Posts Tagged ‘Architects’

I’ve read recently on facebook about spray foam insulation.. What is it?

What You Need to Know About Spray Foam Insulation


Spray Foam Insulation: The Essentials

Although spray foam insulation has been in use since the 1940s, primarily for aircraft, for the past 30 years, continual product innovation has seen the increased adoption of spray foam insulation in residential and commercial construction. The rapid growth of sprayed foam insulation in building construction, thanks in part to its immediate and long-term benefits, has allowed the insulation material to sit confidently alongside traditional insulation types in providing thermal comfort for building occupants.

But what is spray foam insulation?  Are there different types available for different applications? And, how does spray foam insulation address the latest building codes while anticipating any changes to the building code? In this post, we explore the fundamentals of insulating foam and more.


What is spray foam insulation?

Spray foam insulation, also known as foaming insulation or sprayed insulation, is a two-part liquid insulation material(link is external) that insulates and air seals wherever it is applied. The material comes in two large 55 gallon drums – an iso and a resin. These two liquids are kept separate until applied at the job site by a qualified, licensed spray foam installer. The two liquids travel up through a heated hose to the spray gun where they are combined to create the foam. The foam expands within seconds to fill the cavity surface.  Depending on the type of sprayed-in foam insulation used, closed-cell or open-cell, the foam expands between 40 and 100 times its size upon application.

Open cell spray foam insulation is ideal for interior use

The types of spray foam insulation

Product innovation over the years has seen the introduction of several different types of spray foam insulation. Primarily in residential and commercial construction, open-cell and closed-cell spray foam is used while high-density spray insulation is used as roofing foam in commercial or industrial construction. Open-cell sprayed-in foam insulation, a soft low-density material, is typically used for interior applications such as wall cavities, the underside of roof decks, attics, basement walls and crawlspaces. The open cell structure of low density foamed insulation allows for moisture permeability to help contribute to moisture management and bi-directional drying of the wall assembly.

Closed-cell spray insulation, a rigid medium-density material, can be used in exterior applications such as continuous insulation applications, as well as interior applications. This type of foam insulation has a higher R-value per inch making it also suitable for small areas that require the highest possible R-value to meet building code requirements. Closed-cell spray foam’s rigidity help reject bulk water making it a recognized flood-resistant material by FEMA(link is external).

The benefits of open-cell spray foam

As mentioned, open-cell foaming insulation is best suited for interior applications/house insulation, offering an array of advantages of traditional fibrous insulation materials. Benefits of open-cell foam insulation include:

  • Allows for bi-directional drying
  • Can accommodate long-term creep and seasonal movement
  • Can be installed at a significantly lower cost and target the same specified R-value*
  • Is not considered a food source for mould
  • Provides sound dampening qualities, ideal for use in media or theatre rooms, office’s 
  • Lower installed cost, per square foot

The benefits of closed-cell insulation foam

While open-cell foamed insulation has many benefits over traditional insulation types, closed-cell sprayed-in insulation goes beyond to offer additional advantages.  Although closed-cell sprayed insulation foam has a higher per board foot cost, there are benefits that the material offers including:

  • Ability to reject bulk water (closed-cell foam insulation is recognized as a flood resistant material by FEMA(link is external))
  • Can be applied at very low temperatures (as low as 5°F)
  • Adds wall racking strength as well as impact resistance
  • Higher R-value* per inch  – easier to accommodate high R-value* requirements in narrow spaces
  • Lower vapour permeance (can be a Class II VDR)
  • Higher tensile and bond strength

Closed cell foam insulation can reject bulk water

How does spray foam insulation R-value compare?

R-value, the thermal resistance measure of insulation, varies between all insulation products whether they are fibreglass, cellulose, open-cell spray foam insulation or closed-cell sprayed-in foam insulation. Generally speaking, the rule of thumb is the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  Focusing on spray foam insulation materials, there is a difference between the two main types. According to an industry publication, Fine Home Building(link is external), the R-value for open-cell spray foam is between R-3.5 – R-3.6 per inch. However, there are open-cell spray foam insulation products actually offer R-3.7 per inches such as Icynene Classic and Icynene Classic Max. The open cell structure of low-density foam insulation means the R-value is lower than its closed-cell counterpart. Nevertheless, open-cell spray foam does offer superior and consistent thermal insulation and air sealing properties.

