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Females guide to pricing

  • 04-01-2021 7:43pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ Kirafrik


    Hi all, I've just joined you, this is my first post; so please go easy with me!

    I've read some wonderful threads on here in the last hour or so! I'm female with terrible DIY skills and a little knowledge of building!

    I'm looking at buying an old property at home in the near future for a variety of reasons, I actually live in the tropics and am concerned about a) renewable energy b) costs

    So the house in question is old, not been lived in for a while and needs renovation including a septic tank & electricity supply!

    In terms of costs & best environmental practice, but keeping in mind I may need planning permission (?) for the SW of Ireland I'm potentially looking at:

    1. Installation of a septic tank (or can you advise me of something better?)
    2. A system to produce my electricity (it's not at all connected); PV panels or a small wind turbine? Or?
    3. Electrical underfloor heating powered by question 2's method
    3. Rainwater harvesting for the 'grey' water (or better if possible) around the house
    4. A woodburner although my head says this isn't too environmentally sustainable?
    5. Windows, will probably need replacing, personally can't stand uPVC on older homes, options?

    Any pointers on costs and what may work better for a home in a sparsely populated area that will be lived in, near the coast. I need to get my ducks in a row regarding financing the project!

    Thanks so much!


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 435 ✭✭ mike_2009


    1. Can't answer to this, not something I've knowledge on
    2. Price connectivity to the grid. Most houses have an existing connection, would be surprised if not. I'd start there and add renewables later
    3. You can retrofit this although you'd ideally need to raise the floor a bit to get insulation underneath the heating element. Do you have height to do this?
    3a. Rainwater harvesting - you could do water butts initially, or large above ground units - you can only really use them in the toilet cisterns and in the washing machine (do a 60oC wash x1 / month to clean it out though). The existing piping won't carry this though so you need a parallel system with a small pump / header tank ideally. Can add an underground concrete tank later and pipe this in if it works well. Drinking it requires a LOT of treatment, look at a well instead for that....or mains water? Also likely to be onsite or nearby.
    4. Rocket mass stove, uses less wood and gives off a lot of heat into the brick thermal mass for hours afterwards, there are lots of other options too.
    5. Windows - uPVC is cheapest, alternative is to add secondary glazing or put bubblewrap on inside of windows with no required view to warm things up a little.
    Insulation will be the biggest benefit but making sure you don't adversely change the moisture point between the inside and outside can be tricky and take the best advice you can here tailored to your home. You want to keep warm and keep damp moving to the outside. That maximizes your heating internally.
    Consider if you can bulldoze and build new, there are kit houses available that match the local vernacular, just needs planning and it could get you a fantastic house if you can afford it ready to go.
    Don't take on too much yourself or plan to learn slowly and take several years to get the property kitted out. Or buy a kitted out extension - you're allowed 40 square meters without planning, get this plumbed and wired for electricity and live out of this and do up the house over time. That or a mobile home....! Best of Luck and hope you have great views!


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,441 ✭✭✭ wexfordman2


    With ref to point 3, don't expect your renewable energy source (wind or solar) to provide heating to your house during the winter. The time of year you need the most heat coincides with the time there is least amount of solar. A fully maxed out solar system at the moment might not generate anything, or just a few kwh during December or January days, so you couldn't use that as your sole source of energy for heating.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,530 ✭✭✭ Dudda


    It really depends on how old the house is, how long it is since it was lived in and what state it's in. From the very brief description it does kinda sound it would be about the same cost to knock and start over with a new super energy efficient Passive House. Basically buying a site.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ Kirafrik


