Please, somebody! Let us build a large traditional house to passive specification in Ireland

We want to build a passive house with completely traditional shape and appearance in Ireland. Most Irish houses older than 100 years are well balanced, with a tasteful fenestration (shape, size and location of the windows) and possess good shapes for passive design.

Traditional Irish house, good passive-house design for new-build with Scandinavian Homes traditional rendered facade.

After 20 years of building in Ireland we have never got a request to build this type of traditional building. Why? Do people associate the traditional buildings that make up the center of most towns and villages with cold and damp? Or is it the planners and architects that push for “modern” ideas? In any case, it is a tragedy, considering the utter rubbish that has been built in this country in the sixties, seventies, eighties, nineties and up to this day, and it still goes on!
Houses that cannot be heated. People use only a small part of the house.
They are to large, to complex and too poorly insulated.

Modern Irish architect or is it a planning officer?

A few weeks ago I had an enquiry for a new house. The customer already had plans made up by an architect. The woman did not want passive performance, but she wanted it “very well insulated” How can anybody in their right mind not want passive performance? The budget was restricted to a modest but normal sum. She told me that the house was of a simple good shape and of single storey so it should easily be built to high standards. Then I received the architect’s drawings……….

There were seventeen (!) roof windows, two chimneys, three external doors, two large sliding door sections, split level, a few rooms in the attic and many ins and outs.

Very expensive to build to poor standard, impossible to build to an even modest energy performance standard. In short, a total disaster. Created by an established architect. Where do they get their education? What values do they teach the architect students? Seventeen triple glazed roof windows cost around €25.000 just to buy! Then add around €5.000 to install them and add the cost for the massive heat-losses through roof-windows for ever and ever……

The traditional Irish two-storey house is more or less ideal for passive performance. With classical windows and an elegant entrance, the house can become very attractive. This also requires staying away from short lived artificial materials for soffits and guttering. The approach can be pretty much identical to our Swedish house from 1860 but in an Irish context.