Upgrading Existing Homes

Displaying items by tag: ICF Contractors

Monday, 25 March 2013 10:24

Demolish and Rebuild!

Demolish and Rebuild!


Penarth, South WalesMadness by the sea

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?

Victorian Terrace in PenarthEconomics 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!

Pembroke TerraceThen 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

Pembroke TerraceThe 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!

Pembroke Terrace Pembroke Terrace

Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 28 January 2013 20:14

Augusta Road

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.

Augusta RoadThe 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.

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Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 21 January 2013 21:25

The Bath Project

Included here are extracts form the media of a recent retro fit project carried out by Clean footprint Ltd

The project in 16 Pultney Gardens, Bath, is particularly significant due to the fact that Bath is aiming to become the retrofit Capitol of the UK .With groups such as Transition Bath and The "Green Doors" initiative in Bristol, the retrofit movement is certainly gathering momentum!

Ozzie and Mary Field have bought a typical Victorian terraced house in Bath. This is a brief description of their on-going journey to 'retrofit their home' and so live more lightly upon the planet.

UpgradingWhy did you choose to upgrade your home?
We are doing a retro refit "because we can".
For us it was the ever-present and clear threat of climate change, particularly in the developing world that was the driving force behind the decision to reduce our carbon footprint.
As we explored the processes further we realised there are many attractive incentives such as the prospect of greater self reliance and reduced fuel bills. As time goes by the price of fuel will go up. We are now on fixed incomes so the proportion of our spending money required for fuel will increase and our spending money will go down.
As we had already begun to downsize it seemed the most logical next step to increase our efficiency.

How did you start the process?
We began by considering building work to allow more sunlight into our new house. The back faces South, yet was in use as a toilet and coal shed. Then we decided to take the opportunity to eco-refit the property. We began by investigating similar schemes which were hard to find. Eventually, we found the precedents and contacts and had all of the necessary information to get the ball rolling.

Research was not easy, for example finding professionals who could explain to us what they could do to assist us. Useful information was obtained from Eco exhibitions and websites such as the Camden project, about a 'Victorian house for the future', and the T-Zero project, an example of a retro fit of a solid walled property.

Choosing the team
Not all building professionals will be capable of undertaking and advising upon such works... You must choose your team carefully and do your research. Clean Footprint was appointed as the main contractor aiming from the beginning to exceed current minimum legal requirements. Indeed, building regulations will be revised upwards in a few years, therefore, the easiest time to consider a full retrofit of your property is when moving or working on your home.

What Measures are you taking?

  •  Insulation not just in the roof space. It is not so difficult to do the walls and under the floor as well. After all it is the most cost effective way of reducing fuel bills.
  •  Air tightness measures around open space and windows.
  •  Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery for controlled fresh and warm air.
What Measures to take  •  A highly efficient gas fire for occasional use.
  •  Solar hot water panels combined with efficient domestic hot water.
  •  A Condensing 'A' rated boiler.
  •  Zoning and advanced heating controls to use heat where it is needed.
  •  Under floor heating as a base to ensure a comfortable temperature.
  •  A wood & multifuel stove for direct space heating.
  •  Triple Glazed windows with argon gas filling to achieve a U-value of 1.0.
  •  A fully glazed south side to allow for solar gain.
  •  Low Energy Light bulbs and appliances.

What progress have you made?
Construction started in March 2010 and building works are now in progress to make the best of the south facing aspect. The eco refit is underway including all measures suggested in the SAP report. The builders are making great progress and we expect to move in by the end of June or at the beginning of July. The journey so far has been an educational and exciting experience.

The inefficient gas boiler and living room fire have now gone and the solar panels are on the roof. The new boiler, tank and related kit are in position, and some radiators in place, with a gadget to deal with Bath's hard water. The walls have now new insulation while in the roof the rafters have been deepened by a couple of inches to take thick insulation board. The contractors have cleaned the removed stone for reuse.

How will this benefit you in the future?
Benefit in the futureAs we are concerned about our negative effect upon the world we are glad to have the chance to reduce our footprint. A good measure of this is the Code for Sustainable Homes which consider the building and life it supports holistically. The ffields are aiming for Level 5 of the energy sections of the code. Overall we hope for an improved quality of living, both for ourselves and, ideally, globally.

This is an idea embodied in the Transition movement principles: moving from an unsustainable way of living and using better the Earth's resources. We are convinced that this is a worthwhile investment; there will be energy savings, lower emissions and a reduction in associated costs.

With energy efficiency and carbon environmental impact going up the ffields are working towards a future for all. This will require additional adjustments to their lifestyle, regarding transport and patterns of food consumption–other aspects of the Transitions movement programme. It fits also with our national policy, the surest way to increase energy security is to design for less energy consumption in the first place. Energy conservation measures, which can result in significant financial savings, higher comfort levels and health benefits for UK citizens.

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South West Built Environment Awards 2011 Winner


Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 21 January 2013 20:44

Retro Fit and Replicate

A project briefing

Project Background
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.

Project BackgroundAt 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.


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 Existing PropertyThe 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.
Petrofit ProposalsResearch 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.

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Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 21 January 2013 20:33

Retro Fit Case Studies

Retro Fit Case Studies


Retrofit & replicateRetrofit & replicate
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.
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Pembroke terrace case studyPembroke terrace case study
This project involved the complete renovation of a Victorian end of Terrace to modern standards.
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Pultney Garden case studyThe Bath Project
The project in 16 Pultney Gardens, Bath, is particularly significant due to the fact that Bath is aiming to become the retrofit Capitol of the UK .
View Gallery

Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 21 January 2013 17:46

Air Pressure Testing

Air Pressure Testing

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.

Published in Clean Footprint
Monday, 21 January 2013 16:54

Upgrading Existing Homes

Upgrading Existing Homes

At CleanFootprint Ltd we specialise in upgrading existing homes to an EU standard. We insulate your home by using an EIFS Insulation (External Insulated Finishing System).

The first step is to book Clean Footprint to asses your home, using air pressure testing and thermal imaging we can identify where air is leaking in and out of your home. Air leakage results in higher home heating costs.

Once identified we can insulate your house and attic to ensure no air leakage, thus reducing your home heating costs.

Are you prepared to be an intelligent house

External House Insulation
This process involves Insulation been applied to the outer layer of your house, (a wrap around your house) when your house insulation is completed, a high quality render (coloured plaster) is applied, giving you a complete new external finish.

Internal House Insulation
Internally we can insulate your attic. Air tightness is achieved by insulation, covered by a breathable membrane this will keep the cold air out and the warm air in. We also offer a Heat Recovery System which provides ventilation and prevents stale air; this creates a healthy and comfortable climate within the house.

All our work is tested and certified by an independent assessor to give you an energy rating, therefore making your home more valuable.

Why upgrade my home now?
From 2009 the Building Regulations dictate that all existing dwellings when rented, sold or leased will require an Energy Assessment. This rating will inherently affect the market demand for the dwelling and therefore the resale value or rental income. As with rising energy prices the Energy Efficiency will become a key concern for prospective purchasers or tenants. For the home owner this will be an invaluable insight into the performance of their home and will provide objective guidance as to how to reduce their fuel bills and improve the overall performance of their building.

Contact Us
for more information on our house insulation services.

Published in Clean Footprint