16 Retrofitting an Old House
Old Buildings can be Green
Old buildings can be green. This may sound like a bold statement but take a moment to consider just a few of their qualities and it becomes easier to understand.
The Importance of Breathability
We need to understand how old buildings control moisture penetration in walls through using the inherent breathability of the materials used.
Lime in Old Buildings
Although lime mortars, renders and plasters were largely superseded by cement based products in the first half of the 20th century, lime has a long and proven track record and is due for a return to our palette of materials
Maintaining Old Buildings
Maintenance isn’t simply about reacting to problems; it should be based on the sound philosophy that prevention is always better than cure. Whether you’re dealing with a castle, church or cottage, maintenance must be planned as part of a regular cycle of repair.
Draughts and Thermal Bridging
Draughts and thermal bridging are two different problems yet have much in common: they make old buildings chilly and drive up energy demand. Tackling the source of the problem rather than the symptoms is essential.
Ventilation in Old Buildings
Ventilation is vital in old buildings. The key to achieving necessary air changes while maintaining an energy efficient building is controlled ventilation. In other words, ventilation that happens when and where required.
Retrofitting should be an holistic process and, for this to happen, it’s essential to know the eventual goal and have a plan or ‘roadmap’. This will enable the most appropriate measures to be selected and their interrelationship with one another to be better understood.
Insulating an Old House
Improving a building’s thermal performance is now about a lot more than unrolling a layer of fibreglass insulation in the loft. Installing insulation means considering the entire building envelope: roof, floors, walls and even the panels of external doors.
Wet walls are cold walls. Up to 40 per cent more heat is lost through a damp wall than a dry one so solving damp problems is vital to energy efficiency but, before jumping in and attempting to deal with damp, it’s worth understanding what’s going on.