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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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    • CommentAuthorGareth J
    • CommentTimeDec 6th 2021
    In the back of my mind is the conversion/restoration of a very small barn. It's only at the dreaming stage at the moment but I'm collecting ideas as it were.

    -South facing, built into a steepish hill
    -stone partway, Cobb on top. No mortar, lime or otherwise.
    -each leaf of stone gets progressively higher to rest on subsoil, to the point where the northernmost, outer leaf is probably a meter above the southernmost and the field behind rests a foot or so above that.
    -roof; of no value.

    So, my inclination so far would be to loose the roof and north wall so that a sensible foundation could be put in to let the floor be lowered enough to put in insulation and rebuild the north end with decent damp mitigation and insulation levels. Which is ok by me restoration wise - it would be nicer to restore and retain more originality but the west gable end is concrete block anyway and I fear that in order to do the north end well, without masses more money, including underpinning the that wall, there'll always be damp there and the north end, which isn't visible anyway will obviously benefit the most from being better insulated. And I'll gain space. Plus, I'd be able to get a small swing shovel into the field to make light work of scooping out the concrete floor.

    Fine. But what's concerning me is how will a mix match of old/new perform? I could internally insulate the south end a bit with some insulating lime render or something but it'll be minimal compared to the levels achieved on the new bits. Can't really afford the space to use up internally with high levels of IWI and I'd prefer to keep the shape of the old building visible anyway.

    So that means inevitability when it's cold, the south wall will be a bit of a heat sink. I'm undecided if that'll be acceptable or odd and uncomfortable? It's such a small space a woodburner should be sufficient to heat it and winter DHW.

    Any thoughts appreciated!
    Much could / will depend upon eventual use e.g. holiday let, sell on, live in (for granny?) not to mention any issues with planning.

    Over here old stone built walls are built with earth and rubble between the outside facing stones and are always rendered. They require good roofs otherwise they quickly get washed out and disintegrate.

    I have a stone /earth / rubble building built into the side of a hill with a ceiling height of 2.7m with the rear some 2m height into the hill, and like yours when we got it the roof was well past its sell by date. We removed the remains of the roof, put an in-situ concrete ring beam on the wall, built up on that by 1M then put on the new gable ended roof. The extra 1M height gave useable attic conversion for bedrooms. The rear wall (built into the hill) was left as found (it was stable) and I lined the inside with plastic then built a single skin brick wall in front of that. The building has concrete floors to the ground floor. The foundations are unknown but the place has never shown signs of movement. All of that was 25 years ago since when the building has been used as both a holiday let and permanent living. The original walls are 80cm thick at ground level tapering to 50cm at ceiling height. It is cool in the summer and takes an age to heat up at the start of the heating season but after that it is not too bad. There have been no problems with the renovation works carried out 25 years ago.

    On another stone /rubble building I have I have put on standard EPS EWI and it transformed the building banishing mould and reducing the heating bills. (The EWI was 10cm on to 50cm walls)
    • CommentAuthordereke
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2021
    You say the roof is of no value so I am guessing that will be replaced.
    To prevent the south wall from loosing heat without loosing character you could extend the roof a couple of meters so that it overhangs, and then have double/triple glazing in front of, creating a hallway/greenhouse area, a bit like they do in earth ships. It would be a mix of modern and old but personally I quite like that.
    • CommentAuthorGareth J
    • CommentTimeDec 7th 2021 edited
    Thanks for the replies!

    Use is indeed important. Currently there is no use. Until there is a foreseen use, it won't get done. Most likely chance of there being a use is holiday let. But I would try not to shoot myself in the foot later on if it became a winter occupied annex.

    Yes the roof will be replaced. However and exterior wall/conservatory is likely to be beyond the scope/budget. If nothing else, it'd mean moving the access track back and in turn probably loosing a really nice big tree.

    I could consider hollowing our the inside, lining and putting a stabilizing masonry buttress in as Peter has done, with similar, including excavating in a reasonable footing outside plus EWI on there (the hidden, high, north end). But for the added complexity and thickness, I can't help thinking it'll be cheaper, easier, quicker, thermally better etc to start afresh on the north side. Wouldn't rule it out though.

    Hopefully, the indoor environment won't be uncomfortable with a minimally insulated side and a better insulated rest of built. With a little mvhr unit to keep moisture in check and air circulating - I fear a scenario where lighting a small woodburner would quickly make the inside air excessively hot and the cooler south wall sweating/being an uncomfortable heat sink.

    I have a kind of similar scenario with newish and reasonably (but not brilliantly) well insulated lean to onto an old stone cottage. The exposed, uninsulated stone wall is visible in the lean to. It's fine to be in. But that's a bit different because the other side of the wall is heated house - so the wall is more of a thermal mass than heat sink.
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