Deep Retrofit Renovation – How to Plan


FAIL TO PREPARE……..PREPARE TO FAIL!

ABC

Renovation projects are notoriously challenging to manage, especially Deep Retrofit. There are so many component parts to arrange and each needs to be dove tailed neatly into the next for a successful outcome. Unless you have a Knowledge of Construction and Experience in Construction you’ll struggle to succeed!

Regrettably however, construction continues to be the one industry in which a lot of people presume that they can ‘give it a go themselves’. How is anybody without any experience in the (mine) field of construction expected to know how to schedule works and tradesmen for example? Oversights and delays will occur and they will always cost you money – extra money for numerous simple things that you wouldn’t even consider at first. What about that Portaloo that ends up on site for a longer time than you initially intended, for instance? What about the tradesman who is left standing around with nothing to do for a day or two?  He’ll still have to be paid for those unproductive days. The truth is, if you don’t have experience in Deep Retrofit, design and construction, you’ll most likely fail to successfully manage a renovation project. Not only will the quality of the finished product not be good, but you’ll probably suffer budget over-runs too.

So, please do not attempt to build by ‘direct labour’!! Renovation works and especially Deep Retrofit require close co-ordination and co-operation between tradesmen and suppliers. There are a host of jobs and tasks that are not the responsibility of any particular trade. These are known as ‘builders’ works’ and will become your concern if you decide to give ‘direct labour’ a shot. Buildings built by direct labour usually (shoddily) reflect the fact that there is no experienced project manager in charge with a genuine interest in the finished project. Bear in mind that builders and tradesmen operate under the instruction of the project manager. They are not designers or managers, they just do what is asked of them. A project manager will consider all the component parts of your Deep Retrofit renovation, using experience, expertise and joined-up thinking to stitch them all together. The project manager will care about your project and the quality of your completed Deep Retrofit.

In addition to this, it’s actually illegal now not to appoint a competent person to plan and oversee your project. It is essential therefore to ensure that the company you engage is competent and fully insured with Public Liability, Employers Liability and All Risks insurance cover. If the contractor you engage is not fully insured and an accident happens on site, then it is you, the householder who may be liable to pay out!

Ideal Home Show

It is also a legal requirement that you notify the Health & Safety Authority that you are ‘Carrying out Work on a Private Domestic Dwelling’ before works commence. Under the regulations it is you, the client, who must appoint a ‘Competent Person’ to carry out the construction works and appoint a ‘Project Supervisor for the Design Process and for the Construction Stage’. You are also obliged to keep a Safety File. It is actually an offence now not to fulfil these legal requirements.

Similarly, in order to qualify for grants and tax incentives so that you can claim some money back after your Deep Retrofit, ensure that the company you’re working with is a registered contractor and that they have a current tax clearance certificate. Check too that all subcontractors used by this company for component works such as insulation, heating controls and so on are similarly registered.

Another task will be to find out about the suppliers, products and tradesmen that your preferred contractor will be using. By doing this you will ensure that you are getting only good quality materials and products. Ensure too that the sub-contractors that are being utilised are reputable. One option is to ‘nominate’ a particular tradesman or supplier to guarantee that you get the best quality.

Carrying out a survey to establish the condition of your existing building is also of utmost importance. By doing this you will minimise the likelihood of ‘nasty surprises’ during the course of the job. By getting a survey done you will also avoid wasting time considering unworkable solutions such as, for example, underfloor heating, which may not function in your building due to its original condition.

Be very clear about what you want to achieve in your Deep Retrofit renovation project and why you want to achieve these things. What is your primary motivation for doing the project? It may be that you are uncomfortable or cold in your home or that your fuel bills are too high. Perhaps your house is draughty or suffers with condensation? Or your main priority may be to transform a badly laid out, old-fashioned and dated house that doesn’t function well for you and your family. Make a definitive list of all the elements of your home that don’t work well for you and make sure that your final specification solves as many of these issues as possible. Don’t loose sight of these priorities during the design process.

Knowing what you want to achieve also means that design decisions can be finalised well in advance of the project commencing. By being well-organised beforehand you will avoid the stress of making important decisions under pressure while the works are ongoing on site. This will also greatly speed up the whole building process and you’ll be able to occupy your home sooner and avoid any extra costs.

