In the Victorian sea side village of Penarth,(South Wales) also known as Garden by the Sea ,there are rumours spreading questioning the sanity of its residents.
Is it age or maybe the sea air that is effecting their logic? For in Penarth over the last year alone residents of the sleepy seaside village have witnessed no less than four seemingly good houses demolished and rebuilt on the same footprint as the old property.
Are these people crazy? What is the logic in taking down a perfectly good structure?
Economics is driving them sane
The truth is that these people have researched well.
Consider, they have just bought a property in an area they love or have lived in it for a long time and don't want to leave the area. Due to the age of the property, it is in need of an upgrade. It will require new windows, doors, re-wire, re-plumb, a new bathroom and kitchen.
When all of this work is being carried out the plaster will be hacked off to renew the services and the floor boards lifted. Undoubtedly their will be unforeseeable damage which the builder will claim EXTRA's for!
Then there is that little bit of re modelling required to modernise the living area. Maybe two rooms into one ? or a small extension and orangery? The roof may be OK for now however it will need attention in a few years and they have been informed by the surveyor that there are signs of wood worm and no felt under the slates.
The amount of work needed dictates that they will have to vacate the property for a few months and further more they have to get the improvements passed through planning control.
They then calculated that after all this work that they will do (probably funded by a top up mortgage or loan) they then have to consider their fuel bills when they finally occupy the old house.
So What is left of the old property before all of these improvements are made? An old shell, a shell that is inefficient energy wise. The new improved property will look superb but will cost a fortune to heat.
20% paid by taxes
The people in question above have looked more closely into the finances. They realise that to demolish the old house will only take a week. It will only take a couple of weeks to re build completely in STYROSTONE. BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT is that by building it from new they are eligible to reclaim all the VAT @ 20%. They also now have a brand new super insulated energy efficient house that will cost pennies to run. The VAT reclaim along with the disposable income provided by energy savings will more than pay for the cost of the styrostone shell.
Not so crazy
They are now the owners of the most valuable house in their areas.
Older properties were built with much larger gardens than today's properties in order that the occupants could grow their own produce.
Why not stop looking for that small plot tucked away between other properties and look at the viability of buying an older larger house with a big garden and go CRAZY!
This property has been built on the site of an existing property that was only approx 25 year old.
However it was to building regs of that age.
The client gave us a brief of the required renovation program. It involved new windows, rewire, replumb, extend and knock a few rooms into one.
We sat with the client and explained that despite the revamp it would still be in-efficient energy wise. Why not demolish and rebuild exactly how they wanted it in new energy efficient StyroStone. That way they would have a brand new build with all of their wish list and it would be a quicker time scale. Also by building new they could reclaim all the VAT.
That coupled with the fact that they would be forever making savings on their energy bills swung the decision to go for it. Six months later they have their dream home.
This is one of four similar demolish and rebuilds of perfectly habitable properties that we have carried out for clients in the last 18 months. All have been within a 4 mile radius! We must be doing something right.
A project briefing
After spending the last 5years living in an eco friendly energy efficient StyroStone property in Spain we moved back into our old property in the UK.
This house was built in a traditional manner out of block work and stone by myself to a high standard, however it was constructed in line with current building reg. Standards (for 1998). After the first month we were alarmed that we had ran out of fuel for our heating for the second time.
At first we thought that there had been a leak in the service pipe or that we had been subject to an act of fuel theft. Only after closely monitoring our fuel use did we realise it was due to the fact that fuel cost had risen so dramatically, that what we had spent, that had previously been sufficient to see us through the winter was now only lasting a few weeks. We decided to commence on a programme of retrofitting internal insulation and other measures to reduce our bills.
At the same time my son had purchased a terraced property in the same town which was in need of total renovation. We decided to apply all of the principles of a StyroStone construction to the renovation of this property as well, and thus take the property from a "G" rating to a respectable "B" rating, hence reducing Carbon emissions and energy bills by up to 80%.
Our train of thought was to do as much as possible on a £20,000 budget so that this could be tagged onto the mortgage for a minimum monthly repayment, compared to doing minor upgrades and having to suffer ever increasing energy bills whilst living in this property. This way my son would know what his fixed expenses were and would always have more disposable income on a week in week out basis.
THE EXISTING PROPERTY
42 Pill Street, Cogan, Penarth was built approx 110yrs ago of solid wall construction. It had since been upgraded by having the front elevation rebuilt in cavity work with 25mm foam insulation. This also applied to the rear annex. The property had originally been a 3 bed, 2 reception no bathroom house however the rear bedroom had been converted to a bathroom.
Gas fires were installed in a poorly constructed rear ground floor kitchen extension, with flat roof, and in the lounge.
