This is one that’s growing right now. I built it with the kids using leftover materials from other jobs and an old pallet to stand in for the roof. The rocks in gabion cages look great and it is super green but lacking in the wildflowers that we seeded it with.
This was a green roof on a new extension built from reclaimed bricks. The roof had a slope on it meaning we used a different drainage system that also helped retain the soil in place. It also had a watering system added at the top of the slope for the dryer months.
Many of you, like me, will have listened watched or read about a wonderful renovation project where the house has become a wonderful palace of efficiency, costs 10p a year to heat and it’s the most comfortable and relaxing place in the world. You gaze on in envy at the ventilation, triple glazed windows and wonderful insulation. Then comes the tipping point, what did it cost for this the interviewer asks? ‘Oh, only £80,000 on top of the cost of the building work’ and at that moment you realise this is never going to happen in your home.
So, what can you do without breaking the bank? I thought I would share some of my experiences of trying to improve my property on a tight budget, with a low income and the property occupied throughout.
Ideally you would start with a whole house plan for your property, this includes an assessment of the general condition of the place and a list of all the efficiency improvements that it is possible to make to the property. You don’t need to carry them all out and certainly not all at once but it gives you a path for the next 10 years or so, you can also tie this in to any other projects you are planning, redecoration, extensions etc. You can see mine here.
Of course I didn’t start with this, I started when the boiler broke but I have got round to it now and I don’t think I got too far off course. The other thing you should probably do is monitor the conditions in the house so you can get a picture of it’s performance and the effect of the changes you make. I have been even worse at this but have some stats on energy use that the smart meter collected, otherwise it comes down to ‘we felt warmer’ and ‘the mould didn’t reappear on the walls’. Still I am quite happy and it’s slowly getting more comfortable.
So, what did I and what did it cost, here we go in chronological order with the points where it coincided with other works, details to follow over the next couple of weeks
It’s taken a little while to share this new green roof I built in Herne Hill recently.
There were a number of challenges here particularly the height of the roof with no edge protection, we used a harness to install the edges.
The edges were built using gabion cages filled with cobbles. This created a more natural edge and ensured the stones didn’t roll off the edge of the roof and shatter the tiles below, I think they look pretty cool.
I used aerated clay pebbles for the drainage layer again, really like these rather than the plastic sheets and carrying a bag makes you feel really strong as they are so lightweight. We then put in a protective membrane and covered with ultra lightweight green roof substrate from Shire Substrates.
The roof has been seeded with a mixture of wildflowers and grasses with more to be added in the spring. In the meantime I put in some grasses, sedums and also Cyclamen. I wasn’t really sure about the cyclamen but not much else is flowering this time of year a month later and they seem to have settled in well.
I will add further updates in the spring. There are lots of bulbs in there which should appear soon.
The first stage of this project was replacing the insulation in the sloping roof of the dormer and adding storage to the eaves. The loft conversion has been done reasonably well and the flat roof area and rear wall properly insulated.
However the existing sloping roof was not so successful. Polystyrene insulation had been installed between most of the joists, but not all, not sure why but they had missed some areas leaving big gaps in the insulation envelope.
We replaced the 50mm of polystyrene with 50mm of KIngspan between the joists to create an airtightness barrier we filled all the gaps with Isocynate free expanding foam and then taped
them with aluminium tape. Then we added a further 50mm of insulated plasterboard below the joists.
Many loft conversions leave the eaves storage area uninsulated and the doors can prove a weak
point with the wind whistling through them. We had already added rockwool to the floor area and we took the wall/roof insulation down to meet this and insulated the end walls as well creating a ‘warm’ storage area.
I am currently refurbishing this gorgeous two bedroom flat in Putney. The client is very keen to improve the performance of the house and I am working on the structure to ensure it will be warm, airtight and condensation free for the future. A Parity Home Energy Masterplan has also been carried out for the property and we are using this to inform the refurbishment.
The flat is spread over two floors with two roof terraces and the top floor is a loft conversion, this means there are lots of different types of construction and different opportunities to add different insulation types suitable for that construction.
