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170 year old house, where to start with energy effeciency improvements

  • 28-01-2023 3:54pm
    Registered Users Posts: 826 ✭✭✭

    I have a 170 year old, stand alone, 2 story house, around 3000 sq ft.

    It doesn't have cavity walls, pure stone, nearly all the windows are double glazed (patio door and 2 inside windows are single glazed)

    attic has insulation (not sure how thick that is)

    I'd be interested in getting SEAI grants but I think the one stop shop might be too costly given how much work needs to be done.

    Was thinking of starting with interior or external wall insulation.

    My question is, whats the first step?

    The SEAI registered assessors seem like a good first step but they cost around €800 which is a big outlay without actually getting any work done!

    But at least I would get a plan of action.

    Would a regulat BER assessment (cost around €300) be reasonable thing to get instead?

    #Would they also give a plan of action or just a cert?

    Or can you go straight to the SEAI registered insulation guys and ask them what needs to be done to bypass the assessor cost?


  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭C. Eastwood

    Retain a Construction Professional to Survey your property and give you unbiased advice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,810 ✭✭✭MicktheMan

    My question is, whats the first step?

    Forget grants for the moment.

    Understand what you have (i.e. a 170 year old house with all that goes along with that).

    Figure out & concentrate on what you want to achieve (an 'A' rated house is not necessarily the same thing as a comfortable affordable & healthy house).

    Then understand the gap and how best to close it given your plans, budget, other constraints.

    Then see if there is grant support available for appropriate measures.

    Be careful on who you get to advise. Quiz them on their breadth of knowledge / experience.

  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,885 Mod ✭✭✭✭shesty

    Yeah, I'd agree with asking a professional in to do a survey/look around to give you advice (not a BER one).

    What I'd be most concerned about for you is what can be done, with the make up of what you have. Stone walls??what are they made of, and what else comes down when you start messing with them.How are the electrics/plumbing running through the house and if you insulate (particularly internally), what impact does that have on the pipes/wires.

    A straight up, potentially easy win would probably be to investigate the existing attic insulation and add to it, if you really want to get moving.But for now I'd put the money into getting a professional opinion on the structure and what CAN be done vs what SHOULD be done.It's money dependent also, as you might imagine.Sky's the limit if your budget is big, but if you have to prioritise, you need advice.

    An architect may be a good bet, but just be a little wary that they will bring in ideas about latest products or designs that they like, which may not be to your liking or budget.However their general opinion on what is possible might be the most useful, I think they would possibly be best.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Apparently the best thing to do with a 170 year old house is to demolish it & build a new one.

    I looked up the subject a while back, and there was a thread on some UK forum. The consensus (including from people who had renovated old properties) was that demo & rebuild would result in a bigger, better house for less money.

    Stone built house means a specialist architect, specialist contractors, specialist materials, (which all come at a large premium) and having no hope of getting to the same standard of comfort and efficiency as you would if you were renovating a block built house or if you had a new build.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,756 ✭✭✭cute geoge

    Had a small old damp cottage with mass concrete walls ,structural sound but needed new slate but rest of roof roof A1,went with external insulation mighty job but think as it sticks out over 6 inches you would need to be doing something with the roof as well

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,725 ✭✭✭Padre_Pio

    My own parents live in a stone house over 100 years old.

    They built a small extension recently, and you can feel the difference walking between old and new rooms.

    There's a lot to be said for having a warm house that retains heat.

    I would get a quote for a complete refurb and a quote for a rebuild and see how they compare.

    Factor in wiring and plumbing too. Chances are the wiring is 50 years old.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,060 ✭✭✭✭Calahonda52

    EWI/MVHR/windows fitted on outside face of wall before EWI is added.

    ewi up through soffits to meet 16" insulation in attic

    french drain all the way around to reduce moisture/water load on walls

    Internal or external porch front and back

    If external have it thermally broken from house EWI

    “I can’t pay my staff or mortgage with instagram likes”.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,810 ✭✭✭MicktheMan

    ewi up through soffits to meet 16" insulation in attic

    ensuring first that any cement based old external render has been removed and the new ewi system (insulation and renders) is fully breathable👍️

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,483 ✭✭✭hesker

    And factor in there is no SEAI grant for EWI on stone walls.

