Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Paths are never straight

We are planning a major refurbishment of our house, due to start in March.

The paths are about the only thing that are straight and are not (presently) causing problems. At the moment I am only worried about:
(a) finding somewhere to live whilst work is going on; and
(b) finding somewhere to store an extra three rooms worth of stuff for the duration; and
(c) working out how to reduce the anticipated tender price by a sum that is enough to buy an entirely new house elsewhere in the country.

The drains don't run straight. They are wonky, old, leaking and need to be repaired. Another cost to add to the refurb...

Next week the tenders come in, and then I go through them with as much hard-heartedness as I can muster to reduce the costs. Having had this great vision for the house (a sad, aged place at the moment) it is difficult to let go of the dream 'just because of money'. But, of course, there are always compromises and I refuse to be ridiculously in debt just because of our wonderful aspirations.

What saddens me most is that it is the 'green' things that are likely to be dropped. The render won't be insulating render, just ordinary stuff. The windows will only be replaced if falling apart, so we will continue to lose bucketloads of heat through the poor glazing. The plan for an air-source heat pump, which will save us money on bills in the long term, will be abandoned for an ordinary gas condensing boiler.

Instead of all these glorious, eco-friendly things, we will replace aged drains and the roof.

It is such a shame that it costs so much to be green. As the world gradually accepts how much damage we are doing to ourselves, what a shame that simple remedies are mind-bogglingly expensive. Our government (and opposition) all speak the green talk, but there is scant support for projects like ours that would actually be helping their carbon targets. At some point they will have to support the renovation and upgrade of our aging housing stock. Campaign groups like the Great British Refurb Campaign are battling to get more support. Sadly, I fear it is too late for us.

Meanwhile, please forgive me if there is a bit of blogger silence as I resolve all the housing issues. I plan to keep you updated with pictures of progress when we finally get going. Keep your fingers crossed for no more unexpected surprises.... really, I'd like a straight path - please?


Nathalie said...

I assume you've tried all the normal grants and stuff.... Shame really. Still rebuilding an old house is greener than building a new one. I guess a lot of it depends on pay back time. The heat pump may pay back quickly enough for it to be worth it.... Still I know we rejected solar panels in favour of a condensing boiler for the same reasons. Have you thought of a wood chip boiler? They are supposed to be really really green and economical to run too. Oh and some of these things can be added at a later date - you know when your premium bonds win something!!

Troy said...

It would be a shame to lose the air-source (or alt. a ground source) heat pump just from an economic payback/investment point of view. I'm not really big on green issues (my blog recently was tongue in cheek) but I think a lot of measures (insulation, solar electric etc.) can be viable purely on economic grounds and are best judged on that basis.

Catharine Withenay said...

Nathalie, those premium bonds just never seem to go our way (although not having any may be part of my problem!)

Troy, we have done a lot of maths! Sadly there is no industry standard on what is best to do and it is very hard to calculate what your actual heat loss is, or what your needs will be going forward. We have a lot of insulation planned and I am sure we will use some sort of 'renewable energy' if possible. I am considering solar or PV panels, given the money the government will pay you for putting energy into the grid, but expect it is too costly.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

We have a similar thing - a project house

And as each thing gets added to the list a 'luxury' like ground transfer heating gets removed because its too pricy ...

Working Mum said...

I know how you feel. We took on this aged house and expected to spend £30,000 on renovating, we're on £65,000 and counting! I tried to go green where possible, but, as you say, very expensive and no grants available to working people like us.

The only lucky break we had was that my dad runs a factory making fibreglass and was able to give us a few rolls of 'seconds' to do our loft and my husband fitted it. My MIL, on the other hand, had hers supplied and fitted by the council for free because she's over 70.

Maybe you need to wait until you're 70?

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