SuperHome Database

Brighton, Ditchling Rise

House Summary

Maria Hawton-Mead
House Type:
Victorian terraced 3 storey
Carbon saving:
84% - SuperHomes Assessed  

Measures installed:

  • Double Glazing
  • Draught-proofing
  • Eco materials
  • Energy monitor
  • Floor Insulation
  • Internal Wall Insulation
  • Loft conversion
  • Loft Insulation
  • Low Energy Lighting
  • Solar PV Panels
  • Wood Stove

  • Solar Panels_Brighton_Ditchling Rise
  • Restored Mouldings
  • moisture_in_joist_ends_graph

Upcoming events

Early interest in Open Days encourages SuperHome owners to host more events. If you'd like to visit this property please contact the owner and let them know. SuperHomers are often happy to respond to questions about their refurbishment project by email between times. Please read ‘more on contacting this SuperHomer’ before you make contact.

Personal story:

I am a self employed sustainability consultant with an MSc in Sustainable Architecture. I am also a SAP assessor and a certified Passivhaus designer.


I was motivated to refurbish the house partly because it was very cold, uncomfortable and difficult to heat and secondly because I work in sustainability and I felt I should be practicing what I preach. I think the whole process of eco renovating a home is very healthy because it makes you more aware of waste as well as saving you money and being good for the environment.

Also see:
Property background:

The property is a 3 storey, single skinned brick Victorian terrace house. The house was not modernised at all and still had draughty single glazed sash windows. There was no gas central heating at all, just electric heaters and the only insulation in the whole property was 100mm of loft insulation.

Key changes made:

The key aspects of the refurbishment included internal wall insulation, an air tight loft conversion and double glazing. I also had installed a wood burning stove and wall sensors to monitor the wall performance and PV panels.

Measures installed in detail:

• Slim double glazing fitted in existing sashes with a U value of 1.5
• Upgraded draught proofing, including to sash windows
• Energy Monitoring
• Floor insulation – mineral wool insulation installed in between joists where floor boards were lifted and 400mm into the rooms from the external walls
• Internal wall insulation combines 90mm mineral wool (Knauf ECOSE system) with polystyrene studs with a U value of 0.29.  Return walls into fireplaces insulated with 26mm foam backed plasterboard. Lime render applied to exposed brickwork on 1st floor where blown plaster was removed
• Airtight loft conversion. Mineral wool between rafters and then 40mm plasterboard sealed with tape (U value of 0.17)
•  Low energy lighting includes GU10 fittings to take LED lighting
•  2.1 kWp Solar PV system (expect 2,000kWh/yr) consists of 12 Sharp 175W monocrystaline panels on south facing roof to meet all electricity needs (£10k after grant)
• 5kW Morso wood stove fitted in living/dining room in Oct 2009
• Home composting
• Auro natural paint and oils used

Benefits of work carried out:

The house maintains its internal temperature much better because I’ve got a cast iron wood burner. This acts as a thermal store and because it is insulated the heat doesn’t escape so easily so it doesn’t cool down quickly. Therefore the house is now comfortably warm which means that it’s much healthier to live in and is cheaper to run.

The double glazing has helped keep out any noise from the street as well as having an insulating effect.

The amount of natural light let into the house has been increased with the loft conversion increasing light over the stairwell and light coming down from the top floor.

Now I am much more aware of my electricity and gas usage because I’m monitoring it and switch things off when I don’t need them. Similarly I am more aware of when I put my appliances on because I run them in the day time when the suns shining.

Favourite feature:

My favourite feature is probably the windows because I really notice the difference compared to the old windows. It’s nice to have windows that don’t wobble!

Business name:

Hawton Mead

Business overview:

Hawton Mead provides a complete range of services for private homeowners and for professionals, from energy assessments, sustainability advice and information, to in-depth consultancy, training and support.

Hawton Mead specialises in housing and mixed-use developments, with sustainable design for new build, and refurbishment/retrofit for existing buildings, including heritage properties.

SuperHomer Maria Hawton-Mead is a qualified SAP energy assessor and a certified Passive House consultant/designer. Having carried out an eco-refurbishment project on her own home, Maria has not only the technical know-how, but also the personal experience to guide other homeowners through the process. Maria’s Brighton SuperHome is regularly open to the public.

For more information, visit

Common questions and answers for this SuperHome

Did you use a vapour barrier for the internal wall insulation?+

I used the Knauf Ecose internal wall insulation system on the inside of the external walls. This comprises:

90mm recycled glass mineral wall ecobatts between extruded polystyrene Ecostud work (to avoid thermal bridging) directly on walls. 600mm gaps between stud centres. Then a 12.5 vapour check plasterboard applied to the surface. No air gap.

I used 27mm foam backed plasterboard on the return wall to avoid thermal bridging at corners.

My house is still being monitored to see how it performs, funded by Knauf insulation.

What are the pros and cons of internal wall insulation in your experience?+

.Warmer home – increased thermal comfort
·Lower carbon emissions
·Lower gas bills

·Loss of thermal mass
· Loss of breathability if you have a breathing wall unless you use a breathing wall system such as wood fibre and lime plaster
· Smaller room size
·Increased risk of thermal bridging unless the insulation is continuous.
·Loss of internal features unless they are replaced e.g. cornicing.
·Disruption to occupants during works.
I recommend you read the English Heritage guide ‘insulating solid walls’. In preference I would always externally insulate a heritage property if it is possible.
*So increased risk of interstitial condensation – Interstitial condensation can lead to damp walls and fabric decay and increased internal condensation and mould build up which can give rise to health problems for occupants. Insulation materials with low permeability are not entirely incompatible with older construction but careful thought needs to be given to reducing levels of water vapour moving through such construction either by means of ventilated cavities or through vapour control layers.
**I recommended insulation returns into window reveals using a shallower depth of insulation to reduce thermal bridging. You also need to run the insulation down to floor joists. You can also use airtightness tape around edges to reduce thermal bridging at edges.
***Rooms will have to be cleared, cornices and skirting’s and architraves removed and replaced probable with new. Sockets will have to be re fitted to new wall depth, window sills and window reveals extended out to take new wall depth.

Contact this homeowner

Assessment types

SuperHomes Assessed

A home that has been visited and assessed by us and confirmed as reaching the SuperHome standard, which demonstrates a 60% carbon saving.

Homeowner Reported

Information has been provided by the homeowner about their home and energy use prior to the installation of measures and following their installation which demonstrates a carbon saving. This information has not been verified.

Remote Assessed

The homeowner has provided information on their home including what measures have been installed which has enables an assessor working on our behalf to assess their carbon savings. This home has not been visited to verify the measures installed.


This home has not been assessed, but the homeowner has reported what measures have been installed. It may be that this home is awaiting assessment.