Home  5  Books  5  GBEzine  5  News  5  HelpDesk  5  Register  5  GreenBuilding.co.uk
Not signed in (Sign In)


Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

Buy individually or both books together. Delivery is free!

powered by Surfing Waves

Vanilla 1.0.3 is a product of Lussumo. More Information: Documentation, Community Support.

Welcome to new Forum Visitors
Join the forum now and benefit from discussions with thousands of other green building fans and discounts on Green Building Press publications: Apply now.

    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    Hello everyone, this is my first time posting on the forum, a very inexperienced newbie who thought he knew a lot about DIY until he found this site!!
    I’m in the process of selling our large 1994 detached 4 bedroom home. We installed new double glazing and had cavity wall insulation but the house always felt cold and needed the heating on frequently – which I hated, but my wife insisted on.
    We are in the process of selling (fingers crossed) and looking to buy a 1915 large 7 bedroom detached house, which is made of stone with a render which starts from about 2 ft from the ground. There is a veranda that runs around 3 sides of the house. It has solid floors, and gas central heating installed at sometime? It has also had the loft converted which houses 3 of the 7 bedrooms. The house appears to have original wooden sash windows, the house is not listed or in a conservation area. The house is liveable but does need a complete refurb, kitchen, bathrooms, decorating etc.
    We had an offer accepted and things are progressing and I am now rethinking my budget requirements after finding this wonderful site! I’ve spent several hours already ploughing through multiple threads, but time isn’t on my side so I am after some general guidance, and any help would be very much appreciated, so a few questions. Assuming that the move goes ahead we would be looking to make this our home for at least 15 years to allow my two young children to go through school.
    1.) Should I run a mile??
    2.) What should be my order of priority when considering making my house more energy efficient? My thoughts are, windows, doors, loft, walls, boiler, floor??
    3.) What would (very rough) ball park figures be for doing each of the above?
    4.) Would the veranda complicate/cause any issues if we had EWI fitted?
    5.) Should I consider having the plasterboard taken down in the loft conversion and look at having it re-insulated?
    6.) Would floor insulation be worth the outlay? I have already run the idea of excavating the existing floor out and judging by the look my wife gave me, this may not be an option. The ceilings aren’t ridiculously high, but I’m assuming that it would involve all the feature skirting boards being removed if insulation was added on top of the existing floor?
    I will of course continue ploughing through the many threads on many of the topics listed above!

    Many thanks in advance
    • CommentAuthorDarylP
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    It is DIY, cheapest improvement, and if you do refurb later will not have cost you much if you have re-do it later...
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    Thanks Daryl, fully noted, thank you...
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    Just to note, I'm not expecting to do any of the work myself and would expect to get in the 'experts' :) although I would help out with any of the 'lower skilled' tasks....
    • CommentAuthorGotanewlife
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016 edited
    New windows and doors last unless the DG units have blown. Airtightness first but with a solid walled rendered house that isn't so hard. But that loft conversion worries me both from an airtightness POV and from an insulation POV - needs careful thought - incl consideration of ERI (OK I made the term up!) external roof insulation - you shouldn't have a concern about raising the roof so it is not as obvious a stupid idea as it sounds. Also I wouldn't prioritise the floor - put your money into an external tea cosy if feasible - giving a continuous airtight layer and unbridged (apart from doors and windows) insulation layer. But the dosh vs 15 years...... Otherwise it's IWI with all the inherent condensation risks to the fabric of your house (ie the wood bits).

    Not an expert in this - no doubt someone will be along with a more experienced perspective but solid walled house are very different to the rest of the UK housing stock in the way they should be approached.
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    It sounds like a wonderful, serene classic house - space and ease to bring a family up. Any pics incl outlook etc? Where are you?

    15yrs is a long enough timescale to justify expense of doing it all properly, in stages if nec. By properly I mean to a performance standard that's unattainable by doing it on the cheap - so, having taken the bigger plunge it's simpler and you end up with best possible bang for buck and minimal internal disruption..

    This means, primarily, as Gotanewlife says, EWI and ERI (no, I made that up! - and others too, prob) - the unbroken external teacosy. Means re-covering the roof on a light timber battening-plus which overlays the EPS which in turn overlays the OSB-sheathed existing rafters. Any existing rafter overhang gets cut off flush and is recreated within the battening-plus system (that's why it's 'battening-plus' - a bit more than simple battening).

