Case study- Hale House2018-08-30T09:26:15+00:00

Hale House B & B

Case Study

Hale House Passivhaus is a traditionally styled home that demonstrates Passivhaus’ can be designed in any architectural style. It is a home, an office and a B&B.

Susanna approached us toward the end 2015 with a design she had already developed with an architectural designer. She had planning permission in place to demolish an existing bungalow on site and replace it with a new bungalow. The design included a basement, integral garage and a room in the roof.

This original design had been partially future proofed with the potential for a downstairs bedrooms, bathroom, accessible room and capacity for a live-in carer. However, as the original design wasn’t developed with Passivhaus in mind it didn’t offer the comfort and fuel security that might be required in later life.

As the original design wasn’t developed with Passivhaus in mind its shape or form factor meant that it would have been very costly to meet the Passivhaus standard. The basement was also a very expensive solution to address space requirements. So, Susanna made the decision to redesign the building, keeping the elements that appealed most to her. As the site bounds an area of outstanding natural beauty, in a well-established village it was very important to Susanna that her new home was sensitive to its surroundings.

The original design had gone through planning without any problems, so we had good reason to be positive that the updated design would be an acceptable amendment. Unfortunately, the planners felt the new designs ridge line to was too high and required some alterations to the front gable to make it less prominent. We worked with the planners to achieve the desired ridge line, while ensuring that Susanna gained permission for the home she wanted. After some back and forth with the planner a crown roof (flat top to the pitched roof) was suggested and agreed as an acceptable solution along with adding a hip to the front gable roof and relocating it slightly. The flat topped hipped roof sensitively masks the presence of PV’s whilst allowing the home to sit comfortably next to its neighbours.

Once planning was granted for the new design, it was time to get into the detail design stage, but this stage can only begin after a lot of questions have been answered. Susanna did a lot of research so that she could make informed decisions about her home. Some decisions are quite practical, for example it was agreed to go down the timber frame route as it is generally the easiest way of achieving an airtight construction, especially with more complex shapes. Other decisions may be a little more challenging. Susanna had long expected to have a wood burning stove in her sitting room as a focal point. Solid fuel burners are still an option in Passivhaus, though choice is limited a little on style so that airtightness is not compromised. As she learnt more about Passivhaus, Susanna understood that putting in a specialist Passivhaus stove and flue would be unnecessary and expensive, so she opted instead to utilise the views out to the landscaped garden as the focal point for the room.

Hale House is now open as a B&B, so if you would like to experience a Passivhaus for yourself this is the perfect place to stay.

“ Alan & the Ecodesign team were very patient and worked hard to achieve a design & a layout that I was happy with. Their experience & expertise was crucial to me getting Planning Permission and achieving Passivhaus status for my new ‘forever’ home.

Susanna, Client

The timber frame specified for this project was a 400mm twin stud frame, that has been pumped full of warmcell (recycled newspaper) insulation. The foundations were constructed using the AFT polysterene raft system. The system helps to ensure a constant layer of insulation that wraps around the whole house, concrete is then poured into the insulated form work.

The airtightness layer on this project is unusally on the outside of the thermal envelope, formed with a DHF Tongue and Groove board sealed with non setting mastic and airtightness tapes. Placing the airtightness layer on the outside means it is less likely to be punctured during its lifetime, internal DIY projects can puncture the airtightness layer and reduce its effectiveness if it is on the inside. However carful consideration of vapour movement is needed, and this works only with particuar wall build ups.

The build process took 9 months, which Susanna project managed with help and guidance of various professionals at different stages. Many self-builders choose to project manage their builds wanting to ensure that their dreams are fully realised and that they are involved at every stage. Alan, one of our architects and Passivhaus designers, who worked with Susanna on site said that the success of the project is “testimony of Susanna’s general enthusiasm, belief in the Passivhaus standard and excellent communication. She’s also very organised which is vital to a well-managed build.”

4 bed B&B in Wendover
Treated Floor Area169 m²
Energy Standard [PHPP]
Space Heat Demand17 kWh/m²a
Heat load (Thames valley)10 W/m²
Air-tightness (n50-value)0.6 h-1 @ 50 Pa
Construction typeTimber frame
Building Envelope 
U- values
Floor slab0.086 W/m2K
Exterior walls0.109W/m2K
Roof0.09 W/m2K
Windows glass0.47 W/m²K

Windows frame


Space heating & hot water system

0.54 W/m²K

Paul Novus 300

Ground Floor-underfloor heating.

First Floor- towel rails.

Hale Road Passivhaus