In regards to closed-cell sprayed in foam insulation, R-value can range between R-4.9 to R-7.1 per inch. Closed-cell insulation products, such as Icynene ProSeal, allow builders and architects the ability to achieve R-21 in a three-inch pass. Innovations such as Icynene ProSeal LE allows for an initial pass of five inches (5”) to achieve R-35.

Spray Foam Insulation & Global Warming Potential (GWP)

Global warming potential (GWP), as defined by the EPA(link is external), is a measure of how much energy the emissions of 1 ton of a gas will absorb over a given period of time, relative to the emissions of 1 ton of carbon dioxide (CO2).  Spray foam insulation products that use water as the blowing agent – typically open-cell foam, however, Icynene’s ProSeal Eco is a 100 percent water blown closed-cell spray foam – have a global warming potential of 1, the lowest possible number.  This is because water in the mixture reacts during the application process to release carbon dioxide and heat. The GWP of the blowing agent is that of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide has a GWP of 1.

A major part of the innovation of spray foam products over the last three decades has been the evolution of blowing agents. Blowing agents are the gases used to expand the cells of foam plastic insulation and give it additional insulating properties. Closed-cell spray foam products typically use synthetic compounds as blowing agents because:

  • they offer improved insulation performance
  • their longer molecular structure migrates out of cell more slowly
  • the closed structure of closed cell foam restricts gas loss best

Today’s “third generation” of blowing agents have a GWP of 700 to 1000 which is still remarkably high considering water/CO2 has a GWP of 1. However, innovation from some chemical manufacturers like the Chemours Company has introduced the next generation of HFO blowing agents such as Opteon 1100, which significantly reduces the GWP impact when using closed-cell spray foam insulation products.

Spray foam insulation and global warming potential

Using SPF to address various IRC Building Codes

While the immediate and long-term performance attributes, the flexibility of use and various types of foaming insulation make a strong case for using the insulation material in residential and commercial construction, how does it address the ever-changing building codes?

Today, each of the 50 states follows a different set of building codes making navigating these codes confusing, particularly for architects or builders that have projects in multiple states. In some cases, the building code changes significantly between the state and certain cities or counties within the state. For example, at the time of writing Arizona had adopted the 2015 IRC Building Code, however, Phoenix was on the 2012 IRC, IBC and IECC code. With the majority of states either on the 2009, 2012 or 2015 code, below are some high-level points to consider and about how spray foam insulation contributes.

  • 2009 IRC Building Code
    • Houses built under this code are required to be 15% more energy efficient than the 2006 Building Code.
    • Prescriptive requirements call for higher insulation levels in most building elements in virtually every climate zone.
    • This is the first code that prescriptively calls for a home to meet a defined airtightness standard, though no testing is required.
    • Visual inspection is required for all areas of the house that need air sealing and thermal insulation spray foam can typically attain 8-9% of the needed energy reduction by sealing the house in hard to reach areas.
  • 2012 IRC Building Code
    • House built under the 2012 Building Code are required to be 30% more energy efficient than the 2006 Building Code.
    • 2012 Building Code also requires higher insulation levels in many climate zones and introduces “continuous insulation” requirements on the exterior walls in several colder zones.
    • Homes in Climate Zones 1 to 2 must have an Air Tightness 5 ≤ Air Changes per Hour @ 50 Pascals while homes in Climate Zones 3 to 8 must have an Air Tightness 3 ≤ Air Changes per Hour @ 50 Pascals.
    • Spray foam insulation easily and reliably achieves 3 Air Changes per Hour @ 50 Pascals.
  • 2015 IRC Building Code
    • The 2015 IRC Building Code introduces the Energy Rating Index (ERI) number as a measure of overall building energy efficiency and sets an ERI target for performance in each climate zone.
    • Spray foam insulation still is considered the most economical method to attain the Air Tightness Requirement of 3/5 ACH and lowest ERI.