  • Subscribers Posts: 40,495 ✭✭✭✭sydthebeat

    and there is only one internal insulation system certified for use on stone walls (as far as i know)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭C. Eastwood

    A 170 year old house should be demolished.

    If you decided to renovate the house then you need a Construction Professional (CP) experience in that type of construction/ building.

    The house is constructed with stones and Lime Mortar.

    People are on here giving advice on EWI.

    There is no DPC in the walls of this house, and Rising Dampness will be a major problem.

    There is no DMP in the floors.

    You need a CP to give advice as to what needs to be carried out on the house, and then retain a Chartered Quantity Surveyor to give you the estimated cost of carrying out the necessary works. Then get the estimated cost of building a new house.

    Because of the lack of DPC and lack of DPM, I would never recommend EWI on an old stone house.

    Also recommend above - is to fit EWI and render and ensure it is breathable. Note:- it cannot breathe unless it has lungs. 🫁

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,810 ✭✭✭MicktheMan

    Also recommend above - is to fit EWI and render and ensure it is breathable. Note:- it cannot breathe unless it has lungs.

    Really! You promote yourself all over boards as a construction professional offering your professional advice and yet you come out with such utter nonsense.

    You (ought to) know precisely what I mean with the term "breathable" in the thermal fabric construction context. If you don't then please stop offering (professional) advice.

  • Subscribers Posts: 40,495 ✭✭✭✭sydthebeat

    some bedtime reading for our surveyor friend above.

    every days a school day

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,359 ✭✭✭chooseusername

    "some bedtime reading for our surveyor friend above"

    Is that a;

    1. Registered Building Surveyor
    2. Chartered Land Surveyor?
    3. Chartered Building Surveyor? ( edit; Copied and pasted)

    Post edited by chooseusername on

  • Registered Users Posts: 757 ✭✭✭C. Eastwood

    Then stop using incorrect words when describing buildings.

    You are assuming that everyone reading what you write understands what you mean

    Some readers may even assume that parts of houses are actually breathing, which is an impossibility.

    I have never come across your term above as follows:- “term breathable" in the thermal fabric construction context.” and I do not know what you mean.

    This is why I go to the trouble of explaining everything in very simple plain English understandable by all readers

    I have never asked for any advice on this Forum and do not understand why you are offering me advice, which I will ignore.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,383 ✭✭✭Furze99

    "I have a 170 year old, stand alone, 2 story house, around 3000 sq ft."

    That is a substantial dwelling for it's time - c 1850. Not a small farmers or labouring man's house. Given that, it was likely well built in it's day, I'd be very wary of advice like above to sweep it away and replace with some modern structure of inferior materials that may likely last half that time. Forget that stuff too about 'rising damp' unless it's built in a boggy hollow, very unlikely for a house as described. DPM for floor can be installed readily if ground floors are relaid.

    I'm a sort of similar position with a smaller property and choice of internal v external insulation. Sometimes I veer one way and another day the other. That said we've lived with it as it is for near on three decades and managed OK largely. Certain cold winds can suck the heat out a bit but everyone complains then anyway too about same in their gaffs.

  • Registered Users Posts: 568 ✭✭✭Deregos.

    My gaff is on the ordinance survey map from 1837. We bought it in 1996, completely gutted it, new concrete floors with DPM, had the walls injected with a damp proof coarse, never had an issue with damp. Did have one room turn a bit moldy when a chimney was incorrectly blocked up without adequate ventilation, but that was quickly sorted once spotted.

    You get a different type of house to the norm when you do up an old building, there's architectural features and a sense of solid character to it, that you'd never achieve on a new build today, unless you had a seriously massive budget.