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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.

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    Fairly sure I’ve seen a few threads along these lines but, with the risk of repeating topics can I get your thoughts on priorities for what to look for in a property in order to make retrofit simpler.

    Of course there are exceptions to all of these, I’m just looking for general collective wisdom

    So far I got:

    South facing roof slope
    Minimal North glazing
    Compact form factor

    Ideally rendered or clap-boarded (so it can be externally insulated)
    Else, large cavity for bead-fill insulation

    Conservation area (!)
    Overshadowed garden
    Steep slope/retaining walls
    Running water
    Crawl Space
    Timber suspended floor?

    Any others?
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2020
    No budging, ideally no work done or very little for 35yrs

    Either everything needs doing or don’t buy it

    No roof work needed

    Garden is as you want it, more or less.
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2020
    Posted By: Doubting_ThomasAvoid:

    Crawl Space
    Timber suspended floor?
    When I was considering a renovation those were on my want list - if you're ripping lots out anyway then a suspended timber floor is probably the most straightforward floor insulation upgrade.

    I had the option to buy the house I was then renting [¹]. It had a concrete slab for the ground floor and no foundations which would have made insulation a nightmare. That and a few other issues made it impossible for me.

    [¹] https://edavies.me.uk/2012/09/so-far/
    • CommentAuthorFred56
    • CommentTimeJun 14th 2020
    Nothing listed
    No thatched roof
    No asbestos
    No shared access
    • CommentAuthorjms452
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2020
    Good roof overhang.
    Externally looks dated/dilapidated and ideally the rest of the street doesn't
    • CommentAuthorJeff B
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2020
    I would love to see the look on the estate agent's face when you guys tell them what you are looking for!
    Thanks all, some really good ones in there - especially the shared access and dilapidated appearance issues

    Posted By: Jeff BI would love to see the look on the estate agent's face when you guys tell them what you are looking for!

    Fortunately this isn't us (having just finished a passivhaus new build), but a relative. Interesting to see the difference in priorities compared to what the estate agents are probably geared up to promote..!

    Posted By: Ed DaviesWhen I was considering a renovation those were on my want list

    Interesting point Ed. I was just assuming you could insulate over a concrete slab (albeit with a loss in headroom) whereas floor joists embedded in external walls seem to cause numerous issues with airtightness detailing etc. As you say though, if you rip the lot out it can be a lot more thoroughly upgraded.

    Keep 'em coming everyone!
    We made two lists, "things we can change" and "things we can't easily change":

    Can't Easily Change:
    Plot size
    Views / privacy / aspect / outlook
    Bad neighbours eg noisy/smelly industrial
    House shape and size
    Roof shape and aspect (tho subsequently we went off solar)
    Wall material
    Window sizes, aspects
    Solid floors - more difficult to insulate
    Drive/ garage space (builder's stuff, future car charging)
    Planning issues / listed building / consv area / agri occupancy

    Can change:
    Roof, wall and suspended floor insulation
    Ventilation / damp
    Dilapidation / decoration / carpets
    Kitchen, bathroom refit
    Loft conversions, rear extension, etc
    Move internal walls
    Double glazing

    We looked for places that ticked everything on the 'cant change' list, but we weren't bothered by the 'can change' list so we could consider places that were on the market a long time struggling to sell. Sadly, often the previous owner was deceased and the house was neglected.

    Surprisingly there were several good opportunity houses from very different eras, 1980s, 1930s, Victorian, earlier.

    Priced up everything we needed to change, and added that onto the house price plus contingency. Considered eventual resale/mortgage value.

    In the end it's an emotional purchase and you have to get somewhere that you love enough to put all that work into it and you want to live in - checklists didn't help with this!
    • CommentAuthorEd Davies
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2020
    Posted By: Doubting_Thomaswhereas floor joists embedded in external walls seem to cause numerous issues with airtightness detailing etc
    Assuming EWI most of those issues go away, I think.
    • CommentAuthortony
    • CommentTimeJun 15th 2020
    Floor joists in solid walls are generally OK , where built into cavity walls, it is not just the joists that leak it is the blockwork that leaks too
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeJun 16th 2020
    I sealed my joists in the wall with acrylic sealant I then made plasterboard cut outs to go around the joist end and bonded them to the wall with plasterboard adhesive so not only were the joist ends sealed so was the space between them. The walls inside were rendered and then plastered. You can DIY a house better than a tradesman they would not go to this level of detail. Think they would laugh at you if you asked them to do it.
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