We are also working very hard to minimise the VOC level in the flat and using appropriate
materials to combat this. I have been been checking all the materials before they come on site and consulting with the client to ensure she is happy. We have had to compromise in some areas, for instance the ceiling height is restricted in the loft conversion so we are using PIR insulation to keep as much space as possible, we have managed to source Isocynate free expanding foam to fill the gaps though so won’t be adding anymore chemicals to the air in the installation.
I will be adding updates and photos as this fascinating project progresses. I will mark them all #putneyretrofit
I went to visit an extension in Kennington which has the biggest domestic green roof I have built. There are some very big skylights so it isn’t all green but it looks great. This first picture shows the rear extension with some rather fine timber cladding, you can see the plants poking over the top of the coping stones:
The combination of rain and sunshine we have seen this summer has been really good for the plants, even if people haven’t been so happy. I missed the peak flowering of this roof but there were still plenty in bloom on Monday. The clients daughter has a bedroom window looking out onto the roof and has been enjoying the developing scene.
The skylights really bring light into the house and the kitchen looks even bigger than the space the extension added on. You can see some of the plants waving in the breeze around the sides when you are having dinner.
A side return infill extension with an industrial style. Extensive use of reclaimed materials, high standards of insulation and a wildflower green roof.
We completed this project late on last year working with Clements Design as the architects.
The project aimed to turn a cramped kitchen into a spacious area for cooking, eating and socialising. There is an industrial and sustainability theme to the project, the materials used are often from or designed for factories. Electrics are contained in galvanised metal conduit and the floor is concrete. Walls are exposed brick, both reclaimed glazed brick and the existing London stock bricks revealed to the world. The large glass panels to the roof draw in light to what was once a dark area and bring out the rich colours in the reclaimed wood cladding.
Though the materials could be seen as austere they are softened by the contents of the room that reflect family life, there is space for a large wooden toy stove, a comfy sofa and a gorgeous oak dining table with mismatched chairs.
The large rear doors mean the garden can be seen and accessed easily from the house, the doors can be flung open in the summer for barbecues. The green roof will develop over time but already has wildflowers peeking over the parapet and they can be seen swaying through the glass roof.
The project was also designed in conjunction with the neighbours and they share the party wall and the box gutter.
Sustainability was a key part of the client’s aim for the project. Reclaimed materials were used wherever possible. All the bricks removed in the demolition stage were cleaned and re-used onsite to build the new structure. Internally there are two walls of glazed bricks reclaimed from a lift shaft in Kensington. The other walls are the original brick exposed and insulated on the outside where appropriate. The bi-fold doors are triple glazed with a u-value of 1.09 are factory finished for long life and are made from environmentally sourced timber from sustainable forests. The heating is underfloor and utilises the existing condensing boiler, three Nest controls were added to the system to control this and create two new heating zones in the house.
The wood (for drawer fronts, shelves and cladding) is from a reclaimed wood specialist in Guiseley, Leeds, called Machells and is cut down from Yorkshire Victorian mill joists.
The large pendant lamps are reclaimed from a 1950’s factory in the Stoke area.
The table was made in Leeds from British oak 35 years ago.
All the shelf brackets and drawer handles were made in England in foundries using all traditional methods.
All lighting is LED, even filament style traditional bulbs are actually LED.
The green roof is part plug planted and part seeded with a mixture of wildflowers, meadow plants and some sedums. The roof will flower through most of the year and provide habitat for insects and foraging for birds amongst other biodiversity benefits.
Just a quick update, we broke ground on a new extension last week. It’s mostly just digging at the moment but still exciting. I got to put up a sign outside the house:
The project will develop over the next few weeks. The walls incorporate high levels of insulation and will be made using reclaimed materials including a white glazed brick interior and re-used wood cladding.
I spent some time in @ going through the plans from Clements Design with Shaun the project manager on Wednesday, checking the build process and making sure we will avoid thermal bridges. The design looks sound and we are starting on the steel supports over the next few days.
The guys all look smart in the new Ecoalex hi vis vests and are looking for opportunities to save materials on site and re-use as much as they can in the build.
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