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New low energy homes for Diss

PUBLISHED: 09:52 10 March 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 12 July 2010

New Passive low energy homes being built by Saffron Housing on Skelton Road, Diss.

New Passive low energy homes being built by Saffron Housing on Skelton Road, Diss.

Low energy eco-homes that take a matter of days to build will be cutting the cost for tenants of a south Norfolk housing charity.

Saffron Housing Trust is delighted by the speedy construction method that it is being trialled at Skelton Road, in Diss, where a pair of super-insulated homes are rapidly taking shape.

Low energy eco-homes that take a matter of days to build will be cutting the cost for tenants of a south Norfolk housing charity.

Saffron Housing Trust is delighted by the speedy construction method that it is being trialled at Skelton Road, in Diss, where a pair of super-insulated homes are rapidly taking shape.

The component parts are delivered on site with everything else required, including the 14 prefabricated panels from Sweden with triple-glazed windows already installed that were lifted into place by crane. Other energy saving features include under-floor radiant heating powered by an external air-source pump, and a vapour barrier in the walls which keeps out the damp and seals the house to keep it thermally insulated.

But it is the speed of construction that has surprised neighbouring residents, who took photographs as the two properties virtually materialised before their eyes.

“People living next to the site were amazed as they thought workmen would be on site for months,” said David Daniels, chairman of Saffron Housing Trusts' development group, as he outlined the project last Thursday.

“The foundations took three days and we are now in the third day of construction and are nearly finished. So its six days start to finish to get it water tight.”

He likened passive home technology to that employed in Thermos Flasks which use thermal insulation to enable liquids to remain hot or cold for hours.

“There are only about 7,000 passive houses throughout Europe and, as far as I know, we are the first housing association to build them. It's just a speedy, clever way to build,” he said.

Saffron researched different methods of construction, bearing in mind the impact on tenants of the credit crunch and current high fuel costs. And it was agreed that the eco-homes designed by UK firm CLS were exactly what was required.

“Saffron has never built passive homes before so it's a learning curve and we are spot on schedule,” Mr Daniels added.

“It's working out extremely well and by the end of May tenants will be able to move in, and the next ones we build will be quicker. I think the building costs are very comparable with traditional methods, and it's a better property.”

Diss town councillor Graham Minshull, who is a member of Saffron's board of trustees, is equally enthusiastic about the project.

“It is so much quicker. We put the concrete down last week, and the basic house will be finished by the end of today. It means instead of taking about a year from identifying a site to people moving in, if all goes well we can do it in about three months,” he said.


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