Of course, your finances should also be arranged well in advance. Establish your budget and stick to it. The budget is an essential component of any plan because
it dictates the scope of works that can be carried out and informs you design decisions. Seek professional advice on how to achieve your goals within your budget. Your bank must also be informed of the start and finish dates of your project and the dates on which you are contracted to make payments. By doing this you will avoid a possible scenario in which your builder has to cease all works whilst waiting for a payment.downsizing

It is also wise to get advice on establishing the overall time-frame for the renovation. The time-frame for your Deep Retrofit must be inclusive of the whole process from design stage through to the final handover. It needs to be realistic and achievable, and backed up by a bar chart illustrating the works programme.

Also important is to inform your neighbours about your Deep Retrofit renovation project and the possible impact upon them. You will (hopefully) avert any future confrontation by doing this.  You can introduce them to your contractor too if necessary.

So, as you can see, there is an awful lot involved in planning a Deep Retrofit renovation, and that’s all before the renovation even begins…..

 

Click here to download our RENOVA brochure.

 

 

Renova-Custom-Home-Retro-Fits-Showroom-kitchen

 

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Extend or Optimise your Home?

Perhaps we are somehow conditioned into always wanting or thinking we need ‘more’. However, making the best we can out of something we already have is often a more sensible and worthwhile approach….

Here in Ireland, all too often, when it comes to home renovations, we think we should ‘extend’ – we just presume that we need the extra space. However, it’s wise to think about what can be achieved within the space we already have. Much of the time we don’t actually need to extend – we don’t require as much space as we think we do. Wanting that extension is usually motivated by a dissatisfaction with the interior layout, piles of clutter and chaos or perhaps an old and dated kitchen. The result can be a fantastic new kitchen/diner and extra space (for the clutter in many cases!) but unfortunately the same collection of dark, dreary, cold, energy-inefficient rooms elsewhere in the house. And where really is the logic in that?Renovation

In many cases it is true that an extension is required – for a growing family, for instance, or perhaps to cater for the needs of an elderly relative moving in. Yet, it is sensible to look more closely at what we already have at our disposal and how we can improve it, before rushing to extend. Consider how the existing space can be cleverly reconfigured and how well-designed storage space can help to deal with clutter. Sometimes just knocking down a wall or adding a window can have a profound impact upon the overall space. If you do decide to optimise what you already have in your home instead of extending, you won’t have to apply for planning permission either. Plus, you won’t be encroaching upon any outdoor living space. Think about all the the money you’ll save too – building an extension is expensive and will add to the cost of heating and maintaining your home. Not to mention the extra space to clean!

Anyone who is considering investing in their home and improving its energy-efficiency should be aware of the concept of ‘Deep Retrofit’. A RENOVA Deep Retrofit involves stripping back to the bare blocks and timbers and re-building a highly insulated, air-tight, well-ventilated and consequently, energy-efficient home.  This ‘Stripping back’ process presents the perfect opportunity to re-plan the layout of a house that hasn’t been functioning well. Through the use of clever design ideas, finishes and colours, you’ll be surprised by how your living environment and lifestyle can be enhanced.

Deep Retrofit takes an holistic view of the entire building – it links together all the retrofit elements of your home renovation. Therefore, ‘Deep Retrofit’ should be thought of as a single solution as opposed to a collection of solutions. As there are multiple elements to a Deep Retrofit, it cannot be approached in an ad-hoc fashion. For example; ventilation goes hand-in-hand with insulation, air-tightness is incorporated into dry-lining and plumbing pipework must be installed beneath the floor before it is insulated. The sequence of works is very specific and cannot successfully be deviated from.

A home renovation without Deep Retrofit could actually be looked upon as a missed opportunity. A lost chance to make your home more comfortable, warm, cosy, draught-free, well-ventilated and, of course, energy-efficient. It would be a shame to only learn about Deep Retrofit after having recently renovated or extended. This is why we, at RENOVA are passionate about promoting the concept of ‘Deep Retrofit’.

At RENOVA, we use our very own in-house designers who will ensure that your newly-renovated home works for you in the best way possible – from improved internal layout to clever storage solutions and attractive fixtures and finishes. Also, at RENOVA, we only use our own staff and trusted partners who are all committed to neat and tidy, professional workmanship.

Under the new building regulations all new houses are extremely energy- efficient, comfortable and healthy – both for the occupant and the environment. Through Deep Retrofit, existing houses that are cold, draughty and badly designed, can be brought up to the same standards of energy-efficiency.

