Month: May 2007

ElectroPollution

There is a growing body of research that suggests that exposure to electric & electromagnetic fields especially from high voltage sources may be detrimental to health. Electric fields are produced wherever and whenever there is a flow of voltage. This occurs through any electric cable or appliance even when it is switched off. Electromagnetic fields are only present where current is flowing and the appliance is switched on. It is electromagnetic field pollution (EMF's) that is of most concern. EMF's have been linked with many health concerns, including, immune system disorders, cancers, leukaemia, depression & allergies. Distance is the easiest…
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Colour

The field of psychology recognises the affect that colour has upon us, not merely as a matter of subjectively favouring certain colours, but in terms of our base characteristics & responses. ...Dr Ashley felt that colo(u)r has a great deal to do with the well-being of the emotionally disturbed. Nurse Diesel, High Anxiety, Directed by Mel Brooks 1977. Instinctively, we are programmed to respond to colour in certain ways. Grey is associated with the descent into winter and associated hardship, green with fertility and plenty, blue with the cooling, powerful waters... Of course these associations are not as simple and…
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Planning Amendments

We bought the barn with planning permission in place. The plans were very simple and low impact. The structure of the building remained unchanged, utilising existing windows and doors, with the simple addition of some small velux windows in the roof. When we came to readdress the plans with our designer, the opportunity presented itself to add some windows to the currently blind south facing gable end. We submitted an amendment to the existing planning to add a central window to the first floor bedroom to provide a fire exit (happily with fine views over the hills) and two similar…
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Allergy Free

An allergy is a hypersensitivity to what are normally innocuous entities such as certain foodstuffs, cleaning products, dust, plant pollen and so on. Whilst debate over the scale, change in scale and root causes of people suffering from allergies is beyond the scope of this article, consideration of how to minimise the impact of allergens on the inhabitants a healthy house is. So, what steps can we take in the design and construction of our buildings to minimise the risk from allergens? For a start, we can consider the minimisation of those factors that we have already considered under Air…
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Radon Report

Until I started researching the Healthy House concept, I'd always taken such things as the need for a radon survey with a pinch of salt; as a necessary evil, a piece of unavoidable paid-for bureaucracy. Now I have a slightly differing opinion after developing an appreciation of the risks that radon presents. So when my British Geological Survey 'Radon Protective Measures Standard Report' tells me that I need to take BASIC protective measures, I'm taking it seriously. I believe that level of protection can be afforded through installation of an appropriate barrier layer integral to the damp proof membrane --…
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Air Quality

Air quality is determined by the composition of the volume of air under consideration. Generally, the normal composition of air is 78% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.04% carbon dioxide, trace amounts of other gases, and around 1% water vapour. Substances not naturally found in the air or found in the air at higher than usual concentrations are pollutants which are detrimental to air quality. In healthy house terms, we are interested in indoor air quality; a lack of ventilation can concentrate indoor air pollution and our living patterns bring about prolonged exposure to pollution. So what pollutants are we…
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The Healthy House

It is only over the last few months that I've become aware of the concept of the healthy house. This is a design approach that focuses on the effects upon human health of the design, materials, building alignment & layout of our built environment. In the best tradition of 'Top-10 lists', here's my ten key considerations of healthy house design. Each is accompanied by some basic notes; with more detail given in the posts that each heading links to. Air Quality Whilst modern insulation pushes us toward living in an air-tight cocoon, our needs for clean & fresh air push…
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Brambling take 2

There's been some pay-back from the bramble clearing that we spent so many weekends doing. Nettles! ...and where there are nettles there's soup. Get over to mwnch ~ eat seasonally for the recipe and get cooking.
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Oak Beams? ~ You must be barking!

When working through the detailed design for the barn we decided to use oak beams to support the first floor rather than steels. That seems like a sensible decision; whilst costing more, from the perspective of aesthetics and 'healthy house' design the choice was clear. Now I'm trying to set the budget, the madness begins. I've had two prices - one from a website and one from a national timber products (floors, doors ...) supplier with shops across the country & glossy ads in all the self-build maqazines. The two prices vary by a factor of 10. Whilst one is…
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Underfloor Heating

From the Romans to present day, underfloor heating has been a good idea. Underfloor heating provides gently radiating heat from the whole of the floor surface. This radiant heat is similar to the heat from the sun, heating the occupants of the room directly rather than the air around them (must admit I've never fully followed that, but that's what I'm told!). As such the whole of the room is heated and the hot / cool spots and convection air currents caused by traditional radiators avoided. Thus dust movement is reduced and humidity levels in the air maintained - the…
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