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.…

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Renovation tale – Part 11

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… It could have been worse; it might have been the whirring blade of a circular saw, a fall from scaffolding or electrocution, instead it was a radiator bracket. I’m now sitting in an overheated cubicle of the local hospital’s A&E department with…

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The Prince’s House

I didn’t expect to like the Prince’s House at the BRE Innovation Park, Watford. Developed by The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment, construction originally began in 2009 and I’d watched it slowly grow. The front elevation had struck me as trying to be both modern and traditional without being either; the large, single pane…

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Renovation tale – Part 10

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… I should be asleep, not propped up in bed at midnight leafing though pages which drip grains of sand, are stuck with over sweetened tea and are as dog-eared as any copy of Hello in my doctor’s waiting room. But these aren’t…

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Review: Eco reading

Type the words ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ into Amazon and you’ll be greeted by a mind blowing number of books so I though I’d share just four from the shelves of my office which might prove useful or even thought provoking. Simply Sustainable Homes is, as the strapline says, a no-nonsense guide to green building. It’s…

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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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Review: If Walls Could Talk

by Lucy Worsley, Faber and Faber Buildings are about more than the materials they’re made of and the architectural styles they embrace, they’re about the people that live in them and the way they use them. This is something Lucy Worsley understands and, in her book If Walls Could Talk, An Intimate History of the…

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Renovation tale – Part 9

This is the tale of my first major renovation project some years ago… The reassuring purr of the mixer has been playing a background tune all morning. True it’s been interrupted by hammering, the metallic whiz of the circular saw and the screech of the drill but, by and large, the hours have passed with…

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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).…

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Restoration Home

This is not my first blog about old buildings and television but the new BBC2 series Restoration Home can’t be allowed to pass without comment. For those who missed the first episode the series is presented by Caroline Quentin, who “has a deep passion for old buildings”, with the help of architectural expert Kieran Long…

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Dealing with damp

I talk a lot about dealing with damp so I’ve been practising what I preach at the 1900 house we’re renovating in America. Virtually everyone with an old house will experience some sort of damp problem. The most important rule is to diagnose the actual cause and tackle the problem at source, rather than simply…

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