Time lapse video of work so far..

Passive House Pharmacy continues on site

Site Inspection 23rd August 2014

We are dealing with snag items in the pharmacy and the apartment is about 4 days from completion.

Site Inspection 8th August 2014

The pharmacy is open for business and they have had a magnificent start with hordes of customers coming in for a gander at the new store. Lots of positive feedback from the public which is nice. Even whilst I was there taking a few pics a customer was praising the client about the light and space! The apartment is near completion too and should be ready in about two weeks. I am now trying to find a little time to finalise the PHPP and submit it for certification. Our BER is being generated also so that will be interesting.

Post-Occupancy Evaluation

I installed three dataloggers which will take a record every 15 minutes of external temperature and humidity, internal temperature and humidity, and temperature in the space heating pipework. This will allow me to analyse the performance of the building in use, from now through the first heating season, which I can then publish and present at conference. Post-Occupancy Evaluation (POE) is the final step in delivering truly sustainable buildings. There is no point in designing a building that is supposed to consume minimal resources if you cannot demonstrate that it is also providing excellent comfort conditions. Also, sometimes new buildings don’t behave as they are designed, and you need as much data as possible to determine the cause. It is not good enough to build it and walk away, you have to make sure it is doing what it should and share the information so that others can learn from your successes and failures.

Site Inspection 25th July 2014

This is the last formal site meeting before handover of the pharmacy to the client. There are still finishing touches, installation of shelves and all the clients I.T. and stock to occur next week. But the building is complete except for commissioning of systems and certification of Practical Completion. PassivHaus Certification will follow once the apartment is complete (three weeks) and we can submit all the revised information and test certificates.

We have a site visit of interested professionals tomorrow morning. Should be fun!

Site Inspection 11th July 2014

Wow. These are the days I really love my job. To see your vision coming together finally on site is terribly exciting. Especially when you know the client is delighted, the contractor is tired but happy and relieved! We have just passed our final air tightness test for the pharmacy which means it is ready for final documentation submission to our certifier for PassivHaus Certification. The fitout is well progressed, lights are finally on and the place is starting to shine! I am really happy with how the shop is going to look, once the finishing touches are applied. Hoardings will finally be down next week. The apartment is mostly painted and being tiled. Kitchen will be installed soon and carpets, lighting etc. One more site meeting to go, then the consultant tour and official opening in three weeks. We are one month ahead of official programme, with an early handover of the pharmacy, so the client is happy. We are on budget too and on track for certification. Ireland’s first passivhaus pharmacy! We also had a TV company on site filming a programme about the building, interviewing myself and the client. This will be aired first on RTE next year.

Site Inspection 27th June 2014

Fit out has commenced at last! The pharmacy will be ready ahead of schedule for the grand opening on the August Bank Holiday weekend. We have 11 professionals signed up for the site visit on the Saturday before and there should be plenty for them to see.

The contractor has passed the passivhaus air tightness test with a result of 0.63 air changes at 50 pascals for the pharmacy, which is a great achievement and a milestone in the project. However there is another hurdle to pass before we can move on to finishing the project.

He is now trying to make the apartment comply. The first test was 1.7 so a lot of work to do. They have identified a major fault in the recommended airtightness strategy which is requiring remedial action. The detail in question is shown below where you have a steel column and beam structure and concrete slab floors.

In this case it is the second floor within the apartment envelope. The brown line was my suggested detail, which would have entailed installing the membrane between the columns and beams, i.e. wrapping the beams at the perimeter with membrane as they were being laid on the columns, and as the subsequent column was attached. This would be a similar approach in principle to how timber frame cassettes are wrapped at first floor level typically.

The contractor was advised to install the membrane within the web of the beam (see red line) when the concrete slab was being inserted. Unfortunately, this meant the membrane was destroyed when the slabs were being manoeuvered into place, which is done by crowbars sliding them sideways etc. It would appear that the correct method is to apply some plywood or similar on top of the membrane as protection, but this has only been learned in retrospect.

In order to avoid this in future, I will have to consider implementing a programmed formal liaison between membrane suppliers and contractor at critical stages rather than an ad-hoc communication relationship.

This means our slab (hollow core) is now leaking, and we have services ducts and stairs penetrating it. The contractor is looking at closed cell foaming the service penetration, taping all gaps in the soffit and possible removing suspended ceilings, electrical first fix to membrane the soffit. We tested again on monday and are at 1.0. So best of luck to the contractor as he works on it.

Site Inspection 13th June 2014

Another great site meeting today. Irish door systems are installing and snagging the front automatic doors. Ash joinery for the pharmacy has arrived, door frames windows boards etc. The FSC ash is stunning, much more beautiful than oak, I don’t know why it is not used more.

The contractor’s have achieved 0.65 in the first blower door test. We will be testing again in a week when the floor topping is poured and tiling is complete, and are confident of achieving the 0.64 N50 required for passivhaus airtightness certification. Mark Shirley is testing for us, he has great passivhaus airtightness experience and is highly recommended.

It is lovely beginning to see the quality of light in the pharmacy now that the scaffolding is down and walls are plastered. When we paint it out it will really shine. It is thrilling to see the structure and plasterwork to form the space in the shop/pharmacy. It is going to be quite dramatic once this is complete and the ash ribbed frieze is installed.

Only 3 more official site meetings to go until the client moves in for the August Bank Holiday weekend, one month ahead of schedule! The contractor’s are doing a fantastic job.

We hope you are enjoying the process, let us know what you think using the comment form below!