    Verandah is a matter of ingenuity and detailing - not insurmountable.

    Convert the loft into a spacious parents' penthouse bedroom/retreat/bathroom.

    You avoid tearing up the ground floor to insulate, by taking the EWI down in a trench to base of foundations - a 'coffer dam' of insulation. Put a perforated pipe in the bottom of the trench to make it into a french drain, eliminating possibility of rising damp/floor rot, backfilled with LECA aggregate (which adds more insulation).

    Having done the above you could just live with your antiquated central heating system, which will work for space heating only rarely (apart from hot water) - spend that money on something else.
    Don't run a mile if it is structurally OK - I prefer solid walls to cavity. What sort of stone walls? 2 faces with rubble infill or solid built?

    As said above - draught-proofing first, windows and doors last unless they are a total disaster. The more you insulate and draught-proof the less benefit you will get from a new boiler (a more efficient boiler won't save much if you aren't using much in the first place).

    See to what standard the loft conversion is built - What insulation is there in place? almost certainly not enough and probable not as air tight as the solid walled rooms. The options would be to insulate from the outside or the inside or have (additional) insulation blown in on the sloping part of the ceiling and add insulation to the flat loft area. It rather depends what you have. If the roof is in good nick and has good tiles, good roofing felt and timbers then an internal solution might be better. If you have enough space up there then you can remove the plasterboard on the sloping part of the ceiling, and depending upon the thickness of your timbers and the type of roofing felt, add battens to increase the thickness (e.g.4x2s to give an extra 100mm insulation), new vcl then new plasterboard. But this aproach will cost room space. Blown in insulation is the least disruptive but if this is possible will depend upon the type of roofing felt and vcl existing and will be limited to the thickness of the timbers.

    EWI should be a consideration (or even a must). It has better results on a solid wall than on a cavity wall. - yes the veranda will get in the way but assuming the veranda uses the house for support then you are stuck with it. (or a horrible expense!) Take the EWI down to ground level or below if possible to mitigate the solid floor coldness. The veranda will (probably) cause a cold bridge but I suspect you will be stuck with that - and its not a good enough excuse not to do EWI. If the render is not falling off there is no point in removing it to EWI.

    50mm insulation with board overlay can make a big difference to solid floors if you can manage the doors and skirtings.
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your replies so far...

    Gotanewlife, Fostertom, Peter - many thanks, I hadn't even considered ERI any ideas on what a ball park figure would be for this and EWI - £20 - £30k for both? It sounds like everyone is in agreement that EWI at least would be money well spent. I also really like the suggestion about taking the EWI down to foundation level, although how would this work with the veranda?

    I am going back to the property later this week, so will inspect the roof eaves further to investigate the insulation that has been used, and to gauge the thickness of the roof beams, also to remind myself of the head height if we decide to insulate from the inside.

    Fostertom, I've attached a picture as suggested :) the house is in Somerset, but we'll be moving away from Southampton.

    Without running the risk of really embarrassing myself, could anyone point me in the direction perhaps of a previous thread that highlights how to draught-proof your house?

    Finally, without pushing my luck on the help offered so far, if I leave the windows and doors to last, should I consider secondary glazing to keep the character with the windows, or would I be better off replacing with modern double glazing? My dad recently highlighted that the ropes used in some sash windows may have asbestos so not sure if I should be concerned about this?
      house picture.PNG
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016 edited
    Also, sorry Peter forgot your first question. I think from inspection the walls are a reddish stone, so my assumption perhaps is two stone walls with a rubble centre? I am going to measure the thickness when I visit next.
    • CommentTimeMay 2nd 2016
    What condition is the plain tiling really in? Easy to think it's excellent, because it looks OK - but sooner or later (and AIUI it's quite a bit 'later' with this house) tiles and/or battens decay and re-covering is necessary. If so, then obviously worth ERIing at same time. Otherwise, I agree a bit daunting to take all that off.

