Building Blox: Week 17 – Roof completed and solar panels installed

What we did:

  • Roof tiling completed,
  • Solar panels fitted.

This week, the roofer finished off the tiling, correcting the issues we identified last week. Completion of the roof meant the solar panels could now be installed. Aside from this it was a pretty slow week as the rest of the team were still off on another job.

Roofing completed

Last week I mentioned that the roofer’s work wasn’t quite up to scratch, doing things “the way they are normally done”, rather than to the standards set by the tile and Velux manufacturers. To bring it up to an agreeable standard and draw a line under this, the roofer, contractors and I had a long (and often sensitive) conversation about what can practically be done.

As much as I wanted everything to be 100% right, ultimately the contractors were signing off and guaranteeing it, as well as paying for any necessary changes, so this was as much a negotiation as a demand on my part.
Thankfully the contractors accept they’re also learning so are quite willing to make amendments.
Making all the changes would have been expensive for them, so a compromise was for the roofer to make some higher priority changes and the contractors to inspect the roof every year. The changes were made and later checked, although unfortunately the solar panel installers broke a few tiles whilst they were up there!

Completed roof - front elevation

Completed roof – front elevation

Solar panels in

Planning Permission from a council is usually accompanied by a number of conditions relating to such things as allowance for further development, surface materials and uses of the premises. A standard condition these days is the requirement to reduce carbon emissions. In my development, the council dictated that I must reduce carbon emissions by 15%, compared to a normal specification building. The council is not so prescriptive in how this can be achieved, so various approaches can be used.

As carbon emissions are created through the use of energy, my approach was two-fold:

  1. Reduce need for energy – using higher spec/additional insulation to stop heat loss, and so lower heating requirements
  2. Use carbon-efficient energy – using renewable energy sources for power

I had been investigating renewable power solutions and unfortunately was limited in what can be used. One issue was that despite having an (excessively!) high roof, the trees to the rear create shade on the southern (sun-facing) side of the roof, so not many solar panels can be used. Other renewable sources, such as air-source heat pumps, which works in a similar way to a refrigerator, drawing the (small amount of) heat from the air outside and using it to warm air or liquid which can be used for heating inside.

To achieve the council’s requirement, I had to fit a 3kW (10 panel) photovoltaic solar system. The solar company arrived on Friday, quickly installing these, before they return once the electric supply is hooked up, to commission the system.

Solar panels fitted

Solar panels fitted

The future of solar

Panels can arguably make a property look more modern, but for me, they’re still quite ugly, often not well-integrated into a design, so look like a poorly designed after-thought. Hopefully better performing and tasteful panels are on the way, such as Tesla’s new Solar Roof.

Maybe for the next project?!

3 Replies to “Building Blox: Week 17 – Roof completed and solar panels installed”

    1. Hi A,
      Solar panels can be used for that, but that’s a slightly more complex system and is only really worth it if there’s a decent amount of power generated by the panels. In this case the power will be incremental to what’s taken from the grid. During the day, when most of the power is generated, and the occupants would likely be out, the power is put back into the power grid and I make some £££ for it! Although it will likely only be a couple of hundred each year, at best.

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