Category Archives: The Structure

Wooden Glulam (Week 3-5)

Work progresses on the wooden frame. As other self builders attest at certain times in a self build project the build moves quickly. This is one of those times.Self Build

Overview of Self Build



Elevation-View End View

 Side View Above


Living Area
Living Area
Roof Overhang
Steel Fixings to ring beam

Side View


Panorama perspective curved view


Roof detail with wood fibre board layer

Inside View Living Area

Images courtesy of David Hughes

















Wooden Glulam (Week1-Week 2).

The arrival of the house frame is always a defining moment as it means that stage one of the concrete foundation is ready as per specification.

Self Build Passive House
Self Build Passive House

As previously mentioned a few of the reasons for selecting a glulam beam system was that it allows for a flexible open plan design in the future where internal walls can be moved. It should also simplify the air-tightness strategy and the running of services.

Frame Arrival

The first few days were spent installing the posts and brackets.

Glue-lam posts Self Build
Glu-lam wall section Passive House Self Build


Brackets on ring beam


Glelam Passive House Self Build
Internal View of structure of Passive House




Foundation (Footings)

The foundation footings required rolling, vibrating and filling in order to level them.

Self Build
Vibrating and Rolling the footings

Once the steel work was in place the footings were poured.

Self Build
Footing Pour

End of the footing preparation.

End of footing pour

First layer of block work

Self Build
First layer of block work

Ring beam installation and shuttering

Foundation Detail Passive House
Shuttering on Passive House Foundation

A foundation ready for the next phase of insulation and slab.

Self Build
Foundation Footing Layout
Self Build Passive House Foundation
Cad section drawing of footings on self build


The Structure (Wall)

For the building structure we decided on a wooden frame with glulam beams. I considered :

  • block work with cavity and on the flat with external insulation (I was advised that this was going to be difficult with the number and size of window openings on the south facing walls). 
  • standard wooden frame with panels
  • Thermal Block -
  • Poroton Blocks.
  • ICF (Insulated Concrete Formwork)
  • Another block that was certified by the passive house institute (but the certificate appears to not have been renewed on the passive house institute web site)

The reason for selecting wood was that I feel that this is going to suit our lifestyle and offer flexibility with the internal layout if changes are required in the way the building is used in the future (room layout or open plan).

The advantages I feel for us will be that when heat is needed it would easily be supplied and if heat was not needed it could be switched off if we are not in the house. The temperate climate in the UK and Ireland is unique (one day 5 degrees next day 13 degrees) and I feel that this will allow us to lower or raise the temperature quickly thus possibly reducing our heating bill.

The external wall system will be cement board with an acrylic finish, a ventilated space, and a vapour membrane (Solitex WA) stapled with stainless steel staples with the membrane sealed on the perimeter (to keep wind and small insects out) using a proclima adhesive called Orcon F. The OSB board will not be installed directly behind the vapour membrane but situated 220 mm deep into the wall structure.

(My understanding for doing this is that there is a higher risk of extra moisture being trapped in the OSB board if it was on the outside . By increasing the insulation less heat would escape to dry the board over varying Irish weather cycles. This could then decrease the structural strenght of the board if moisture was not released quickly enough.)

A few drawings will hopefully explain the above.

Glulam Build Up and Roof
Wall Structure


Self Build
Wall Sketch

The walls will be filled with Isover Metac situated behind the air tight membrane. (I am thinking of it as a zoo strategy i.e keeping the fibres behind the glass in this case the air tight membrane). I am considering Cellulose or Hemp on the internal partitions ( I am looking for something that is cost efficient and provides thermal capacity.)