    Verandah - easy enough to take top tile courses off and run the EWI up around the bare rafters - a thermal bridge but not too bad, and doesn't have to be airtighted around them or anything. Well, come to think, if the external render's going to be your airtight layer, then you should make that continuous up through the verandah rafter zone.

    Trenching for EWI under the verandah - danger of machine damage - prob best dug by hand.

    Windows - are they all sashes, or just the main GrdFl ones - the rest look like casements? Secondary glazing is a faff - I'd draughtproof as far as poss for now, and replace with good-copy hi spec new ones incl sashes, relocated outboard, as part of the EWI, when you get round to that.

    Yep, lovely house, big job but straightforward, will pay off highly over 15yrs. Any outlook from upper windows?

    Continue to take lots of advice here on GBF at each step - be v sceptical of all kinds of conventional wisdom. All sorts is much more possible than 'they' think (esp in darkest Somerset).
    Looking at the photo (nice place BTW) the skirt of red (sand?)stone I would suspect is just that a nice decorative skirt, dressed stone is expensive and I would be surprised if the stone continued up under the render, I would expect to find brick under the render. I have never seen a stone-rubble-stone wall less than 50cm thick and made of undressed (as found) stone. Of course that's just my experience, I could be wrong.

    lifting the roof to insulate externally looks to be an expensive option, cheaper to insulate internally by full fill or battening out and new plasterboard unfortunately battening out reduces usable room size.

    Putting EWI around the veranda will depend on its construction. you might be able to mitigate the cold bridge by removing the top row of tiles to allow the EWI to wrap around the fixings then put flashing up to join between the EWI and the tiles, it all depends upon the construction.

    Secondary glazing can be a good option to sash windows, which can be a b...er tomake air tight
    That's a nice house! Just wanted to say that...otherwise there is nothing I can add of any more value than FT. It is simply the case that it is always
    Posted By: Peter_in_Hungarycheaper to insulate internally by full fill or battening out and new plasterboard
    it is a big value decision for you: EWI and ERI for the best outcome or IWI for the cheaper and compromised outcome. It is a bitch of a decision and I am glad I am not you!

    The most important thing is to keep coming back here and posting at each stage, for each small defined question or issue, or just updates: the info back cannot be costed.

    PS Sorry FT if I stole your TLA (ERI) I honestly thought I made it up at the time - however for sure the use of 'tea cosy' was yours originally but 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'!
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    FT, Peter, Gotanewlife, many thanks for your comments once again, they have been most helpful.

    You have given me the confidence not to run a mile, so I'll be proceeding with the purchase (assuming the survey doesn't throw anything back too scary).

    I will definitely go for the EWI and get quotes on doing the ERI. If the latter comes back too expensive, I may have to insulate internally for the loft rooms.

    My only other concern is still the veranda. I have been reading another thread about attaching 'things' to EWI and wood came up as a big no, no. I'm assuming the structure of the veranda will be wood. I understand that the EWI would go around it and not necessarily attach to it but I was considering a complete removal of the veranda and then a reassembly?? I'm not sure if you can tell from the picture, but the current supports for the veranda are small tree trunks literally in their natural state, and have been painted. I'm not entirely sure how much life they have left in them, so if these need to be replaced then a removal and then rebuild of the veranda could be a good idea?

    I will indeed keep you all posted, as I progress but thank you once again for putting my mind at rest.

    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    Is that the roofer equivalent of showboating?

    Looks nice, lots of complexity.
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    • CommentAuthorGotanewlife
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016 edited
    Posted By: fostertombig job but straightforward,

    Posted By: gravelldLooks nice, lots of complexity.

    Sorry Tom but I think I agree with gravelld!
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    Posted By: alexw1.) Should I run a mile??

    Probably - see below - just to play devil's advocate
    2.) What should be my order of priority when considering making my house more energy efficient?

    The starting point for energy efficiency is efficient use of space. A seven-bedroom house seems very large for four people, unless there's some other requirement. So buy a smaller house is first priority.

    Having said that, I imagine that if you're prepared to put enough money into it, you can turn it into a very nice house.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    Posted By: alexwthe current supports for the veranda are small tree trunks literally in their natural state

    In the olden days, this technique was known as "under-pining"

    gg :cry:
    We did something very similar and bought our 6 bed stone detached house 3 years ago, love having an old property but there are challenges. Agree with much of above, definitely insulate and air tightness should be priority. We did as follows although as I will mention would change this if we did it again.

