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

Modular self build homes: what's the process?

High quality, sustainable, design-led prefab houses are more popular than ever. An architect tells us the secrets of the Baufritz approach.

Self Build Homes

Sliding doors offer beautiful country views for this Norfolk home

Sliding doors and slim windows are a great way to open up sightlines in your home. This inspirational new build in Norfolk shows what’s possible.
Self Build Homes

Walters Way: take a tour of this self build street in Lewisham

Watch the story of Walter's Way in Lewisham - a self build project that has inspired many grand designs.
Self Build Homes

5 of best self build projects using timber 2020

Discover the self build, extension and renovation build projects championing timber that are shortlisted for the Wood Awards 2020.
Self Build Homes

A Japanese-inspired self build with a tranquil outdoor space

Explore this project from Columbia, inspired by Japanese architecture and with an awe-inspiring outdoor space.
Self Build Homes

Discover the value an all-inclusive architect makes to your self build project

Discover the work of an award-winning architect creating some of the world’s landmark residential properties.