Passive House (the UK equivalent of Passivhaus) is a low energy standard developed in Germany that reduces the heating required in buildings to negligible levels, thus negating the requirement for a traditional heating system. It is widely recognised as one of the most demanding energy efficiency standards around – and a popular goal for self-builders looking to create a bespoke, long-term home with minimal running costs.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are a first-class choice for self-builders looking to achieve a highly-efficient home with low running costs. The system provides inherently excellent fabric performance and airtightness, combined with a simple, streamlined construction programme, and they now offer a well-established alternative to traditional techniques..
Even more importantly, SIPs make it possible to build to standards such as Passive House without the need for excessively thick walls. You also retain complete design flexibility, whether your tastes run to the ultra-modern or a more traditional appearance.
As well as providing excellent levels of insulation, the jointing arrangements inherent in SIPs can provide extremely airtight structures, with air-leakage rates as good as 1m3/hour/m2 @ 50 Pa. Simple additional measures can be taken to reduce this rate to the 0.6 air changes per hour @ 50 Pa required by the Passive House standard.
Common construction techniques can be susceptible to air-leakage through poorly sealed sockets/switches; at floor zones through masonry cavity walls; under skirting boards; and even through poorly sealed loft hatches and top storey light fittings. Using SIPs can help to alleviate all these issues.
The demanding airtightness requirements of the Passive House approach makes mechanical ventilation essential in order to maintain a constant flow of fresh air within a property and, in most cases, it will make sense to add a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) element to the system. MVHR units use the heat from outgoing stale air to warm incoming fresh air, creating a fresh and comfortable indoor environment and further reduce the property’s heating requirement.
This is another factor in heat loss within a house. With SIPs the panels’ jointing arrangement is typically interrupted less frequently by repeating studwork, greatly reducing repeating thermal bridging compared to timber frame construction.
Your SIPs kit is manufactured off-site with tight manufacturing tolerances, meaning that SIPs can be constructed very quickly once onsite. This allows for a much shorter build programme, which can typically be completed within a matter of weeks, leaving you with a highly insulated shell ready to receive follow on trades.
"First class service from Commercial Manager, Derek McIntyre, at all stages of the project. Once on site, Gavin Brock and his installation team were skilled and highly efficient. JML SIPs are a great team and know their product."
G. Smith, Strathaven
"For you and your team to hit your estimated build costs at every turn and to do it before deadline was a real credit to your organisation and efficiency and a massive relief to ourselves. We could not have asked for better building contractors. John was so patient and tolerant of my crazy plans and last minute alterations to the house."
Mr & Mrs Wilson, Tree Cottage, Killearn
"We are extremely pleased with the professional service provided by JML SIPs. Not only is the work to a high standard but also the positive and client specific approach was exceptional throughout."
Robin Wilson, Auchterarder
"JML SIPs provided a friendly, efficient service which was completed within the set timescale and within budget."
Ian Reynolds, Killikrankie
"JML SIPs were very professional and conscientious throughout all the stages of the construction of this high specification property. Their attention to detail, responsiveness and service provision were first class."
Douglas Sheasby, Dunblane
"We are delighted with the high standard of renovation and extension work recently carried out by JML SIPs. John and Robin proved invaluable with help and advice as the project progressed and all the direct tradesmen employed by them were helpful, courteous and efficient. No problem was too big or small and they were very flexible with all arrangements."
Bob Lindsay, Dunkeld
"The team were courteous and hard working, arriving promptly on site every day. The site was also kept very tidy with cut blocks and slates stacked for use before any new materials were cut. Every comment from the local community about the build has been positive and I am happy to pass on the recommendation to anyone considering building a house."
Gordon Motion, Stirlingshire
JML SIPs provided a first class service in building our four-bedroom house in Moray. We were highly impressed with the design consultant who listened to our requests, came back with drawings and ideas and with us decided on the house that woud meet all our needs. We were supported through the whole building process, were consulted in respect of planning and authorisation and we felt that we were listened to all through the experience. It is not too much to say that we enjoyed the journey. During the build the workmen were well mannered and hard working. They were clearly skilled craftsmen and were confident and efficient in their work. The manager and designer were attentive to our request for change and were creative in managing any problems that arose. When we contacted the office manager and the reception staff they were friendly and very helpful. We had an excellent experience with JML SIPs and would certainly use them again if we were to build another house.
Janet & Tam McVeigh, Moray