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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
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    • CommentAuthorPugliese
    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2016
    Hi been many months since I have been on this forum.

    I am now building in Italy and have been let down by our local carpenter. I now need to order for delivery in 4 weeks a small order of DG wooden windows and doors. I have previously imported from Poland (Polish Interiors) and been happy with the product but wanted to know if since my absence any other companies have been recommended

    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2016
    The answer wd be v different to someone based in Italy, compared with based in UK.
    Well I know where you can get ali windows in that time (maybe); quality needs specifying though, if you know what I mean......And I have a carpenter who has previously astonished me with turn around speeds but isn't a window maker per se. Umbria and of course no Web sites. Happy to do a bit of mediating so long as I don't have to get properly involved - ie you have reasonable Italien.

    But in short the answer to 4 week windows flash to bang will always be: try another planet! You might get a quote in that time, might....
    • CommentAuthorcascina
    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2016
    Hi Pugliese,

    I suspect Gotanewlife is right about the lead time. Having been in italy for 2 years I'm amazed how long everything can take. It has become my new normal. We're you happy with your windows from Polish interiors?


    I saw you had another thread regarding balcony doors and online pricing tools, where I asked about windows/doors. Did you proceed with any of those companies? If so, any recommendations?

    I'm just about to renovate a large country house and will need new windows/balcony doors and shutters. Any pointers from your experience would be gratefully received. I don't know if there were many others on here in Italy?

    • CommentAuthorGotanewlife
    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2016 edited
    The last thread died because it was for a client who couldn't make up her mind - and still hasn't!

    New windows, French doors and shutters - well for sure you are going to need some deep pockets, no mention of fly screens? I have 6 sets of balcony French doors (not incl ground floor appt), Lord knows how many windows and shutters, fly screens etc and not enough money to replace so renovation in the mode of the 4th bridge is my game (just sanding some reveals now as it happens). I have had to buy new windows and doors for the ground floor apartment and I learnt a huge amount in the process. I am sure I can really add value but only if I know where you are coming from. Money no object now? and in the future? Eco first priority? DIYing any aspect either installation or maintenance? Language skill level? Local contacts in the trade? Will you be able to supervise the installation? These things really make a difference as to the best way to proceed!

    But the first thing is: please say you don't want wood........

    Only other GBF member from Italy was Contadino but he hasn't been on here for a couple of years at least.
    • CommentAuthorPugliese
    • CommentTimeApr 19th 2016
    Gotanewlife thank you for your kind offer to assist, much appreciated, but 8 years of employing trades in Italy has taught me that trying to organise it at a distance would be fraught. I would have to be there in person.

    Cascina, 3 years on I am very happy with my Polish Interior windows. I have just received the quote from them for the Italian spec £4k which compares favourably to the Italian quote of €7k and I did get one for €19k!!! - 2 x widows 1000mm x 1000mm, French doors 2400mm x 2200mm ( 2 doors of 600mm each and two fixed panels of 600mm) and a front door 2100mm x 900mm.

    I do have a thermally broken aluminium DG quote of just over €3k fitted that is tempting as they will supply in 3 weeks. I really want wood but as the property is only for summer use, maybe that is the sensible route.

    At the same time I am having an ICF pool built and have yet to spec the solar water heating system. The ones in Italy tend to be rather large black arrays that are difficult to hide, so any suggestions for the latest systems would be appreciated. The pool is only 8 x 4m with a depth of 1.3m.
    • CommentAuthorcascina
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2016
    Hi Gotanewlife,

    Thanks for your reply- I certainly would appreciate your input from your personal experiences. I will try to answer your questions in rough order.

    We are currently in Liguria but moving up to Piemonte (600m alt.) to be near to my wife's family. There are currently 1980s double glazed wooden units in the house with wooden shutters that have been comprehensively dismantled by woodpeckers (apparently). We have a budget for replacing the windows and shutters, but it is not limitless. We are fortunate that we have a close friend who is a builder and has renovated a cottage for us previously, who is happy to do the work again. We are renting about 2 miles away while we do the work and will be around most of the time to supervise/participate in work. My wife is Italian and I am fairly proficient in Italian. As for DIY skills, I have renovated a number of houses over the past years in the uk and have fitted all my own bathrooms/heating/electrics/UPVC windows etc. I am still registered with Gas Safe having installed domestic boilers and heating systems( including a few multi-input thermal store systems with WBS for customers), but have no experience in solar or pellet boilers. I anticipate doing the bulk of the plumbing/heating work and have access to a local plumber who is a childhood friend of my wife (as is the builders brother in law). With 3 young children I have far less time than I did to do the works, so will be relying our friendly builder for the bulk of the work.

