Soft Strip ….. continues a bit further

15th April 2013

Mark continues to crack on with taking the house apart.

It is looking like the tongue and groove floor boards are too well nailed and joined and dry to get up without them all getting wrecked / broken.

There has been a good recovery of the roof tiles that are from 2mm to 6mm thick.
– maybe a series of table place mats and coasters ?

This morning, the 15th of April 2013, although most of the tiles were off at the front, from the back (see picture below) it was till a bungalow with a roof.

Silver Spray still has a roof

Walking up the road in the evening, the roof was gone!
– and the photo opportunity of Mark in the chair was too easy.

Silver Spray roof has gone

Pretty dramatic from the rear garden:

Silver Spray and a great view from roof that will, roughly be the height of the bedrooms.

Silver Spray view at new bedroom height

From the rear fields, you can only just pick out the bungalow past the rear garage.





In addition to the main front door having a flush inset door mat (see below), this probably also makes sense for the entrance to the boots & coats room





For general floor mats, these “eco mats” look good:

Eco barrier and door mats to keep your home clean and looking great. We’ve got fun door mats, mats for dogs, for keen gardeners and for doing your laundry. Super absorbent and durable, the mats get softer the more they’re washed and are made of 100% recycled materials by UK manufacturer Hug Rug.



Bamboo Flooring

I have some samples from

Bamboo flooring is one of the hardest natural materials available for flooring and is an excellent alternative to hard wood flooring. Bamboo has a higher fibre rating than any hard wood, which gives it exceptional hard wearing qualities.

bamboo is a rapid growing grass and not wood, it can be harvested every 3-5 years, unlike 15-25 years for most wood. This makes bamboo a very environmentally friendly product for flooring.

BambooFlooringCompany - 01


Also get samples etc. from

Slate and bamboo floor inspiration


Chinese slate floor tiles span the first floor. “We wanted to use the most irregular floor surface we could find. This room is used a lot, so we wanted to have a rough floor that we could walk on without worrying about damaging the floor,”

Chinese irregular slate floor tiles - 01

Chinese irregular slate floor tiles - 02

Chinese irregular slate floor tiles - 03

and the very small unit bamboo element wooden floor:

bamboo floor - 04

bamboo floor - 03

Bamboo has good eco credentials in terms of sustainable growth.
– but you need to check this.

I’d be biased towards bigger “elements”, so that it looks a bit more like wood until you look at the detail.

I’m less certain about the Chinese slate. Some comments suggest less than ideal extraction and transport etc. But I do like the idea of the rough textured surface and the size of the tiles in these examples.

Article on the pro’s and con’s of different carpet types


  • Hides soil
  • Strong, elastic and resilient; great for heavy traffic
  • Responds very well to cleaning, as moisture makes the fiber swell and release dirt
  • Naturally flame retardant
  • Neutralizes indoor air contaminants and does not reemit them
  • Environmentally friendly


  • High cost
  • Prone to distortion by excess agitation
  • Stains easily, due to its absorbency and ease of dyeing
  • Very sensitive to chlorine bleach




  • Most commonly used fiber; readily available in a wide range of colors and textures
  • Good elasticity — very important in heavy traffic areas where furniture may be dragged across the carpet
  • Abrasion resistant, surpassing even wool
  • Wear guaranties often available
  • Resilient; can be crushed for long periods and regain its original shape
  • Responds very well to most professional cleaning methods and treatments


  • Can have problems with bleaching, fading, urine reactions and so on
  • Synthetic, so it off-gases



  • Can stand up to high traffic; good for stairs
  • Gives your room a great natural look while adding texture
  • Biodegradable and nontoxic


  • Uncomfortable against bare skin
  • Can be pricey (but generally less so than wool)
  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Can be difficult to clean

Recycled Foamed Glass Insulation

28 May 2012 Update:

I put a post on and the consistent reply is that it’s more expensive than well used and well know Leca, which is usually used with a breathable Limecrete floor. I’m not sure if it’d work / work as well under a non breathing floor.

