Internal flue

Something I’m grateful to the planners for is the internal flue from the stove. If I’d had an option, without thinking, I’d probably have placed it outside running up the wall externally and in doing so lost an awful lot of heat. Instead, as required by the planners (my plans didn’t show where the flue ran and I was ‘informed’ that a reapplication for an external flue was likely to be rejected) it runs internally and keeps the bedroom (more of a store room at the moment) that it passes through lovely and warm with heat we’d otherwise have lost.

From Barn Conversion 2011

I was originally worried that it would be an eye-sore, but I quite like it – an industrial touch in a rural setting.

From Barn Conversion 2011

Energy Performance Certificate – EPC

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a piece of certification that has come along since I’ve started this project and is now a compulsory piece of paper required by building control as a part of the completion process. The requirement for an EPC came into effect from the 6th of April 2008, with the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002.

Why do I need one?

From October 2008 EPCs will be required whenever a building is built, sold or rented out.

So what is an EPC?

The EPC is part of a series of measures being introduced across Europe to reflect legislation which will help cut buildings’ carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

The certificate provides ‘A’ to ‘G’ ratings for the building, with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ being the least, with the average up to now being ‘D’.

Accredited energy assessors produce EPCs alongside an associated report which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient.

Note the final point from that quote – you’ll need a accredited energy assessor to produce your EPC for you. Depending on the type of EPC, they’ll carryout a survey of the building, need copies of your plans and then plug some statistics into some software and provide you with a certificate.

For a conversion or new build an On Construction SAP EPC is required and for existing dwellings a RdSAP (reduced data SAP) EPC is required when the dwelling is sold or rented out. Both utilise similar calculations with data for the RdSAP calculation being gathered during a short site visit, whilst the SAP EPC can be derived mainly from the plans.

Frustratingly, although the EPC is a kind of SAP-lite you may find, as I have, that whoever did the SAP calculations for your planning application won’t be able to provide your EPC as it’s not financially worth their while. To become an EPC accredited energy assessor and then remain one is an expensive exercise. Combining that with a relatively low charge for an EPC means that this is a high volume business – one that is not suited to many traditional planners, designers or technicians.

The resultant certificate will look something like this example from the communities.gov.uk website.

An EPC lasts for ten years before needing to be renewed.

planners have a lot to answer for…

As usual, I must agree with Roger Deakin…

Planners have a lot to answer for on the commons. Roof heights are all wrong now. The monster executive villas dwarf the older, vernacular language of the Suffolk houses, which all more or less had the same roof height and alignment. Planners have allowed the scale and alignment of the houses round the perimeter of the commons to go out of kilter altogether. So we have lost the graceful natural proportions of vernacular building.

Roger Deakin in Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, page 113.

Another quote of Roger Deakin having a moan-up , but he does have a very valid point – there are far too many ‘monster executive villas’ in Carmarthenshire as well. Personally, I can’t reconcile the huge, generic, colonnaded, brick piles springing up in and around the traditional villages of the county with the strict rules around conversions being ‘in-keeping’ with a disneyesque view of how buildings in the countryside should look.

Maintain Traditions – architecture, design and the local vernacular

Consider the local vernacular.

Consider the local vernacular. When converting or renovating you’ll already have a great reference point in the building itself and others close-by of a similar age.

So, in East Anglia, a wheat straw thatched roof is a appropriate choice just as are brick and flint walls in Wiltshire or a cross-over slate lintel on a house in North Wales.

Of course your local planning office may have differing opinions, having decided on a local ‘style’ – rendered walls with stone corners for example, that is not actually in keeping with the local vernacular at all … don’t forget to pick your fights wisely …

Snippets on MBC

Rather than my usual wordy ramblings I thought I’d challenge myself to come up with some short gems of (throw-away) advice on how I think you should go about a conversion… Snippets …this is one!

Planning Amendments

We bought the barn with planning permission in place. The plans were very simple and low impact. The structure of the building remained unchanged, utilising existing windows and doors, with the simple addition of some small velux windows in the roof.

When we came to readdress the plans with our designer, the opportunity presented itself to add some windows to the currently blind south facing gable end. We submitted an amendment to the existing planning to add a central window to the first floor bedroom to provide a fire exit (happily with fine views over the hills) and two similar diametrically positioned windows on the ground floor. The additional windows would be in-keeping with the vernacular agricultural architecture, which incorporates first floor hay-loft doors and ground floor ventilation slits, which these new openings would mimic.

Happily the amendment to the planning has been agreed and the light levels in the converted building hopefully raised.

A case of building regulations helping us out and presenting the opportunity to make the building safer, lighter and generally more people friendly.