There are certainly other low energy houses in the UK with passive slabs but they are usually built by specialist companies with materials and often manpower from Germany, Sweden and Ireland. The Colemans Hill slab was built by two non-specialists – with a little help from friends at the week-end. It’s not rocket science but it is time consuming, especially for a house with 22 corners, and involves some creative and innovative thinking.

Perimeter walls built up to DPC level

Perimeter walls built up to DPC level

What is a Passive Slab?

“The Passive Slab is an Insulated Foundation System that is PassiveHaus approved to deliver the lowest U-value available on the market (as low as 0.08W/m.K) and eliminates the critical wall to floor cold bridge. Expanded Polystyrene is used to wrap the foundation of the building ensuring there is no thermal break between the wall and the foundation. The structural strength of the Passive Slab results from the combination of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS 300), concrete and steel“.

Coarse sand is added over the compacted stone

Coarse sand is added over the compacted stone

Sand is built up to about 30mm to allow for compaction...

Sand is built up to about 30mm to allow for compaction…

and then compacted using a whacker plate . . .

and then compacted using a whacker plate . . .

. . . before levelling ready for the polystyrene

. . . before levelling ready for the polystyrene

ESP300 L sections are first laid around the perimeter

ESP300 L sections are first laid around the perimeter

L shaped perimeter ESP structural polystyrene

Corner showing half lap joint

L shaped perimeter ESP structural polystyrene

A further 250mm of EPS300 is added to the base section and 500mm pieces of EPS300 placed on top

A further 250mm of EPS300 is added to the base section and 500mm pieces of EPS300 placed on top

1200X1200 mm EPS100 are added to fill layer 1…

1200X1200 mm EPS100 are added to fill layer 1...

followed by more EPS100 to complete layer 2

A DPC membrane was then laid over layer 2. No radon barrier was required in this location

A DPC membrane was then laid over layer 2. No radon barrier was required in this location

Steel mesh was then laid on layer 3 . . .

Steel mesh was then laid on layer 3 . . .

Laying steel reinforcement insulated passive slab

. . . and a strip supported on clay “chairs” added around the perimeter to form a ring beam

Laying steel reinforcement insulated passive slab Colemans Hill Farm

Areas supporting load bearing walls have no layer 3 and additional steel mesh is added . . .

Laying steel reinforcement insulated passive slab

. . . these areas and the ring beam will therefore contain 200mm of concrete whereas the main slab is only 100mm thick

50mm wide timber strips were used to keep the EPS away from the brick wall and retain a 50mm cavity and small wood blocks were used to keep the strips of steel centered in the ring beam and other load bearing areas.

Home made hot wire cutter for polystyrene

Whilst EPS can be cut with a saw it produces a lot of polystyrene granules so we built a simple hot wire cutter which although a little slower, produced a cleaner cut and no mess.

Comments
  • David Grant

    Well Done. Can i ask how much you feel doing this yourself saved ? What previous experience did you have that you feel helped you ?

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