I was at a Green Building show / expo / day at the Eden Project last week and there was a talk by a German sounding chap, who is part of the UK Epoc Europe Ltd team promoting / pushing their TECHNOpor (Recycled Foamed Glass).

The key points seemed to be:

  • uses 100% (or close to 100%) recycled materials (glass bottles etc.)
  • German factory is powered by HEP electricity.
  • light to transport on low emmisions trucks from Germany.
  • easy to work with.
  • good insulation values for under the floor, behind retaining walls.
  • can even be used for between floor and in ceilings insulation (as super light).

I’ve found 2 UK Websites related to this:

The German site for TECHNOpor is

The Swiss site has a great idea of using bags for when you use the Recycled Foam Glass to insulate a wall. Given that there will be 2 retaining walls, this could be great.


Construction (embodied) Energy Vs Operational Energy

My Summary / Conclusion

  • In 2007, 16% of CO2 equiv impact is construction of a building, 84% is operational / in-use.
  • Today the split is roughly 20% embodied and 80% operational.
  • The modelling shows that we are moving to a CO2eq (CO2 equivalent) of 38/62% for masonry construction, and 35/65% for timber-frame construction.
  • No significant differences emerged between masonry and timber construction in terms of overall CO2 impact over the 60- and 120-year study periods. The largest difference observed between comparable masonry and timber constructions was 4%.
  • No clear / significant impact of thermal mass.
  • Emissions are cumulative, so 1 tonne of CO2 equiv at the point of construction roughly equals a tonne of CO2 equiv during the 60 year life of a building.

Which aspects of a dwelling are responsible for the largest CO2 impact?

  • Space and water heating have the largest CO2 impact in dwellings.
  • Appliances also have a large operational CO2 impact.
  • In both masonry and timber constructions, the impact of foundations and ground floors dominates the embodied CO2eq impact.
  • In masonry construction, the external walls also have a major impact.
  • Other elements, such as windows/doors and floor finishes, have a relatively large impact because they are repeatedly replaced throughout the life of the dwelling.
    • Waste water heat recovery systems have a 60 year assumed life span (windows and doors – 40, MVHR 15, flooring 10 ….)
  • The embodied impact of services was found to be approximately 5% of impact at 60 years and 7% at 120 years.

Construction Vs Operational Energy

I’ve come across some interesting figures and links to research in an article in the Green Building Magazine (by

  • Embodied Energy – a ticking time bomb (Spring 2012)

In 2007, around 16% of the CO2 equivalence impact was constructing a building.
– This covers the manufacture of materials and components, transport and construction.

84% of the CO2 equivalence impact of a building was down in use emissions.

This data is from

That is why policy to date has been biased to making buildings more operationally efficient.

The article then makes the point that raises the importance of embodied (construction) emissions. Namely that since emissions are cumulative, 1 tonne of CO2 equivalence impact occurs for every year this “CO2” is in the atmosphere. So 1 tonne of CO2 at the start of a buildings 60 year life will have twice the impact of 1 tonne emitted during the building’s life.

The longer a tonne of CO2 hangs around in the atmosphere, the more damage it can do.

So it’s potentially dangerous to focus on carbon-intensive solutions that are installed at the point of construction, so that they reduce the operational emissions.

So, it is best to look for principles, materials, solutions etc. that will reduce both the construction (embodied) and operational energy of a building. So, as it’s often said, the general advice is still to optomise the fabric efficiency of a building before other measures.

October 2011 Update

The October 2011 report by the NHBC Foundation (“Housing Research in partnership with BRE Trust”) – Operational and embodied carbon in new build housing – A reappraisal:

Until now, focus has been almost entirely on the carbon emissions resulting from using homes, but clearly the balance between those operational carbon emissions and emissions from producing and installing the materials – the embodied carbon – needs to be considered.

