Roger Hunt is an award winning writer and blogger specialising in sustainability, old houses, housebuilding and traditional and modern building materials. He is the co-author of Old House Handbook and the companion volume Old House Eco Handbook.

Funding fears at SPAB

Funding fears at SPAB

With the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) imminent there are fears for England’s heritage with government seeming to feel that this is a soft target. Indeed, in the current climate, it appears to be viewed as an unaffordable luxury. This is hugely worrying for all heritage organisations but no where more so than at the Society…

Lighting history

Lighting history

Incandescent light bulbs (lamps) have illuminated the world for more than a century. They’ve done it in a way that has felt natural in historic interiors and has been flattering to the complexion because traditional tungsten filaments provide a spectrum of light not dissimilar to fire or candlelight. Now they’ve been banned in favour of…

Old House Eco Handbook

Old House Eco Handbook

Each time I write a book I say to myself “never again”. This is all very well but when a good idea comes along it’s hard to resist. Towards the end of 2010 I watched as the ink dried on my signature at the bottom of a contract for “a book provisionally entitled ‘The Old…

The battle for Britain’s past

The battle for Britain’s past

Heritage! The Battle For Britain’s Past is a welcome BBC Four series that charts the story of the movement to protect Britain’s heritage, from its early days in the 19th century right through to today. Produced in partnership with English Heritage, the series is a reminder of the debt of gratitude we owe to the…

Think before buying

Think before buying

Yesterday a double glazing salesman arrive at my door at the very moment the phone rang with a call from a solar panel saleswoman. Such annoyances are rarely quite so simultaneous but they are regular. This is one of the reasons I’m pleased to hear that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has written to…

Winning renovations

What makes an award winner? It’s a question I’ve had to consider recently as a judge of the Best Renovation category of the What House? Awards. For anyone with a love of buildings, judging these awards is fascinating and thought provoking, although not always easy. A feature of renovations is that each one is different….

Retrofitting with care

Blogging here has been on hold recently because I’ve been busy writing my next book: Old House Eco Handbook. It’s a companion volume to Old House Handbook and, instead of focusing simply on the care and repair of buildings, it builds on the subject to consider all aspects of retrofitting from insulation to energy generation….

Beautiful brick

Conservation meets new build, meets sustainability. This was the theme that emerged from yesterday’s Brick Development Association (BDA) Conservation Day at the Building Centre in London. Dr Gerard Lynch, the acclaimed expert on historic brickwork and master bricklayer, was first to speak, proving that the art of creating fine brickwork hasn’t vanished despite the loss…

The legacy of Angels

Rescuing buildings does more than preserve our built environment, it brings people and communities together. On this occasion it was within the plush interior of the Palace Theatre in London’s West End: the great and the good, celebrities and journalists and, importantly, people from across the country who had saved their local heritage. These people…

Industrial heritage at risk

Taking the train out of London from Victoria, I invariably look across at Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s Battersea Power Station. Its four iconic chimneys and the bulk of the cathedral-like building below never fail to stir some deep emotion. Now I know I’m not alone in such feelings: according to a poll, 80% of people…

What is restoration?

What is restoration?

In light of the debate stirred by the BBC’s Restoration Home, this seems a good time to think about some of the vocabulary used to describe what we do to old buildings. The general approach to their conservation was established in 1877 when William Morris founded The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB)….

Research, research, research

Research, research, research

Location, location, location may be the estate agent’s mantra but when you buy an old house research is just as important – it helps you understand what you’re buying and will make a renovation project more successful. What’s more, much of the fun of working on an old property is finding out more about its history…

Water savings

Water savings

Water is a finite and precious resource, we all know that – or at least we should. I was reminded when I visited Bermuda. Here the architecture is influenced by the need to collect rainwater. Stepped and whitewashed roofs are a key feature of many buildings with their wedge-shaped limestone ‘glides’ designed to channel rainwater into…

Energy: Nest Thermostat

Energy: Nest Thermostat

Controlling your heating system is one of the quickest and easiest ‘wins’ when it comes to saving energy (and money) in the home and, although I’ve mentioned thermostats here before, I make no apology for writing about them again. In the USA Nest has been a trailblazer both in terms of technology and design. Now the Nest Learning Thermostat is available in…

American Barns

American Barns

by Jan Corey Arnett, Shire Publications The barn is an icon of rural America but how many of us who have driven by these structures and remarked at their bold colour, diversity of style and often ramshackle appearance have any understanding of their origins? Jan Corey Arnett was raised on a Michigan dairy farm and…

Switching on to style

Switching on to style

There’s nothing very sexy about light switches or power sockets. At least this is what I’d thought until I went to a recent launch event for MK’s Elements range of ‘decorative wiring devices’. I came away realising that switches can be cool. What’s more I delved a bit deeper into wireless light switch solutions which…

Repair not restore

Repair not restore

Visiting Coventry to speak at an SPAB Old House Eco Course I was reminded of the complex philosophical issues associated with caring for our built heritage, particularly the value of good new design in an historic environment and the need to understand the fundamental principle of repair rather than restoration. The ruins of Coventry Cathedral…

Insurance and flooding

Insurance and flooding

Flooding is something I’ve already written about but it seemed important to think about the insurance implications relating to old buildings. In this Q & A I’ve asked Amanda Harman, who works as senior client manager of High Value Households at Aon Private Clients, for her views: What are the particular insurance issues relating to…

Responsible retrofit

Responsible retrofit

Retrofit requires an understanding of the building coupled with an holistic approach. This may sound simple but it isn’t, buildings – especially old buildings – are many layered entities and it’s not only the structure that has to be considered, it’s the behaviour of the building’s occupants. When planning retrofit strategies, heritage, technical and energy…

Chimney draughts

Chimney draughts

Speaking and answering questions at shows generally doesn’t leave much time to explore the stands and see what’s new. This was the case at this year’s Homebuilding & Renovating Show but it soon became clear, from what visitors to the advice centre were telling me, that there was one product that I had to go…

Using wood wisely

Using wood wisely

I didn’t see a monster on my visit to Loch Ness but I did end up learning something about forestry and how the use of timber can be maximised. I’d travelled to a forestry site called Glen Brien, close to the southern end of the Loch, where 73 hectares (180 acres) of Lodgepole pine (Pinus…

Briefing on sustainability

Briefing on sustainability

This week has seen the publication of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Briefing: Energy efficiency in old buildings. You can download it here and I hope you find it interesting. As editor I’ve tried, through the words of some of the leading practitioners in the field, to bring clarity to the…

Drying flooded old buildings

Drying flooded old buildings

Flooding may not be making the headlines anymore but there are still plenty of people with homes that have suffered damage. What worries me is that I’m hearing about insurance companies, loss adjusters, landlords and contractors who are pushing ahead with inappropriate and rushed work to older buildings without thinking about the long term consequences….

Renovation tale – Part 1

Renovation tale – Part 1

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… On the table is the surveyor’s report; yellow Post-it notes stick from its pages in such profusion that they no longer have any relevance. Phrases like “needs attention”, “must be thoroughly overhauled” and “a fair amount of dampness” are highlighted by marker… Continue Reading