Foam insulation as an air sealing material

One of the key differentiators between traditional insulation materials and spray foam insulation is the latter’s ability to insulate and air seal. Foam insulation provides an air barrier to wherever it is applied to help mitigate air leakage from the building. Air sealing the building envelope with sprayed-in foam insulation also helps address moisture ingress to reduce the risk of mould and mildew growth as well as the formation of ice dams in colder climate zones during the winter months.  When you compare foam insulation with traditional fibreglass insulation and cellulose insulation, sprayed insulation minimizes air infiltration, it assists in limiting moisture vapour from entering and escaping the home, which in turn reduces the load on heating and cooling systems. Below is a video that compares fibreglass, cellulose and open-cell spray foam in terms of insulating and air sealing value.



Spray foam insulation is a complex, but high-performance insulation material, that has helped evolve the category further in the past 30 years to allow architects and builders to advance the way they imagine, design, and construct residential and commercial structures.

this information has been taken from the Icyene Website on advice from our spray insulation  subcontractors One Step Insulation

Should you have any questions feel free to get in contact with ourselves or One Step insulation

doagh house coming along well

On site at our Doagh project, all’s going well & another well kept site from Estco NI Contractors.

doagh site eco home

should you have any projects you’d like slemish design studio to look at, please do not hesitate to contact our office

view from ballyclare site

what a view from our site outside straid, ballyclare.
started on site & flying through it…more pics will be coming soon.

straid site ballyclare architects

What You Need to Know About Converting Your Barn

barn conversions in northern ireland

The Northern Irish countryside is dotted with beautiful buildings from our past no longer used but ripe with opportunity and potential. Each building, be it an old church, schoolhouse or barn, has its own charm and with barn conversions becoming more popular, attainable and manageable the possibilities are there.
If you are considering undertaking a barn conversion in the near future, take time and care to consider all aspects of the project.


With that in mind, your first consideration should be the ultimate purpose of the barn conversion. The reuse and alteration of these unique old buildings can take many forms including development for economic, tourism, recreational and residential facilities. There is also scope, in accordance with PPS 21, to repurpose for community facilities but retail plans will almost always be denied.
The perfect project will pair the right property with the right purpose so if you’re converting for a new home, office or tourism business consider all aspects and the variations of each.


Modern Barn Conversion Architects
slemish design studio architects surveying one of their barn conversion projects

After deciding on the right property and purpose, a comprehensive survey of the barn is absolutely essential to identify any potential issues before conversion work begins.
Surveys can be carried out by architects like ourselves, structural engineers or building surveyors and will help for planning to conserve the character of the building, highlight any structural issues and provide clear indications concerning project costs.


For all their charm, barn conversions are serious projects, and generally more expensive than typical new builds, and one major reason for this is the likely lack of connection to normal services.
As most barns, in their original state, would have been used for non-residential or agricultural purposes they are unlikely to be connected to electrical and water mains as well as required sewage systems.
It’s essential that you plan and budget to connect the property to the required services as soon as possible.


When it comes to barn conversions the design, layout and feel of the property is the most exciting part of the project. This is where you get to breathe life back into somewhere that’s been left derelict, unused and forgotten about.
However, even though it can be an exciting time, barn conversion design can be difficult and testing and it’s absolutely crucial you work with professionals experienced in this unique style of building. Almost all planning permission will be subject to retaining and maintaining the look, character and feel of the original structure.
This can prove problematic as old barns and unused buildings can come with limited natural light available, necessary but impractical wood or iron beams and limited access to creating new levels/floors.
With all of that in mind you might be rethinking your dream project but don’t be dismayed. With hard work, careful planning and the right guidance the end result can be truly unique, worthwhile and rich in character and integrity.

