Imaginative Use Of Building Technology Creates A Compact Yet Grand Design

Case Study

Tyvek® Building products on Grand Design


As seen on Grand Designs: Joe Stuart has created a beautifully airtight and efficient home on a tiny plot in London


Small may be beautiful, but it isn’t always easy. In fact, creating a compact new build to squeeze into a limited footprint in London, while meeting all regulations (and the high expectations of a design engineer building his own home) was a challenge of grand proportions for Joe Stuart of Warehome. This ambitious project certainly met the ‘interest factor’ for Channel 4’s iconic TV show. Occupying a plot of just 9.5 x 4 m, the house is a contemporary timber frame design using structurally insulated panels, on the site of a former coffin workshop in east London, and is the smallest 2-bed residence permitted by London planners. 


Apart from elegant aesthetics and ensuring a sense of light and flow in a restricted space, safety and sustainable performance were also key considerations. To ensure excellent wind, water and UV resistance with superior vapour diffusion, while also minimising fire risk and enhancing airtightness and thermal stability, a clever combination of Tyvek® membranes, tapes and sealants was applied to the building envelope.

Among the products and systems used to achieve the performance goals of this design is Tyvek® UV Façade, a specialised all black breather membrane with excellent longevity, which allows for greater design freedom and confidence when installed behind open-jointed facades. It makes the ideal ‘behind-the-scenes’ partner for the elegant Cedar cladding that Joe selected for the exterior. 

Another important element is Tyvek® FireCurb®, an innovative fire-retardant breather membrane that has been applied to protect the timber frame structure and the foam-filled SIPS – a vital specification due to the proximity of neighbouring buildings. In addition, an ingenious concertina-style airtight sealant tape, Tyvek® FlexWrap NF, has been fitted to thoroughly seal awkward joints and penetrations, including the bespoke windows that Joe designed. This optimal system is completed by Tyvek® Supro, a highly valued underlay with many years of proven durability.

Undertaking the kind of thorough research one would expect from a design and engineering professional, Joe says, “I chose the best products and combinations available. I needed absolute reliability when it came to quality and performance. Great advice and service from the DuPont regional manager and the experts at the Tyvek® Building Knowledge Centre made addressing the project’s complex challenges far easier and more straightforward. This may be one of the smallest 2-bed houses in London, but it will always be one of my most important projects, and an example of what my practice can achieve.”

“I know that I have made the right choice in Tyvek®,” Joe adds,” and I can have complete confidence in the long-term performance and energy saving of the building envelope.”

The build took 28-year-old Joe two years to complete at a budget of £250,000, but now means that he and partner Lina can not only leave behind the ‘rent trap’ for young Londoners, but can take pride in a home they have lovingly poured heart, soul and sheer grit into creating.