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  1.  
    I thought it would be interesting and motivational (to me at least) to keep a record of my Green Living journey. The first step on this journey began when we bought our current house and received our first utility bills!

    We moved here in 2010 and the EPC Certificate had an Energy Efficiency Rating of E48 and an Environmental Impact of E43. At that time we hadn't much of a clue about energy efficiency, airtightedness, solar panels, insulation, etc. We just wanted a house that was large enough to hold my family (me, wife, two kids) and both my parents (in a separate 'granny annexe'). However, when the utility bills started coming in, we soon became experts!! :)

    The EPC certificate was as follows:
      EPC1.JPG
      EPC2.JPG
  2.  
    As you can see, plenty of room for improvement. This blog will record the journey from then to now and beyond! I hope people will find it interesting and of some use. :)
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2017
     
    Very Interesting !

    I have already started comparing it with mine !

    gg
  3.  
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: gyrogear</cite>Very Interesting !

    I have already started comparing it with mine !

    gg</blockquote>

    :)

    I was hoping people would, especially if they are already a couple of miles further down the road and can warn me abut any potholes in my path!!

    I'm currently looking about trying to find any photos I may have took while doing some of the work. I'm struggling to find any!! :(
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2017
     
    How does your energy usage compare to the EPC?
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2017
     
    Well done and looking forward to reading. But let's not forget the 'limitations' of EPCs (especially using RdSAP) as a reliable assessment tool.
  4.  
    Posted By: SteamyTeaHow does your energy usage compare to the EPC?


    It' was probably about right, though it doesn't take into account the massive amounts we spent on wood and coal for the two 20 year old multi-fuel stoves. The house was freezing cold, and having moved from a modern new build, it was a real shock to the system. We sat around in coats and blankets in the first few winters (and early spring/late autumn). I'm smiling now remembering how we used to hum the Darth Vader theme tune as we wandered about with our blankets round us like capes. :D

    Posted By: gravelldWell done and looking forward to reading. But let's not forget the 'limitations' of EPCs (especially using RdSAP) as a reliable assessment tool.


    I totally agree with your point about EPCs, they're a blunt tool, but the only one I have to provide a rough comparison from 2010 to now (and beyond).
  5.  
    Project #1 - Limecrete floor for the 'Granny Annex'.

    The reason my folks moved in with us is because they were living in a cold, damp house and had to keep releasing house equity to try and make improvements (double glazing, etc.) I was always freezing n their house, and their utility bills were massive for just the two of them. My main motivation was for them to free of any money worries and to be warm and comfortable in their retirement.

    With this in mind, I did a ton of research (mainly using the 'Old House Handbook') and read about how to make thermal improvements without causing issues in old houses. Our house was built in 1752 and is a listed building, so anything I did had to be approved by the Listed Building Officer. She loved the idea of using Lime in the house.

    The interior of the annex was ripped out, the concrete floor (installed when the property was converted from a derelict mill into a home) and we dug down 425mm, pretty much down to the footings. The floor build up was 210mm coated LECA, 150mm Limecrete and 65mm screen. We laid undefloor heating pipes into the screed. On top we fitted sandstone flags, pointed with lime.
      Limecrete Floor.jpg
  6.  
    I was a bit worried about the limecrete after seeing the infamous grand design episode, and because we were doing the work in winter. However, as the slab was indoors and we put a thermostatic heater in there (perched on a window Sill), everything went well. The slab hardened well (NHL 5) and my worried brow relaxed.

    I had to insist that the builder waited a few weeks before starting work on laying the UFH pipework and screed, which he wasn't happy about, but that's what the lime floor designer/supplier (Ty Mawr) suggested.

    The designer worked out that the floor would give us a U value of 0.25 W/sq.m/K, which was the target for Renovated Thermal Elements back in 2010. The table below provides u values for thermal elements in 2010.
      u values.JPG
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime7 days ago edited
     
    Posted By: Pile-o-Stonemainly using the 'Old House Handbook'

    I see they have published a 'Old House Eco Handbook' now. I've no idea how it differs from the original.

