Extend or optimise your home?

Perhaps we are somehow conditioned into always thinking we need ‘more’. However, making the best 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 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, 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 is the logic in that?

In many cases, however, 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’s 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 your existing home, 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 – 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. 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.

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.

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

How to plan a deep retrofit renovation

Renovation projects are very 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 deep knowledge of construction and experience in construction management you will struggle to succeed.

However, construction continues to be the one industry in which people presume that they can give it a go themselves and succeed. Without experience 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. For example, the tradesmen left standing around with nothing to do for a day or two, they’ll still have to be paid for those unproductive days. Or simple things like not ordering the correct quantity of materials, or even just forgetting to have the portaloo removed on time. These are all ‘slippage’ and slippage cost money. If you don’t have experience in construction management, 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 suffer budget over-runs too.

We recommend that no-one every attempts to renovate 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 renovated by direct labour usually reflect the fact that there is no experienced individual in charge with an interest in overall the finished product. Builders and tradesmen are accustomed to operating under the instruction of a project manager, normally an architect. An experienced project manager will consider all the elements of your 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, for health and safety reasons it is now a legal requirement 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 competent and properly insured and an accident happens on site, then you may find yourself badly exposed.

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.

On account of this need for experience and competence you should plan to engage experienced people to manage your renovation project for you.

Having done that, the next most important thing to do is to prepare a clear brief. Competent and experienced people will still need you to tell them what you want to achieve. This is ‘the brief’.

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 the final plan for your house 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.

Finally, our finances should also be arranged well in advance. 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.

RENOVA’s advice – employ good people to take care of your renovation and get the most out of them by providing a clear brief and sticking to it.

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Renovating doesn’t need to be stressful

stress free renovating

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!

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.

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

The importance of management in construction

The Renova Team

The importance of good management in construction cannot be underestimated, especially 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’.

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 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’.

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 approach to Design and Build is a key factor in our success.

RENOVA, your construction 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

 

Deep retrofit – the health benefits

How our home can influence our health and quality of life

There is plenty of 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.

Health benefits of Renovation

A well designed kitchen can transform the way you live.

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.

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!

 

Talk to us about your own Home Renovation

The principles of deep retrofit

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.

So, for RENOVA a homes ‘form’ is a high quality building fabric and it’s ‘function’ is to be a comfortable place to live in.

 

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 30% 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

Heating Controls 2.jpg resized

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. If budget allows you might upgrade to Mechanical Ventilation with Heat Recovery.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie

 

Home renovation – budget wisely

If you are considering home renovation and you are 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…

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.

 

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!

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 studio 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.

Call us today to begin your journey with RENOVA

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie

 

 

The 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….

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’.

shutterstock_44182846 resizsed damp

 

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.

 

 

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

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie

Web: www.renova.ie

 

Why older homes are less energy efficient

Older houses are much less energy efficient and less comfortable than modern, energy efficient homes….

As a general rule it costs about 3 times as much to heat a 1980’s house as opposed to an energy efficient modern house. Even then they are still draughty and miserable.  The good news is that any older home can be improved to be as good as an energy efficient modern home, through Deep Retrofit. So don’t be afraid to buy an older home, but do make yourself aware of what you need to do to improve it, and what this will cost before committing to a purchase. To understand the potential of that run down old house you should first of all get an understanding of the many reasons why older homes are not energy efficient:

Insulation, and the lack of it …

This is the major problem in older homes. Heat is generated, put into our homes … and it immediately escapes, so we need to generate more heat, and so on and so on …

In order to be more energy-efficient, our homes need be insulated in three different areas – the external walls, the ground floor and roof/attic. By and large the levels of insulation in older houses is hopelessly inadequate or worse still it is non-existent . Many of these older homes have no wall insulation at all. Homes that do have it are insulated to a very poor standard. Newer homes may be insulated, but unfortunately also to a very low level. This is often poorly installed, meaning they are far from being energy efficient. These houses are often insulated within the cavity between 2 skins of blockwork external walls. The major problem with this cavity wall insulation is that it was installed during the build by block-layers. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any consideration about the home owners’ future comfort or about making the home energy efficient. When you think about it, getting a block-layer to insulate your house ‘while he’s at it, laying blocks’ is no way to insulate a house. Yet, this is the way it has been done for years. This photo shows poorly installed cavity wall insulation installed by block-layers. We uncovered this on a recent renovation. This standard of workmanship is typical rather than unusual.

