Building a Passive Home – A Live Case Study

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Building a Passive Home in 2016 – Follow Kilduff Construction’s Live Build Project on a house in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Kilduff Construction are based in Glanduff, Co. Roscommon. We are experienced in building passive homes and have just commenced a new project in Coosan, Athlone. While there is huge interest in Passive Homes, knowledge and information is sketchy. We hope to add to the body of knowledge with this blog on a live build.

The certified passive house designers on the project are Murphy + McGerr Architecture based in Blyry industrial estate, Athlone.

The work schedule has been agreed with the client and the project has now been under way since the middle of September. gannt passive home Kilduff construction

Over the next 4 months, we will provide a weekly update on build progress, providing answers to questions as we go. Over the past number of weeks we have been working on ground works and we will post images here as well.

If you are interested in building your home in the next 12 months, tune in here for updates. An example of what the house will look like when complete is:

Excavation Stage:

Initial Excavation required us to stockpile the top soil as we will need it later for the landscaping. The foundation base required us to bring in some aggregate.

The site is a greenfield site. Safety fencing has been erected, Site Safety notices are in place.

The levels, pre-determined by the building engineer meant that the site required some additional hardcore filling. This is primarily required for elevation and drainage.


October 10th Update

All filling is now in site, levels achieved and the site is now being prepared for the raft foundation. This requires us to install the radon barrier, carry out some shuttering and steelwork

The set up for the raft foundation will take approximately 1 week.

The home will be a timber frame home and this is already in production at the suppliers. The windows are specific passive house windows by Nordan. These have also been ordered.


The timber frame company will liaise directly with the architect and the window company to ensure correct fitting with appropriate tolerances.

It will be important that the windows arrive on site at the same time asthe timber frame installation to ensure that the home can be sealed from the elements without delay.





October 13th Update

Septic tank installed today early in the project to avoid access restrictions later in the project. Supplied by Molloy Precast.

The unseasonal excellent October weather also means that we are working with minimum disruption and mess, helping to keep costs down and we will have one less job to do as the project nears completion.


October 15th Update

Today we are working on the preparation of the raft foundations for the house, the garage and the home office. The shuttering to the house is complete and the steel reinforcement is being prepared.

This week, under the advice of the structural engineer, we applied some storm attenuation measures to the perimeter of the site. This involved digging a storm drain, filling it with clean stone and enveloping it in a geotextile membrane to prevent it becoming blocked in the future through the migration of fines.

We will be pouring the foundations next week

Update October 23rd

We finished the preparatory work on Tuesday morning. The structural engineer had been scheduled to visit the site to approve the work before the pour could commence. The engineer was pleased with the preparatory work and authorised us to commence the pour. We had the concrete company on standby (Kildea Concrete) so they began to arrive within the hour.

The concrete pour continued for several hours and was concluded at 4.30. The concrete was rigourously “poked” to removed voids and air pockets. It was leveled with the traditional screeds and the more advanced leveling laser.

The foundation was then completed with a bull float to leave the surface smooth. This ensures that the insulation rests properly.

The slab is left to cure for a few days before any loading can be added to the slab. The concrete was 35n 20 in composition as specified by the engineer.

On Thursday, we returned to site to remove the timbers.

The next step in preparation for the timber frame is installation of thermal blocks to the perimeter. These blocks have a low thermal conductivity and the purpose is to minimize the bridge between the timber frame and the raft structure. Regular blocks would result in a cold bridge, impossible to rectify at a later stage. Again, this has been specified by the design team.

The build is currently on schedule. Progress during the winter months will depend on weather.

Update October 30th

We poured the rafts on the garage and on the office this week, following the same methodology as we used on the main house. The thermal blocks (7n Quinlite) are being laid to floor level. The timber frame will eventually sit on these blocks and as mentioned last week, they are designed to prevent thermal bridging to the foundation.


The weather has started to turn and it is important to work in the right conditions during concrete work. We knew that it would be raining on Friday and we received signoff for the raft on Thursday afternoon. To complete the powerfloat, we had to allow the concrete to set and this is dependent on ambient temperature, relative humidity and strength of concrete used. The raft was ready to powerfloat at 11pm. Unfortunately we had no one to photo that aspect of the job.

The blocklaying will be finished next week and we will then erect the scaffolding in preparation for the timber frame arrival which is scheduled for the following week.

Update November 5th

We finished the block laying this week on the house foundations. After that we have erected the scaffolding which is required in preparation for the arrival of the Timber Frame structure. This is scheduled for delivery next week as planned. The crane for erecting the frame will also be on site the same day.

Update November 23rd

The timber frame has arrived and is being erected. We had to delay the installation due to inclement weather conditions of wind and rain. The installation should take 2 weeks to complete.

The blocklaying of the garage is proceeding while the frame is being erected.

The timber frame is being erected by MBC Timber Frame  

They are based in Cahir, Co. Tipperary.


Update December 3rd

You’ve got to love the Irish Weather – wind and rain every day. Perfect for building. Having said that we are making progress and you will see that we have completed the blockwork on the garage and erected the external office frame. The slate batons are currently underway. Windows expected mid December but weather may put off their installation. The timber frame construction is impressive and the lads on the job have been very professional.

Update January 22nd

The extreme weather and the Christmas holidays slowed progress but we are back on track and progress is being made on a daily basis. The house is being slated, and the the external layer of blocks are being laid. We have roofed the garden office with a low pitch roof.

Update February 28th

Great progress being made at the house over the past few weeks. the windows have been fitted (Supplied by Nordan). The slating on the roofs has been completed. An additional storm drain has also beeen included. We are working on the garage and the garden office at the same time. The specifications on the insulation being used is specific for passive homes – if you would like details, just give us a call at Kilduff Construction

Update July 31st

As the project neared completion, we were very conscious of the finish being achieved and worked very closely with this subcontractors and owners to ensure best results. Working with clients that engage and communicate on a regular basis is a real pleasure. Progress has been very steady.