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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The battle for Britain’s past

By Roger Hunt | March 14, 2013

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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Attitudes in home buying

By Roger Hunt | February 26, 2013

Some years ago I contributed a chapter to a Reader’s Digest book called The Story of Where You Live. The book paints a fascinating picture of the development of homes, communities and the growing aspirations of those seeking a home. I was reminded of this when the infographic below, that shows the changing attitudes in…

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Climate change partnership

By Roger Hunt | February 16, 2013

Your Social Housing in a Changing Climate is a new report from the London Climate Change Partnership. It makes fascinating reading and there were some illuminating presentations at its launch at City Hall earlier this week. The report focuses on the Colne and Mersea blocks in the London Borough of Dagenham. These two blocks, comprising 200 flats,…

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The View From The Shard

By Roger Hunt | February 2, 2013

[easyrotator]erc_91_1359798723[/easyrotator] Whatever one may think of The Shard it does provide a unique understanding of London and its architecture. The View From The Shard, as the visitor experience is known, is a slick people moving operation that whisks you via two separate lifts to levels 68-72 without you really realising that you’ve travelled. Only when…

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Centred on solar

By Roger Hunt | January 31, 2013

The solar PV (photovoltaic) industry has had a bumpy ride of late and more than one installer has told me that “domestic solar has fallen off a cliff”. Even so, at the recent launch of the BRE National Solar Centre in St Austell, Cornwall, Greg Barker, Energy and Climate Change Minister, tempered the difficulties of the past…

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RIBA honours Passivhaus Feist

By Roger Hunt | January 21, 2013

The news that Professor Wolfgang Feist – the founder of the Passivhaus Institut – is to be awarded a RIBA honorary fellowship next month confirms both the growing acceptance of the Passivhaus standard in the UK and his contribution to sustainable architecture. It also emphasises the fact that high levels of energy efficiency and good…

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Think before buying

By Roger Hunt | January 17, 2013

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…

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Happiness architecture beauty

By Roger Hunt | December 9, 2012

Kevin McCloud is an author, broadcaster and designer. He’s also the joint founder of Hab a housebuilder or, as he says, a ‘placemaker’. With The Triangle, the company’s first development, completed and with more schemes in the pipeline, I recently caught up with the founders of Hab and wrote a piece for Show House magazine.…

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Winning renovations

By Roger Hunt | November 26, 2012

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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Think before extending

By Roger Hunt | September 7, 2012

The Government’s announcement allowing extensions and conservatories to be built without planning permission raises many issues. Not least of these is the fact that an ill conceived extension could detract from the value of neighbouring properties if it’s not in keeping with the existing building, out of scale or of a low standard. With any…

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Berlin’s concrete memorial

By Roger Hunt | September 1, 2012

Concrete is not a material readily associated with contemplation and the ability to evoke deep emotions. Certainly, 2,711 large, smooth, grey blocks of the stuff spread over a 4.7 acre site sounds deeply depressing. And yes, in some ways it is. But not because of the material, it’s because of what they signify. This is…

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Retrofitting with care

By Roger Hunt | August 22, 2012

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.…

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Beautiful brick

By Roger Hunt | March 16, 2012

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…

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Renovation tale – Part 11

By Roger Hunt | February 24, 2012

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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Brick Lane, not Tarmac Lane

By Roger Hunt | February 16, 2012

The news that an online petition, Brick Lane, Not Tarmac Lane, had been launched after Tower Hamlets started resurfacing the London street, at a reported cost of £300,000, reminds us to think about what’s under our feet. The current cobbles in Brick Lane are apparently not that old but they’re an integral part of the…

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Seeing stars: light pollution

By Roger Hunt | January 23, 2012

After last week’s exploration of the night sky with the BBC’s Stargazing Live team, it’s worth giving a thought to all those whose view of the solar system was spoilt by light pollution. Since the explosion of street lighting after the Second World War it’s been increasingly difficult to see stars against a dark sky…

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The Prince’s House

By Roger Hunt | January 6, 2012

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

By Roger Hunt | January 1, 2012

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

By Roger Hunt | December 17, 2011

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

By Roger Hunt | December 15, 2011

“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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The legacy of Angels

By Roger Hunt | November 5, 2011

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…

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