Some of the queries we commonly hear

Is green building/assivhaus more expensive than standard build?

In terms of capital outlay, usually, yes. But this should be weighed up against the additional quality that naturally follows such a rigorously detailed, airtight build. And don’t forget the reduced running costs over time, plus the added resale value which is only likely to increase as energy costs rise and public awareness of the climate emergency continues to grow.

What are the benefits of design and build over a more traditional separate architect and contractor model?

Design and build is especially helpful if you value assurance that what has been designed can actually be built, and want to know what the costs will be before completing the detailed design process. Because this model forgoes the oversight that an architect acting as agent, quality controller or contract administrator can provide, finding an experienced, skilled and reliable contractor, and developing a relationship with them based on mutual respect and trust is critical.

Furthermore, having the designer and builder under one roof means design alterations can be made and re-costed quickly and seamlessly, avoiding situations where changes to the design or materials being used mean time-consuming and costly reversions back to the architect, which can jeopardise project timelines and even risk losing your building contractor’s building slot.

Can Greenheart take on all design and build stages? 

Absolutely! We’ll gladly start from scratch, working up a concept design for your plot based on your brief. We can then apply for planning consent, building control and energy conformity (bringing in any consultants as necessary), and take the project through to build completion if you wish. You can read more about our project roadmap to understand the various stages.

Equally, we’re happy to work with (or rework) an existing design, or simply provide costs for construction of a completed design.

We can either provide a completely finished build (our full turnkey service), or if you prefer we can produce an externally finished ‘shell’ for you to complete independently.

What geographic areas does Greenheart cover?

For environmental and practical reasons, we work within 1 hour of our Bristol office. Typically, that means working in Bristol, Bath, Stroud and other parts of South Gloucestershire, South Wales, North Somerset and West Wiltshire.

Is there a minimum or maximum project size?

While we can take on smaller projects and there’s no lower limit in terms of project value, operationally we’re geared up for new builds of both single or multiple units, extensions, remodels and retrofits of significant scale.

Does Greenheart work with any materials?

We’re open to and experienced with all common forms of construction, from masonry cavity to CLT and straw bale. But over the years we’ve developed a palette of go-to materials and techniques – primarily timber frame insulated with wood fibre (e.g. PAVATEX), and cellulose (e.g. Warmcell) and airtightness products (e.g. SIGA or PROCLIMA tapes and sealants). You can read more about the materials we like to work with.

Do you consider factors like in-use energy, embodied energy and air quality/material toxicity?

We certainly do. Naturally each project and client prioritises these factors differently; as long as they’re all given due consideration and one or more is being addresses as a central factor in the building design then we’re happy.

Is there a long lead time to engage Greenheart?

While it’s important to avoiding rushing into a build we do also appreciate long lead times can be frustrating.  As a thriving company with growing capacity for multiple projects, our program is fluid and we can sometimes jump on to a new project very quickly.

Do Greenheart provide standalone maintenance or installation of renewables, insulation and MVHR?

As a rule of thumb, unless it’s as part of one of our builds we don’t install MVHR or renewables as a standalone service. One exception is Warmcell insulation; we’re registered regional installers and will take on Warmcell installation jobs in isolation.

Are there grants available for low energy builds?

There are but these do tend to change frequently. While we’re always happy to assist our clients with securing whatever grants or subsidies they are entitled to and that are available at the time, we don’t offer specific advice on funding. That said, we can signpost you to suppliers of renewables who will be able to give you a good picture of what funding is currently available and who can explain the ins and outs to you.

Does Greenheart work on commercial or public sector projects?

Yes we do. The metrics for ‘greenness’ can vary on these kinds of projects, but we’re very happy to take them on with the same parameters as residential jobs (i.e. it’s within our geographic area, it’s a project with a green/sustainable focus, and we can look forward to a constructive and mutually respectful relationship with the client).

Can a client use Greenheart designs for gathering comparative costs before committing to Greenheart for building?

Not only is this something can do, it’s something we actively encourage! We do tend to keep our design packages relatively light on written specification with the aim of keeping design costs down; this works when we’re handling both design and build because the flow of information between our design and construction teams is well rehearsed. Should you wish to issue our design work out for tender, there can be additional costs to prepare the documents for that purpose.

Do green builds carry additional risk for insurance or borrowing and can I arrange a building warranty?

In most cases our clients will need to arrange borrowing of some kind, and a building warranty is usually a requirement for that. The inspection and certification this necessitates can be carried out alongside building control inspection by a single body. The techniques and materials we use (though sometimes less common in the UK) are commonplace across Europe, and are generally well understood by UK building control and warranty providers.