By having an energy-efficient home you’ll actually be doing your bit to help the environment and reduce Climate Change too. According to the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Energy Policy, “High-efficiency Retrofits are the key to a low-emission building future.” You may be surprised to learn that over a quarter of the energy we consume is used in the home – even more than in industry and by cars.Home renovation

 

Think twice, therefore, before presuming you need to extend your home. It makes abundant sense instead to make the most of the space you already have and to make it as energy-efficient and comfortable as possible. In financial terms, not only will the value of your home increase, you’ll also be saving on fuel bills and mitigating the impact of future fuel price increases. Don’t forget that since March 2015, the cash value of SEAI grants available to householders has increased by between 25-50%. A bonus payment has also been introduced for householders who avail of three or more energy efficient improvements on their home. As well as these grants, there are also tax breaks available under the new Home Renovation Incentive Scheme.

 

 

 

 

Click here to download our RENOVA brochure.

 

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

The Health Benefits of Home Renovation

How our home can influence our health and quality of life

There is now growing scientific research to prove that our environment affects our physical and mental health in many ways. The relationship between our surroundings and our well-being is important.

For example – it is suggested that looking at a beautiful view results in a rush of endorphins which in turn leads to a feeling of peacefulness and well-being. By paying attention to the place and space around us, we can feel better. Therefore, living in a well-designed and healthy home can do more than improve our mood – it can affect our immune system and physical health too.

According to a recent survey carried out by Houzz, a well-designed kitchen can transform the way you live and promote a healthier lifestyle. It was found that more people are encouraged to cook and bake at home, with fewer takeaways being ordered in. Not only is this good for physical health but it’s great for mental health too. A well thought out kitchen not only fosters an interest in home cooking but inspires the kids to get involved. This all contributes to more quality, family time.

Not only does living in a cold, draughty, damp, badly lit and poorly designed house feel depressing, but it can make you less inclined to look after it and invite people around. This lessens opportunities for social interaction, which can lead to further feelings of isolation and depression.Your newly improved home can influence not only how you feel individually but how you interact with others. A welcoming, well-designed and organised home will encourage you to invite friends over which will enhance the social side of your life.

Health benefits of Renovation

Air Quality and Health

A properly renovated home will be ‘airtight’. However, it will also be well ventilated. Living in a well-ventilated, damp free home results in better health all round.

The air inside an older home may be affected by damp, mould and condensation. This is especially true if we block up vents and shut windows to keep draughts at bay. This means that moisture-laden air can’t escape, which leads to the formation of damp and mould. Moisture can easily build up in a badly ventilated home – from showers, kettles, bubbling pots and pans and even our own breath. Damp manifests in wet patches, mould growth and often a musty smell. If left untreated, it can result in the corrosion of internal finishes and cause health problems, especially in very young and elderly people and those with respiratory conditions such as asthma.

For optimum health, fresh air should constantly be flowing through our homes to replace stale, moisture-laden air. Condensation, which is exacerbated by poor insulation, inferior windows and inadequate heating, will be a thing of the past if you choose to retrofit your home.

How we can help at RENOVA

When we carry out a RENOVA renovation, first we strip right back to the bare blocks and timbers. This is the perfect opportunity to re-configure the layout of your home. By making clever use of the space you already have through design, finishes and colour, you’ll be amazed at how your surroundings are enhanced. Our designers will ensure that your renovated home will not only be well-designed, comfortable and healthy, but that it’s good to look at too.

The feeling of comfort is the most noticeable part of a RENOVA renovation. Your home will be at a comfortable temperature all year round and draughts will be a thing of the past. Proper ventilation means that condensation is eliminated and air quality improved. Increased sound-proofing means you won’t be disturbed by traffic or noisy neighbours. Relax in the knowledge that your monthly energy bills won’t break the bank. All in all – less stress, more comfort, better health and improved quality of life!

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

The Importance of Project Management in Construction

Project Management  in construction cannot be underestimated when it comes to renovation and deep retrofit projects.

Project management can be defined as ‘The discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific criteria’.

The importance of project management

John and Alan with Penny Byrne, our Designer

Building projects can be quite stressful and challenging – even for seasoned project management professionals. There are multiple factors to consider in any retrofit or renovation. From finding the best quote and dealing with numerous suppliers and contractors, to making important decisions -a project manager is an essential link that will ensure the smooth running of your building project. Efficient project management will ensure that the client receives a finished product that meets their expectations.

Successful project management in construction requires a wide range of qualities and skills. Not only do projects need to be finished on time and within budget, they need to adhere to specific building regulations. Strong communication skills are vital, as is the ability to make decisions, problem solve and resolve conflicts. Time management, cost control, knowledge of health and safety on site and experience of the building process – these are all valuable and necessary prerequisites in a project manager. One of the benefits of working with RENOVA is that we plan, budget, design, programme and monitor costs during your renovation or retrofit project. We offer a single point of contact for our clients throughout every renovation. We are your project manager.