Poor Insulation

Poorly installed insulation

 

No insulation underneath the ground floor is another problem which makes older homes less energy efficient. Particularly in relation to houses with suspended timber ground floors. On average 7 – 10% of heat escapes through an uninsulated floor, but worse still, coldness enters our homes through the floor and draughts whip up through unsealed floor boards. No wonder it’s cold and less energy efficient in a house with nothing at all between you and the cold earth beneath. In an era of rising fuel costs and awareness, it is hard to believe that so many people still live in homes like this! This ground floor arrangement is common place and people don’t realise just how bad it is – carpet covers a multitude. Take a look at the photo here to see a before and after in one of our recent renovations. This situation occurred in a beautiful Victorian house in South Dublin. No wonder the house was so draughty!

Original Floor showing no insulation             No Insulation

  Insulated floor part of energy efficient upgrade worksAfter – Insulation being installed between joists

 

With regard to attic insulation, the acceptable thickness for attic insulation just 10 years ago was 100mm. Today, the minimum is 300mm thickness. Unless you’ve had your insulation upgraded in the last few years, chances are you are living under a couple of inches of ill-fitting attic insulation, which means that your home less energy efficient because heat is escaping. As approximately 30% of the heat in a home escapes through the roof, attic insulation is of utmost importance. To make matters worse, the typical old ‘attic hatch’ is a weak point too, as it allows heat to escape and draughts to flow in. Sometimes these even ‘flap in the wind’ on a windy night. Replace this with an insulated draught-proof attic door to make your home more energy efficient.

Old windows & doors … heat escaping and draughts getting in.

Rattly old windows and doors are another very common feature of older, less energy efficient houses. Even relatively ‘modern’ windows have poor U-values and draught seals compared to good quality, modern ones. The U-Value of a window represents the degree to which a window retains heat, so the lower the U-Value, the better the window. Approx 15% of heat escapes through bad quality windows and doors. Install energy efficient windows with a uValue of 1.0 or less to fix this problem.

Old appliances and lighting

Believe it or not, the energy required to light an older home can be 80% higher than lighting a modern home with energy efficient lights. All you have to do is replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LED lighting to save up to 80% of the cost of lighting your home. Also, the ambiance and atmosphere of your home can be greatly enhanced with the clever use of bulb and lamp types. Likewise, by replacing household appliances with new, energy-efficient A or B rated ones, running costs can be reduced by 50%.

Open fires … money up the chimney!

Open fires are the norm in an older home, and very often there are several. They are not energy efficient and are a significant cause of draught. Open fires can be as low as 15% efficient, meaning that 85% of the heat generated is lost up the chimney! A stove, in comparison is more than 80% energy efficient. A stove will also help to eliminate draughts as it will seal in the chimney flue, thus minimising ‘up draught’ which draws draughts into your home. A ‘room sealed’ stove will completely eliminate ‘up-draught’.

Inefficient Heating Systems

Old boilers are not energy efficient. Typically, just 65% or less of the energy in the oil burned in an older boiler is transferred into heat in the house. This means that 35% of energy purchased in the form of fuel is just wasted. Or, 35c in every Euro spent is wasted. By comparison, modern condensing boilers are 95% energy efficient, meaning that 95% of the energy is converted into heat in your home.

To make matters worse older homes tend not to have ‘heating controls’ so there is only one heating circuit for the whole house, making a typical older home less energy-efficient. This means that the whole house is heated even if just part of the house is in use. Installing heating controls reduces the amount of heat used in the home, which in turn saves money. By choosing to heat only the rooms/floor levels you are actually using and by using a thermostat to control the temperature, you can save money on heating bills and use energy more energy efficient way.

The solution to all of these inadequacies lies in ‘Deep Retrofit’, the complete upgrade of the fabric of your building.

And the easiest way to make your home more energy efficient is to procure that Deep Retrofit by RENOVA – a reputable custom home retrofit and renovations company that will oversee the whole project from start to finish and ease any stresses along the way! So go ahead and buy that house, just make sure you speak to RENOVA first.

 

Web: www.renova.ie

Tel: 01 2021122

Email: info@renova.ie