Modern Barn Conversion Architects


Finally, and underpinning everything we’ve already discussed, is the cost of your proposed project.
Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb when dealing with such wildly unique projects and only after sourcing the right property, getting a proper survey and obtaining the correct planning permission will you begin to understand the costs involved in your barn conversion project. Also, the scale of the work needed and the involved of other parties will also largely depend on your own experience and knowledge.

We hope that this has given you some guidance if or when you consider a barn conversion.
They can be some of the best and most interesting projects to be involved in and luckily, we’re experienced in numerous projects on a variety of sites.

If you have questions on a project you’d like us to come see or need guidance contact us below or via our facebook page & we’ll do what we can to help out on your project.


Dunadry House featured in Magazine

Magazine feature for Slemish Design Studio Architects

Great end to this year with our Dunadry project featuring in Ireland’s Homes Interiors & Living Magazine.
our clients…and us are over the moon how it’s ended up.

Alfie and Sandra’s stunning new build in Dunadry, County Antrim has been thoughtfully designed and decorated with elegance….. read more about it on our projects page


Magazine feature in Ireland's Homes Interiors and Living Magazine

Ireland’s Homes Interiors and Living Magazine featuring slemish design studio architects Modern Dunadry Home


Magazine feature in Ireland's Homes Interiors and Living Magazine

Ireland’s Homes Interiors and Living Magazine featuring slemish design studio architects Modern Dunadry Home

How to Heat Your Home with a Wood Burning Stove

Information on Wood Burning Stoves in your home & office

As the nights get darker and the days get seriously cold we all want the same thing during winter: a warm home. But, as always, there’s debate around the best way to actually heat your home.  Here in the office we use a Morsø wood-burning stove to keep things toasty (more on that later…) but you’re probably wondering what’s the best option for you.

wood burning stoves

morso 7943 wood burning stove

            The Financial Focus

As an architect studio we’re constantly exposed to new ideas, designs and concepts but clients are also always focused on heating their new homes as economically as possible. So if you’re considering installing a wood-burning stove you might want to consider the points below before making the purchase.


Even though 60% of those surveyed by Which said they saved money switching to a wood-burning stove, the initial outlay can prove too much for some. Depending on make, model and location within your house, a new stove can cost anywhere from £750 t0 £2000. As a homeowner you’ll need to weigh up initial costs to long term savings.

            Wood-Burning or Multi Fuel

A wood-burning stove can seem like the perfect answer to your home heating problems until you think about where you’re going to get such big amounts of wood. Not only do you need a regular supply, you’ll also need space to dry out any damp wood.
If these seem like potential issues then a multi-fuel stove might be your best bet as coal is more readily available. However, this will obviously add to fuel costs going forward.


Stoves are generally purchased to heat one key room in a house as a compliment to a normal central heating system. If, however, you want to treat your new stove as the primary heating source then buying one with a back boiler will be the best option but this will again lead to less efficiency and higher costs.
Also, to effectively choose the right sized boiler you should divide the cubic meter total of the room (length x width x height) by 14 to ensure the correct heat output (kW) is matched to your room. For example, a room measuring 72m3 in total, divided by 14, would result in the use of a stove with an output of 5kW.


Modern wood-burning stoves are systematically designed to decrease overall CO2 emissions during the burning-off process of wood, however you need to be aware of Smoke Control Areas and regulations around your home.
Here in Northern Ireland things can vary from council to council. Fermanagh and Omagh and the Mid Ulster district councils have no regulations whereas Causeway Coast and Glens have some and Mid and East Antrim have more again. The best bet is to check online, or contact your local council office directly.

             Our Recommendation


Morso Stove Architects office

Morso 6143 Woodburning Stove

If you’ve ever visited our office at Raceview Mill, just outside Ballymena, you’ll know that it’s a big beautiful space upstairs in a converted linen mill but all that space needs to be heated.  To do this we installed a brilliant Morsø wood-burning stove that keeps everyone warm and happy all day, alongside all of the coffee…
Our particular model is Morso 6143 and we’d highly recommend it to anyone, bearing in mind the points above.