 Early investment in planning, programming and design can deliver benefits and avoid unnecessary costs and delays. The first part of our project management process at RENOVA is agreeing upon the budget. As Chartered Quantity Surveyors we will adhere to this budget. The control of costs requires continual cost management and monitoring throughout the building process.

Renovation work and in particular deep retrofit, requires good project management. There are many component parts to deep retrofit that need to be ‘stitched together’ for a successful outcome. For example – air-tightness is incorporated into the dry-lining, ventilation goes hand in hand with insulation, plumbing pipework is installed underneath the floor before it is insulated. The sequence of events is quite specific and cannot be successfully deviated from. There are also a host of jobs and tasks in any building project that are not the responsibility of any particular trade – preparatory works, purchasing materials, ordering skips, filling holes, tidying up, and snagging to name but a few. These jobs are known as ‘builders’ works’ and will become your responsibility if you decide to build by ‘direct labour’.

The Renova Team

The Renova Team

It is now essential that your contractor (project manager) is fully insured with Public Liability, Employer’s Liability and All Risks Insurance cover. If an accident occurs on site and they are not insured, then you, the homeowner are liable. It is also now legally required of clients to notify the Health and Safety Authority if any work is being carried out on a private, domestic dwelling. As well as this, the client is obliged to keep a Safety File for the duration of the build. It goes without saying that RENOVA is a fully competent and insured company. We employ our own staff to carry out the works, but when subcontractors are needed we ensure that they are reputable, fully registered and insured. As your project manager, we will notify the Health and Safety Authority on your behalf and supply you with the Safety File.

From the initial meeting at your home or at our showroom, RENOVA will work with you to ensure a successful outcome to your building project. Our collaborative, 360 degree approach to Design and Build is a key factor in our success.

RENOVA, as project manager, will take care of all the loose ends so that nothing is left undone!

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

 

The Science behind Deep Retrofit

‘Form Follows Function’….

 

At RENOVA we believe that ‘Form Follows Function’! ‘Form Follows Function’ is a simple principle which means that the shape of a building or object should primarily be based upon its intended function or purpose. At RENOVA we believe that the primary function or purpose of a home is to be comfortable. To be comfortable a home should be warm, well-ventilated and free from draughts. Through measures including air-tightness, good insulation and high-performance glazing, we aim to improve your home from the inside out. Through Deep Retrofit by RENOVA, your house can become warm and comfortable both day and night, with minimal heating – and cooler during hot summer weather….

 

There are 8 main elements to a Deep Retrofit:

1.Wall Insulation

wall insulation

Improve wall insulation in a number of ways; 

insulated dry-lining internally, blown-in cavity-wall insulation or external insulation with render finish.

 

2.Roof Insulation

roof insulation

Up to 20% of heat can escape through your roof – so a relatively small investment in roof insulation will yield great returns.

For even greater efficiency your old attic hatch can be replaced with a draught-proof insulated attic door.

 

3.Floor Insulation

floor insulation

By insulating the ground floor, heat will be retained. Air-tight membranes and tapes will eliminate unwanted draughts.

Underfloor heating will give a feeling of warmth and comfort under foot.

4.Heating

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Choose from energy-efficient condensing boilers, heat pumps and renewable energy/biomass appliances.

Energy usage can also be decreased by installing intelligent heating controls and by creating separate heating zones.

5.Lighting

lighting

With the introduction of low energy LED lights, huge developments have been made in energy-efficient lighting in recent years.

You can  save up to 80% in the cost of lighting your home while also improving lighting quality.

 

6.Airtightness

air tightness

When a construction is air tight, warm air is retained and cold air kept out.

 A ‘blower door test’ is carried out to check air-tightness.

 

7.Ventilation

ventialtion

A demand-controlled mechanical ventilation system that can automatically sense when it needs to operate is usually the best option to ventilate your home.

 

8.Moisture Control

deep retrofit

By installing vapour barriers, your building structure can be protected from penetrating moisture and dampness.

Unchecked moisture penetration can lead to mould growth on your walls and ceilings.

 

 

 

So, if you want to make the most of your home through Deep Retrofit and receive a reliable, stress-free and quality service, contact RENOVA today for a free, no obligation consultation.

 

Download our RENOVA brochure here.

