House Planning Help Podcast (general)

Alex Baines talks through the plans for his semi earth-sheltered home, to be constructed to Passivhaus standard, and explains why involving the local community in the early stages was essential in gaining the relevant permissions.

Direct download: HPH074.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:40pm UTC

Richard Oxley from Oxley Conservation explains why understanding an old house is such a vital first step to take before upgrading its performance.

Direct download: HPH073.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:43pm UTC

Tim Nicholson reveals why he chose to retrofit rather than build new and, having selected a suitable property, what the strategy was and why. Tim has also been blogging about the experience on his website Oxford Green House.

Direct download: HPH072.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:37pm UTC

Alastair Parvin explains how WikiHouse has developed and why it is so significant when it comes to enabling more people to build affordable, high quality homes.

Direct download: HPH071.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm UTC

Jake White from Ecotecture shares the story of The Curly House, an award-winning project that was built using insulated concrete forms (ICF). He explains what an ICF is, why there are benefits in terms of speed of construction and durability, and why most concrete structures have the potential to be extremely airtight.

Direct download: HPH070.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08am UTC

Rory Bergin from HTA Design LLP explains why building standards are devised, the pros and cons, and why people adopt voluntary standards. He also gives an overview of the Active House standard.

Direct download: HPH069.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:17pm UTC

Dusty Gedge, founder of Livingroofs.org, explains the benefits of installing a green roof, how it can be simple and why lots of people get swayed by commercial systems.

Direct download: HPH068.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:39pm UTC

Graham Hunter from Parity Projects explains how data collected from one of their energy assessments is then turned into a report of options for the homeowner. This follows on from episode 60 which trailed Graham as he conducted an assessment.

Direct download: HPH067.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:04pm UTC

Stephen Gurney from Ecological Building Systems explains the main causes of poor airtightness test results.

Direct download: HPH066.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:23pm UTC

Alan Budden from Eco Design Consultants explains how simple design decisions can drastically alter the energy performance of a house and why this means your designer needs to be using a tool like the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) to better inform these decisions.

Direct download: HPH065.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59pm UTC

Ken Levenson from 475 High Performance Building Supply explains what overheating is, why it happens and how to deal with it.

Direct download: HPH064.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:55pm UTC

Doug King explains what smart energy systems are, how they work and whether we should be embracing them in our new homes.

Direct download: HPH063.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:40pm UTC

Building services engineer Alan Clarke explains what factors should be considered when choosing a heating system for a low energy home.

Direct download: HPH062.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:30pm UTC

If the idea of going 'off-grid' excites you, then perhaps now is a great time to be doing it. We live in an era where the cost of items such as solar panels is continually dropping and this is juxtaposed with fossil fuel reserves that deplete day by day.

While you may even be forced off-grid if you move to a remote location, does it make sense going off-grid if you have perfectly good access (for example, in a town or village)? And with different grids -transport, gas, water - which is the easiest to unplug from?!

In this discussion (which was one of our Google+ Hangouts) we discuss some of the issues surrounding going off-grid.

The Panel

Mike Coe, who lives in the Cropthorne Autonomous House (and was our guest in episode 54).

Paul Scheckel, author of The Home Energy Diet and The Homeowner's Energy Handbook.

Ken Silverstein, an business journalist who specialises in writing about energy

Direct download: HPH061.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:46pm UTC

Graham Hunter from Parity Projects conducts an energy assessment of a country house. He talks through the process as he goes about it and explains how the collected data will be used.

Direct download: HPH060.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:58am UTC

Andrew Farr from Green Building Store explains what qualities mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) should bring to a house. He also shares how to make sure you get a system that is properly designed, installed and commissioned.

Direct download: HPH059.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am UTC

Chris Parsons from Parsons + Whittley architects shares his experience of the costs behind Passivhaus.

Interview with Chris Parsons

Chris Parsons from Parsons + Whittley architects has always had a focus on making buildings as efficient as they can possibly be. With the issues around global warming and trying to reduce carbon emissions, this is why they found a great synergy with Passivhaus.

Direct download: HPH058.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:19pm UTC

Joe Atkinson explains how the LILAC cohousing community came together and why their project is affordable for everyone.

Direct download: HPH057.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:55am UTC

Piers Taylor from Invisible Studio Architects explains what a build system is, why you would use one over another and whether any are preferable when it comes to creating low energy houses.