If you’re still not 100% sure just fire us a question. If we can’t help, we’ll point you in the right direction to someone who can.

living design magazine

Living Design magazine is published to showcase architects design homes in Northern Ireland.
Spring edition 2016 seen Ballymena Architects Slemish Design Studio showcase our Barn Conversion outside Broughshane, Ballymena.

living design magazine

barn extension in ballyclare

Planning approval for barn extension outside Ballyclare

Slemish Design Studio Architects, have gained planning approval for a sympathetic extension, to a barn outside Ballyclare.
The 2 bed barn conversion, will be extended to provide 3 extra bedrooms & with living accommodation to the first floor.
providing a balcony off the new living room which will give south-westerly views over Ballymena/Glenwherry area for maximum use in the evening.

Materials such as smooth render, western cedar & slate, helps give this barn extension a modern feel, yet respecting the existing barn.
looking forward to seeing this going on site.

barn extension ballyclare architects

should you have a project you’d like us to look at, feel free to get in contact via our website/email or social media

architects studio for slemish design studio

Architects studio at Raceview Mill Broughshane outside Ballymena.

We moved here just over a year ago, needing more space & better office accommodation to meet & greet clients.

Click the image to see more pics of our office in our projects page

architects studio ballymena belfast london



ballymena architects anniversary 3yrs old today!!!! where’s the time gone

Ballymena Architects Slemish Design Studio celebrate their anniversary

Today’s our official 3rd anniversary!!

It’s been a fantastic 3 years so far working on great projects and moving office to raceview mill in broughshane, ballymena
We’d like to thank everyone that have came to us about all types of architectural projects & also to everyone else who has supported Slemish Design Studio.

Steven & Joe

ballymena architects anniversary

Should you have a project you’d like us to look at, don’t hesitate to give us a call – or pop into our office at Raceview Mill Broughshane


new modern renovation project Ballymena

Slemish Design Studio Architects have been appointed to design a modern renovation and extension to a traditional farmhouse outside Cullybackey, Ballymena.
With great views to the north of the glens & views from the south as far a belfast, this will make the design appealing to both ourselves & clients.

modern renovation Cullybackey Renovation Ballymena architects

modern renovation Cullybackey Renovation Ballymena architects


Should you have a project you’d like us to look at, don’t hesitate to give us a call – or pop into our office at Raceview Mill Broughshane

new project broughshane overlooking slemish

slemish design studio have been appointed as architects for a cottage style house over looking Slemish Mountain outside Broughshane, Ballymena
Well sheltered with mature trees surrounding the site to the North East an crackin views to the south over the countryside and slemish


new project broughshane Cottage Ballymena

new project broughshane Cottage Ballymena


Should you have a project you’d like us to look at, don’t hesitate to give us a call – or pop into our office at Raceview Mill Broughshane

raceview mill enterprise units broughshane starts on site

raceview mill enterprise units broughshane starts on site

raceview mill enterprise units broughshane


raceview mill enterprise units broughshane


the enterprise units have started on site….great to see.
for more information keep an eye on our Facebook page  & Raceview Mill’s Facebook page 




clonetrace broughshane – new project

new project on clonetrace broughshane ballymena

clonetrace house broughshane – slemish design studio architects have been appointed for a new dwelling & garage outside broughshane, ballymena


clonetrace broughshane

clonetrace broughshane


check out our social media pages for more information

clonetrace broughshane clonetrace broughshane architects clonetrace broughshane architects ballymena clonetrace broughshane architects northern ireland clonetrace broughshane clonetrace broughshane  clonetrace broughshane  

SelfBuild architects 2014

SelfBuild architects 2014 Slemish Design Studio are giving away Free tickets to Belfast SelfBuild

should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to give us a call

Unfortunately we’ll not be at the show, but we hope that we’ll be able to get a stall next year

check out our social media pages for more information
selfbuild architects 2014 selfbuild architects 2014 self build architects 2014 architects architects architects