February 2019 – Exciting new research results

Energy retrofitting – monitoring and evaluation
Dr Nick Banks – Senior Development Manager
Centre for Sustainable Energy

Plant-based insulation materials – the future
Dr Judith Thornton – BEACON – Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences (IBERS)
Aberystwyth University

Research and results – bio-aggregate retrofitting to existing masonry
Steven Cole – MSc student, Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT)
Aberystwyth University Visiting Researcher

I can well believe the resulting assembly has a beneficial sanitary effect on the internal environment. 

I’ve also looked at various alternatives mixes for various projects in Ireland and at one stage facilitated the construction of a hemp-magnesium test cell in my own garden. I realised with time that most formulations varied too much, were not supported by scientific testing, were not mixed consistently on site, and during construction were tamped too densely with too much water.

A beautiful 1850’s Semi – a history of chimney damp spots

Since purchase in 2016, various damp problems have manifested in numerous locations, several of which focus upon the centrally located chimney stack. Despite multiple attempts to resolve the problem; chimney and roof repairs, clearing and repairs to gutters, the symptoms have persisted.

Playing with plaster

The BEACON project is supported by the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government, and the primary aim is to undertake company-relevant innovation and R&D in relation to biorefining and the low carbon economy. One of our interests is in plants as building products. This week, together with Neighbourhood Construction, we have been working on creating samples of breathable plasters containing plant materials, in order to investigate their thermal properties and their capacity to buffer moisture. 

Don’t beware the temporary measure

The evidence-led approach provides a clear understanding of why, how, what and where the house is reacting in this way. Looking at things in context, short medium and long term also, makes you think about future ownership of this house and how I could make a more positive contribution as part of its history.

Cold damp and rather miserable – Victorian house

We spent the best part of a day looking at my project in my house. It was one of those moments when all of those question marks, all of those suspicions about what I could do, or should do with the property were crossed off my list. Decisions that I had put off for three years were made that day.

What is third fix carpentry?

Most of the work I do revolves around fixing doors and windows. Draught proofing them is often what people come to me for but the door or window in question is often malfunctioning. It usually has some form of wear or damage that is stopping it from performing it’s primary function thus creating the draughts in the first place.

Two areas of damp in the kitchen were both sitting on either side of the kitchen door.

One of the main reasons for this were some cold air draughts coming in through holes in the kitchen wall. How can there be holes in the kitchen wall? They were hidden behind the fridge and washing machine. The first was a large one, left in place from a previous tumble drier and half-heartedly filled with rags by a previous owner. The others were left over from the current and previous waste pipes of the kitchen sink.

Could burning gas be making your house soggy?

An interesting thing that I was made aware of recently, is that the natural gas piped into our homes produces a surprising amount of water vapour when it combusts.

With modern boilers, this is not a problem since they are well sealed and vented via flues to the outside. However, where there are gas fires, gas hobs or gas ovens, these might contribute to the total amount of moisture in the house, thus raising the humidity & potential for condensation.

The beginning of the solid wall insulation retrofit journey

Traditional methods such as lime plastering are often the preserve of buildings deemed to be of historical importance, yet it seems to have been forgotten that more modest properties such as the ubiquitous Victorian terrace were also built with solid walls, lime plaster and a need to ‘breathe’. The designers and craftsmen who built them were creating a carefully balanced internal climate to ensure occupant comfort, avoidance of damp & protection of the fabric of the building and its structural integrity.

Landlocked kitchen and bathroom – extractors not connected to the outside?

Previous surveys were undertaken by preservation and treatment companies, (April 2013 and June 2016), have diagnosed rising damp and have recommended a chemical damp proof course and cement render, and yet the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors describe ‘rising damp’ as a myth. Following an introduction from Building Managment Company, Simon James Lewis, Neighbourhood Construction CIC has been invited to ascertain the probable causes of a number of moisture-related symptoms being experienced at the property.

Making things safe with a collaborative rewire

Having recently moved into a two-story Victorian terraced house the homeowner was keen to embark on a comprehensive, room by room refurbishment. Concerned that the old wiring could make the house not only unsafe to live in, but more importantly unsafe to work on. Additionally, a leaky roof in the bathroom […]

Process – protocols and principles

Last week David attended a workshop on energy-retrofitting the traditional hygrothermal envelope. This included preparation, mixing and casting bio-aggregate mixture of hemp and lime onto existing masonry. The workshop, run by Neighbourhood Construction, taught the installation through kinaesthetic learning, a process that worked very well in understanding all the elements of delivering a […]

Measuring is simple… right? Installing polycarbonate secondary glazing

I had been meaning to draught-proof the windows for ages. I had contacted some companies and received extortionate quotes and then watched various DIY youtube videos. We live in a Victorian terrace house with sash windows that I love the look and feel of, especially the few panes we have […]

This property presents itself very honestly – conveyancing report

A survey report undertaken on behalf of the prospective purchaser has highlighted symptoms of moisture. Following an introduction from the vendor’s surveyor, https://www.desbruslais.co.uk,  Simon James Lewis, Neighbourhood Construction CIC has been invited to ascertain the probable causes of a number of moisture-related symptoms being experienced at the property. A site visit […]

Uncontrolled ventilation and dysfunctional extraction

Following a previous site appraisal, The estate management company requested a further site visit and report be undertaken at an adjoining property, to ascertain the probable causes of a number of moisture-related symptoms being experienced at the property. A site visit was undertaken on the afternoon of Wednesday the 9th […]