If you would like to build something similar, call me on 
021 2429455!


Site Inspection 27th May 2014

I’m going on two weeks holidays – by Christ I need it! So here are a few quick shots of the site visit this morning. Getting ready for airtightness testing, spotted a few issues with hrv duct alignments that need correction. We had a discussion about the logic of some of the taping around the hrv duct.

Site Inspection 16th May 2014

This is more like it! Some patently visible progress this week and the sun is shining! The amazing P.J. Bowes Ltd installed the first part of the shop front last night and we are getting a glimpse of what Joe-Public will see as they view from the street. Hopefully it will encourage them in to the store to purchase their pharmaceutical requirements.

Insulated window cill supports are now installed. Internal studding of partitions is 80% complete and plastering is commenced in places. Wiring and mechanical ventilation ductowork is proceeding. Fit-out of pharmacy is commenced in the joiner’s workshop, J L Noonan’s

Site Inspection 2nd May 2014

I won’t sugar coat it, friends. From an outsider’s perspective this week’s meeting was tragically uninteresting. First fix wiring is well progressed, but a load of cables chased into walls makes for very poor journalism. Floor screeds have been poured, but do you really want to look at pictures of cement drying? You do? Well you’ve come to the right place!!

I promise you next time will be more fun..

Site Inspection 17th April 2014

We had a long and productive meeting today, besides the usual site meeting and inspection, we met with PJ Bowes who are our curtain walling supplier, supplying the Wicona system passivhaus certified triple-glazed curtain walling, and Irish Doors Systems who will provide the automatic triple glazed entry doors. We are co-ordinating this whole installation which required everyone getting together on site and thrashing out possibilities for an hour or so until we had an agreed concept. This will be tied down by drawings in the coming days before going to manufacture.

The highlight of the visit had to be the K-Rend self colour render in progress.Sometimes you are never sure you have made the right decision until you see it on site, and we are thrilled with the colour and texture. It might not translate in photos but there is an amazing texture, colour and sparkle in the render, even though it is a dark colour. It gives me great hope that the finished building is going to look better than I had imagined.

Doors have been installed, Munster Joinery’s first ever passivhaus insulated door.

If you would like to build something similar, call me on 
021 2429455!

Site Inspection 4th April 2014

The good weather has held allowing roofing of the rear building to proceed. 80% of windows are installed and being adjusted – Munster Joinery installed them too far forward in relation to insulation and are pulling them back to increase the overlap and avoid thermal bridging. Curtain walling by PJ Bowes (Wicona passivhaus certified) has been measured and ordered. Should be ready in about 4 weeks. Render samples were on the wall for selection, we are going with a graphite grey colour. Internal studding out is about to start.

Site Inspection 20th March 2014

Roofing is progressing on the three-storey front structure and passivhaus certified rooflights have been installed. These are by Fakro and have 4 panes of glass. The double height rear structure blockwork walls are rising. Ground floors have been poured. The upper roof is being insulated with 450mm mineral wool insulation, Intello variable vapour control system, 30mm gutex wood fibre and lots of other nice things. Windows are ordered and the passivhaus certified curtain wall system by Wicona is being measured for. Things are moving along nicely.

Site Inspection 7th March 2014

The weather has finally picked up after the wettest winter on record. We have opes ready for windows, Munster Joinery were on site measuring today, should have windows installed by the end of the month. Floor slabs to be poured on Tuesday and the block superstructure to rear should be complete 6 days later. By the next site meeting the building will look very different.

I am working on finalising the pharmacy fitout design at the minute. Enjoy the photos and please feel free to add comments or questions below!

If you would like to build something similar, call me on 021 2429455!

Please note; details published in this site are project specific only and no liability shall attach to their use by third parties without consultation and permission by Paul McNally architect.

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Week Five

It’s hard to believe we are 5 weeks into a 51 week program. Foundation and demolition are ongoing. We have had to change to a sleeveless pile given the gravelly ground conditions and use piles to the rear as well as the front. We originally intended to use strip footings to the rear but this was not feasible once excavation commenced.

Steel drawings are being reviewed and the internal steel frame should be in place by the next site visit, meaning demolition of the original superstructure may also proceed. Then this it will begin to feel like we are really moving forward instead of rewinding the existing building!

Week Three

Following our second site meeting, the basement has been excavated and compacted with clean fill. We dug a trial pit in the rear yard and discovered that the current ground level sits on top of 2 metres of accumulated fill built up over the last few hundred years. The original top soil was clearly visible below! This means unfortunately that we will have to install piled foundations all the way back, whereas before work commenced we thought we could use strip foundations at the rear.

The ‘shelf’ of stone below ground level means my insulation detail will be pinched here. We are considering trimming this as per the attached sketch in order to reduce the potential thermal bridge at the footing.

Week One

Demolition Work progressing

The contractors are carefully removing the linings of the previous shop and demolishing the interior structure by hand to exposed the shell. On doing this we discovered some details such as an incomplete filling of the previous basement that now needs to be excavated and filled properly. Our archaeologist, Dr. Niall Gregory is monitoring all excavations and demolitions to identify finds of interest.

The next step will be to insert piled foundations and a steel structure to brace the adjacent buildings which will also be our permanent structure. This will be thermally isolated from the foundations by FoamCore loadbearing insulation pads. Once the steel goes in we can safely take down the existing shell.

Waddell Media have started filming footage of the demolition for an eight part 1-hour new series to be aired on RTE next year called ‘Take Me Home’. The passive house apartment will feature.