • avoiding synthetics and other off gassing materials
  • non pristine and non uniform finish and design
  • a lot of wood and clay and other natural textures

Over time we went from a wooden construction through masonry then back to wood again finalising on a wooden frame with sandwich walls. The composition of our walls complies with buildings of the passive standard. I've taken a course called 'Intelligent Energetics" where I learnt a lot about how to minimise heat losses, how to play around with architecture to make the most of passive energy gain, about carbon footprint of building materials, best combinations of heating and solar systems and more. Not only does the importance of good building materials come from the current strict energy regulations, it has got a huge impact on the overall comfort of life it will provide for us.

I consider myself lucky having to move numerous times. It has given me such a significant amount of experience and opportunities to observe the environment around me. Only in the past 4 years we've moved three times. There was the attic of my parents' house which was getting terribly hot during summer days - guess why; living in the old Victorian London houses without any insulation brings up way more questions than just a condensation built up on windows and our current soviet era panel flat is spacious, bright and lovely, though I never seem to ventilate it quite enough. My great grandmother's house made of clay cylinders offered the best interior climate so far.

Since I would like to make the best of both worlds, our splendid over technical present as well as the rough, natural past, joining them together I am hoping to create a balanced and healthy future. Therefore the list of materials we would like to use in our house build goes:

  • minimal amount of concrete
  • timber frame
  • wood-fibre boards and cellulose insulation
  • wood cladding and clay plastering on the walls
  • wooden floors and proper wool carpet
  • partially non fired clay brick interior walls
  • triple glazed wooden windows
  • most likely metal roof

Step by step we're getting closer to finalising all the project details. It is a slow process though necessary one. My enthusiasm in building a house is that of a creator. The particular technicalities are not exactly my strong points and to overcome each one of them I always consider a little triumph.

UPDATE: Since we are half way done with the building of our house I am happy to guide you through the final building materials we've chosen.