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  1.  
    Hi all, I thought I'd better introduce myself here even though I have made a few posts already.

    Last December we bought our first house in Bath and have set about renovating it, it is a British Iron and Steel Federation (BISF) house built in 1949 ( I know this as the seller's father lived here since it was built till his death).

    I did not have any experience of renovation so it has been quite a learning curve, especially as the house if of unusual construction so it required quite a lot of research, though I've had a lot of help from the BISF House website (www.bisfhouse.com). I'm not connected with running the website, but it is a nice little community. Having said that about the construction, it does have its advantages as you're only dealing with dry walls and dry linings which is easier than masonry I think.

    As I love mid-century design there is a lot about the house to like such as parquet floors, original solid wood doors with glazing above, built-in wardrobes (advanced for their time I think), picture rails etc. I'm trying to preserve the original features while upgrading the insulation, electrics, communications etc.

    I'm doing it room-by-room to make it more manageable, so far I have done one bedroom and the living room with the other two bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and hallway left to do.

    Ed
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 2nd 2012
     
    Ed
    You may have noticed that I do a lot of number (usually wrong at first). Do you do any energy monitoring and would you like to join us at http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/forum114/comments.php?DiscussionID=8966&page=1
    Be interetsing to see how your house performs.
  2.  
    Hi SteamyTea,

    I'll give it a go as much as I can. I haven't done as much monitoring as I would have liked and that is one thing about the renovation that bugs me slightly that it may be difficult to put any hard figures on the improvements. Especially as it's room-by-room and I started less than a full winter after moving in. It will probably take a few years to complete so the effects will be gradual.
    • CommentAuthornikhoward
    • CommentTimeOct 2nd 2012
     
    Welcome, sounds an interesting project
    • CommentAuthorecohome
    • CommentTimeOct 3rd 2012
     
    Welcome! I'm not so far away in Frome. The buildings look fascinating, never come across them before.
  3.  
    Posted By: ecohomeWelcome! I'm not so far away in Frome. The buildings look fascinating, never come across them before.


    Hi ecohome and thanks! They are very interesting if you're interested in something a bit unusual. They are not that rare though even round here, in the old county of Avon area they can be found in two parts of Bath (Twerton and Weston), two parts of Bristol (Ashton Vale and Shirehampton) and Weston-super-Mare. Mostly though they were built on the outskirts of what were at the time major industrial cities like Birmingham, Coventry and Cardiff.

    This is an ongoing project, so hopefully I can learn some things here. I would say that it's probably not going to be as efficient as some members' here because of my abilities and budget and the nature of the structure, but I think it should be possible to make some significant improvements.

    There is virtually nothing about DIY and IWI of BISF homes on the internet so I have been starting from scratch with help and advice from the admin at www.bisfhouse.com. Apparently at least one council did something similar, but didn't seem to release any information to help others.
    • CommentAuthorCav8andrew
    • CommentTimeOct 3rd 2012 edited
     
    Hi atomicbisf, I am also based in Bath and currently building just outside in Wiltshire. In the longer term is external insulation a possibility (financially or practicably) or would it detract from the period features of the building you admire. I had an old school friend who lived in one in Weston village, although at the time I wasn't aware of its significance, more interested in listening to music and building bikes. Good luck, we all need it !
  4.  
    Posted By: Cav8andrewHi atomicbisf, I am also based in Bath and currently building just outside in Wiltshire. In the longer term is external insulation a possibility (financially or practicably) or would it detract from the period features of the building you admire. I had an old school friend who lived in one in Weston village, although at the time I wasn't aware of its significance, more interested in listening to music and building bikes. Good luck, we all need it !


    Hi, it's a possibility longer term but the problems apart from the aesthetics are the cost if I got it done commercially seems very expensive for the benefits (seems a very long payback period), I don't think I could DIY it, it's not something that can be broken down into more manageable parts easily. Also, as all the upstairs walls need reboarding inside to replace hardboard for redecorating, IWI can be incorportated at the time while EWI doesn't help with the interior at all.
  5.  
    Does internal insulation have any issues re. the steel frame being the cold side of the insulation.
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeOct 3rd 2012 edited
     
    Posted By: Cav8andrewDoes internal insulation have any issues re. the steel frame being the cold side of the insulation.


