Meet the new Barn, same as the old Barn – Part 5, Little Red Roofer

As Christmas edged ever closer, and with the British Larch cladding and roofing membrane now on, it was time to battle November’s almost constant rain and wind to get water tight before the snow.

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Our new Energy Performance Certificate

EPCsIt was with some trepidation recently when Neil from the Severn Wye Energy Agency came round to assess The Secret Acre’s new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This was after all the independent validation of our smallholding’s whole eco-makeover!

When we found The Secret Acre in 2013 its EPC stood at a lowly score of 44 (in band E). Continue reading

Proper insulation, we’re never going back!

HomeEnergyLossWe’ve banged on a lot this year during the smallholding’s eco makeover about the need to invest in proper insulation, ahead of spending on eco bling.

But it didn’t really strike us until we moved in last month, that this is the first house either of us have ever lived in, that has been fitted out to the modern building regulation standards of energy efficiency introduced in the last decade. Continue reading

Five Months In: Inside Out

Radiators go inA mild panic is starting to set in. After getting watertight in July, August has seen the house suddenly starting to look like you could actually live in it again. So much so that in another few weeks we plan to move the rest of our stuff in. Have we even booked a van?!!

At least one thing has stayed the same, finishing as we started with our eco obsession with insulation. Our final lorry load of insulation in August was for the external solid wall insulation to be wrapped around the bungalow’s three remaining original white walls. Continue reading

Wrapping your home in a warm duvet

External insulation go onHere’s my largely inaccurate history of house building.

After all that wattle and daub stuff, someone invented the brick wall. In the 1930s someone else invented the cavity wall, which trapped an insulating layer of air, but was still cold in winter. More recently someone realised injecting the air cavity with an insulating foam was even better.

In the last few years, about 30 year after the rest of Europe, the UK Government finally adopted building regulations to require proper home insulation in the first place! Continue reading

So many taps, so many shades of white

White paintWhen Procol Harum sang ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ I’m sure they weren’t envisioning the vast range of ‘not quite white’ shades of white paint with which manufacturers bewilder us today.

Now the end is in sight for our smallholding’s eco-makeover the focus firmly on the interior fit out and finishes. We have even set a date to move all our stuff in. Continue reading

What windows can teach politicians!

energy-rating-badge-explainedThere’s a lot politicians could learn from buying windows. Not some high-tech Bill Gates thing, just your plain old glass variety.

As you know, we are very keen on insulation at The Secret Acre. So it was a given that we would be getting the most energy efficient windows we could afford. Continue reading

Two Months In: the arse insulation test

BuildersFour weeks further on and Stevenson the builders continue to make amazing progress in the sunshine on our smallholding’s eco-makeover.

The timber frame extension shot up almost overnight, so now the whole building is in place just awaiting the windows to get us water tight. In the original part of the house the first fix has been done and the walls beautifully re-plastered. Continue reading

Our Eco Makeover

Work underwayLike most eco-warriors I had the standard comprehensive list in my heart of eco-bling I wanted at The Secret Acre – PV, solar thermal, rainwater harvesting, green roof, etc.

But having worked at Forum for the Future on pathfinder retrofit projects, I knew in my head that our first priority on a budget had to be insulation, insulation, insulation.

So making it warm and properly insulated for the next 100 years has to come first, and then worry about the bling. And as with every retrofit, you have to work with the existing building you have to do what is possible, practical and appropriate. Continue reading

You’ll be Knocking it Down Then

Original Front of HouseIt 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. Continue reading