Norman Piette: Committed to Guernsey Going Green
Helping Build a More Sustainable and Eco-friendly Future in Guernsey
For over 50 years, Norman Piette Ecohomes has been manufacturing timber-based homes, creating a whole new generation of homes in Guernsey. Their mission is to build a greener, more sustainable future by meeting the needs of homeowners striving to become more eco-friendly across the Channel Islands.
Steve Powell, Executive Manager of Ecohomes, shares with Sure some of the energy efficient products that Norman Piette Ecohomes offers consumers.
This year, Norman Piette Ecohomes celebrates 50 years of manufacturing timber homes in Guernsey; tell us about this significant aspect to the business.
Yes, Ecohomes has been manufacturing timber-based homes for the past 50 years and things have definitely changed over that time!
We are part of the only builders’ merchants in Guernsey, and we supply goods to Alderney and Jersey too. Our product range includes the building envelope; external walls (which can include built-in insulation), internal walls, floors and roof trusses.
More and more people are thinking about timber-based homes now, as they are easier and quicker to build and can save on running costs. Over 50 years we have worked on thousands of projects and these can be seen all over the Island.
What are the benefits of using timber?
The benefit of timber is that it is exceptionally sustainable; the replanting and regrowth process is relatively quick. When responsibly sourced, it is a renewable building material, naturally grown and removes CO2 from the atmosphere.
All of our timber and boards are FSC certified for quality and sourced from suppliers all over Europe.
Describe the wall insulation products.
We offer two external wall products:
Timber frame – made in our local manufacturing facility, boards of timber are fitted together into bigger panels, like a big jigsaw. We then place insulation between the studs to make them energy efficient. Once in place, they can be clad with granite, brickwork or rendered block so the finished product is indistinguishable from traditional masonry construction. Precision engineering ensures the highest level of accuracy and quality and simplifies construction on site too.
In 2009, we introduced our premium product, Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). The panels comprise two outer boards of composite wood (OSB), from sustainable forest sources, with a CFC free Polyurethane foam filling. The resultant ‘sandwich’ forms a light and strong structure offering excellent structural load bearing capabilities and superior insulation.
Kingspan in Selby, UK, manufactures the panels and we are their delivery partners for the Channel Islands. This means we have unique access to a market-leading product, which performs extremely well.
How will building this way save me £?
Traditional building methods can be poor in retaining heat. Our internal and external wall insulation products keep the building more airtight and therefore have less air leakage. Consider all of the precious heat that you’ve spent money on, these products prevent the heat from escaping from the building, and so your running costs are less.
A popular way of upgrading existing buildings is to install external wall insulation. We would recommend Wetherby Systems. This, in essence, is a wrap around the building and is currently a very popular option locally.
With older buildings built from stone or block, the interior walls are cold to touch, and the interior is cold too, plus there can be issues with condensation and dampness; by placing insulation on the outside, this can alleviate issues.
Sometimes people think eco-homes are boiling hot inside! Actually, they are designed to keep heat in, which is controlled, as they are designed to be warm in winter and cool in summer.
What about eco-friendly air ventilation options?
We can offer a range of Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems. This works by extracting all the warm, moist air out of bathrooms and kitchens, processes it and then blows it back into the house and brings fresh air in from outside. It can re-use up to 95% of the heat that would have otherwise have been lost.
If you make a building too airtight it becomes almost uncomfortable because the air doesn’t move around, so you have to force the external air to come inside. However, the additional benefit of this is that you get fresh filtered air and the process removes pollen and allergens; the filtered air can be much healthier for you.
Where do you fit into the process of building a house?
First and foremost, people bring their plans to us whether they are for a new home build or a renovation or extension. We then talk them through the whole process, from start to finish and discuss all the different options available.
Our priority is to understand the clients needs as this will dictate which products we will recommend; we have a variety of options to suit everything from ‘home for life’ through to large developments.
We also work very closely with local architects to help their clients understand all the options available and are always happy to guide clients through the whole process and discuss previous on-island case studies.
How quickly can you build a home?
We can build the structural elements of a normal size home in 3-4 weeks. This consists of the building envelope: outside and internal walls, and floors. The roof can be lifted on as a large panel. Then it’s ready for the main contractor to take over.
How popular are home extensions in Guernsey?
Extremely popular! Due to the shortage of land here, homeowners are often opting to refurbish or extend their current properties as opposed to building new houses.
For those wanting to convert loft space, we offer a range of roof trusses to create extra rooms. Building with SIPs also allows for increased roof space, especially in vaulted ceilings as well as being an ideal solution for extensions.
At what part of the process do you hand over the project to the contractor?
Our works begin once the foundation is laid, the structure can then be created. We build what we call the ‘envelope’ to the building and get it to the ‘wind and watertight’ stage and then we hand over to the main contractor for follow on trades to complete the build.
What other eco-friendly products do you offer?
As the need for eco-friendly products has grown, we have expanded our offering to include more products from leading suppliers:
- Electric underfloor heating
- Heating controls
- LED lighting
- Air source heat pumps
We work alongside numerous suppliers to ensure that we are providing our customers with the highest quality and most innovative products.
For more information on the products and services provided by Norman Piette Ecohomes, call 01481 245801 or visit the website.