    This is a thorny issue. In theory yes even with the original insulation as U-value calculators flag it as a risk, but where I've stripped the internal linings I've found little sign of corrosion. I have not got to the kitchen or bathroom yet though. My thinking is that steel sheets are such good conductors of heat that they are going to be cold no matter how poor the internal insulation is and therefore improving the insulation shouldn't make any practical difference, the key being to maintain good ventilation.

    A few observations I have made have been that the inside of the upstairs steel cladding in the back bedroom, and the steel frame there and in the living room external wall have been in good condition. There's a little surface corrosion of the RSJ in the centre of the house (nothing significant though) presumably as is not ventilated like the external walls. Also in the loft where the steel cladding extends above ceiling level on the gable and with no inner layer for insulation there is some condensation in cold weather, but again little sign of corrosion. Again, the loft is very well ventilated (perhaps too well as birds have got in and nested in the past!)

    Any thoughts on this would be welcome though.
  6.  
    Just thought I'd say that for under 1k per room it's been possible to add insulation, reboard, skim and completely redecorate, add extra electrical sockets, install ethernet network in the walls etc which is obviously much more manageable than maybe 10k (very roughly) upfront to have the outside of the house done.
  7.  
    atomicbisf, yep, can see where your coming from but you mean to say you haven't got 10 reasonably large scale rooms ?!
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeOct 3rd 2012 edited
     
    Posted By: Cav8andrewatomicbisf, yep, can see where your coming from but you mean to say you haven't got 10 reasonably large scale rooms ?!


    No, there are eight if you count the hall, stairs and landing (upstairs and downstairs) as one unit, and the bathroom and third bedroom are pretty small.

    Plus I don't have 10k to spend at once either unfortunately!

    You can see the sort of interiors we're dealing with and the urgency of redecorating. Plus, the internal construction of unskimmed plasterboard or hardboard is unsuitable for any direct redecoration apart from heavily patterned and textured wallpaper (not really my taste) so that has to be done anyway.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 3rd 2012
     
    Are the radiators on external walls?
  8.  
    Posted By: SteamyTeaAre the radiators on external walls?


    No, fortunately not, with the exception of the bathroom radiator which can't really go anywhere else as it's a small room. The one you can see above is on the wall that separates the living room from the hall.

    The boiler is behind that gas fire near the centre of the house and the radiators (except bathroom) are all close to that or the flue above upstairs which makes the pipework easier.
  9.  
    Funny you say that as when my dad saw the positions of the radiators he said "I guess you'll want to move them to under the windows"! But then they get in the way of the curtains, not to mention radiating half their heat straight onto an external wall where it's more easily lost. Besides, there is only about 25cm under the living room window as it's unusually large.

    Here they are, in red (not necessarily exactly to scale).
  10.  
    Change your window glass to better U-value glass to reduce the cold draught falling down off the windows and leave the radiators where they are.
    Make the drylining airtight and no moist air will reach the steel to condense.
    Install humidity activated mechanical ventilation to keep the humidity low.

    How much insulation is in the attic and floor?
    •  
      CommentAuthorSteamyTea
    • CommentTimeOct 5th 2012 edited
     
    Posted By: SteamyTeaAre the radiators on external walls?

    Should have also said 'if they are not leave them where they are' :bigsmile:
  11.  
    Posted By: Viking HouseChange your window glass to better U-value glass to reduce the cold draught falling down off the windows and leave the radiators where they are.
    Make the drylining airtight and no moist air will reach the steel to condense.
    Install humidity activated mechanical ventilation to keep the humidity low.

    How much insulation is in the attic and floor?


    Hi Viking House, are there significant differences in U-values between modern double-glazed window units? These are less than five years old.

    I've been trying to make the new dry lining more airtight than the old by taping the foil back PIR boards and then painting the new plaster with a vapour barrier primer.