    mike_2009 wrote: »
    1. Can't answer to this, not something I've knowledge on
    2. Price connectivity to the grid. Most houses have an existing connection, would be surprised if not. I'd start there and add renewables later
    3. You can retrofit this although you'd ideally need to raise the floor a bit to get insulation underneath the heating element. Do you have height to do this?
    3a. Rainwater harvesting - you could do water butts initially, or large above ground units - you can only really use them in the toilet cisterns and in the washing machine (do a 60oC wash x1 / month to clean it out though). The existing piping won't carry this though so you need a parallel system with a small pump / header tank ideally. Can add an underground concrete tank later and pipe this in if it works well. Drinking it requires a LOT of treatment, look at a well instead for that....or mains water? Also likely to be onsite or nearby.
    4. Rocket mass stove, uses less wood and gives off a lot of heat into the brick thermal mass for hours afterwards, there are lots of other options too.
    5. Windows - uPVC is cheapest, alternative is to add secondary glazing or put bubblewrap on inside of windows with no required view to warm things up a little.
    Insulation will be the biggest benefit but making sure you don't adversely change the moisture point between the inside and outside can be tricky and take the best advice you can here tailored to your home. You want to keep warm and keep damp moving to the outside. That maximizes your heating internally.
    Consider if you can bulldoze and build new, there are kit houses available that match the local vernacular, just needs planning and it could get you a fantastic house if you can afford it ready to go.
    Don't take on too much yourself or plan to learn slowly and take several years to get the property kitted out. Or buy a kitted out extension - you're allowed 40 square meters without planning, get this plumbed and wired for electricity and live out of this and do up the house over time. That or a mobile home....! Best of Luck and hope you have great views!

    Brilliant, thanks for all this, it's given me a lot to think about and certainly the rainwater harvesting would be to flush/wash clothes with

    I do have the height to put in underfloor heating but I've been told it's expensive to buy and as Wexfordman2 says, it won't suffice with solar (I thought you could store energy in the batteries???) so the rocket mass stove will have to heat the house.

    Talking of heat, I know a system in Estonia which works a treat but needs a specialist chimney fitter, it's a brick chimney system which takes the heat up slowly in a tight S shape through the house ... don't know why this system isn't installed more across Europe?

    The uPVC windows fill me with dread but I'd prefer them over bubblewrap type situation. I would need to put in 1 or 2 more too with a small wall I want to knock out ...
    With ref to point 3, don't expect your renewable energy source (wind or solar) to provide heating to your house during the winter. The time of year you need the most heat coincides with the time there is least amount of solar. A fully maxed out solar system at the moment might not generate anything, or just a few kwh during December or January days, so you couldn't use that as your sole source of energy for heating.

    Thanks also, so you've hit my weak spot, I'm a disaster with DIY but hopeless with Kwh/amps etc ... would you think it would give me enough in the winter months to run the basics? Lights/fridge-freezer/charging electronics??? Is my 'knowledge' of batteries holding some of the charge they've gained during the summer months a complete myth??
    Dudda wrote: »
    It really depends on how old the house is, how long it is since it was lived in and what state it's in. From the very brief description it does kinda sound it would be about the same cost to knock and start over with a new super energy efficient Passive House. Basically buying a site.

    Thanks Dudda, you missed a vital piece of information from this post, I'm female!!! I've fallen in love with the house ... no way can it be knocked down, I'll have to do it bit by bit!!!


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,461 Mod ✭✭✭✭ looksee


    Quit with the female bit :D It doesn't matter, what matters is the best approach to the building. It doesn't matter how female you are, throwing money into a cold damp money pit is not a good idea. Also, you will still, in the 21st century, find people (mostly men) who will try and run rings round you, while being absolutely charming, and mess you about to an extent that they would not try with other men. So don't rely on being helpless, they will still take your money, just more of it. On the other hand you could get lucky and find some real gems (I did, mostly).

    So look at the house critically. What condition is it in? Does it have a roof and sound walls? If it does not have an ESB (electric) number - an MPRN - then it most likely has never had power, which means it is pretty old. Has it ever had a septic tank? Does it have a water supply? You need to investigate whether it needs planning permission - it probably does. If it does not have sight lines on the road, if it has dodgy ground conditions for the septic tank, if it is in a flood plain or if it is on less than a quarter of an acre you could have problems. You need the quarter acre to get a septic tank. Are you sure you are not adjacent to a public sewer? If you are not adjacent to a public water supply you will need to have a well dug, and the site may not be suitable usually because of the proximity of septic tanks.

    Have you taken possession of the house? You need to employ an architect or engineer to give you real, practical advice.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ Kirafrik


    looksee wrote: »
    Quit with the female bit :D It doesn't matter, what matters is the best approach to the building. It doesn't matter how female you are, throwing money into a cold damp money pit is not a good idea. Also, you will still, in the 21st century, find people (mostly men) who will try and run rings round you, while being absolutely charming, and mess you about to an extent that they would not try with other men. So don't rely on being helpless, they will still take your money, just more of it. On the other hand you could get lucky and find some real gems (I did, mostly).

