As of Christmas 2021 we have my son, his wife and our youngest grandson staying with us, the lad (12) came home from school with Covid last week first week of Feb 2022. All the rest of us did a test and all showed negative every day for a week.
We had rules, he spends a lot of time in his room or in my office with our mechanical ventilation with heat recovery system (MVHR) inlet blocked and the outlet in the anteroom opened up. I turned the MVHR up to full time 65% when we usually use a programme varying the flow between 35%, 45% or 60%(boost rarely used) and 15% overnight.
Our grandson ate separately and we minimised contact with him. He wears a mask if he comes in the lounge with us and that is limited to 15mins, he washes his hands a lot.
Three days into this regime none of us were positive, it is worrying though and I was certain that we would all get COVID. Upstairs we have three bedrooms all with MVHR inlets, landing and bathrooms have extract so bedrooms are under a slight positive pressure and any aerosols can’t float into other bedrooms, they are extracted from the landing and bathroom up there.
I estimate that we are on just over one and a half air changes per hour.
My son says that following the rules is all that you need to do, I like the ventilation system as it ensures that we breathe pre-warmed fresh air nearly all the time and that our grandson’s aerosols go to outside without us breathing them in.
Happy to be able to report that after ten days none of us caught it and that the lad is was clear after six days and went back to school.
My son was awarded an MBE in the 2021 Queen’s birthday honours list for his services to public health and research on Covid-19 in HK, where he is chair professor in the public health department and helped keep HK zero covid for over 18 months.
Many people seem to think that wood should not be used on the outside of houses, especially for fascias, soffits and bargeboards. The track record of all the major house builders around the turn of the century gives them good reason to think this, with widespread failures of eaves, corner boxes and barge boards, especially when used in conjunction with under-cloaks. When I built my house, one of the design rubrics was ‘low maintenance’; ‘sustainability’ was high up on the list of priorities too. So having completely precluded the use of uPVC, I chose cedar for both my facials and my barge boards, untreated softwood for the soffits and oak for the framing on the front of the house. So let’s have a look and see if the ideas have worked out in practice and whether there have been any problems.
I am planning to re-lime-wash the render even though it looks exactly as it did ten years ago. It has become a little frayed around the edges and it didn’t look very good when I did it, but it has survived well and has the effect of making the house look older than it is.
I am a bit disappointed with the slightly open mitre on this rear corner, but there genuinely are no problems with the timber work or gutters. I was kind of expecting that the copper gutters and downpipes would gather a greenish patina, but am delighted that they are staying brown. There have been no leaks, no drips, no repairs and when I cleaned them out for the second time this year, there was very little to clear, just a few clumps of maple leaves and keys. I have leaf extractors just above the rainwater gullies at the bottom of the down pipes to stop leaves getting into the underground rainwater recycling tank.
The untreated softwood soffits have darkened beautifully and tone really nicely with the cedar fascias. The soffits never get any weather and are well protected – I can see them lasting a hundred years or more. Note how there are knots in the soffits, whereas there are none in the cedar fascias or bargeboards, nicely defining the different species of wood utilised.
The fascia boards are well protected behind the gutters so they rarely if ever get wet. I am wondering if I could have got away with softwood fascias. but the risk would be high were they to fail, and the place where they meet barge boards would have been a weak point. Had I gone for this I would have tucked the square cut ends of the fascia boards behind the bottom end of the barge boards and over-sailed the ends of the barge boards by 15mm to protect the fascias.
In this photo we can see the oak frame, the cedar bargeboards and the softwood soffits. The cedar is well weathered but does not rot and I am very happy that it has stayed fairly dark, rather than going the more commonly seen silvery colour. The cloaked verge protects the bargeboards so well that they will never need replacing. These also have untreated softwood soffits but they are well recessed.
The corner posts, which appear to be 150x150mm, are in fact corner pieces made from 150×150 posts with 100×100 cut out from their backs. I was worried that they might split but thankfully they haven’t, and now won’t until the house is demolished – even then they may not. The bottoms of the posts were also given the fifteen degree undercut chamfers. I screwed the oak to the recycled aggregate blockwork and plugged the holes with homemade oak pellets, glued in so that the grain matched. These pellets are now extremely difficult to find.
The porch continues the theme of cedar for the fascias and barge boards, but as the ceiling of the porch is entirely made of cedar, this simply extends to the back of the fascia.
There is some watermark staining Just visible to the front of the porch ceiling and to the bottom oak rail. These do not seem to be a problem and I am loving the condition of the bottom ends of all the barge boards, no fraying, no rot nor any decay.
None of the exposed wood has had any treatment or cleaning of any kind and does not look like it will ever need any. By the time you add in the cost of preparation, filling, priming, paint/staining and labour it works out cheaper to use cedar than other less durable wood. Further there are ongoing maintenance costs.
Uses about one third of the maximum energy allowed by Passivehaus
Ground warmed up,
No condensation anywhere or any signs of it
Green oak shrank and pinged off some edges of the lime render,
Lost some logged data,
Problems with auto shutter controls,
Heat exchanger tries to keep house warm in the summer!
The house is so well sound insulated that the easiest way in for noise is through the ceiling and even with 450mm of glass fibre quilt it is noticeable and I wish that I had double tacked the ceilings.
There was an unusual problem with condensation formingon the basement window lintels in the cavity and running down the outside of the window glass.
Front door lock broke several times in the first four years now it is fine.
even more remarkably I am on my sixth porch light 🙁
The house was designed to be very low on maintainance but as with all building things need to be done
Filter changes to MVHR, cleaning windows and frames, service window ironmongery – clean and silicone lube, I had relay patio near house due to settlement of soil fill near house sinking into the excavation batters.
Six new porch lights (remarkable misfortune), replace recessed LED strip lights to elliptical ceiling (too cheapo ones used initially), replace electric curtain motor, replace electric front door lock, three popped nail heads in plasterboard ceilings, one in basement two in front bedroom- filled with “onetime” filler and touched up invisibly with the original natural calico paint used on most ceilings.