It seemed like everyone had it in for our Secret Acre’s 1930s bungalow. You’ll be knocking it down then was the default view of Estate Agents, Builders, other prospective buyers, and Architects – especially the Architects! No we bloody well won’t was our answer, muttering darkly under our breath about embodied carbon and the general un-green waste of replacing one set of perfectly good bricks with another set of slightly newer bricks.
Indeed, one of the problems of trying to find a small bit of land on a budget, in order to be more self-sufficient, is the accommodation. It’s either non-existent (ie. live in a caravan) or it comes with a huge house (ie. too expensive). So for us the Secret Acre’s bungalow was ideal for an affordable eco-makeover. Knocking it down and starting again was firmly off the agenda, both financially and philosophically.
All we needed to do was, working sympathetically with the bricks already there, make our bungalow fit for the next 100 years.
The original 1930’s roof needed replacing, along with its original 1930’s asbestos roof tiles, so that gave the opportunity to add a rear dormer and create an upstairs space. Hey presto a bungalow no more.
Along the back of the house a conservatory had been added in the 1960s. One of those concrete slab jobs with single brick skin and a corrugated plastic roof that’s either too hot in summer or too cold in winter, and anyway now had plenty of ivy growing through cracks in its feeble walls. So demolish that and replace it with a green roofed timber frame extension, extending the kitchen and living space out along the south facing rear of the house.
Then insulate everything as much as possible to minimise heating bills, including external insulation on the three walls of the original bungalow, new low u-value windows of course, underfloor insulation and just room for a bit of solar-thermal on the roof.
What we love about our Secret Acre is the very hidden nature of it. The surprise acre of land lurking unseen behind the unassuming bungalow. And what we love about our eco-makeover of the bungalow is that after refurbishment the front of the property will look pretty much the same as before. As with the land, all the secret magic happens unseen around the back with the new dormer and extension. It is the Secret Acre after all, and all without knocking it down thank you very much.