New Houses NI Magazine

New Houses NI Magazine

A Ground-Breaking Project In Maghera Is Changing The Game With Its Two New Ultra Low Energy Houses…

There’s a belief that we’re trailing behind other European countries when it comes to green design and that catching up will involve spending vast sums of money on high-tech super-houses, but Fairbuild homes are proving this isn’t the case. The newly launched Fort development on Craigmore road is reducing its carbon footprint on the environment by implementing an innovative build process called the ZeroHome System.

As well as being environmentally conscious, the development, which was completed in December 2014, comes with an über affordable price tag of £118,500, which is extremely attractive to first time buyers; the exceptionally low running costs also offers an incentive to buy. Affordable and sustainable Richard Todd from Fairbuild homes commented: “The concept was to develop an ultra low energy house that people aspire to live in and capable of being delivered cost effectively anywhere in Northern Ireland.

The development boasts two affordable three bedroom family homes which complement the homes already existing on this site.” While both properties are within easy walking distance of the town centre, the project also uses the latest renewable technologies together with traditional construction methods and fabrics. It aims to help bridge the gap between simple and effective design, ease of construction and the costs for provision of affordable sustainable homes. Most significantly, the design and construction enables a change in lifestyle of the home owner to adopt a more energy conscious attitude.

“These homes have smart meters and the facility for a car charger!”

Clean & Green

fort-3Richard enthused: “This exciting scheme utilises an infill development approach and is aimed at reconnecting with our environment and enjoying the clean, green energy that is all around us, and free to use without worry or compromise. These homes also aim to transform the homeowner’s lifestyle enabling them to enjoy a sustainable home which is in harmony with the environment, needing only the ambient heat of the air and the light of the sun to provide warmth and comfort.”

Fairbuild used an innovative build process on the Fort called the ZeroHome System which is based on a ‘whole-of-life’ design and employs materials and methods that improve energy efficiency, sustainability and functionality. This means that homes are robust and built to last with a traditional construction specification while incorporating the latest renewable energy technologies to deliver near zero energy costs and a payback period on extra capital spend of less than three years. Richard added: “Every detail was carefully considered to fashion an attractive turnkey home maximising the use of space with an outstanding specification and low maintenance finish. Great effort was also put into the procurement process to make these unique homes competitively priced and available to first-time buyers.

The key was affordability and this challenge required using, where possible, competitively priced local products, traditional skills and techniques of construction. the result is an exceptionally sustainable home which is highly cost effective to build and also very affordable to buy and incredibly affordable to run.”

Renewable Technology

Fairbuild homes who used sustainability minded builders Wilson & Mawhinney on the construction of this project, has always adopted an environmentally friendly vision for the future. the choice of build partner was important and wilson & Mawhinney’s attitude and quality of work also demonstrated a passion for excellence. As a result the fabric performance of these homes complies with the Fabric energy in addition this is complimented by using the latest renewable technologies by employing a solar and pv array which works in sync with a thermo-dynamic heat recovery system.

Energy For A Fiver

fort-2The project was careful to conserve resources during the procurement and building process. it was also very conscious of the energy use as a practical family home as demonstrated by its zero carbon rating. Furthermore this attitude also extends to enabling the home owner to carry their energy footprint usage beyond their front door. An indicative estimate quantifying the use of resources or energy running costs (depending of course on operation and use by the home owner) for heating, hot water and fixed lighting is approximately £5 per annum. Fairbuild therefore sees that the provision of these homes will be affordable and an important factor in reducing the growing problem of fuel poverty.

Homes Of The Future

What’s most exciting about the Fort is not only its simplicity but that it has the potential to change lives and radically transform how housing is delivered in the future. These homes provide a blueprint that will encourage a positive force for change within the building industry. The near zero energy running cost indicates its minimal use of resources and environmentally friendly nature.

It’s innovative renewable technologies maximise the use of clean green energy and the overall specification approach assists the home owner in saving money and becoming more eco-friendly in the process through the use of smart meters and car chargers, etc. While the energy used in running a house is of basic concern the pathway taken to get there is also important. This project advocates a sustainable procurement approach and also using where possible local manufacturers, suppliers and subcontractors benefiting local industry,

True Affordability

The straightforward and uncomplicated application of the technology has an important impact for the running of the family home, but it also helps reduce the capital costs making the ZeroHome System truly affordable. By controlling these parameters, these homes can have a real impact on the capital and revenue costs as well as diminishing the prospect of fuel poverty. Richard concluded: “We hope that the lasting impact of these state-of-the-art properties will allow home owners to play their part by changing lifestyle and becoming more energy conscious in running and maintaining their home.”

Construction With A Conscience

fort-4Building a zero carbon home is proving challenging in the current economic climate, even though land and house prices are at a reduced level, so did this cost Fairbuild considerably more than it would to build a not-so-eco-friendly home? Richard responded: “At Fairbuild, we see his as the perfect opening to innovate and feel that there is no better time to lead by example and to implement our plans for Zero carbon build. Why? – because it’s the right thing to do for cash strapped home buyers and allows us to frame our blueprint for the way forward in this key area.” This is much easier said than done and we have found that there are very few who have the expertise or skills to do this affordably. We are therefore very grateful to our Architect & building sustainability consultant Barry Gallagher for sharing his considerable ‘Know how’ in our drive to become the developer of choice for the homebuyer. Not only has he worked alongside Fairbuild in researching and developing ways of integrating the use of high energy efficient building fabrics with renewable energies but he has also set his sights on the design and delivery of the ‘next generation’ of affordable homes that embrace a whole-of-life design concept. Nonetheless the most appealing characteristic is that this is not at the expense of providing a home which is comfortable and that people aspire to live in.”

Anyone interested can contact the selling agent Kelly & Co Estate Agents on: (028) 7964 4344 (