Cavity wall insulation

By Roger Hunt | February 21, 2014

A question about cavity wall insulation may not be one that you’d expect to be asked when talking about old buildings. Generally, cavity walls are regarded as a modern form of construction but the subject has cropped up a couple of times in the Q&A sessions at the SPAB Old House Eco Courses that I…

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Secondary glazing

By Roger Hunt | February 2, 2014

Replacing or double glazing old windows in the name of energy efficiency is expensive and hugely destructive to our heritage. There is another way: secondary glazing. Secondary glazing added to the inside of a window has little impact on the look of the building, does negligible damage and is reversible. Equally importantly, secondary glazing cuts…

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Review: Architecture and Climate

By Roger Hunt | January 19, 2014

As we seek to make our buildings more energy efficient, the relationship between architecture and climate has never been more relevant than today; or so we may think. Dean Hawkes begins the eight essay narrative, that forms the core of Architecture and Climate, An environmental history of British architecture 1600-2000, (Routledge) by describing the period when…

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Sustainable drainage

By Roger Hunt | January 12, 2014

With the emphasis currently on dealing with the aftermath of flooding, it’s easy to forget that we should be looking at the causes and solutions. Flooding is nothing new, it’s happened throughout history, but things have been made worse because of the way we’ve interfered with natural landscapes. We’ve constructed vast areas of impermeable surfaces…

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Choosing CCTV security

By Roger Hunt | December 10, 2013

So what do you need to know about installing CCTV to guard your home? Until recently it wasn’t something I’d though much about but, after a relative was subjected to a number of doorstep cons and various other crimes had been committed locally, a CCTV installation was suggested by the police. These systems not only…

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Energy saving LEDs

By Roger Hunt | December 3, 2013

The quality of light has fascinated me since my days at drama school. I trained in technical theatre and saw how changes to the colour and intensity of light can be used to dramatic effect on stage. Lighting has come a long way since then and, in the home, we’ve moved on from the basic…

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Breathability, airtightness, ventilation

By Roger Hunt | November 28, 2013

When it comes to old buildings and making them energy efficient there’s one very important point to understand: old buildings work in a different way to modern buildings. Old solid wall buildings – whether medieval timber-framed houses or Edwardian terraces – are designed to allow a degree of moisture penetration into their structure. But, and…

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Wallpaper art

By Roger Hunt | November 22, 2013

Wallpaper is an often overlooked art form. Through its textures, colours and patterns, it provides an air of individuality that paint can never match. As a result it spectacularly changes the feel of a room, even if it’s only applied to one ‘feature’ wall. Although probably first developed in China around the 3rd century AD,…

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Renovation tale – Part 12

By Roger Hunt | November 19, 2013

This is the final tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… Even though the temperature outside is approaching freezing, we’re all dripping sweat and ‘gunshots’ echo from the suddenly contracting timbers of my 1900 terrace house as they’re sapped of moisture. It’s all because the plumber Steve, who is walking around the…

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Energy saving control

By Roger Hunt | November 13, 2013

Not so long ago home automation was just a fancy way of saying a home had a cabled music system with loudspeakers hidden in the ceilings. Not any more. Today the feel-good factor of buying a home equipped with the latest technology is as much about saving energy as relaxing to a melody. Yes, there’s…

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Roger Hunt Fit For the Future pledge

Fit for the future

By Roger Hunt | November 10, 2013

The other night I pledged to continue promoting sustainability through my writing. Let me explain, I’d been invited along to Centre Point, in London, by the National Trust for the launch of the Fit for the Future Network. This network, created by the Trust together with Ashden, the sustainable energy charity, aims to allow leading…

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Mayhew-Hancock-Mitchell House, Quansoo Farm, Martha's Vineyard, USA.

House history in America

By Roger Hunt | November 4, 2013

In Britain we frequently take old houses for granted but in the USA they’re very often seen as much more special. I was reminded of this recently when I arrived on Martha’s Vineyard, in Massachusetts, and picked up a copy of the Vineyard Gazette. On the front page was a story about a three centuries…

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Don’t neglect your home!

By Roger Hunt | October 31, 2013

Maybe it’s because you’re busy or perhaps you’ve just lived in your home for so long that you no longer notice the crack in the wall or the damp in the spare room, but more and more UK homes are falling into disrepair because of neglect. In fact, around 11 per cent are now in…

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Debating good homes

By Roger Hunt | October 27, 2013

The Good Homes Alliance (GHA) aims to be Britain’s leading authority on good homes. With this in mind it launched a primer for a ‘good homes debate’ at its conference last week. The document Get Britain Building Good Homes sets out what it believes is wrong with Britain’s new homes sector and presents ideas for…

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Richard Rogers Inside Out

By Roger Hunt | August 15, 2013

My last visit to the once revolutionary Pompidou Centre in Paris was a long time ago; other buildings associated with Richard Rogers have featured more recently in my life: Lloyds of London, Heathrow Terminal 5, the Millennium Dome, The Leadenhall Building or ‘Cheese Grater’ now rising above the City of London as its tallest building.…

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The Geffrye, Museum of the Home, A dining lounge in 1935

House history in Shoreditch

By Roger Hunt | August 5, 2013

When a homeowner asks what they should do when starting a renovation project, I usually suggest that they should understand the building. I don’t just mean getting to know the structure and it’s idiosyncrasies, I mean really getting to know it, and its context, so that mistakes are avoided. All buildings, whether they’re churches, castles,…

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Overheating in homes

By Roger Hunt | July 15, 2013

A lot has been written about overheating in homes recently, especially in relation to energy efficiency measures introduced under the Green Deal. The BBC quotes Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, who “said the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the ‘big rush to insulate and make homes…

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Review: Pevsner’s architectural app

By Roger Hunt | July 5, 2013

Yesterday I nearly missed my stop on the tube. Why? I was engrossed in Pevsner’s Architectural Glossary app that I’d just downloaded from iTunes. This simple but amazingly comprehensive app guides one through the architectural lexicon from abacus to zigzag, taking in terms as diverse as hagioscope and Quattrocento along the way, while enhancing the experience…

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Funding fears at SPAB

By Roger Hunt | June 25, 2013

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…

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The performance gap

By Roger Hunt | June 21, 2013

Ensuring that what has been designed is the same as what is being delivered is ever more crucial as we strive to improve the energy efficiency and overall performance of buildings. It’s a subject I explored in the May issue of Show House magazine here while Sofie Pelsmakers offers some useful links on the subject here. Image…

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Lighting history

By Roger Hunt | May 20, 2013

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…

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Eco-boilers help cut costs

By Roger Hunt | May 13, 2013

Capable of cutting costs and energy use, new boilers or appliances can prove a shrewd investment as the Goring Heath Almshouses charity recently discovered. According to a news report, the charity installed a new biomass boiler with the intention of saving as much as £10,000 a year on their heating costs. Currently, the charity supports…

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Straw bale homes

By Roger Hunt | May 8, 2013

The use of straw bales for building apparently originated in Nebraska, USA, following the introduction of horse and steam powered bailing machines a century or so ago. Farmers soon saw the value of using bales to built temporary shelters but, having realized their potential to stand up to the weather, they began using them to…

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Old House Eco Handbook

By Roger Hunt | March 28, 2013

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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