Direct download: HPH056.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:18pm UTC

Steve Mouzon from Original Green helps answer a question (from Frank Wiley) about what houses we should be building in areas that are prone to hurricanes or other extreme weather.

Direct download: HPH055.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:57pm UTC

Mike Coe lives in an autonomous house with his partner Lizzie Stoodley. He shares the story behind this self-build project and why it’s ultimately left them with a deeper connection to their environment.

Direct download: HPH054.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:02pm UTC

Mark Tiramani, the self-builder behind the UK’s first certified Passivhaus, shares his experience of building Y Foel and how this got him interested in the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP). He explains what PHPP is and why it’s a valuable tool.

Direct download: HPH053.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:53pm UTC

Lisa Ann Pasquale from Six Cylinder Limited explains what thermal imaging is and how it can be used in quality assuring the construction of low energy buildings.

Direct download: HPH052.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:47pm UTC

In this special episode Ben Adam-Smith explains why he wants to crowd-fund a documentary about airtightness, what it will entail and how you can help.

Direct download: HPH051.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:02pm UTC

David Snell, author of Building Your Own Home, shares advice on acquiring land, building up a skilled and reliable team, and keeping contracts simple. He is currently building his 14th house!

Direct download: HPH050.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:18am UTC

David Rudlin from Urbed explains what collective custom build is and why it would be beneficial to build more houses this way.

Direct download: HPH049.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45am UTC

Sarah Lonsdale, an eco columnist for The Telegraph, shares a list of 30 home improvements she has made to reduce energy bills, and save energy and water. Ultimately Sarah would like to build a new home (such as a Huf Haus or Passivhaus) but in the meantime she explains the benefits of incremental upgrades.

Direct download: HPH048.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01pm UTC

Ian McKay from BBM Sustainable Design shares how to find a property that will lend itself well to an eco retrofit.

He also contrasts two very different projects, the retrofit of a 1960s terraced house and the upgrade of a Victorian villa from the 1890s.

Direct download: HPH047.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:09pm UTC

Diana Woodward explains how her house was first modelled on a computer and then the 3D digital information was transformed into exact physical replicas. The components were fabricated out of WISA board on-site using a mobile manufacturing facility.

Direct download: HPH046.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54am UTC

Upgrading your property so that it is more comfortable and costs less to run makes sense. If we're serious about tackling climate change then retrofitting has to be undertaken on a huge scale. So if it looks good on paper, why are very few people doing it?

In this discussion (which was one of our Google+ Hangouts) we consider some of the barriers that may be putting people off.

Direct download: HPH045.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46am UTC

Mark Siddall from LEAP (Low Energy Architectural Practice) explains the circumstances under which poor ventilation can occur and why the control strategy becomes increasingly important the more airtight the building is.

Direct download: HPH044.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:25pm UTC

David and Penny Learmonth share their experience of building an ultra low energy home on a budget. They also project managed this themselves.

Direct download: HPH043.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42am UTC

Fran Bradshaw from Anne Thorne Architects shares her experience of building an ultra low energy home using natural materials such as straw bales, lime render and clay plaster. The house is also aiming for the Passivhaus standard.

Direct download: HPH042.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:55pm UTC

Ben Adam-Smith looks at some of the essentials that you need to understand if you are going to create an energy-efficient house. There is more detail in Ben's new e-book: Why Most People Don't Build Energy-Efficient Homes.

Direct download: HPH041.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31pm UTC

Martin Holladay from Green Building Advisor talks about the pros and cons of the Passivhaus standard. He also explains why he believes the German standard is not the best approach for the North American climate.

Direct download: HPH040.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:23pm UTC

Mark Elton from Sustainable BY Design explains what a phased retrofit of a house entails and the steps necessary to make it a comprehensive set of measures. He also shares his views of which properties make the simplest and most cost effective retrofits.

Direct download: HPH039.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am UTC

Bronwyn Barry from One Sky Homes explains the evolution of windows and why modern windows are really pieces of equipment. She also shares what's involved when it comes to choosing high performance windows for a project.

Direct download: HPH038.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:29pm UTC

Jason Orme, editor of Homebuilding & Renovating, shares some of the key challenges that self-builders face and what can be done to make sure they don't become pitfalls. He also explains how custom build might be a good option to explore for those who want a bespoke home but without the same level of risk.

