House renovation project

Transition Mayfield's Derek O'Connor is currently completely renovating his house in Mayfield according to principles of sustainable development. As the work progresses he will share his experiences through this website so that others can see what things work (and what don't) and how they affect Derek's lifestyle; thus enabling others to make informed decisions for their own homes.

Pinehurst is a 1960 bungalow of brick construction with a concrete tiled roof and open frontage to the highway. There is no insulation to the cavity or loft; heating is provided by a boiler in excess of 20 years of age; and the original standard crittall metal windows create condensation and damp. Overall Pinehurst has been poorly maintained and is suffering from obsolescence.

The cost of running such a building has been recorded and will form the baseline for the analysis of the project. The house-building market is likely to change considerably in the future decade due to new regulations about resources, energy and carbon dioxide emissions. There will be many solutions offered, some of which will be proved to be dubious. Therefore this project will try to simplify the complexities and offer guidance by example.

Each of the decisions to be made in renovating the house will be analysed in terms of resources and energy used, carbon dioxide produced, effects on biodiversity, and the ability to grow a crop of food that will help feed the household. To do the analysis we will use the "Social Return on Investment" methodology that provides a way of incorporating social, environmental and economic costs and benefits into decision making.

We will look at the following three options, assess their impact and then execute one of them through to completion.

Option 1: An extensive refurbishment project with the redesign and partial re-use of the existing structure and materials, in order to bring the house to current new build standards. In the process of doing this we will assess
  • the retrofit market, looking at the type of technology available, its performance and costs.
Option 2: A new build project, with improved life-time energy efficiency being traded against the energy used to construct it. We will assess
  • the steps required to make a zero carbon building.
Option 3: A new build project that makes use of low impact construction materials. The building is to exceed the Code for Sustainable Homes (which aims to bring standards for new build to zero carbon levels by 2016). We will assess
  • passive solar design
  • renewable power (as if off-grid)
  • rainwater harvesting
  • the use of plants to treat water


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For more information about this project, contact Derek O'Connor