Posts Tagged ‘Victorian’

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…

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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…

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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…

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Old windows need not be cold

“I need to replace my old windows because they’re draughty and cold, what should I do?” I get asked this question time and again and the first point I make is that you don’t need to replace old windows to make them more thermally efficient. Old windows give a building character and are part of…

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Insulation worries

Four days of speaking and answering questions at the National Homebuilding & Renovating Show in Birmingham has only strengthened my concerns about the issues relating to the insulation of walls in old buildings. Twelve months ago the subject was barely on most people’s radar but, this year, the volume of questions relating to the topic…

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Passivhaus retrofit

Dating from the 1860s, 100 Princedale Road in the Holland Park area of London doesn’t, at first glance, look to be much different from any of the other houses in the terrace. But it is. Octavia Housing is aiming to register it as the UK’s first certified retrofit to Passivhaus standards. Passivhaus buildings are designed…

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Researching retrofit

Britain has the oldest housing stock in the developed world with 8.5 million properties over 60 years old. This poses huge problems when it comes to the refurbishment and retrofitting of homes to make them more energy efficient, especially as nearly half of them are ‘hard to treat’ with solid walls and/or no loft space.…

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Why old buildings need to breathe

Spending three days talking and lecturing at the National Home Improvement Show made me again realise the huge importance of getting across the message that old buildings need to ‘breathe’. Many people simply don’t understand that using the wrong materials can be an expensive mistake which may wreck their home. The way old buildings work…

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Palpable Trust

Lecturing last weekend for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings at Tyntesfield, on the outskirts of Bristol, I had a chance to see the National Trust at its best. At this extraordinary Victorian property – one of the last great Gothic Revival country estates to survive – there is none of the stuffy,…

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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…

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