This publication explores a subject which has to date lacked a strong and accessible evidence base. It looks at a range of carbon reduction scenarios as delivered through typical house types and estimates the likely impact both in terms of operational and embodied carbon – providing an insight into the contribution of different technical responses to the low carbon agenda, including the balance between operational and embodied carbon.

Evaluated Scenarios:

Twenty-four scenarios were appraised, using SAP software to determine operational CO2 emissions and BRE Global’s Environmental Profile methodology to analyse embodied CO2eq emissions.

The research considered the following variables:

  • two built forms (detached and mid-terraced)
  • two construction weights (masonry and timber frame)
  • three operational CO2 performance levels (25, 31 and 40% reductions over Part L1A 2010)
  • two dwelling lifespans (60- and 120-year study periods)
  • varying grid electricity CO2 intensity (to account for the expected impacts of grid decarbonisation).

Extracts from the report:

  • The modelling showed a typical percentage split between operational and embodied CO2eq (CO2 equivalent) of 62/38% for masonry construction, and 65/35% for timber-frame construction. These are averaged figures.
  • No significant differences emerged between masonry and timber construction in terms of overall CO2 impact over the 60- and 120-year study periods. The largest difference observed between comparable masonry and timber constructions was 4%.
  • The modelling showed that space and water heating, along with foundations, ground floors, windows/doors and floor coverings, were the largest contributors to overall lifetime CO2 impact. Appliances were also a significant contributor, but building designers have limited opportunity to reduce these emissions via their designs.
  • The typical split between operational and embodied CO2eq in new build housing has been taken as 80% operational, 20% embodied, a position largely confirmed by recent studies[1]. However, within the context of future Building Regulations requirements – which are expected to tighten to the point that new homes will be significantly lower in CO2 from 2016[2] – operational CO2 emissions are set to fall radically. This means that embodied CO2eq emissions will become increasingly significant in terms of the percentage they contribute to the overall CO2 impact of new build dwellings. In addition, typically the more energy efficient a given house type becomes, the greater the quantity of additional materials required to construct it (eg additional insulation, more services). There is also potential that such additional materials (eg renewable generation installations) may have particularly high embodied CO2eq levels. Both these considerations suggest that, as operational CO2 emissions reduce, embodied CO2eq emissions will increase.
  • The replacement of services and other building components has a direct bearing on both operational and embodied CO2eq emissions across the 60- and 120-year study periods.

Assumed lifespan of construction elements:

  • The proportion of embodied CO2eq in masonry construction was found to be higher than that in timber construction. However, this difference was relatively marginal, the maximum difference being 4%. This is because, other than the walls, the majority of building elements were similar in both the masonry and timber constructions modelled.

Which aspects of the dwelling are responsible for the largest CO2 impact?

  • Space and water heating have the largest CO2 impact in dwellings; this remains significant in all scenarios despite diminishing slightly as designs move from 25 to 40% CO2 reduction.
  • Appliances also have a large operational CO2 impact, although dwelling designers have limited ability to help achieve reductions in this area.
  • In both masonry and timber constructions, the impact of foundations and ground floors dominates the embodied CO2eq impact.
  • In masonry construction, the external walls also have a major impact.
  • Because both of these areas will last the lifetime of the dwelling, they should be considered at the design stage when seeking to reduce the overall dwelling CO2 impact.
  • Other elements, such as windows/doors and floor finishes, have a relatively large impact because they are repeatedly replaced throughout the life of the dwelling.
  • The embodied impact of services was found to be approximately 5% of impact at 60 years and 7% at 120 years. However, these results should be treated with caution as some aspects, such as controls, had to be omitted due to lack of available data, and the services were not studied in depth during this project.

Did the varying thermal mass levels have a significant impact on cooling?

  • No clear trend was identified from the modelling carried out, with minimal impact from space cooling in both masonry and timber designs.