Direct download: HPH037.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52pm UTC

Cath Hassell from ech2o consultants shares why saving water - particularly hot water - is something we should all be doing. She also explains how we can achieve this in our houses through a mixture of technical solutions and behaviour change.

*A lot of the information in this episode is specific to the UK. This is because it became difficult to keep answering in general world terms because in each country it would be slightly different.*

Direct download: HPH036.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08pm UTC

Lloyd Alter, Managing Editor of TreeHugger, explains how worldwide trends in green building have developed. He also shares his tips for self build success as well as some pitfalls to avoid.

Direct download: HPH035.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:32pm UTC

Architectural designer Wilf Meynell explains the concept of environmental design and why it is not the same thing as low energy design. He also shares how he has tried to balance these two approaches in one of his upcoming projects, Springfield House.

Direct download: HPH034.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:40am UTC

Douglas Kent from The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings explains how to look after period properties and what advances are being made with conservation techniques in order to achieve greater energy efficiency.

Direct download: HPH033.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:56am UTC

Tim Hulse from EcoVert Solutions explains what insulation is and why there are often trade-offs to be made when selecting insulation.

Direct download: HPH032.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:11pm UTC

Architect, planner and author Graham Towers explains the fundamentals of housing density and why we really need to get it right in future developments.

Direct download: HPH031.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:54pm UTC

Mark Wilson from BuildingDesignExpert.com shares why he believes there is no such thing as a sustainable material and why it is our environment we are really hoping to sustain.

Direct download: HPH030.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:53pm UTC

Architect and author Sarah Susanka shares why scale is such an important aspect to consider when building a house. She also explains how a 'not so big' philosophy can be applied in many areas of our lives.

Direct download: HPH029.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:59pm UTC

Mark Westcombe, one of the founding members of Lancaster Cohousing, explains the cohousing concept and why creating an intentional community like this has many benefits.

Direct download: HPH028.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:06am UTC

Mike Jacob from Trunk Low Energy Building provides an insight into the benefits of hiring a project manager for a house build. Also Ben Adam-Smith reflects on the UK Passivhaus Awards 2013.

Direct download: HPH027.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm UTC

Paul Jennings from Aldas explains why airtightness is an important factor to grasp when constructing an energy efficient home. He also shares how forward planning, attention to detail and teamwork are imperative for achieving good airtightness results.

Direct download: HPH026.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:59am UTC

Elrond Burrell from Architype helps bust some of the common myths that surround the Passivhaus standard.

Direct download: HPH025.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:25pm UTC

Jonathan Hines from Architype explains the concept of eco-minimalism and also the very different approach that guides them as a business. We discover how this design philosophy has helped shape an exciting new scheme of 150 Passivhaus homes for the village of Kingstone, Herefordshire.

One the day this podcast was published the development - in conjunction with ArchiHaus - was granted planning approval! N.B. Our interview with Jonathan was recorded on 20th March 2013.

Direct download: HPH024.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:31pm UTC

Kingsley Barraclough shares his experience of building a house and explains why he decided to use structural insulated panels (SIPs).

Direct download: HPH023.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00pm UTC

Mark Saich from Green Building Solutions gives an insight into why straw bale building is becoming popular. He also addresses some of the issues that we may harbour around the safety and durability of this low impact and low carbon material.

Direct download: HPH022.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:38pm UTC

Matthew Cutler-Welsh from Home Style Green explains some of the challenges of creating sustainable urban systems. He also shares his goals as a podcaster, including championing healthier, better homes for New Zealand.

Direct download: HPH021.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:52am UTC

Andy Simmonds from Simmonds Mills Architects explains ventilation in the home, why it's important and what the options are if you're looking to retrofit a property for energy efficiency.

Direct download: HPH020.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm UTC

Mark Brinkley considers why the UK has the smallest proportion of self build across Europe and what changes might need to occur if we wanted to adjust the balance. Mark shares why Germany's system is more likely to lead to higher standards and communities that embrace development.

Direct download: HPH019.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:12pm UTC

London's Ecobuild has just concluded for another year and Ben Adam-Smith shares his experience of the event. In this episode he chats to four people he met there - Janet Cotterell from Passivhaus Homes, Jon Bootland from the Passivhaus Trust, Jo Gooding from the UK Cohousing Network and Robert Stern from Litmus Films.