 

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie

 

Home Renovation – Budget Wisely


If you are considering home renovation and in the fortunate position of being able to carry out a Deep Retrofit, making plans for your new home can be very exciting. Nonetheless, there are a lot of practical considerations like ‘the budget’ which need to be taken into account at the very beginning. Here is some useful information that may help you along the way…home renovation budget wisely

First of all, it is very important to establish your priorities. Be clear about what you want to achieve from your home renovation. What are the main reasons for your project? Are you uncomfortable or cold in your home or are your fuel bills excessive? Perhaps your house is damp or draughty? Or your main concern may be a badly designed, old-fashioned home that doesn’t work well for you and your family. A great starting point in any home renovation project is to make a list of all the aspects of your home that don’t work well for you.

Being sure about what you want to achieve also means that all decisions can be finalised well before your home renovation begins. By being well-organised beforehand you will avoid the stresses of making important decisions under pressure while the works on site are ongoing. This will also speed up the whole building process and you’ll be able to occupy your home sooner which in turn prevents extra costs.

Don’t rush into building an extension. Here in Ireland, we tend to ‘extend’as part of a home renovation, which is usually motivated by a dissatisfaction with the internal layout. The result can be a great new kitchen and dining room but the same old collection of cold, dark rooms elsewhere in the house. Extensions are expensive and many people don’t consider that they will actually add to the cost of heating and maintaining your home. If your home isn’t functioning well for you, an interior architect/designer can help you to make the most of the space that you already have, which will also save you money.

When planning your home renovation, try to make decisions that provide both tangible and financial benefits. A good example of this is adding insulation, which not only will make your home feel more comfortable but will also reduce your heating bills. Also, prioritise works that provide the greatest return on investment. Again, attic insulation is relatively inexpensive but very effective.

Keep your home renovation specifications simple. By doing this you will avoid over-stretching your budget. It is always better to reduce your scope of works and to complete the works properly using quality, energy-efficient products.

Of course, your finances should also be arranged well in advance of your home renovation. Establish your budget and stick to it. The budget is an essential component of any plan because it dictates the scope of works that can be carried out. Your bank must also be informed in writing of the start and finish dates of your home renovation and the dates on which you are contracted to make payments. By doing this you will avoid a possible scenario in which the builder has to cease all works whilst waiting for a payment. This will cost you money in the form of ‘standing time’. So properly arranged finances can actually save you money.

At RENOVA we will establish the overall time frame for the works. The time frame is inclusive of the whole process from design stage through to the final handover. Remember that if everything is planned and ordered in advance of your home renovation, then the time frame will be shorter which means minimum time on site and less time spent out of your house, which saves you money.

In Ireland, we almost ‘expect’ a building project to run over budget but it really doesn’t have to be that way. At RENOVA we are budget led and organised from day one. Owners John Martin and Alan Stevens are both Chartered Quantity Surveyors with a combined 30 years’ experience in construction so you can be sure you are in good hands.

So, if you are in the lucky position of being able to undertake a home renovation/deep retrofit, and you want cost certainty from day one, then it makes sense to work with RENOVA!

 

Click here to download our RENOVA brochure.Renova-Custom-Home-Retrofit-Brochure-Cover

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Renovating doesn’t have to be Stressful!

We all know that renovating/retrofitting a home is notoriously stressful. Having to manage everything – from dealing with multiple suppliers and contractors to making numerous decisions about, for instance, the best type of insulation to use, right down to the smallest detail, such as which door handle to choose, is challenging enough for experienced professionals, never mind for somebody who is completely inexperienced in the field!

 

stress free renovating

 

A unique selling point at Renova is that we will take care of all of your renovating needs from start through to finish and guide you along every step of the way. For your convenience, we will take care of everything; from the initial consultation and BER assessment, through to the removal of your possessions into storage, the complete building works and even the final clean!

Many building/renovating projects will run over the scheduled time as a result of bad organisation, poor communication and difficulties in scheduling work between multiple suppliers and contractors. The advantage of using one company to oversee everything is that we will reliably project manage, schedule and organise the works so that there are no unnecessary delays. This in turn means that you can get back home to enjoy your newly-renovated, warm, cosy house sooner.

We are proud to say that have achieved and continue to achieve the highest standards in renovations and Deep Retrofit and have a growing portfolio of very satisfied customers.

Click here to download our RENOVA brochure.

 

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Downsizing your Home with RENOVA

Whether you’re an empty-nester or just tired of a lot of unnecessary upkeep and hassle, moving to a smaller home is a great option for homeowners who are looking for a change. Downsizing can be a great opportunity to reduce or eliminate debt and to have the home you’ve always dreamed of. Of course, it all depends on personal circumstances, but it is always wise to act sooner rather than later if you are thinking about downsizing.

