A-rated self-build


Client: Tony & Sue Cotton

Architect: Model Projects Ltd

Engineer: Stroud Associates Ltd

Location: Ipswich

Project: 260m2 4-bedroom detached self-build home

The Project

This self-build is a large contemporary home on a V-shaped plot. It’s a two-storey build with a mezzanine area at the top of the house and large expanses of glass, particularly on the front elevation. The architect designed the house to suit the unusual shape plot and take advantage of views to the River Stour.

Tony and Sue chose to build their home with Durisol after seeing the product at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC). Their plan was to self-build an A-rated home and one that would be structurally robust on an exposed site.

They were impressed by Durisol’s thermal efficiency credentials and the strength and simplicity of the Durisol system. The decision was confirmed following a Durisol training day at NSBRC attended by Tony, his son and the architect, James Hood of Model Projects.

Design Features

The house is open-plan with living accommodation on the first floor. Structurally the house consists of two rectangles built from Durisol and set at an angle of 34°. It has a piled foundation with reinforced concrete ground beams and a structural insulated block and beam ground floor. D365 insulated units were used for the external walls and D170 units internally.

Besides the usual self-formed Durisol concrete lintels of up to 2.4m, structural openings of 3m and 5m were made with Durisol and steel cages, as specified by the structural engineer. Larger openings and the cantilevered structure over a glass-to-glass corner window were formed from steel beams, wrapped in Durisol.

The first-floor structure was made from engineered timber joists spanning the Durisol walls. For the roof, traditional cut rafters were laid to meet a central steel beam at the ridge, with a standing seam zinc roof.

The Build

Building work began in May 2019, starting with the entrance driveway, retaining walls and a double garage to the plot’s rear. Building the garage first, using Durisol D170 units, allowed the self-builders to hone their Durisol building skills before starting work on the main house.

Construction of the house’s foundations took place in August with the first Durisol block going down in September.

Most of the structure was built by just three men on site (Tony and two local builders), all of them new to Durisol. Family and friends also helped out when they could. Specialised contractors were engaged to lay the timber elements and larger steel beams. The foundation contractor fabricated the steel cages for the 3m and 5m lintels on-site, allowing them to be simply dropped into the Durisol units when needed.

Despite the unusual design of the house, the Durisol units were easily adapted to meet the requirements. The flexibility of Durisol was a significant benefit on-site, allowing small adjustments to be made as the build progressed.

In just four months, finishing on Christmas Eve, the main Durisol structure was complete. The roof went on in January 2020, and by Easter the building was largely watertight, allowing work to proceed internally. Although progress was then hampered by the pandemic, by October Tony and Sue were living in their new home, leaving only a small amount of external work to finish.

Client Comment

“We found building with Durisol very straightforward and quick. The Durisol units were easy to lay. The three of us alone couldn’t have built this house if we’d not gone with Durisol. So that was a significant benefit.

“We had fantastic support from Durisol along the way. We’re delighted with our new thermally efficient home which achieved the hoped-for “A” rating in its EPC.”

Project Storyboard

Foundations laid ready for the first Durisol – August 2019
Durisol laid to DPC and structural floor in place – September 2019
Up to the first-floor level – October 2019
Forming the lintels – November 2019
Structure almost complete – December 2019
Roof structure going on – January 2020
Almost watertight – April 2020
Ready to render – October 2020
A-rated home