Grand design goes up for Middleton family

Jane Bullock and Chris Charles with their totally sustainable Passivhaus in Middleton Cheney. NNL-150707-183038009
Jane Bullock and Chris Charles with their totally sustainable Passivhaus in Middleton Cheney. NNL-150707-183038009

A state-of-the-art, self-sufficient, energy-efficient home has been put up in Middleton Cheney in just three days this week.

The Passivhaus is a German-designed, prefabricated building which is not only totally sustainable but flexible enough to be adapted to cope with any needs of an extended family.

The home in Chacombe Road is being built on the site of the Charles family home, constructed in 1950 by Middleton builder Ken Charles.

It will be lived in by Chris Charles, who now runs the family business but the design has been planned with the potential to be extended for generations to come.

“It is as low impact and as self sufficient as it can be,” said Chris’s sister, Jane Bullock.

“It has been designed to be completely disabled-friendly with a lift and no steps. It will be able to accommodate any eventuality and any degree of disability of any of us into the future.”

The house, which was brought to Middleton in sections on the back of six articulated lorries, is very much open plan so spaces can be reconfigured for new additions to the household such as visitors, carers or a young family.

“I think in future people will have to build this way. It is done widely in Germany. For children who can’t afford a house, they can add a level and different generations can move up or down as a unit. Families can support each other. It offers options for the elderly rather than being forced down the road into a care home,” said Mrs Bullock.

The Charles siblings, Chris, Mrs Bullock and brother Nigel, have seven children between them and the house design has been chosen with all in mind.

The foundations are deep and well insulated; the walls insulated with ten inch thick spongy, recycled oil seed rape oil and it is airtight. Technology allows the air throughout to be recycled three times an hour.

Heat from warmer rooms such as the kitchen is recycled and a geothermal pump and photovoltaic panels are installed. The only heaters in the house are three towel rails.

“We only need five kilowatts of electricity to heat the towel rails, the cooker and washing machine and condenser dryer,” said Mrs Bullock.

“The house is triple-glazed and in summer we can turn off the ventilation and open the windows and roof lights.”

Mrs Bullock said water is supplied through a 4,500 litre rainwater harvesting tank which collects rain from the roof for domestic use.

“We can get drinking water from the mains but the idea is to be as self sufficient as we can.”

Buiding is being filmed by timelapse camera so the company, CJ Charles and Sons Ltd may in future offer to build Passivhauses for others.