There are so many positive reasons to downsize. The most obvious being that by releasing the equity (reducing/eliminating the mortgage) in your home, money is freed up to fund your later years. Another benefit of downsizing is being able to move closer to family or friends or perhaps closer to amenities. A smaller, more manageable house with less maintenance and clutter is also of enormous benefit. Think of how your life can be simplified when you’re spending less time trying to find things! Not to mention the smaller bills, conserving energy and the extra time to pursue more important and enjoyable activities. In a nutshell, downsizing is a great chance to improve your quality of life.

Yet, the prospect of moving house or downsizing can seem so daunting. There are so many things to think of – from the initial decision to go to an estate agent through to the final selection of fixtures and finishes. The whole process can feel like a mountain to climb. However, downsizing shouldn’t be stressful if handled correctly. Instead of being a demanding task, with the right help, downsizing and renovating can be an enjoyable, exciting and invigorating project. By working with a reputable design and build company like RENOVA the whole process can be made a lot simpler and easier. It is possible, therefore, to look forward to buying and renovating a new home and beginning a new and adventurous chapter in your life!deep retrofit

RENOVA is a design and build company which specialises in the Deep Retrofit of older houses. Deep Retrofit involves stripping back to the bare essentials and re-building a highly-insulated, air-tight, well-ventilated and energy-efficient home. Therefore, if you are thinking about downsizing, don’t disregard the ‘doer-uppers’. Indeed, by considering houses that are in need of renovation, you will be opening up more possibilities and opportunities to find the perfect house in a great location. With the help of RENOVA, doer-uppers can be adapted to your needs and made into the home you’ve always dreamed of. RENOVA can help you to recognise the potential in that run down house!

Many boxes can be ticked when using RENOVA to help with your downsizing project:

  1. One company with one point of contact to oversee everything during your project.
  2. We time-manage your project efficiently which means that things run smoothly and there are no extra costs.
  3. We will help you to plan your budget – we are Chartered Quantity Surveyors.
  4. We will help you with all the legal requirements (Health & Safety etc).
  5. We will help you to apply for SEAI grants and advise on tax incentives.
  6. We will move your possessions into storage and deliver them back safely to your new home.
  7. We arrange the final clean of your new home.
  8. Our RENOVA showroom has all of your renovation needs, including finishes, under one roof.
  9. Deep Retrofit presents the perfect opportunity to re-configure the internal layout of a house, making it more modern and adapted to your needs.
  10. Design decisions are made simpler with RENOVA. We will help to create the home you’ve always dreamed of.
  11. Older houses can be brought up to Passivhaus standards through Deep Retrofit which results in a healthier, warmer home with lower energy bills.
  12. Your new home will be completely re-wired and re-plumbed.
  13. We can re-organise your outdoor space, making it easier to manage and suited to your needs.
  14. Your new home will be sound-proofed, making it peaceful and tranquil.
  15. Your new home will be more secure, due to high-grade windows and doors.
  16. Your new home will have fewer carbon emissions – you’ll be doing your bit to help the environment.

 

So, why not embark upon a new challenge? Undertake a different project, not just a purchase, and get involved in the whole design and build process. Unleash your inner creative designer, invigorate yourself and enjoy watching your renovation project coming together with the help of RENOVA.

Click here to download our RENOVA brochure.

Call us today to begin your journey with RENOVA!BER image

 

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie

 

 

The Important Fundamentals of Retrofit

According to a recent article by John Cradden on Independent.ie, The Tricky Economics of Greening your Home‘, it is essential to prioritise insulation and ventilation as opposed to more ‘trendy’ technologies when carrying out energy-saving improvements on your home….

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This view is also shared by RENOVA, home-energy experts, who always place importance upon the fundamentals of insulation and ventilation when carrying out a Deep Retrofit. It is very important to re-iterate this to home owners. Basically speaking, if a home is not well insulated and well-ventilated first, then installing modern technologies such as heat pumps and solar panels will make very little difference to your energy bills. So if you want to retrofit and improve your home’s overall energy-efficiency and BER, focus on upgrading the basic structure of the building first. Don’t be swayed by so-called ‘eco-bling’ and trendy new technologies.

According to architectural technologist and energy consultant Archie O’Donnell “Over the years, there have been a lot of low-energy new builds and retrofits, but we generally find that when consumers go to home-improvement shows, when they read the glossy magazines and start to research the whole area of low-energy, they are immediately drawn to the technology. You have to think of retrofit like a stool with three legs – we’re very good in this country at addressing one leg, which is reducing energy in new builds and in a retrofit. What we’re quite bad at is the other two legs, which are moisture and ventilation.”