    Draught proofed wooden floors, doors, windows, (insulated all floors while up).
    Fixed any damp or potential damp issues by replacing gypsum with lime hemp and lime as we did each room.
    New radiators, or at least install TRVs in each room.
    Replaced windows, (wish I had restored and upgraded the originals instead but that's hindsight!)
    Replaced oil boiler with biomass, this was driven by RHI, wouldn't do it now.
    Re did the poor loft conversion, ripped out and 150mm PIR. If I was reroofing I would have left as is and gone over the top to create warm roof. Removing lath and plaster should be last resort!

    In summary, we should have put more emphasis on insulation. While EWI was out due to the stone finish, I was put off IWI by the condensation risk and disruption. Looking back IWI would have been a far better use of our biomass money and much more future proof. We still have a similar heat demand even after our improvements and while it is 'greener' and on paper less c02 it still costs a fortune to run! Pretty much equal to the old oil boiler that we ripped out.

    Time wise we have done nearly all ourselves and in 3 years are around 80% there internally with focus on the outdoor space at the moment. Roof, external pointing, outbuildings and boundaries still as we found them but all need attention. We are a young family of four and still have filled every room, but that just seems to be in our nature!

    It looks like a lovely place from the picture and may well suit itself to gradual improvements rather than the beast we took on. As it is rendered I imagine it would lend itself to EWI very well and would be certainly worth it and if you can do the warm roof at the same time, your disruption to improvement ratio would be amazing!
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    Djh - a fair comment. In the long term we'll look to do one of two things....

    1) convert the house to a very small guest house 3/4 bedrooms or,
    2) foster or adopt more children

    Two very different plans I admit, I would like the first idea, my wife wants the second!

    gyrogear - despite my lack of knowledge, even I managed to get the joke! :)

    restorationcouple - thanks for sharing your experience. We plan on moving in and living in the house as it is for a few months and try to resist the urge to do anything without fully thinking it through and gaining advice before we start anything major.
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    Ah no - I wouldn't claim
    Posted By: Gotanewlife'tea cosy'
    either for insulation or airtightness - don't know where I stole that from!
    • CommentTimeMay 3rd 2016
    Posted By: alexwDjh - a fair comment. In the long term we'll look to do one of two things....

    Glad to hear you have a reason and I didn't mean to pry.

    We plan on moving in and living in the house as it is for a few months and try to resist the urge to do anything without fully thinking it through and gaining advice before we start anything major.

    That is an excellent plan. The more learning time you can give yourself, the better the result will be. Surprisingly often, what seems obvious at one time becomes a no-no after further research, and vice-versa.
    • CommentAuthorRick_M
    • CommentTimeMay 12th 2016
    Is ERI feasible with such a complex roof? What thickness of EWI would people be considering?
    • CommentTimeMay 12th 2016
    It's feasible but I guess it won't be cheap!

    I would make a thermal model of the house to see what effect various thicknesses of insulation have, and do some sums to estimate what they would cost and then decide where the sweet spot is for you. An alternative strategy is to pick some target like EnerPHIt or AECB Silver and try to cost the work involved in reaching them.

    BTW, I just came across some products that might be interesting for people doing EWI retrofit, and this is as good a place as any to post a link. The products are designed to reduce cold bridging in particular situations using aerogel mouldings. Your verandah might be one area.


    Cheers, Dave
    • CommentAuthoralexw
    • CommentTimeJun 12th 2016
    Hi everyone, just to give you an update.

    Unfortunately, after all your helpful comments we have decided to pull out of the purchase. Mainly, because the surveyor under valued the property by some £30k, and in addition the ceiling price he advised on in the area meant that we would far exceed that from the work we were intending to do on the property. That then doesn't include several roof issues that were identified, and the several comments above highlighting that the complexity of the roof means that it will be an expensive job to re-roof.

    I am very grateful for all your comments.
Add your comments

    Username Password
  • Format comments as
The Ecobuilding Buzz
Site Map    |   Home    |   View Cart    |   Pressroom   |   Business   |   Links   

© Green Building Press