    In the loft there was original glassfibre insulation which I believe was unusual for its day, but it was quite thin and very crushed, broken and mixed with old birds' nests etc so I took it all up and put down a layer of new 100mm loft insulation. I then put down Knauf space board and then loft boards in about a quarter of the loft and a further 250mm of insulation in the rest. When I get round to it I'm planning to take up the loft boards and put a second layer of the space boards down but that is a little more of a palaver as it will involve raising the loft ladder fixings etc.

    The ground floor is concrete and I don't imagine it has any special insulation.
    • CommentAuthorecohome
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2012
     
    The Technology Strategy Board funded some BISF upgrading work it appears as part of the Retrofit for the Future project - it was a property owned by Cambridge City Council, described as "BISF Steel Frame House - 80% Carbon Dioxide emission reduction through whole house upgrade approach including innovative technologies" Take a look here http://www.retrofitforthefuture.org/projectbrowser.php?page=1&limit=10
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2012
     
    Posted By: ecohomeThe Technology Strategy Board funded some BISF upgrading work it appears as part of the Retrofit for the Future project - it was a property owned by Cambridge City Council, described as "BISF Steel Frame House - 80% Carbon Dioxide emission reduction through whole house upgrade approach including innovative technologies" Take a look herehttp://www.retrofitforthefuture.org/projectbrowser.php?page=1&limit=10" rel="nofollow" >http://www.retrofitforthefuture.org/projectbrowser.php?page=1&limit=10


    Thanks for the link, it's pretty interesting. I did actually look into solar PV late last year, but very few installers would install on the roof type and the two that would gave quotes that were very high.

    The Cambridge renovation seems to be a massive reconstruction involving replacing all the cladding. Once you remove the cladding of a BISF house, the structural steel 'skeleton' is pretty minimal. This is a photo of a prototype under construction (from www.bisfhouse.com) before the cladding was applied. The final production version differed slightly, especially at roof level but you can get a good idea of how little there is left if you take all the non-structural stuff out.
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeSep 12th 2013
     
    Not directly related to anything green, but I've almost finished the renovation of the downstairs at the front.

    It had a horrible greyish paint onto which grit had been applied when still wet, and this had started to fail. Water had got behind and was causing the whole paint layer to flake off the render, which was a concern giving the walls are concrete render on expanded steel laths. I removed it with sodium hydroxide paintstripper and a pressure washer (horrible, messy job!). Strangely enough the masonry paint underneath seemed in fine condition so I'm not sure why they applied this textured coating.

    Exterior metalwork all stripped down, some repairs welded in and re-rust proofed. Only fly in the ointment is the ugly front door but I'll have to live with that for now.

    I'm quite pleased as this means that the living room wall is completely renovated in terms of insulation and decoration internally and externally.
      1185171_10151669313208160_997576198_n.jpg
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2013
     
    I have two weeks off work coming up so I think it might be time to refurbish the bathroom ad add IWI. This may be a little more complicated than the living room and back bedroom as it's in the upstairs back corner of the house and the corners have diagonal bracing that is not present in the other two rooms.

    From the photos it looks as though it takes up some of the cavity that elsewhere I have placed PIR insulation, but until the wall lining is taken off it's hard to tell exactly what I'm dealing with. Any ideas?
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeSep 24th 2013
     
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: nbwilding</cite>http://www.bathgreenhomes.co.uk/</blockquote>

    Thanks Nigel, I have only just seen your suggestion but that's something I'm very interested in so I've got in contact.

    Ed
    • CommentAuthoratomicbisf
    • CommentTimeNov 16th 2013
     
    Posted By: atomicbisf
    Posted By: nbwildinghttp:////www.bathgreenhomes.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">http://www.bathgreenhomes.co.uk/


    Thanks Nigel, I have only just seen your suggestion but that's something I'm very interested in so I've got in contact.

    Ed


    I've been along and have volunteered to be trained how to do thermal imaging, which should be interesting. They're planning to do surveys of homes for a donation to cover the cost of the camera. I'm keen to use it to find out how effective my IWI efforts have been!
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