At RENOVA we agree with O’Donnell’s views on retrofit and appreciate the importance of ‘building tight and ventilating right’. We highly recommend the inclusion of these fundamentals before contemplating the installation of renewable technologies such as solar thermal panels for water heating, biomass boilers, heat pumps etc. These are also beneficial, but should not be considered before other retrofit measures – namely, insulation and ventilation.

shutterstock_77307919 resized insulation

Interestingly, a theme of enquiry from home owners has been recurring at RENOVA over recent years. The common problem is ‘condensation’ and in many cases black mould growth on walls and ceilings. This is caused by high levels of humidity which need two ingredients to thrive: high temperatures and a supply of water vapour. As a general rule of thumb, humidity levels will double with every 10 degree increase in temperature. In other words, the warmer your house is, the more water vapour the air will hold. As your house becomes more air-tight and warmer, stale humid air can become trapped inside. Think of all that moisture from showers, baths, kettles, bubbling pots and pans, steamers, tumble driers and even our own breath! Fitting new windows and having a more air-tight, well-insulated home, without proper ventilation therefore, has become the main cause of poor air quality and ‘sick building syndrome’.

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A RENOVA retrofit will not only be air-tight and well-sealed; most importantly, it will be well-ventilated. ‘Air-tightness’ and ‘ventilation’ must go hand-in-hand to prevent an unhealthy living environment. Good ventilation requires maintaining a constant flow of air within a house – fresh air in and stale air out. Good ventilation will remove the humid air before it has a chance to condense on relatively cold surfaces. If left untreated, damp can lead to a host of problems such as the corrosion of internal finishes and even health problems, especially in vulnerable young children, elderly people and individuals with respiratory problems such as asthma.

Whilst passive/natural ventilation (holes in the external walls) may meet building regulations, we recommend that controlled/mechanical ventilation is used to maintain a consistent flow of fresh air within the home. There are many sophisticated systems available such as ‘Heat Recovery Ventilation’. However, this can be expensive and difficult to install, especially in a retrofit situation. A cost-effective and practical alternative is an ‘Aereco Demand Controlled Ventilation’ system. Click here to see an Aereco video.

DCV or ‘Demand Controlled Ventilation’ is based on the simple principle of having the optimum amount of fresh air in a home on a fully automated basis. It offers the ideal solution concerning both heating consumption and the indoor air quality. When the need for ventilation is low, which is usually more than half of the time, savings can be made. More ventilation will be needed during times such as showering and cooking, for instance, when more moisture and humidity is created. Scientific studies have illustrated that DCV can result in 30% reduction in ventilation losses compared to natural ventilation.

Reducing energy use and costs and lowering greenhouse gases has become increasingly topical over the past few years. Because of this, since March of this year, the value of grants available to homeowners from the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) has increased by between 25 and 50%. This means that you can claim back €300 for insulating your attic, €700 for a new oil/gas boiler with new heating controls, up to €2,400 for internal wall insulation and up to €4,500 for external wall insulation. Also, a bonus payment has been introduced which means that homeowners will receive additional payments if they undertake three or more energy-efficient retrofit improvements. You can also save up to €4,050 in tax or 13.5% of the cost of your project (up to a limit of €30,000) on a wide range of home improvements and renovations under the new Home Renovation Incentive Scheme which was introduced in recent years, but is due to expire on 31st December 2015.

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A point made by architect Bill Scott of Scott and MacNeil Architects, is that undertaking a number of different retrofit measures does not result in a ‘multiplier effect’. Tom Halpin, SEAI’s head of information says that installing three typical energy-saving measures in your home that each results in a 20-25% in cost savings individually, should still result in reducing the average heating bill by about half.

So, if you are considering a retrofit of your home, remember to make insulation and ventilation a priority. And if you are renovating your home, please remember to retrofit it too – because any renovation without a retrofit is a lost opportunity to create a warm, comfortable, energy-efficient and healthy home.

 

For a free, no obligation consultation contact RENOVA today!

 

 

Download our RENOVA brochure here.

 

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie

 

‘Stoves – the Basics’

Renova-Custom-Home-Retro-Fits-John-Martin and Alan Stevens-90

Stoves have now become the stylish and energy-efficient alternative to the open fire for many Irish people. As well as lowering fuel bills, stoves looks great. There’s no denying the cosy and comforting feeling that a stove will bring to any home.

Energy efficiency is the main advantage of stoves. Only about 25 per cent of the heat generated by an open fire actually ends up in the room – the rest of it escapes up the chimney. In contrast, stoves are about 80 per cent efficient, and if burning wood, are better for the environment. Stoves also help to eliminate draughts as they seal in the chimney flue, thus eliminating ‘up draught’ which draws draughts into your home.

