Practitioners

33 posts

Research > Exciting results – February 2019

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

It’s not something I’ll ever forget again! – learning in a revolutionary way

As an adult, it is easy to forget the joy of learning through doing. I have recently had the luck of having my passion for learning kinaesthetically reignited and I would recommend this workshop to absolutely anyone and everyone.

Insulating my cold damp house

The home I live in needs to change: warmer, less damp, increase comfort, create an open plan room for more family-focused lives, improve aesthetic quality to the rooms and spaces, and a short term solution to create separate bedrooms for the kids.

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

It is undoubtedly the best hemp-lime application I have seen in several years. It is also one of the best wet-applied, breathable solid wall internal wall insulation systems I have seen, yet I believe it may be one of the cheapest. Well done Neighbourhood Construction

Fitting my own thermostatic-radiator-valves – TRV’s

Lifting the ambient temperature in the kitchen and bathroom will help prevent moisture fall out, during cooking and bath times. When Spring comes, it’s possible we’ll only want to heat these two rooms for this purpose. So, it was here we decided to start.

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. 

76-year-old non-scientific woman gathered the following

One of the things I have been impressed with is the idea of the partnership between ‘customer’ and ‘provider’ of work. The ethos of the Co-operative is to encourage the owners to join in and experiment for themselves. This can cut down cost and spread the knowledge around.

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.

Moving on… or fixer up’er

For the past thirteen years, I have lived in fear of selling my house and “downsizing”. Down deep is the fear that a prospective buyer will discover just how many faults this huge Georgian house has. The Neighbourhood Construction home tutorial showed me that these fears are totally unfounded.

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 – extractor vents 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; a practitioners-perspective

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 […]

Dead-legs and pipe-lagging

The hot and cold pipes ran around the study, twice… before heading up three floors. Smitten by the fittings, it was only after moving in that it was discovered how long it took to get lukewarm water to the upstairs bathroom. The source of this symptom was two floors below. The boiler was […]

Having signed up for a workshop…

Having read a number of publications and white papers on the subject of restoration and conservation of traditionally constructed buildings I understood the significance of vapour permeable, traditional building materials such as lime mortars and lime plasters.

Measuring is simple… right? Installing polycarbonate secondary glazing

I really can’t believe what a difference it has made and wish I’d done it years ago. The first evening after the workshop found me and my partner repeatedly dancing joyfully around the bay exclaiming, ‘it’s even warm over here!’.However, Measuring is simple right? Surely I couldn’t get that bit wrong. Yes, I could!

This property presents itself very honestly – conveyancing report

This property presents itself very honestly, unlike so many others it has not been freshly painted prior to being offered for sale and therefore allowed for gaining a good insight into the causes of moisture readings previously taken.

A warm and cosy family home

Getting on-board, early adopters looking for a more sympathetic approach to insulating our heritage housing stock with support from Joseph Little Dublin Institute Technology and Bristol City Council Principle Historic Environment Officer.

Listed Georgian property – unwittingly damaged by electrical installation

Unnecessary and irreversible damage has been sustained to this Listed Georgian property, timbers have been cut unnecessarily, lath and plaster have sustained avoidable damage and masonry work has been unnecessarily chased.

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 […]

A decade of damp

The garden flat 2003 Our paths first crossed with damp during the purchase of a lovely garden flat in Cotham in 2003. It didn’t feel damp to us but the survey assured us it was, ‘rising damp’ probably, and our mortgage was allowed on the condition that we treated it. […]