Prefab homes that combine beauty with long-term sustainability


What defines an eco house? We look at the features, materials and construction methods that make pre-fabricated Passivhaus standard houses the perfect choice… 

Keep hold of your heat

modern home exterior with garden and solar panels

Image: Baufritz

There are two features to take into consideration with eco houses. Firstly, the energy efficiency and carbon emissions associated with running the house, and then the type of construction materials used, their associated emissions and the raw materials required.

Baufritz have won awards relating to the sustainability of their houses, because, as a company, they have put environmental stewardship at the core of their ethos since the 1960s. So how do they do it?

Heating is the biggest variable emissions factor for any house. It’s really rather simple to solve this problem: make a house extremely energy efficient and it’s no longer a factor. Ultra-low energy houses may qualify as meeting the Passivhaus standard if they reach a certain set of design characteristics.

You need a very high level of insulation in the walls and roof. Glass should be suitably glazed and positioned to optimise solar gain (heat from the sun). The house needs to be very well engineered so no heat is lost through cracks or poorly fitted windows and doors. Baufritz manufacture kit houses and use modern manufacturing methods in their factory to engineer houses in a way that nothing leaks.

exterior of modern prefab home with swimming pool

Image: Baufritz

Next-level insulation

They have also developed ‘HOIZ’ insulation. Manufactured from natural wood waste products, HOIZ is placed between the inside and outside layers of their timber framed houses to create the highest level of insulation. Their windows and doors use triple glazing to minimise heat loss.

Overheating is one of the biggest challenges Passive houses face and the Baufritz architects use some very clever ventilation systems to manage internal environmental conditions. All houses still have energy consuming appliances, but with the addition of solar for both electricity generation and water heating, the carbon footprint can be further reduced.

section of an eco wall made by baufritz

Image: Baufritz

Conquering carbon

Embedded carbon in building manufacturing materials such as concrete, as well as a historic tendency to send materials to landfill, results in a high carbon footprint and natural resource exploitation. Baufritz addresses this problem in a number of ways.

The primary manufacturing material is wood, sourced from sustainable certified forests where felled trees are replanted. In fact, they believe all building materials should be as natural as possible. They say no to PU construction foams, chemical insulation materials, toxic adhesives and laminate flooring. A house constructed using only natural materials, creates a healthy living environment for its residents.

As all their houses are manufactured in a state-of-the-art factory in Bavaria, waste is kept to an absolute minimum. At end of life, their houses can be recycled. Today, demolition firms clearing the site for the new build are able to recycle nearly all of the building materials, therefore closing the manufacturing loop.

interior of a factory

Image: Baufritz

By designing and building houses to ultra-low energy standards, and by using only natural sustainably sourced materials and recycling the waste products from manufacturing processes, Baufritz are able to deliver carbon neutral houses. This means the total carbon footprint throughout the life cycle of their houses is zero, which is why they are, undeniably, eco-house pioneers.

Logo2018 hoch black

Kevins Column

Top self build highlights at Grand Designs Live 2019 hosted by Kevin McCloud

Find top experts, specialist exhibitors and a wealth of inspiration for your self-build or renovation project all under one roof.
Self Build Homes

Home of 2030: winning build concepts for housing of the future revealed

A self build concept is among two winners of this government-backed competition. Take a look at these future forward building ideas.
Self Build Homes

Meer End can design your dream bespoke staircase

Bespoke joinery and staircases can really lift a home. We look at how you can add a classic or contemporary staircase to your grand design.
Self Build Homes

Help to Build: Government announces new scheme for custom and self builders

With the government's announcement of a Help to Build scheme, discover the details you need to know.
Self Build Homes

Inside a narrow woodland home, built without demolishing a single tree

With a brief to preserve every tree in this dense woodland site, architect Frankie Pappas created a linear, narrow home that is threaded through this...
Self Build Homes

Discover why a prefabricated house might be perfect for you

German-engineered prefabricated homes are a byword for quality and sustainability. Discover the secrets of the methods in making these fabulous modern houses.
Self Build Homes

Why Insulated Concrete Formwork self-builds are the low energy homes of the future

Insulated Concrete Formwork Systems have arrived in the UK – a construction method that makes new builds quick to assemble and with stunning insulation properties....