Airtight Eco House In the Wicklow Mountains

Airtight Eco House In the Wicklow Mountains

Location: Rathdangan, West Wicklow

Timberframe: Shoalwater Timberframe

Airtightness & Insulation Installer: Roman Szypura (Clioma House) 

Final Airtight Result: 0.15 air changes per hour (ACH) and a Q50 figure of 0.19 m3/hr/m2

Products Used: GUTEX, pro clima membranes & tapes, DAEMSTATT Cellulose Insulation 



n 2003 Jer and Jackie Rynhart bought an old schoolhouse near the village of Rathdangan in the hills of West Wicklow. With the help of some friends they turned it into a functioning home, but the 800 square foot house was too small for their young family — they considered renovating and extending, but Jer reasoned that if they wanted the best build possible, they should start from scratch.

Jer Rynhart approached various timber frame companies before choosing Wexford-based Shoalwater Timber Frame — he praises the company for its “wealth of knowledge”, inventiveness and attention to detail. Founded in 2000, Shoalwater built the first of an eight-unit development of detached passive houses in Rosslare previously. Shoalwater’s Donal Mullins says the company aims to ensure quality by using the same skilled tradesmen in the factory and on site, with no sub-contracting.

The finished walls have a U-value 0.11W/m 2K, and feature 80mm of GUTEX Ultratherm woodfibre board externally, 220mm of DAEMSTATT Cellulose Insulation in the stud plus a 100mm service cavity insulated with GUTEX Thermoflex. The roof has a U-value of 0.11 W/m 2K, and includes 310mm of DAEMSTATT cellulose insulation and 100mm of GUTEXThermoflex.

The Rynharts’ house features an Isoquick insulated foundation, and the ground floor has a U-value of 0.11 W/m 2K. The Isoquick system is essentially an EPS insulation formwork around and below the concrete slab.

One of the most impressive aspects of the Rynharts’ house is its airtightness. Ecological Building Systems supplied the Pro Clima ‘intelligent’ wind and airtightness system used throughout the build. The Pro clima intelligent airtight system was installed by approved Pro clima airtight installer Roman Szypura of Clioma House along with enthusiastic support from Jeremy. Rynhart used the Intello Plus ‘intelligent’ membrane throughout the walls and roof, just inside the main cellulose-insulated cavity. “Unlike conventional vapour barriers or vapour checks on the market which remain permanently vapour resistant under all conditions, INTELLO’s vapour permeability varies depending on the the average humidity surrounding the membrane,” Niall Crosson, Senior Engineer with Ecological says. He explains that in winter INTELLO Plus is highly resistant to diffusion and thus protects the building’s structure, but in summer can become up to 100 times more vapour permeable, allowing any moisture that might have entered the building structure to dry out. In this way, airtightness and maximum protection against mould growth and condensation are combined!

Rynhart used Pro Clima’s diffusion open Solitex Plus wind-tight membrane on the outside of the roof, taped and sealed with Pro Clima windtightness tapes. “Solitex Plus is completely non-microporous. It’s completely air impervious, which is quite unique among external roofing membrane, yet it has an extremely low vapour resistance to maximise vapour diffusion to the outside. It gives an optimum windtight seal but is also reinforced for extra security windtight layer — Crosson says the house is so windtight that, even before the INTELLO PLUS airtight membrane and cellulose insulation were installed, it probably would have yielded an impressive blower door test result.

The final test performed on the building produced a phenomenal result of 0.15 air changes per hour (ACH) and a Q50 figure of 0.19 m3/hr/m2.

The homeowner attributed this outstanding result to the work ethic and teamwork from everyone involved on the project, from Donal Mullens in Shoalwater Timberframe, Ecological Building Systems product and technical support, Roman Szypura of Clioma who installed the Cellulose and helped with the installation of Airtightness materials, Rynharts friend and expert builder David Garland, and of course Jeremy’s own enthusiasm and attention to detail!