This August the House Planning Help website will be celebrating its first birthday. I feel I have learnt a massive amount over the last 10 months – thanks to everyone who's contributed – but I look forward to all that lies ahead.
Whilst I have interviewed a whole host of experts and begun to understand the theory, I have not put on my wellies, got fresh air into my lungs and trawled around many construction sites to see how it works in practice.
I've also produced lots of content for the website and podcast, and largely neglected video (despite having the know-how and facilities).
So, I have an idea that's looking to change all that. It's in its infancy, yes, but I wanted to explain it to you here.
Getting on Site
I want to provide a series of videos chronicling a low energy build from start to finish. These videos will aim to shed light on the process at every stage of the way. They'll be short but regular. For example, releasing two or three per week during the build. It's not so much Grand Designs drama as covering the jobs that have to be done and trying to understand why they are being done. Where does all the money go? I'll be asking questions every step of the way. I would like this to inform, inspire and create interaction online.
This would be content for potential clients of ultra low energy projects, people who are hungry to learn as much as they can before they do it for real. It may also be interesting for people in the trade who have not changed their practices yet and might be inquisitive as to what is happening in the industry.
The Passivhaus Standard
Ideally I would like to follow a project that is being certified to Passivhaus standard. Why? Well, I have not yet found anything else that gets to the same high standards, both in terms of energy efficiency and comfort. Plus, it's an approach that seems to be rising in popularity and I think people want to find out more. There must be lots of reasons I could add here.
A second best would be to feature a house that would meet the Passivhaus standard but is not going to be certified.
Finding a Suitable Project in South East England
I certainly hope to provide a similar resource when I do my own house build or retrofit, but in the meantime I'd like to create this content in the near future. That means finding a Passivhaus project that is close to me (the closer to Hertford the better) where the self builders will happily provide access to film, in the knowledge that this is going online. There would need to be buy-in from the various tradespeople, too. Of course, it will be a great marketing opportunity for any of the companies that are featured.
This is a learning exercise. The benefits for a self builder are two fold. It helps get this material to a wider audience, which could bring with it greater understanding. Secondly, it will provide an unrivalled chronicle of the work that's taking place, free of charge.
Funding with Kickstarter
The reason I haven't done as much video as I would have liked for the House Planning Help YouTube channel is because good quality video requires resources. As my time is limited I have to prioritise projects for my production company over content I want to make. If this material is going to be free for anyone to access, as I hope, it's going to need funding. So, how do we get this money? Good question. The answer is crowdfunding.
If you're new to the concept of crowdfunding, it's really about individuals supporting the efforts of others by pooling money to achieve an objective. In my case, for example, the goal would be to produce a certain number of videos over the course of the build. I might set a funding target of £25,000 and there would be a deadline of when I must achieve this. If people like my project then they pledge money to make it happen. The sum is up to the individual – large or small – and the project only gets the go-ahead if the target is reached. Find out more about how Kickstarter works.
So, the worst case scenario is that it doesn't happen, but I believe this is important enough content that people would want to see it get made.
In fact last year Faith Morgan produced a documentary called Passive House: A Building Revolution by this means.
Show Your Interest in This Project
The first step in making this happen is to find the right house build and, okay, this is only really relevant to you if you are about to embark on a project in South East England. If I have just described you or you know of somebody who might be able to help, please get in touch.
The second part is to find the people who want to see this content produced. No matter what your contribution might be, if you think you could support this, then please leave me your email address so I can keep you up to date with this project. There will be very little correspondence mailed to you but when the time comes we would love to count on you. Thank you in advance.