The educational journey clearly and vividly takes you through the chronological process of a self build project, using unique cutaways of life-sized exhibits broken down into 6 core phases. These exhibits lay bare and contrast the various methods of building in exploded detail so that you can really understand and appreciate the process you’re about to embark on.
Plant & Site Set-up Zone
If you are going to take on a self build project then you are likely to be clearing and possibly running a site for a good few months. So, in this zone you will find out about site preparation, management and maintenance issues and see laid out before you a collection of brightly coloured equipment; mixers, cranes, excavators and power tools that you will need to become familiar with. There are also the basics to think about and get right up front, such as making sure the power and water is provided to the site, as no one will be able to start work without them! You also have to take care of people on site, so make sure you have insurance and importantly – provide a portaloo.
This zone covers what can be the most complex phase of a self build project so it is broken down into three distinct sections, each of which deals with the aspects of the build that is below the damp proof course (DPC).
First stop is the Foundations & Floors exhibit – Foundations can be the most difficult part of the project to budget accurately as soil plays an enormous part in dictating your ultimate solution, so this demonstrates four different foundation systems (Piled, Raft, Strip and Trenchfill) together with a selection of floor systems. Next, you can take a tour of the Underground Services exhibit – in this section you can follow the story of some of the key services you have to allow for when planning your groundworks e.g. drainage and energy sources and how the services are treated once they leave the house. Finally, descend into the basement and imagine you are below ground. It shows a system comprising pre-fabricated insulated concrete walls that can act as structural foundations and encourages to think about design considerations, construction options and cost implications.
Walls & Structure Zone
Walling forms the enclosure, shape and character of your home and defines the spatial layout, so it is essential to give it due thought and consideration, usually as early on as your mortgage application. This is therefore one of our most popular exhibits and one that we concentrate on when our experts give guided tours. There are many new and innovative techniques on display, as well as the better-known ‘tried and tested’ construction systems. You will see either methods, each with a different combination of materials specially chosen for their performance both on their own and as on overall system. Each wall also shows a type of intermediate flooring, some of which are exclusive to the walling medium they are connected to.
Traditionally roofs have been made with rafters supported by purlins and braced by ceiling joists. Modern roof structures are more sophisticated as they can become useful living spaces. In addition, there are many choices of prefabrication to speed up the build process and provide more useful spaces without any intervening structure. This zone comprises four principal roof construction types; Cut or traditional, Attic truss, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS) and Fink trusses. Each area of the exhibit has two sides and each side contains options for coverings as well as various dormer possibilities. There are also sections in roof furniture such as flat roof finishing, rainwater disposal and chimneys.
This zone addresses the elements and various options that will ‘make your home work’. The choice of fuel, the conversion system and delivery methods for heating and hot water can have a direct impact on the performance rating of your home, so it is vital to get them right. With this in mind, this zone covers off; fuel conversion, heating your house, pipework flow and delivery, hot water and water recycling, electrical and lighting options, air extract cooling and ventilation systems. From combi-boilers and high efficiency or condensing boilers to, heat pumps and photovoltaic cells, it’s all covered.
Once your main structure is completed the last stage of the build is traditionally called the finish or second fix, hence the name ‘Finishes Zone’. It is split into two main areas – the main one comprising of door, floor and wall finishes and then there is the stairs exhibit off to one side. The finishes to your house are very important and will give the impression not only of your chosen style but also the feeling of the quality of the build.