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Installing internal wall insulation – how should I prepare?

Annette Parmar lives in a Victorian terraced house – one of the 7.9 million in Britain build with solid walls. In spring 2015 she won a competition so installing internal wall insulation became an option. In this short video we see some of the preparations required before and during the installation.

Annette had been thinking about insulated her home for some time as the walls are exposed to the elements on two sides. The house was cold and draughty and her son’s room was, she says, “freezing”…

Research

Annette did some background research on the potential impact of solid wall insulation on a Victorian house. One argument she found says that these older houses should be allowed to ‘breathe’.

The counter argument she found was that insulating a home gives you greater control over the movement of air. Victorian houses already have a lot of draughts through air bricks, up through the floor and around windows. But with insulation, when it’s sub-zero outside, you have the advantage of having some control through improved airtightness. In the summer, Annette reasoned, you can increase the circulation of air and even in winter you might periodically air the house.

Insulating 100%

Annette won a competition to become a Green Deal Communities show home which meant agreeing to host public solid wall insulation tours following the works. One condition of the win was that she would internally insulate 100% of those walls exposed to the elements. So instead of having a more typical 75% of the house insulated she was committed to having 100% insulated. This meant that the kitchen and the bathrooms would be done. The kitchen would be a major job as the units and boiler would have to be removed then refitted to make way for the internal wall insulation.

66mm and 34mm Kingspan were used with the thicker board being installed wherever possible. She was reassured when technical surveyor said the dado rails and coving would be taken off and reinstated or replaced with the nearest match.

Preparations

Annette needed to prepare the house for the work by moving furniture away from the walls in the rooms where insulation would be installed. Also she had to be ready to cope with the hot water and heating being switched off for during the works. And she had been warned by another homeowner that when the work is being done the house would be cold and dusty with people coming in an out all the time making the house “barely habitable”. But Annette considered it a small price to pay as the disruption would only be for a short time.

The Works

The works followed in three stages:

Preparation
Carpets protected
Radiators and light fittings removed
Skirting boards, picture and dada rails removed
Toilet, kitchen units and boiler removed

The Installation
Battening put on walls
Installation of insulation boards

Completion
Plastering of insulation boards
Reinstall skirting boards picture and dado rails
Painting or papering walls
Replacing radiators

Benefits

Annette reports experiencing an immediate improvement in the comfort level of the house even at a poiint where only 3 radiators were operational: “We have noticed an immediate difference in the comfort levels of the house … it feels toasty warm … I can’t wait for next winter, it’s going to be great.”

For further insights into Annette Parmar’s experience of installing internal wall insulation, visit Annette’s ‘Show Home Winner’ blog and photo gallery.

Solid Wall Insulation Tours

The Green Deal Communities programme has teamed up with SuperHomes to provide the public with an opportunity to visit refurbished homes and speak to homeowners about their experience of installing energy efficiency measures. Annette Parmar will host solid wall insulation tours at her home in May/June 2015. See www.superhomes.org.uk/GH8 for details. For further solid wall insulation tour dates in participating local authority areas see www.superhomes.org.uk/tours.

Solid Wall Insulation Grants

Grants towards the cost of installing solid wall insulation were available to residents of select streets in 15 local authorities in the South East during spring/summer 2015. The grants, which were available to both owner occupiers and landlords, were allocated on a first-come first-served basis. See www.GreenDealCommunities.org.uk, email gdcommunities@nef.org.uk or contact 01908 256945 for details.

The video above was made with support from the Green Deal Communities programme.

Visit a house with internal wall insulation in Sep 2016
You can see internal wall insulation at 40 open home events around the UK this month. See our events listing for details and simply filter for ‘internal wall insulation’. SuperHome tours and Q&A sessions will let you quiz the owners, so you can discover what worked and get frank feedback on anything that didn’t. Entry is free.  SuperHomes are older homes refurbished by their owners for much greater comfort, lower bills and far lower carbon emissions – at least 60% lower! This makes them a great source of ideas to help you green your own home.

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