    As for the windows themselves, I last restored a Victorian semi in the uk and replaced the 12 sash windows with replacement new sashes (in the original frame) with double glazed units in wood form a local specialist company. This is something we grew to regret as they need continual maintenance and have become draughty as the seals compress/distort etc. I am not decided on any particular route, but as we are going to be in the house year round (with cold winters) I want it to be draught free and warm. Whatever it takes to achieve that! In our current rental flat we have a couple of tall French doors in thermally broken aluminium which even on the windiest of days appear to be draught free, so I wouldn't dismiss it as an option. Our builder has restored a large stone farmhouse and has replaced his windows as he goes with UPVC which he can get very cheaply from a local company, but i am a bit opposed to the idea- having seen the degradation of quality, catches, locks, units etc over not many years in the uk in houses I've lived in. For the shutters I am looking at aluminium as all ours are rock solid in our rental flat and appear maintenance free- although they seem to only be dark green or dark brown round here. Our builder has said he can get them for under €500 per window for the shutters from his contact/colleague which seems cheap. What windows/shutters have you opted for? Are you happy with the result?

    I have browsed this forum for many years and really appreciate your input. I haven't started on the heating system yet but am considering a dual system with pellet boiler and wood boiler in the boiler room and a large thermal store in the adjacent basement but within the thermally insulated envelope of the house. We are fortunate that the cascina was completely rebuilt in the 1970s by the developer who lived there during which he dug down and rebuilt in concrete with a basement and intercapedine surrounding, which means it is bone dry and solid. This main house needs insulating (EWI) and modernising and the adjoining barns and houses (a project for another day) are stone built with vaulted ceilings. When he rebuilt he replaced the entire roof wth the original coppi and reproduced the arched fienile throughout so it is hard to tell the difference from outside. I am considering Kotly for the wood boiler (to be the main source of our heat when I am around) with a pellet boiler for when I'm away and my wife is busy/alone. I do not underestimate the volume of wood required but storage is not a problem and we have a plentiful supply of local wood which I can store and season. What make pellet stove did you end up with- luminox?


    Thanks for your reply. That looks like good value. I guess for a holiday home considerations are different. When we holidayed here, we left single glazed wooden windows as it was just for summer visits.

    We also have to explore our options with pools but have been told to budget €20-30k for ours- does that seem about right? I'm guessing you're in Puglia- are you looking at pool heaters to extend your swimming season? I've seen a number of different pool heating options, but that was much further down my list, so I haven't explored too many options.

    Thanks both for your input- much appreciated.
    • CommentAuthorcascina
    • CommentTimeApr 20th 2016
    Also considering split between 2g/3G on the windows, with 3G on north facing windows. There are very few north windows compared to the south side. Most on the south side are protected by a significant overhang or protected by a long portico, so the wood windows that haven't been touched for 20 years are still in surprisingly good condition.

    Maybe I should be spending more on thermal shutters as most windows also have shutters. Hmmm.
    • CommentAuthorGotanewlife
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2016 edited
    Well my dear chap, with your experience I am not sure it is I who should be offering you advice!!

    I am at 500m and I always thought my priority should be being able to stay warm but as it turns out that was easy and staying cool was/is the hard bit. Got some good advice on that idc should you want.

    Ordinarily, I would most strongly advise an expat to buy from somewhere like Polish Interiors and not touch a local window supplier under any circumstances. I have a lot of experience in this matter. Buuuuut, in your very specific case I think you could use a local supplier, if you have someone really local. It has to be Aluminium - wood just doesn't last well in our sun (as evidence Polish Interiors guarantee their paint finish for just 3 years if it is white or a light pastel shade - anything else is 2 years), also wood window makers tend to be few and far between in Italy and, locally, you're bound to end up with a carpenter rather than a wood window maker - don't go there. uPVC - avoid at all costs. They are cheap and so all the fittings are commensurately cheap - they very often cannot be repaired, they do not like UV and that's before we start on the looks. I think I am preaching to the converted here but, should the slightest doubt enter your mind just ask me to spew forth some more.