    Just to point out for the benefit of any newbies who read this, that the U-value numbers are not 'targets' but are/were the minimum that is legally allowed, though there are exceptions for listed buildings.
  7.  
    Have similar to do with my listed building. While doing the Lime mortar course at Ty Mawr they told us about this construction so I have it approved for when we put in the UFH. The planners have insisted that if we find stone flags they can be lifted but relaid in the same position. Having had a quick investigation it seems a layer of bitumen has been laid over flags so I am not looking forward to the job. Just on the UFH I was looking to include in the screed both water and electric. Has anyone done this with this floor construction.
  8.  
    Posted By: renewablejohnHave similar to do with my listed building. While doing the Lime mortar course at Ty Mawr they told us about this construction so I have it approved for when we put in the UFH. The planners have insisted that if we find stone flags they can be lifted but relaid in the same position. Having had a quick investigation it seems a layer of bitumen has been laid over flags so I am not looking forward to the job. Just on the UFH I was looking to include in the screed both water and electric. Has anyone done this with this floor construction.


    We had a similar stipulation. If we found historical flooring underneath, we had to stop and consult with the council. In our case, if there was a historical floor, it was probably ripped out by the person who did the original conversion when he laid the concrete.

    It'll be a nightmare to take that bitumen off, but they might look great once they're clean. It's save some money if you don't have to buy replacement. The only issue might be that they're all different thicknesses, which make them difficult to relay and may also make the UFH heat distribution a bit patchy. I have seen a company online who come out and cut your old flags to a uniform thickness. I've no idea how much it costs though.

    If the flags are crappy once you take off the bitumen, I'd be tempted to quietly put them in the garden as a patio or as a pathway.
    • CommentAuthorgyrogear
    • CommentTime7 days ago
     
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneIf the flags are crappy once you take off the bitumen, I'd be tempted to quietly put them in the garden as a patio or as a pathway.


    could they not simply be relaid, but upside-down ?

    far less effort !

    gg
  9.  
    Generally stone flags are flat one side, and far from it on the other, so yes, they *could* be laid upside-down, and you could fall over a lot!
  10.  
    Its like a red bitumen I have already taken it off in the hall quite easily and revealed a flag stone 6 foot by 4 foot so now desperate to find out what is underneath it. Lost cellar ? Priest hole ?. Just cannot decide how to do it as it will be so heavy. I have a local stone cutting company that have made mullions and window side panels for use so I think if we can lift them we should not have a problem.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime7 days ago
     
    Posted By: renewablejohnIts like a red bitumen I have already taken it off in the hall quite easily and revealed a flag stone 6 foot by 4 foot so now desperate to find out what is underneath it. Lost cellar ? Priest hole ?. Just cannot decide how to do it as it will be so heavy.

    :shocked: That will be heavy! It won't be a priest hole because they wouldn't have been able to open and close it. Maybe there's a vampire buried under it? :devil:
  11.  
    Posted By: djh
    Posted By: renewablejohnIts like a red bitumen I have already taken it off in the hall quite easily and revealed a flag stone 6 foot by 4 foot so now desperate to find out what is underneath it. Lost cellar ? Priest hole ?. Just cannot decide how to do it as it will be so heavy.

    http:///newforum/extensions/Vanillacons/smilies/standard/shocked.gif" alt=":shocked:" title=":shocked:" >That will be heavy! It won't be a priest hole because they wouldn't have been able to open and close it. Maybe there's a vampire buried under it?http:///newforum/extensions/Vanillacons/smilies/standard/devil.gif" alt=":devil:" title=":devil:" >


    The slab next to the large slab has two grooves I presume for a pair of hinges so I will investigate.
  12.  
    Perhaps flags were reused from somewhere and their original use totally different
    • CommentAuthorYanntoe
    • CommentTime5 days ago
     
    We have the old and new EPC for our now nearly completed project.

    We have overdone the insulation in the loft, double glazed, limecreted (plus Glypor insulation) the ground floor, added a Conservatory with insulated floor round 50% of the downstairs (i.e somewhat insulated the walls). We removed the entire NE gable wall and replaced with a super insulated extension as a replacement. Sealed all the walls between the floors, replaced the doors with new ones which don't let the outside in (unless open). Used LED lighting throughout. Removed Victorian fireplaces, lined chimneys plus insulation and added external air supplies to 2 woodburning stoves and use a woodburning range as cooking and kitchen heat.

    The old EPC was F31 and it is now ....... wait for it ........ F37.

