The Main Start of the Eco Build – Unbuilding and Ripping Down


Moving out to Eco up my home

I thought moving out and having to rent was scary, but now people were ripping my house apart, big time! It was strange to see plaster coming off the walls of somewhere you’d once called home, and the whole place stripped down to outside walls.

All non stone walls have been taken out. The floor to the attic is gone and I am left with a large tall space, in the middle of which is a steel post going right up to the roof, and holding up the two horizontal RSJs (rolled steel joists) that have been put just inside the old roof and will eventually hold up the new one.


Issues we hadn’t anticipated

Then there was an issue we hadn’t anticipated: a huge stone was right under the front door, sticking out into the room. We have left this for the time being; it will eventually have to be cut with an angle grinder to give an even shaped wall. If we leave it as it is and put the floor insulation round it, cold from outside the house will be transferred to the inside: this is called cold bridging. Sandy, the architect, had to work out how to prevent cold bridging around the ends of all the steel beams throughout the house. There needed to be something between them and the outside walls of the cottage.


Dealing with the unknown

One of the challenges when dealing with an old building is that you don’t know what alterations were done in the past. You can find all sorts of horrors behind plaster and under floorboards. For example, we can’t tell how far the stone under the door goes under the front wall of the house. So caution will be needed in cutting it out, especially because it is very near to the adjoining neighbour. I don’t want to upset them! We did discuss removing it altogether, but it would be a very big job. 


Talking of horrors, the fireplace had been blocked up when I moved into the house, and was unblocked by the builders. Inside, they found a grizzly pile of dead crows that over the years had fallen down the chimney, not able to get out again. I do remember hearing birds from the fireplace, but thought that it was the echo of them sitting at the top of the chimney. To prevent this happening again, I am considering a couple of options: wire mesh across the chimney pot or a cowl. Both have pros and cons, and my builder will advise me which is most suitable for my cottage.


And another unanticipated issue

Another thing we hadn’t anticipated was the poor quality crumbling stonework around the living room window at the back of the house. The walls are very thick, and have an inner and outer layer. The outer wall was bowing out, which created a problem. Outside the back wall, we are going to build a wooden frame. We will nail plywood to this frame and seal the sides, joining it to the building. In the 250mm depth cavity this creates, we will put Warmcel Blown-in insulation, which is made of recycled newspaper. Because the back wall was bowing out, it would have meant the layer of insulation would be too thin, and not provide enough protection. We had to remove the outer stone face of the wall completely and rebuild it, creating another unexpected expense.


Another Unexpected Expense

The whole of the wall below the window was removed, and it is not necessary to rebuild it so thick because the insulation is so good. The wall will just be there to hold the insulation in place. This gives scope for a recess, where I could have a beautiful window seat to relax and enjoy the sun. So sometimes even when things seem like set-backs and problems, they can turn out to be blessings in disguise.





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