    So look at the house critically. What condition is it in? Does it have a roof and sound walls? If it does not have an ESB (electric) number - an MPRN - then it most likely has never had power, which means it is pretty old. Has it ever had a septic tank? Does it have a water supply? You need to investigate whether it needs planning permission - it probably does. If it does not have sight lines on the road, if it has dodgy ground conditions for the septic tank, if it is in a flood plain or if it is on less than a quarter of an acre you could have problems. You need the quarter acre to get a septic tank. Are you sure you are not adjacent to a public sewer? If you are not adjacent to a public water supply you will need to have a well dug, and the site may not be suitable usually because of the proximity of septic tanks.

    Have you taken possession of the house? You need to employ an architect or engineer to give you real, practical advice.

    You're killing me :'( No I've not taken possession but I'm in the midst of looking to make an offer if I'm honest!

    The house is structurally sound, the roof isn't bad at all but it doesn't have any services. It does have over 2 acres around it so I've got plenty of room to dig and it's definitely not in a flood plain! There's a well, so that's another solar panel to invest in, but I do the same here although we have more sunshine!

    I have had friends (who will be living in it till my retirement at least & overseeing works) view it who said all things considered it's in a good state structurally just dated and needing a lot of TLC! This is my final home in Europe I believe and I'm willing to do it in stages. Lluckily my friends are willing to put up with my madness, get dirty & practical as they've already fallen in love too!

    I will employ a professional to look it over properly as there's a side store to the house & I'd like to put in a RSJ to open the kitchen up to it and put a window in it. I believe with COVID-19 time is on my side, hence I'm on here annoying you all with questions so we can get it as correct as possible given its age!


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,461 Mod ✭✭✭✭ looksee


    Fair enough :D However do get a professional to have a look - make an offer 'subject to survey' which is quite normal and it means that if it turns out there's an issue you are not committed. However it also means that they can sell it from under you if they so wish.

    Have you had a look on the planning site for your local county council area? You can see there if any one has applied for planning previously and been refused.

    Also have a look on Land Direct https://www.landdirect.ie/ and see if you can see any obvious issues with ownership, rights of way or anything else. Make sure you have access - if its on a roadside you are probably ok there. Surprising how often you find that the site is somehow trapped in though, don't depend on a right of way or similar for access unless the legalities are very clear.

    Try and look at how good the sight lines on the road are, and indeed what kind of a road it is. If you are going for planning permission at all, and you will have to for a septic tank, things like that will be looked at too. Just because there is an entrance now doesn't mean you will automatically get permission.

    This is just eliminating obvious things before you go to the expense of a survey, you must get a survey.

    Don't get too hung up on alternative energy - great if you can use it, but its backup, not your primary supply. Also you are almost certainly not going to get an old cottage/house up to a standard that allows you to have a passive house, you are going to have to heat it. And remember Ireland is damp, you need heating to a limited extent most of the year to keep the place dry, especially an old house that may have solid walls and dubious damp proof course.

    I live in a modern - 20 year old - house that was built as a huge 'extension' onto an old stone cottage. The house is easy to keep snug, the cottage is like a fridge. It is not actively damp but chill and I light the stove in there during the winter every two or three days just to keep it aired. This is in addition to the oil that comes on for an hour and a half each morning again just to take the chill off the entire house. The main house then doesn't need any heating until the evening when I light the stove. If we were living in the cottage (we did, during renovations of the main house) it would need the stove on 24/7 at this time of year.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,441 ✭✭✭ wexfordman2


    Kirafrik wrote: »

    Thanks also, so you've hit my weak spot, I'm a disaster with DIY but hopeless with Kwh/amps etc ... would you think it would give me enough in the winter months to run the basics? Lights/fridge-freezer/charging electronics??? Is my 'knowledge' of batteries holding some of the charge they've gained during the summer months a complete myth??


    !

    Solar PV (electric) is an excellent solution first off, don't let what I am saying out you off.getting it in,.it is very worthwhile, and far better than solar thermal for.examole, which is.just.for hot.water.