Direct download: HPH018.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm UTC

Justin Broadbent from isoenergy explains what a ground source heat pump is and how it could be used as a solution to make a period property energy efficient.

Direct download: HPH017.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:24am UTC

What's more important - preserving heritage architecture or retrofitting it to high energy efficiency? In our first forum on a Google+ Hangout we discuss some of the issues.

The Panel

Writer and blogger Roger Hunt (who appeared in our 10th podcast)

Writer and Passivhaus consultant Adam Dadeby from Passivhaus Homes (who appeared in our 5th podcast)

Homeowner Ross Atkin (who has recently retrofitted his Victorian house)

Direct download: HPH016.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:04pm UTC

Ben Adam-Smith shares an idea he has about using the Internet to communicate the need for incremental lifestyle change as an action to combat climate change. This one-off episode focusses on how you could use content marketing to get your message across. Cesar Abeid from The Construction Industry Podcast is Ben's guest and helps explain how content marketing works.

Direct download: HPH015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:25pm UTC

Bill Butcher from Green Building Store shares his approach to creating a low energy barn conversion by building a box within a box. Stirley Community Farm will meet the EnerPHit standard.

Direct download: HPH014.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:42pm UTC

Jason and Lucy Reeve share what preparation was necessary to commission their new-build home and Ben Adam-Smith considers what's more important in renovation, preserving the past or creating a sustainable future.

Direct download: HPH013.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:27am UTC

Dr Derek Taylor from Altechnica weighs up the pros and cons of various renewable energy sources and shares his thoughts on whether you should be generating at home. He also talks about his role in creating one of the UK's most energy-efficient homes.

Direct download: HPH012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:36am UTC

Dr Brenda Boardman reflects on the world's energy situation, climate change and the growing problem of fuel poverty. She gives practical advice on how this affects building or renovating a property.

Direct download: HPH011.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:29pm UTC

Roger Hunt explains how to make a period property energy efficient without damaging the building or creating problems for yourself in the future. Also House Planning Help gets its first guest blogger, Paul Mallion from Conker Conservation.

Direct download: HPH010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:09pm UTC

Alex Rice, Senior Engineer at Green Tomato Energy, explains that there are few technical challenges that remain when retrofitting a period home into a low energy building and it is a case of how you apply those solutions to the given building.


Tom Pakenham from Green Tomato Energy describes the practical challenges of making a Victorian house energy efficient. Plus how passive house principles helped a Norwegian explorer in the 1890s.


Tahir Sharif talks about how he built up his knowledge in order to commission an energy efficient home, while Ben discovers some great thinking from the Home World Exhibition of 1981.


Ted Stevens, Chairman of the National Self Build Association in the UK, gives his advice on how to find a good plot of land at a reasonable price. Plus, why Almere in Holland could be a blueprint for other large scale self build developments across the world.

Direct download: HPH006___How_to_Save_Money_When_Buying_Land.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:23am UTC

Adam Dadeby from Passivhaus Homes talks about some of the challenges he faced when retrofitting his own home to the Passivhaus standard. He's also co-author of a new book called The Passivhaus Handbook.


Dr Wolfgang Feist describes how better energy efficiency opens a path to making us less dependent on fossil fuels and we have that knowledge now.

Direct download: HPH004___The_Passivhaus_Standard_2_Dr_Wolfgang_Feist_Passive_House.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59pm UTC

Pat Wilkinson from Touchwood Homes reveals why he decided to build to the Passivhaus standard and there's a resource for young industry professionals who might just be completing their architecture degrees or building training etc.


Martin Evans from The Malthouse Consultancy talks about energy efficiency and Ben Adam-Smith sets up a consumer mastermind group on LinkedIn to collate the good and bad of house design.

Direct download: HPH002___The_House_Design_You_Want_And_The_Low_Running_Costs.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:19am UTC

Ben Adam-Smith explains his motivation for creating this podcast and there's an interview with Simon Lewis, Managing Director of RW Armstrong, a residential builder in the South East of England.

Direct download: HPH001___What_Makes_a_Successful_Builder_of_Traditional_Homes_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am UTC