Eco retrofit

I have been working on a really interesting eco retrofit project for the last few weeks. The house was built in 1922 as part of a Daily Mail Ideal Home Village for that year and is timber frame with lath and plaster walls and cedar tile cladding.

The house has cavity walls which are currently uninsulated the foundations are fairly shallow so there is a space of about a foot and a half under the floor which is divided around the room walls. There are lots of air bricks giving access to this area so it is pretty cold and draughty under there.  The loft has been fully insulated using one of the government grants.

I have three phases of work planned on the house:

Phase one – Quick fixes

So far I have been working my way round each room filling gaps and sealing holes using a combination of decorators caulk and expanding foam where necessary. The foam is to be avoided if at all possible as it is a pain to work with and a pain to clean up after both from your hands and around the holes, it does help with bigger gaps though.

I have renewed the draught exclusion materials round all the doors and added extra where necessary.

To find all these gaps I have been using a smoke tester, it’s a bit tricky for the whole room but for the doors it shows exactly where to add extra draught stuff.

Phase two – Insulation

As mentioned the loft has already been done but the cavity walls and other areas need to be looked at. This is the tricky bit I think, how to get stuff inside the walls. On a brick cavity wall the answer is simple, drill some holes and pump in loads of foam however this isn’t deemed possible for a timber frame house. We have contacted several cavity wall insulation companies and they won’t even come round to look at the house. I suspect this is because they can only get grants for basic installation and it isn’t worth their while tackling anything more complex. I also believe there are some unresolved damp issues that can come about when you fill the entire cavity so at least we will be avoiding those.

So far I have stuck insulation to the inside of the walls in a few limited areas where this can’t be seen. Next I will begin lifting tiles on the lower roof spaces and fitting insulation here. I am putting off the main part for the moment as it is a bit daunting. We think we will have to take out the inner wall of lath and plaster and then add insulation to the cavity and then replacing the lath and plaster with plasterboard.

Phase three is environmental enhancements, more details soon.