Self-Build: Wikihouse / Passive Haus

Wikihouse 03Wikihouse and Passiv Haus Construction

Imagine if Ikea sold houses.  Flat-pack houses.  Now imagine if there was a machine where you could put timber in one end, and it would spit out all the pieces of wood needed to build an entire house.  Check out the animation on the Wikihouse website to get the picture.

Now imagine that building that house was much simpler than you would expect  (given that I mentioned Ikea!   Wikihouses aren’t actually made by Ikea!) and that you and a team of friends could put one up in two to three weeks.

And then when you were finished your Wikihouse would have such high levels of insulation, with solar panels, heat recovery and so on, so that it would use almost no energy, and your heating and electricity bills would be just a fraction of what you pay now.

Oh, and … building that house would cost you maybe a half of what you would expect to pay for a comparably-sized house elsewhere.  That’s a Wikihouse.

The standard to which your Wikihouse would be built is called Passiv Haus:

 “A Passivhaus is a building, for which thermal comfort can be achieved solely by post-heating or post-cooling of the fresh air mass, which is required to achieve sufficient indoor air quality conditions – without the need for additional recirculation of air.”

Further: the machine that makes the pieces is computer controlled, and the computer is driven by design files–which you can download from the Internet for free, in a system called “Creative Commons”.

Now watch the inventor of Wikihouse, Alastair Parvin, sharing his ideas:



That, in a nutshell, is a Wikihouse:

  • Easy to build
  • Low Cost to build
  • Low cost to run


Here’s a 10′ video that gives a gentle introduction to PassivHaus.  In the video it talks about a PassivHaus being 20% more expensive than an “ordinary” house–but, of course, we’re not building ordinary houses, we’re building Wikihouses that only cost a fraction of what an ordinary house would cost to build.


In that video they talked about (Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems.  There’s a good explanation of those here.  We will also have Waste Water Heat Recovery, but we’ll talk about that on the page about heat pumps.