    We could get to D64 apparently if we added solar PV, solar thermal, a wind Turbine, and insulated the external walls. Which we'd do, except we get no sun for 7 months of the year, live in a National Park in a valley (Wind Turbine), and the House is a restored Victorian gem relying on new lime work to breath!

    We would like to install a pico hydro system as we have a small river, but as we are in the middle of an SSSI this might be difficult.

    We are self sufficient in wood, and will have planted 500 new trees by the end of the month, and use 1ton (£250) of pellets per year for hot water and heating (which isn't ever on).

    The house is now toasty rather than wet, drafty, cold and running on oil.

    Take home message - EPC's are not really very useful!
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime5 days ago
     
    Posted By: YanntoeThe old EPC was F31 and it is now ....... wait for it ........ F37.

    Do you think the first one was correct? If so, then apparently the first thing to do is contact the assessor who prepared the second one, get them to come back, explain your concerns and ask them to reassess it. If there's still a problem, then appeal to their accreditation body.

    Take home message - EPC's are not really very useful!

    But I agree with you about this!
    • CommentAuthorMackers
    • CommentTime5 days ago
     
    Very interesting. EPCs are never a true representation, its a box ticking exercise.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTime5 days ago
     
    Just had a look at my EPC, I forgot that it doubled the size of the house, so totally invalid.
    Claims that I should use 27,455 kWh/year, actual usage 3,385 kWh.
    Is that a record?

    I don't think there is anything much wrong with an EPC, just that they use idiots to do the scoring.
  13.  
    Project #2 - Warm roof for the 'Granny Annex' and main house.

    Both properties have vaulted roofs, where the ceilings are attached to the underside of the roof. A measly attempt to insulate these roofs was made during the original conversion - there was 30mm of polystyrene tiles between the rafters.

    On the 'Granny Annex' we were restricted on roof height because of the way the lead flashing cut into the main house. We therefore couldn't put insulation above the rafters. On the main house we could add to the roof height, but didn't to go too high as we were worried about aesthetics with the stone walls ending quite a way before the roof tiles started, with a thick band of cement covering the insulation.

    The makeup of the two roofs were as follows:

    Annexe: 100mm celotex between the 100mm rafters and 50cm below. 3 double glazed roof windows.
    Main : TLX Gold multifoil insulation on top of the rafters, 75mm air gap, 25mm celotex between rafters and 100mm celotex beneath rafters.

    The annexe roof was a neat job and we are happy with it. In retrospect I think I would have used the TLX gold on this roof as well as we would have had just about enough clearance for the counter-battens. Generally though we are pleased with the roof.

    The main house roof is a totally different story. We went with a 'mate' who was a lot cheaper than the contractor we were using to renovate the annex. Unfortunately they were bodgers who 'forgot' to tape up the TLX seams, then lied about doing it when I reminded them to tape up the seams. We discovered this one winter when the roof leaked because the snow sat on the roof so long that the melt water moved up the roof tiles, through the (un-taped) TLX foil (and attached membrane) and into the roof space. They also replaced broken tiles (I had to source some reclaimed stone tiles to replace these) and the celotex insulation was seemingly cut with a bread knife with gaps you cut put your finger in.

    I was working away from home while all this went on, something I'd never do again. I just wish I had not gone for the cheap 'mate rates'. Of all of the various jobs we had done, this was the worst, one of the most important and the one that (still) causes the most grief and annoyance.

    Notwithstanding the poor craftsmanship, the roof is a million times better than what was there before it, and it is much quieter and warmer in the bedrooms as a result.
  14.  
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneI was working away from home while all this went on, something I'd never do again. I just wish I had not gone for the cheap 'mate rates'. Of all of the various jobs we had done, this was the worst, one of the most important and the one that (still) causes the most grief and annoyance.

    In my experience expensive does not guarantee good it just guarantees expensive - to guarantee good I have found you have to be on site and watching.
  15.  
    Posted By: Peter_in_Hungary
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneI was working away from home while all this went on, something I'd never do again. I just wish I had not gone for the cheap 'mate rates'. Of all of the various jobs we had done, this was the worst, one of the most important and the one that (still) causes the most grief and annoyance.

    In my experience expensive does not guarantee good it just guarantees expensive - to guarantee good I have found you have to be on site and watching.