    That being said, you need be realistic, and it not meet your needs during the worst.of the winter months, and will always from a practical perspective need a mains supply.alongisde it to give you what you need, when you need it.

    So,.don't dismiss it,. but thread carefully and don't let anyone mis sell or.over promise you what it can't do
    Be wary of any.salesoerson who hints that it can help heat your house during the darkest winter months,.it won't.

    I have a 6kwp system on our house, 2 adults and 2 grown teenagers. That's the largest system you can get (with a caveat you can go larger but only.if.you are either off grid and not connected to the esb, or have an industrial sized 3 pause power supply from the esb).

    Soz with my 6kwp system, and 4 occupants, I would use/require about 22kwh of electricity per day to run the house. During peak summer, my system will generate 35kwh.and.sometimes a bit more.

    During the winter (dec, Jan, Feb), it can range from 0kwh to 15kwh, but typically is less than 5kwh, so never meets.my daily requirements for those few months.

    I have a battery, it stores 5kwh, and charges daily either from the solar or from night rate electricity, you will not get a battery to store your summer excess for the winter


    Again,.solar pv is fantastic, I highly recommend it, but you need to be realistic. It gives me.excellent production during the rest of the year,.has eliminated the need me to heat water during the summer (excess power generated is.diverted to the.immersion heater), so I am very happy.with it


    Cost me 12k before grant, so 8,200 after grant, altho gh the grant system has changed a bit last year

    Sorry.for poor spelling and all the .... thick thumbs, small.keyboard on my phone


  • Registered Users Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ Kirafrik


    Thanks for all these ideas

    I need to cost it all, it's an old farmhouse with some land and apart from the price I do need to carefully do my sums and put the basics in place.

    Certainly need a septic tank and electrics in place for starters, however that's going to set me back at least 3,500€ for the waste water from what I can see. Connecting electricity (then sort out the solar, you have taught me!) I've no idea of the cost but there are houses within 50m connected up and I have direct access onto a public road. I doubt I'll be eligible for any loans as I'll be non-resident (?!)

    Then the rocket mass stove to keep warm is another major cost, before the furniture even enters the house!! The wooden windows are in fairly good shape so maybe that's a later project to make them more efficient! At least with the basics in place we can get on with the renovation works!

    Lots to think about ... anymore advice will always be welcomed!


  • Registered Users Posts: 36,082 ✭✭✭✭ ED E


    ESB won't connect you unless the installation has been certified, this could be a huge job in a building like that. You need to get it assessed by a sparks.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 6 ✭✭✭ Kirafrik


    ED E wrote: »
    ESB won't connect you unless the installation has been certified, this could be a huge job in a building like that. You need to get it assessed by a sparks.

    Thanks! It's a 3 bed farmhouse on two floors with a few outbuildings (which can be wired up later), so that's going to be another major cost as it's not been lived in for 20 years or so!

    It's how long is a piece of string question ... but I don't have any friendly sparky friends so this is going to be 15,000€ to install? Or do I need to allow a bigger budget?

    This is mounting up!!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 39 omegab


    As the other posters have said, Solar is a secondary energy source and you need to consider the payback time. Batteries will store at most a days energy but as Wexfordman's example above shows that's only in the peak of summer and it is cheaper to just divert that energy into your hot water cylinder and not have a battery at all (which has a cost / a lifetime and you lose energy charging & discharging it).

    And definitely you don't want Electric underfloor heating as Electric heating is approximately 3-3.5 times more expensive to run than Gas / Oil.

    Electricity is cheap, for a water pump you are talking a few euro a year so that shouldn't be your primary concern.

    I know you are caught up in the emotion of this specific house but I would encourage you to scope it all out as best of you can before committing yourself to it. The design of a house that is old enough to have never had electricity is by it's nature completely different to how we would build a house today, and you can't really upgrade it in pieces. As the other poster said it would be better to knock and start again with one wall intact but it sounds like you don't have the budget for that. Even the challenges of trying to insulate the walls internally and then worrying about mould growing behind the dry lining would make me pause and reconsider.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,820 ✭✭✭ air


    It would help if you gave more information on your intended usage.
    Are you planning to move home and live in this house or just use it as a summer home?

    The arrangement with your friends sounds very ill advised from a legal and personal standpoint from the limited information you have provided.


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