The front room floor had been renewed in concrete and screed however the middle room still boasted a suspended timber floor. The wiring was in poor condition. The roof space on the extension and the main building were uninsulated.
The plan was to reduce the size of the bathroom on the first floor and introduce a shower alongside the bath. Make room for a boiler and thermal store and to convert the loft space for use as an additional store space/office area.
Although building regs/planning were not required or applied for, we were to construct everything in accordance with and where ever feasible supersede building reg requirements. This way, should any future occupier wish to use the roof space as a third bedroom, permission could be applied for and approved without problem.
As previously stated our main drivers for retrofitting the property were to reduce fuel bills and carbon emissions by up to 80% and enable my son to live in comfort without paying on an escalating curve.
The priorities were to make the property air tight, super insulate the walls and roof and fit suitable heating systems for space and hot water. This would be via a gas condensing boiler and solar panel. If the budget permitted, we would fit MHRV, however it may, at this stage, be only affordable to pre fit the ducting for this system and add the main unit at a later date.
It was necessary to rewire the property and fit new kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen would be eco friendly and contain "A" rated appliances.
We would also insulate the floors where possible.
Research proved that Kingspan K17 phenolic foam backed plaster board were the best option to line the external walls of the property to give the best U value. These boards are a total of 92.5mm thick however due to the size of the rooms, once fitted the loss in space is not noticeable.
Celotex 75mm was used between the roof rafters in conjunction with Web Dynamics TLX silver multifoil for the insulation of the loft space. This would assist in our goal of air tightness. One of the natural by products of building with StyroStone permanent Insulated Formwork, is that being a mono coque structure, it is inevitably air tight.
The work force on this retrofit project were given tool box talks on the how's and why's of making a building air tight. Explanations on how this can be checked and monitored using infra red and thermal imaging, ensured that guidelines were adhered to. Once the team is on board and understand the dynamics, the rest is easy!
By far the simplest and most effective measures that can be taken to reduce fuel bills is to fit insulation to the fabric of the house and make it air tight. The house then performs just like a Thermos flask, it will maintain whatever temperature you have inside it as long as there is no leaks or escape paths for the energy to leave.
If the heat does not escape you do not need to keep burning fuel to replace it , and if you are not burning fuel you are reducing your carbon footprint and saving money at the same time. A true win win situation!.
If you were sat in a room and £5 note blew out of an open window, you would get up and chase it down the road, and yet this in reality, is what we ignore every day that we live in a draughty poorly insulated house! Money escaping through the walls and roof.
Why go to building regs which only suggest the minimum? Why wait for them to change?
Go for the best insulation now and start to save money.
In this economic climate it is a better investment than an ISA.
Air pressure testing is a method by which Clean Footprint Ltd measure the air tightness of your home. The aim of air tightness testing is to measure the flow of air within a building and identify areas that are experiencing heat loss. It will also highlight how well your property will retain heat and in turn reduce carbon emissions, making it more efficient and cheaper to maintain.
The revised building regulations (24th January 2008) introduce mandatory air pressure testing for new dwellings.*All new single dwellings will require an air pressure test from 1st July 2008.
What is Air Tightness?
Air tightness measures the flow of air in and out of a building. Air leakage is the uncontrolled flow of air through gaps and cracks in the fabric of a building. Improving air tightness in a dwelling can reduce air leakage. The aim of air tightness is to "build tight, ventilate right". This means that there are no breaks or gaps in the envelope of the building fabric and there is complete control over the ventilation system within the building. Having an airtight property does not mean there is insufficient air flow, it means there is controlled air flow. The only satisfactory way to measure air tightness is by using blower door test equipment.
Cleanfootprint Air tightness testing highlights areas of heat loss. These areas are increasing your energy consumption and, with it, the amount of money your property is wasting. Air tightness and thermal imaging can locate these areas and therefore allow you to make the necessary changes to increase the energy efficiency of your home.
Air Tightness for Existing Dwellings Draught - Detection
Air tightness testing is a legal requirement on new dwellings only. However, if you find your home is draughty, you could be losing up to 30% of your main heating bill through these draughts. The draughts are caused by gaps and cracks in the building fabric and are most likely out of sight.
Cleanfootprint offers draught detection to the existing house market. The aim of the service is to improve the comfort of the home in which you live. The service includes a report which, if followed, will reduce the heating cost and will improve the comfort of your home.
Why use Air Tightness testing and Thermal Imaging together?
Air tightness testing and thermal imaging complement each other. Their combined use indicates air leakage within a property. Once these have been identified, solutions can be decided upon that will increase the energy efficiency of your building, and save you money over time.
Contact Us for more information on our house insulation services.