    True, but we shouldn't have to stand over someone just to make sure they do their job properly. Is there no professional pride, especially if the work is for someone you know. Lol, as you can tell, I'm still bitter about the whole thing :bigsmile:
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTime4 days ago
     
    Posted By: Pile-o-StoneTrue, but we shouldn't have to stand over someone just to make sure they do their job properly. Is there no professional pride, especially if the work is for someone you know.

    Even when the trades are competent and professionally proud and doing their best to help, somebody still has to watch everything like a hawk because people make mistakes and drawings are incomplete or wrong. Somebody needs to understand everything, not just what is needed but why it is needed so they can correct errors as they occur.
    • CommentAuthorgravelld
    • CommentTime4 days ago edited
     
    Plus, even if trades are doing their best, 'best' is only relative to what they know. In Pile-o-Stone's case, those guys might have been told before that "small gaps won't make a big difference". Which re-iterates the watch-them-like-a-hawk ethos.

    Isn't it odd that the requirements for cavity walls on refurb are less than other walls? Well, you can imagine there's some sort of lobbyist/"stakeholder input" reasoning for it, but no good reason.

    Great stuff, keep it coming.
  16.  
    Posted By: gravelldPlus, even if trades are doing their best, 'best' is only relative to what they know. In Pile-o-Stone's case, those guys might have been told before that "small gaps won't make a big difference".


    Totally agree, plus they are 'on the clock' and need to get the job finished (I've been doing one room, on and off, for 5 years now, with still no end in sight :cry: )

    My frustration really comes from the way they dismissed my concerns about the need to tape up the multifoil/breather membrane, then flat out lied and said they had done it. I'm sure that a large part of it was their resistance to a 'desk jockey' (aka me) teaching them to suck eggs. They had never taped up roofing felt in all the years they have been doing roofs, and didn't see the need now. The problem was that they weren't just fitting a membrane, it was combined with multifoil so a completely different product with totally different fitting requirements. I've spent a lot of money on what is essentially just very thick roofing felt. It certainly provides little or no insulation because without being air tight, it cannot trap warm air beneath it.

    As with every other job in the world, the best people to work with are the ones who are open to new ideas and procedures, wherever those ideas come from.

    Oh well, maybe one day when I have absolutely nothing else to do on the house, I might pull the tiles and re-do it. I just need to live to be 300 years old. :bigsmile:
  17.  
    Know the feeling. I have been 6 months doing a bathroom mainly because no bathroom specialist would touch it being Listed with a floor level lower than the rest of the house. Builders didn't have a clue about lime mortar and lime plaster or windows direct into stone mullions. Thankfully now done and onto the next task.
  18.  
    Project #3 - Internal Insulation for the 'Granny Annex' and completion of the build.

    The walls in the annexe (and main house) are 450mm thick sandstone with rubble in-fill. Due to the property being listed, we were not allowed to use external wall insulation, and as the interior space is not huge, we couldn't go too thick with IWI.

    We spoke to the LBO and Building Control and they agreed to allow us to remove the existing gypsum plasterboard (dot and dabbed to the stone walls) and replace with 75mm battens with sheep wool inserted between. The Walls in the annexe were not too level, so the battens often stood quite proud of the wall in places, allowing some wool to be inserted behind the battens as well as between, which may have helped a little with heat retention. Even so, this was nowhere near the minimum U value for walls, but as the building is listed, we got away with it. The u value for insulating solid walls at that time was 0.3 W/sq.m/K, we managed 0.42 W/sq.m/K. The diagram below shows the IWI build up of the walls.

    We attached 15mm thick woodwool boards to the battens and then plastered with medium grade hemp lime. This added a tiny bit more thermal and acoustic insulation. Just a note on hemp lime, I'd highly recommend it for a novice plasterer. It's a fantastic material and while hard to trowel on, it doesn't dry out too fast and so isn't full of cracks. I really like the stuff.

    We left the solid stone window reveals and mullions exposed, which looks great but doesn't do a lot for heat retention. They also hold moisture and need bleaching every so often to remove mold. I've since used aerogel on window reveals in the main house and I'm pondering retrofitting these to the annex.

    The annex was finished off with oak double glazed windows, oak stable type front door, internal walls filled with sheep wool, a small MHRV unit, fitted ensuite and kitchen. The annex is lovely and warm, free from damp (except a bit on the exposed stone windows) and exactly what I wanted for my parents as it is the opposite of the cold, damp house they moved from.
      IWI.jpg
   
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