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Big J

Old houses versus new building

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44 minutes ago, Big J said:

Yeah, they are difficult to work with. 

 

Ideally you don't want any windows in the roof itself, rather a good overhang on the eaves and gable ends, and windows contained within the wall. 

It's not a problem here but we dont see as much sun as Mick. Upside to roof-lights is they are ideally placed for letting rising heat out presuming they are of the opening variety. 

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I don't know enough about new builds to really comment, but I agree old houses need drastic improvement.  Insulation is possible, but to do it properly is very very difficult and expensive.  

 

My brother lives in a 1920's end of terrace in Bristol, brick built with no cavity.  He has recently had 100mm external insulation added, partly funded by the local authority.  It has been done well, but there are still problems, as windows, doors, downpipes etc were all designed without this extra 4 inches of wall thickness.  On the plus side, the house is now much more pleasant inside in all weather and heating costs have decreased a lot.  It would look a lot better if all houses in the street had been done, but only about half were.

 

I would love to insulate the outside of my house too but I am not yet sure what if any approach will work.  My lounge has two external walls and a very nice but very cold large bay window and if the rad gets hot enough we recon we have done well if it reaches 20 degrees C on a cold evening.  In the morning it will be down to about 13 degrees after a really cold night.  It is brick built with a cavity, and some damp but a lot less damp than it used to as we have had the cavity wall insulation removed.

 

As John Seymour said in one of his books, insulating old houses to a high standard needs to become a huge industry in the UK.

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Efficiency of housing stock is one of the biggest problems facing the UK for reducing our carbon footprint. Realistically when a house is going to need 15-20 kW of heat in cold weather to keep it warm, it is going to be impossible for us to build enough low carbon electricity generation to move over to air source heat pumps or similar. That is without considering the bill shock / fuel poverty issue for someone trying to heat a home using electricity (the cost of which includes support for green power and in most cases some tax on the carbon emitted to generate) vs gas, which is currently largely untaxed.

We moved from a 1930s solid wall 3 bed end terrace, with double glazing but not much other insulation, to a 4 bed mid 70’s detached, with double glazing, about 100mm loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. I think that even when we moved in, we used less energy overall, but since then have changed the open fire for a stove (much less heat loss up the chimney when not lit), improves the loft insulation, sealed gaps etc and it’s made a noticeable difference. So there are things that can be done relatively cheaply.

Three things that really strike me though:

- a few years back I moved to Germany with work. Our house there was a 180 square metre four storey townhouse and in the depths of winter, when it was minus five outside and the wife was still heating it inside to 23 centigrade, it was using about 2.5 kW (I know, because we had a district heating supply and it was possible to read the consumption in real time). I put this down to the place being built with good quality windows and 300mm of interlocked polystyrene blocks between the masonry / concrete walls. Can you imagine keeping a whole house of that size warmed to a delta temperature of 25 centigrade or more using only a 2 bar electric fire or a small stove slumbering? I can’t, but that’s what it was. Meanwhile, as has been stated above, we are knocking up boxes with air gaps, scant insulation and condemning the residents to wasting energy for the next hundred years.

- a recent report says it will cost £20k per terraced house in the UK to bring them up to anything like a decent standard of efficiency - external wall insulation etc. That’s a lot of wedge to find for any homeowner, landlord etc and I reckon it still wouldn’t be up to the standard of the place I lived in in Germany.

- Another David Cameron f*&£-up was cutting back on support for insulation measures, funded from energy bills, to save a few quid for customers. Leave the whole country using more energy, emitting more carbon and ultimately spending more money in the long term for a quick political win?! Sounds like a great plan, Dave. Pass me another pig’s head whilst you’re at it, would you?

Grrrr.... I’ll get off my soap box now!

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Great thread!  

 

Trees reduce Summer heat and insulate against Winter cold.  The absence of ‘em exasperates the problem. 

 

PS I’ll take a near on 200 year old house over a 2 year house any day of the week (and twice on Sunday) because it ifs been there all but 200 years, it’s a stayer,  not sure the same could be said for a new build. 

Edited by kevinjohnsonmbe
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8 minutes ago, Billhook said:

Big J , you are a man working with wood, so......

 

 

Or if that is not big enough

 

 

I do supply a few timber framers, and I have had discussions.... :D

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8 minutes ago, Rough Hewn said:

Round wood timber frame?
Sweet chestnut and oak?
emoji6.pngemoji106.png

Too rustic for my liking. You forget that I'm half German and require straight lines and order. Form follows function and function is king! 😄

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22 hours ago, Woodworks said:

It's not a problem here but we dont see as much sun as Mick. Upside to roof-lights is they are ideally placed for letting rising heat out presuming they are of the opening variety. 

Yep I have 4 Velux in my loft and opening them up on sunny days makes a huge difference .

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Too rustic for my liking. You forget that I'm half German and require straight lines and order. Form follows function and function is king! 

Roundwood is 50% stronger than square edged timber.
(For the frame).
Then it's square timber frame in fill with waney edge oak cladding and hay bales for insulation.
But yeah I know it's been done before...
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