 

Wood-burning stoves are only capable of burning wood and wood derived fuel, like wood pellets. They generally consist of a cast iron or steel closed fire chamber, a brick base and an adjustable air control.  They do not have a fixed grate because wood and wood pellets burn very effectively on a bed of their own ashes. This results in greater efficiency and heat output. Also, as these stoves only burn wood and biomass fuels which are renewable, they are eco-friendly. Wood burning is regarded as a carbon neutral form of energy because during its growth, a tree will absorb roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide as it emits when it is burned. Wood ash is also good for planting and gardening. Therefore, as a provider of ‘green’ heat, a wood-burning stove is required in order to reach passive house standards. A disadvantage of wood-burning stoves, however, is that you will need somewhere to store the wood, as dry wood is delivered in large quantities. This could be a problem in suburban areas where garden sizes are small.

 

Multi-fuel stoves are also typically made of cast iron or steel. They include a grate with an ash pan beneath to collect the ashes, which maintains effective combustion. As a result, it is possible to burn a variety of materials instead of just wood. However, because they are capable of burning coal, briquettes and other non-renewable fossil fuels, they are not certified under new green building regulations. Many people choose to only burn wood in their multi-fuel stove which is also a viable and eco-friendly option.

Some multi-fuel models are also boiler stoves (wet stoves), with an attached water tank to provide hot water. They can be connected to the heating system to add heat to a house. A boiler stove will use up a lot more fuel than a dry stove and is dependent upon someone being there all day to feed it. Dry stoves are easier to put in as they don’t have to be connected to the heating system. At RENOVA we do not generally recommend the installation of boiler stoves.

 

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Air Supply is important for the safe and efficient operation of stoves. Fresh air needs to enter to provide oxygen fuel for the fire. To regulate air flow, there are damper devices built into the stove. The dampers can usually be accessed by turning a knob or a handle attached to the damper, found outside the stove. Except when helping the chimney/flue to heat up initially, it is not recommended to leave the air control fully open. If fully open, more heat is sent straight up the chimney instead of into the room (which reduces efficiency). The biggest problem with leaving it fully open is “overfiring”. This is when too much heat is generated within the fire chamber, which can lead to warping, buckling and can damage the stove and its internal components.

 

Regarding fuel, the best woods to burn in a stove are oak, ash and beech. They should be well-seasoned (dry) and cut small enough to fit into the stove. Freshly cut wood (known as green wood) has a high moisture content which will result in a lower heat output. It will also cause creosote which in turn causes soot and therefore reduced airflow within the chimney. This can be dangerous as chimney soot can be ignited by rising embers, causing a chimney fire. For best results, firewood should have a moisture content of less than 20%. Even when well-ventilated and covered, seasoning by air-drying can take up to two years. Some companies are now using large kilns to quickly dry their wood.

Both hardwood and softwood have the same energy content and produce similar energy. The main difference is the rate at which the fuel burns. Hardwoods come from slow-growing trees like oak and ash and burn at a slower rate, resulting in sustained output and a consistent temperature. Softwoods are from fast-growing evergreen trees like conifers and burn at a far faster rate. A disadvantage of softwood is that it creates more soot and other deposits on the inside of the wood stove, chimney, and flue. Hardwood and softwood may be used together by adding hardwood on top of softwood that is already lit. Softwood can also be used as kindling to help start the fire.

 

Safety is important; a stove requires regular maintenance such as emptying ash pans and routine cleaning of the stove pipes and chimney to prevent chimney fires. The basic principle of controlling combustion by reducing the air supply means that carbon dioxide is often “reduced” to carbon monoxide within the stove. This gas is highly poisonous. It can occur if the stove or chimney has not been cleaned or if there is insufficient ventilation. Carbon monoxide detectors should always be installed where a wood stove is in use.

carbon monoxide detector

 

A  stove typically costs from €1,500 for a cheaper model to €8,000 for a larger ‘designer’ stove. These costs generally include supply and installation but always ask your supplier if the flue, hearth and labour costs are included in the final price. There’s no question too that wood is cheaper than other fuels. According to the SEAI, the delivered energy cost from wood per kWh is about 20% less than natural gas and is significantly less than electricity. If you have a wood supply available to you, this means little to no cost.shutterstock_74850409 resized

 

 

To to find out more about heating and for a free, no obligation consultation, call RENOVA today. We also have both insert and free-standing stoves on display at our RENOVA showroom.

Click here to download our RE NOVA brochure.

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie