A rather large project: My house

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  • So I have been littering the forum with a million questions relating to this, so going to actually start a current project thread for it ( @Velocio 's idea!) to try and track progress and keep everything in one place.

    Some background: We are in the progress of buying an 1800's farmhouse off of my father-in-law. The house is in pretty shocking condition, to the point where the biggest question at the moment is whether to renovate or rebuild. This is the house in it's current condition

    More photos here
    We are currently waiting on a report from a structural engineer, after a pretty damning report from a surveyor, but structural engineer seems to think house can be saved, with a significant amount of work, so that's our current plan.

    If we were to rebuild, then we would aim for a broadly eco-house ( @JonoMarshall need to pick your brains on this once you are back), have been investigating timber frame packaged houses like these ones as well as more traditional building approaches.

    If we renovate the aim is to try and keep as much character as possible, whilst bringing in modern living under the radar, things such as;

    Cat6 cabling through the whole house
    hidden speakers with multiroom audio setup
    underfloor heating
    external wall insulation
    breathable but strong internal stud walls

    So I'm just this thread as a collection of thoughts really, as I can't be bothered to set up a blog or anything like that. So expect lots of inane rambling, and random mentions of people to try and get their opinions.

  • After the costs of the various professionals, are you going to weight up the estimated cost of renovate vs rebuild? Things like how awesome it looks with this vs that will probably sway you more, no?

    I'd prefer to keep that outer stonework if I could, but the old roof has to go.

  • So whilst we wait for the structural report and start dealing with builders to get quotes to get the work done, we are thinking about some of the tech we want to hide in the house. our current thinking is that we don't want to make it into an obvious smart house (no fancy panels in the walls etc.) as it wouldn't be in keeping with the property, so all tech solutions have to be hidden and controlled remotely (phones, tablets).

    Things we are doing
    Cabling the whole house (unsure if Cat6a is worth double the cost of cat6?)
    Due to the thick walls and fact we have three floors we will have a few wireless access points throughout the house (no phone signal there so we rely on wifi calling through EE), current thinking is to use these
    Will be running a NAS drive (4x3tb raid) connected to a plex server hidden away next to the switch in a utility room, TVs will have Chromecasts attached to them to serve the media.
    Every room will have a audio zone set up: in the lounge this will be 5.1 (or 7.1?) surround sound connected to a decent amp. Other rooms will have a mini amp connected to bookshelf speakers. All amps will be connected to chromecast Audios and set up as zones to be controlled from phones. All speaker wire will be embedded in the walls, not sure what gauge I should be going for though?

    Sure there will be other tech solutions, wouldn't mind remote control lighting, but haven't looked into that yet.

  • After the costs of the various professionals, are you going to weight up the estimated cost of renovate vs rebuild? Things like how awesome it looks with this vs that will probably sway you more, no?

    I'd prefer to keep that outer stonework if I could, but the old roof has to go.>

    Yep that's the stage we are at now, at some point we will have to bite the bullet and make a decision as to what route we go down. As the structural engineer said, whichever route we take, at some point we will wish we took the other one. The house has been in the family for 100 years or so, so would prefer to keep it really, but unfortunately I don't have a bottomless wallet if it comes to it.

    In all likelihood the stonework will have to be covered at some point as it is in a remote windy and wet position, so will need some protection.

    Roof is first on the list to go, it is asbestos, sitting on top of an old thatch, and has no insulation and leaks.

  • Don't know what finances are like, but to save money its quite simple to convert old routers into wifi repeaters. Works out a lot cheaper than buying the purpose made ones?
    Also, in terms of tech, we're working on a big resi tower in the City at the moment and had a firm create an app for the residents specific to what's being provided tech wise. Its pretty cool as means everything is in one place and its specific to them. Sure there's plenty of forumers who have those skills...
    Oh... also there are plenty of clear solutions available now to tanking the stonework, another option could be a limewash? Some of the options are relatively cost effective too

  • So the externals...

    There are a number of places where the external walls are pretty knackered, particularly the gable end, which is coming away from the rest of the house. This has probably been caused by a combination of a buttress being removed at some point as well as the guttering dumping water onto the ground, and washing away any foundations that may have been there.

    There are numerous other cracks in the walls

    So it will need a lot of pinning in place, which from what I understand involves digging out a channel and fixing steel rods into place with resin. The external walls are also not tied into the floors of the house, so probably going to have resin in some rods into the floor joists as well.

  • Don't know what finances are like, but to save money its quite simple to convert old routers into wifi repeaters. Works out a lot cheaper than buying the purpose made ones?
    Also, in terms of tech, we're working on a big resi tower in the City at the moment and had a firm create an app for the residents specific to what's being provided tech wise. Its pretty cool as means everything is in one place and its specific to them. Sure there's plenty of forumers who have those skills...
    Oh... also there are plenty of clear solutions available now to tanking the stonework, another option could be a limewash? Some of the options are relatively cost effective too>

    Finances are always tight! Do like the idea of having a simple app developed though, will add that to the 'wants' list.

    See my next post on insulation about the stonework...

  • One of the issues I am keen to focus on is insulation... there is currently none in the house at all, and I have a 5 month old daughter, so don't want her to live in a freezing house ( I grew up in a mobile home, wouldn't wish that on anyone!).

    Alongside the insulation another key aspect is protecting the stonework so that it doesn't degrade again once we have repaired it. Traditional stonework cannot be rendered in cement like new houses as the house needs to be able to breathe to remove condensation. The normal approach is to therefore use a lime render, the issue with lime render here (according to the structural engineer) is that it probably won't provide enough protection to the stonework.

    The recommended solution is to try and tackle both of these problems in one go, by using some natural, breathable external insulation, which will then be finished in lime render.

  • How much land do you have to play with?

    The modern brick (repair?) on that extension looks hideous against the old stones. If the structure is bad, maybe you can re-purpose some of the nicer old stonework.

    Rather than dump it, and rather than cover it, maybe you can build the bike shed, or a walled garden, or some kind of garden feature. That's if the thing's going to be rebuilt (which is likely to be the best plan). Depends how you go, but for sentimental reasons it would be nice to upcycle parts of the exterior, so you can point to it in a generation or two and say what became of the old house.

  • The roof is the easy part...

    If we rebuild we would like to use eco tiles (planning permitting)

    If we renovate, it will be done in slate, most likely reclaimed from ebay or reclamation yards.

  • How much land do you have to play with?

    That extension looks hideous against the old stones. If the structure is bad, maybe you can re-purpose some of the nicer old stonework.

    Rather than dump it, and rather than cover it, maybe you can build the bike shed, or a walled garden, or some kind of garden feature. That's if the thing's going to be rebuilt (which is likely to be the best plan). Depends how you go, but for sentimental reasons it would be nice to upcycle parts of the exterior, so you can point to it in a generation or two and say what became of the old house.>

    Land is thankfully not an issue. We have about 1.5 acres, and three other significant outhouse, and a lot of old stone.

    The extension will either be taken down or rendered (it was built in the sixties as a place to test milf from the dairy). One option we are playing with is knocking down the block extension and building a new ones either side of the existing stone extension so that it runs the length of the back of the house.

  • Outbuildings...

    We have a few of them, mainly old stone barns, half fallen over, half still standing. But we have big plans for them!

    Long term plans.

    Outbuilding 1: Half becomes an office, half becomes storage (we have no loft, as there is a bedroom up there) (first priority after house)
    Outbuilding 2: Half becomes a summer house, half becomes a workshop (low priority)
    Outbuilding 3: Becomes a standalone holiday house, which we rent out via AirBnB (very low priority)

  • Sounds like a really exciting project. Lots of challenges but you could create something really special. I've always been a fan of juxtaposing old and new. Link below is for a project in Ireland I've always liked. Trying to keep the old stone but marrying in the modern. The choice of materials is simple but so effective.
    http://divisare.com/projects/309343-alic­e-clancy-donal-colfer-architects-extensi­on-and-renovation-of-ballymorris-house-w­exford-Ireland
    Also might give ideas for the outhouse? Depending where you are the opportunity to turn one or two into cheap commercial units to let out could help fund your build?

  • Sounds like a really exciting project. Lots of challenges but you could create something really special. I've always been a fan of juxtaposing old and new. Link below is for a project in Ireland I've always liked. Trying to keep the old stone but marrying in the modern. The choice of materials is simple but so effective.
    divisare.com/projects/309343-alice-clanc­y-donal-colfer-architects-extension-and-­renovation-of-ballymorris-house-wexford-­Ireland
    Also might give ideas for the outhouse? Depending where you are the opportunity to turn one or two into cheap commercial units to let out could help fund your build?>

    That is beautiful, and certainly an aesthetic I like, so if we do rebuild the extension on the back then I would quite like to mix in some modern touches.

  • One last post for now...

    Internal walls: We are trying to avoid plasterboard and skim for two main reasons, first it isn't very breathable and second I can't do it myself.

    That leaves us with two options, we go a traditional route like lime plaster (not sure I can do this either!) or we use something like fermacell which doesn't need skimming. Negatives seem to be cost, which is partially negated by not needing to employ a plasterer to skim, and also the weight, a standard board weighs 35kg!

    Benefits are that it is breathable, can be done DIY, and is a much stronger wall than pb, one screw can support 25kg apparently, so great for hanging things off.

  • The extension will either be taken down or rendered (it was built in the sixties as a place to test milf from the dairy).

    lol...

  • The extension will either be taken down or rendered (it was built in the sixties as a place to test milf from the dairy).

    lol...

    I'm going to leave that typo... I of course meant milk!

  • If you haven't seen it there's a bit of discussion about smart lights/heating, etc on this thread https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/2604­35/

    There's no real consensus on standards for lights yet. Zigbee, and the Philips Hue which is a part of that, seem to be the ones so far but nothing definite.

  • If you haven't seen it there's a bit of discussion about smart lights/heating, etc on this thread https://www.lfgss.com/conversations/2604­35/

    There's no real consensus on standards for lights yet. Zigbee, and the Philips Hue which is a part of that, seem to be the ones so far but nothing definite.>

    Cheers, will take a look. For some reason I have been shying away from the Hue, as it feels like the tech to control the lighting should be separate from the actual bulb, but maybe i'm just being fussy.

    Went to the National Self-build centre, and they have the full on home automation systems like this one but they are much $$$$

  • If you managed to exclude drafts and used high U value windows along with a concrete thermal mass floor with underfloor heating, would that lessen the need for a lot of insulation? I would have thought that with the thick set walls you are already retaining a lot of the heat. Then adde some heat exchangers to keep the airflow normal? You can get very simple vent axia ones that are cheap and can be programmed on a temperature or humidity setting.

    We recently used lime plaster as per the hertige officers stipulation. It was a complete disaster and we had to pay to get a pro in to do it properly. I would avoid it like the plague based on personal experience.

  • Place and project looks amazing.

  • Yes, certainly will be putting in much better windows, and chasing down all the drafts (the couple of inches under the back door would be a good start. As you say a nice thick floor and insulated roof will help.

    This article estimates that a 500mm stone wall (basically what we have) will have a U value of 1.6W/m², so even with the windows, doors, floor and roof fitted I'm going to be losing a fair bit of heat through the walls, so some insulation would hopefully help this. Would love to be able to leave it bare stone on the outer and insulate internally, so will be looking into that option as well. Thankfully the house is pretty big (300 sqm) so can afford to lose some internal space if I can find an insulation system that works.

  • Forgot when I first posted, but its Ecobuild today until 10th March at the Excel in London if you can get to it.
    Its free to go and might provide more ideas, maybe some answers

  • Ooh... subscribed to this!

  • Damn that's a shame i'm down in Devon this week. Thankfully I leave near the self build centre http://www.buildstore.co.uk/mykindofhome­/index.html about the only benefit of being near Swindon...

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A rather large project: My house

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