Andy and Lorna’s story: A renovation and retrofit success

Andy, an architectural designer, and Lorna, a charity development manager, wanted to improve the energy efficiency of their home, an old railway cottage in Hereford, as well as creating more space to accommodate their growing family.

The original cottage was built by a railway carriage inspector in 1869, with solid brick walls and a slate roof. Before the project, the cottage was cold and draughty, suffered from mould growth, and had high energy bills and CO2 emissions.

Andy is Chief Executive of the Association for Environment Conscious Building (AECB), which is a network of individuals and companies with a common aim of promoting sustainable building. The design of Andy and Lorna’s project was heavily influenced by AECB’s CarbonLite principles, which aim to create low-energy, low-carbon buildings.

With a mortgage from Ecology for their renovation, Andy and Lorna added a south facing extension to the property, with large windows to capture solar energy and a new super-insulated hot water cylinder. They insulated the existing, solid wall house with external insulation and added triple glazed windows and doors, a ventilation system with heat recovery and a very small, efficient natural gas boiler. The new upstairs windows overlook the extension’s green roofs, planted with a wild flower and meadow mix, and a salvaged railway carriage in the garden which Andy uses as his home office. Since the work was originally completed, Andy and Lorna have also installed photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of their home.

Andy and Lorna achieved their target of reaching the Passivhaus EnerPHit standard, an energy efficiency standard based on high levels of insulation and airtightness. As a result, they have reduced the building’s CO2 emissions by more than 50%.

Lorna loves that their home is now draught free and all of their rooms remain a consistent comfortable temperature all year round. As their family has grown up, it’s become increasingly important that they all have their own space. Having the same temperature throughout enables them to occupy the whole house without having to worry about closing doors.

Andy delights in the knowledge that they have reduced their carbon emissions, that they’re saving money on their energy bills, and that their home will have a positive benefit on their family’s health and wellbeing.

Andy and Lorna’s retrofit shows how new technologies can be incorporated into a traditionally built property without altering its fundamental character. Although their home has been transformed in terms of its energy efficiency, its street-facing appearance remains in keeping with the local vernacular – inspiring proof that, with the right care and attention, energy-saving technologies can transform almost any home.

Find out more about Ecology’s renovation mortgages.