Nice look & feel :: Fire, kitchen, stairs

Some nice ideas, look & feel vibe etc. from Houzz.

Nice enclosed fire, with fire side storage and seating:
Nice look and feel to kitchen and stairs:

Bamboo “wood” stairs:

Which could be on just the horizontal sections like for:

Scarlet Hotel inspiration

Robert from ra-studio and myself went to the the The Scarlet Hotel,  for lunch to go over the plans progress and also to look at several aspects of the Scarlet Hotel that Robert had not seen.

As ever, a stunning lunch with amazing service and some more ideas / inspiration.

Some of which was reminding myself and showing Robert their smaller bedroom layout.

I also thought that we might consider having a central strip / floor corridor of wood from the entrance area, past and through the living area and kitchen, to the top of the 3 stairs down to the lounge. The current plan is slate or tiles for the entrance and living area (dinning, kitchen etc.) and wood for the lower living area.

I also like their stone work fire breast, but not sure this will work.

And good to see further Cornish wood cladding.

Portloe house visit

Today, Robert from ra-studio, took to visit a house in Portloe that he worked on before he set up his own practice.

Rob, post visit dropped this in an email to me:

I hope you found the trip over to Claire’s place useful yesterday – it’s sometimes good to experience spaces in a more physical sense / situation, and perhaps helps you to visualise how some of your spaces could feel. I think there are obvious parallels between Sea House and Silver Spray (connection / views / relationship with the sea), and seeing how it has been handled there, I hope was helpful for you.

Yes, well worth the visit. It was fantastic to meet such an obviously happy client (and her cool, crazy young dog, Zola).

Their project was serialised in the Telegraph:

So many things about the house, that I hope to include in Silver Spray. The feeling of space, the flow through the house, the views, the natural materials ……

The house looks over the village and was designed to fit into the slope. Without the red circle, it’d be a chunk less obvious !

You drive up the drive and see the studio on your left with the house a bit beyond.

The cladding on the studio is the same as on the house, but it hasn’t yet worn to the same more grey colour / tint.

The house has an amazing central “spine” so that as you walk up to the front door, you see through to the view.

Although the stone detail of the wall below the cladding looks stunning on this house, it’s not something I feel will work for Silver Spray. Except !!!!! maybe for the rear wall of the courtyard. Well something needs to go on that wall. Perhaps it’ll be a retaining wall held back by Gabions (steel cages of rocks). But a quick on-line search suggests the life of Gabions, which is down to the life of the steel holding them together is 50 to 60 years. I suspect less in Silver Spray site, so close to the sea. Damn, as they’d be great.

The slate flooring runs from around much of the house, straight into the house, where it’s apparently super easy to clean. The texture it gives was fantastic. The same slate was used for the external window sills.

Almost all of the windows are by Velfac, with thin profiles, nice colours etc.

This upstairs window has a piece of glass over the front to create a “Juliet Balcony”. Which will work great for the second bedroom.

I’m still not a fan of the idea of wooden decking. Here there was a mixture of slate and wooden decking.

Coat room to the left as you walk in 🙂

Lovely doors, floor and wooden stairs:

Nice detailing on this sliding door that can close over the entrance to the kitchen.

Wide, light floor boards. Interestingly, wooden floors upstairs. I was thinking carpet, but this did work well. OK they have light coloured tiles in the bathrooms upstairs. The bedrooms had good integrated storage.

The above white TV makes it less dominant on the room. Also a superb idea that it pushes against the wall, but is on an arm that can come out and so be viewed from the seating etc. This could be a great idea for in any bedrooms. Although I’m not planning TVs in the bedrooms, it’d be good to allow this future option.
Having a TV in the 2nd bedroom for guests could be a nice touch.

Pebbles in a gulley outside the door, to prevent splash up from rain onto the windows and also to drain away water flowing down the windows.

A photo from when the studio was being built:

The house has solar heating and solar electricity.