Upgrading Existing Homes

Displaying items by tag: Project

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 20:22




On Site Training... Experience The Build!On Site Training... Experience The Build!
A recent self build in S.Wales where the client, a complete novice to construction, had the team carry out the ground works and build the shell and then he completed the project using sub contract teams.
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Freshwater East - Styrstone project of new build holiday homeFreshwater East - Styrstone project of new build holiday home
This project was to demolish an existing building that contained a high volume of asbestos and to dispose of the same .We were then tasked with all aspects of the structure from below ground to roof including raft foundation ,retaining walls tanking etc.
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Extension to match existing build finishExtension to match existing build finish
These photos depict the stages of a recent build for client V. Jones, where a variety of finishes were employed to terminate the exterior of the Styro Stone shell.
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Swanbridge FarmSwanbridge Farm
Traditional Build 1997
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Published in Clean Footprint