    If you do decide to investigate a local Alu window maker I will write a (scary) list of things to bear in mind. You should anyway get prices from someone like Polish Interiors to compare. I am sure you will find yourself with a cheaper 'deal' if you can pay some or all in cash locally - so that is worth keeping in mind. Practicalities can also affect things, like timing of being ready for fitting, shipment and storage, local drop of the hat advice etc.

    Bugger just realised this isn't your thread sorry Pugliese! You mentioned EWI. Was that a sort of well I'm on the GBF so I better mention EWI or are you really planning it. We do need to talk about your heating (and now your are going to hate me) - Fabric first!!! - no earthly reason why you would need a large TS. Also no 3G - madness in your situation. How much insulation did he put in your roof - mine said 30mm would be enough, OK, OK 40 then. In the end I grew a pair and re-did the roof DIY with 100mm of white EPS and I wish I had gone for platinum but hey....

    The most important thing is to consider air-tightness - did you see Peter in Montreal's recent post about the massive benefits he found, was it 30% from improving air tightness vs 40% from 20mm IWI vs 5% from improving windows.

    You will need at least 3 threads - one which will be you and me pretty much and be about alu windows/fly screens and shutters. Another on your Fabric first strategy (Insulation/air tightness (& MVHR), which will lead to a very surprising low heat demand and hence to a third thread on space heating and DHW.

    There is soooo much more I could tell you but it is late and let's see where you are going first.
    • CommentAuthorcascina
    • CommentTimeApr 21st 2016
    Hi Gotanewlife

    Thanks so very much for the comprehensive reply and I didn't quite realise that I'd hijacked Pugliese's thread. I will keep this brief and revert to your suggested multiple thread format as the matters are relatively independent strands.

    I completely take your points about fabric and will be attacking that in parallel to the internal renovations. During the renovation of my last house which was stock brick, I used IWI where possible, lifted all the boards and insulated in the voids and then used celotex in the existing loft (original) between and across the joists. The thing is, having worked in the UK on brick built housing, I feel very comfortable working with it. I now look at solid concrete construction and feel like a total ignoramus. It's underlying construction is invisible to me as is my knowledge of insulation etc. Thankfully I've also got a geometra across my landing who I've already picked the brain of and now have a fat stack of literature for available EWI systems. He is over Saturday for supper so I will try and construct a least of more relevant questions for him as he is keen to help. What I can see is that given the outside walls are bone dry and have a good smooth finish that EWI is an absolute no brainer. Our builder has done the same on his own home, so he's got experience and it seems quite widely used in our local town during refurbs. I will start a thread on this.


    My sincere apologies for hijacking your thread. I would be interested to see how your decision pans out and apologies I could not offer any constructive input!
    • CommentAuthorPugliese
    • CommentTimeApr 24th 2016
    No problems about hijacking the thread, as I sort of got my answer by the deafening silence on other companies that can match Polish Interiors. However they have on this occasion made themselves expensive by quoting an astronomical delivery charge of £1000. So the Ali route it is.

    In answer to pool costs,there are so many variables but here are a few tips and observations.

    Do not go direct to a pool construction company, find a local pool maintenance company that are not tied to a builder. Speak to them and they should reveal all the poor construction practices, materials etc. Find out what type of pool they would build for themselves.

    Pool problems only tend to manifest long after the pool builders have gone and flimsy guarantees expired.

    Also if you opt for a liner they obviously come in different qualities and watch out for the guarantees, some only cover the cost of the liner when the major cost of replacement is labour and they also have a reducing payout clause that means the older the liner, the less they pay. We have opted for a liner, but comes with a full 10 year 100% parts and labour guarantee.

    Water purification - simple, do you want the cost and hassle of chemicals - look at Enviroswim - a €2.5k cost but having seen it work, it produces crystal clear water - like bathing in drinking water.

    As for total cost, ours is a small pool and we could have had it built for €20k but with the ICF construction, top quality liner and Enviroswim, as well as plumbing for a swim jet we are looking at€26k. So you are right with your budget costs.

    Now I just need to research some smart solar water heating solutions as most of the people down here with pools appear to have 'deep pockets' as they have installed heat pumps.
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