SuperHome Database

Leeds, The Birches

House Summary

Martin Hobson and Fiona Coles

House Type:
1938 semi bungalow with loft conversion

Carbon saving:
Savings of 84% have been achieved, with 67% coming from changes to the fabric of the property - SuperHomes Assessed  

Reported saving on bills:
65% excluding feed in tariffs

  • Leeds SuperHome

Measures installed:

  • Combi Boiler
  • Floor Insulation
  • Internal Wall Insulation
  • Loft Insulation
  • Low Energy Lighting
  • Other renewable energy technologies
  • Roof Insulation
  • Solar PV Panels
  • Solar Water Heating
  • Triple Glazing
  • Water Saving Devices
  • Whole House Energy Management

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.

What visitors are saying

"Beautiful and well loved house - a joy to visit. Very interesting and inspiring with practical leads to follow up."

"Lots of good information and advice on internal insulation and minimising heat loss and energy costs!”

"Informative and insightful ... very pleasant and welcoming."

"Martin and Fiona were very generous and helpful hosts."

"Fiona and Martin were wonderful hosts and very knowledgeable about their home and the principles of super-insulation and air-tightness."

“Lovely couple. Really enjoyed their passion and enthusiasm for the green project and really enjoyed their explanations and feedback.”

Personal story:

I read ‘Limits to Growth’ 40 years ago about the absolute necessity of seriously limiting our consumption of resources. I was studying A’ level economics then and it influenced my life direction significantly. It wasn’t until I travelled in Africa a few years later that my views on changing the way we are living became clearer. My interests since then have been determined by taking personal responsibility for this change. I have worked in a workers cooperative retailing wholefoods, studied and practised homeopathy, studied and practised permaculture, worked in joinery, mediation, and ecologically retrofitted 3 houses, undertaking as much of the work as I could. So I have learnt a lot, mainly by doing, and taking on relatively ‘unchartered’ domains at the edge of the relationship between modernity and nature.


My motivation is embedded in my story above. I strongly believe that our problems are not insoluble. We have all the technology and expertise we need already to, for example ,reduce our energy consumption (in the ‘developed’ world) by over 80%. Energy efficiency is grossly undervalued as a proper solution. We are constantly being bombarded with ‘solutions’ which are un-thought out and based on short-term thinking. In complete contrast, retrofitting our old homes is one of the best things we can do for the planet at this point in history.

Key changes made:

• New softwood framed triple glazing u value 1.0 ‘(eco plus’ from Green Building Store) upstairs Fakro triple glazed velux (U value 0.9)
• Internal Polyurethane insulation (average thickness 100mm) plus 60mm cavity fill (rockwool) average U value 0.18
• 300mm mineral wool and sheeps wool U value 0.12 (60% of roof)
• 175mm Polyurethane roof insulation filled and taped joints, ‘room in roof, 50mm between rafters, and 125mm underneath including ‘kneewalls’. U value 0.15 (40% of roof)
• 150mm Polyurethane roof insulation (65 %) 175mm mineral wool (35%) between joists, then OSB glued and taped, then reclaimed hardwood floor average U value 0.17
• ITHO’ advance’ compact MVHR
• Vaillant ‘ecotec’ combi boiler with wireless thermostat/programmer and TRVs throughout.
• Thermomax Solar thermal panels and cylinder
• 2.4 kW photovoltaic panels
• Low energy lighting throughout
• Low energy appliances throughout
• Water saving devices include; dual/ low flush wc’s, low flow showerhead, large rainwater collection butts in garden, large pond, no mains water used outside

Measures installed in detail:

  • Timber framed triple glazing and triple glazed roof window
  • Internal wall insulation and cavity filled
  • Loft insulated with 300mm mineral wool and sheep’s wool
  • Roof insulation between and under rafters
  • Compact MVHR
  • Combi boiler with wireless thermostat/programmer and TRVs
  • Solar thermal panels and cylinder
  • 2.4 kW photovoltaic panels
  • Low energy lighting
  • Low energy appliances
  • Water saving devices (dual/low flush toilets, low flow showerhead, water butts)
Benefits of work carried out:

No more condensation or mould. We now live in a healthy environment, the air is constantly being refreshed without losing heat through opening windows or trickle vent or the gaps between floorboards etc. We are about £1800 pa better off and this will increase with the renewable heat incentive in october 2012 and the rising cost of energy. Draughts have been almost eliminated. We are optimistic about what can be done with older houses because we have done it.

Favourite feature:

The triple glazed french doors (from Green Building Store) which open out onto our deck. A wonderful extension to our living room in summer.

Project update:


I have now finished the new building. It is a second workshop for furniture making. It has another wildflower roof, timber clad, double glazed, insulated door and as much insulation as I could fit in; a combination of sheeps’ wool slabs and PU. I have a small oil filled radiator in there which I hardly use. Also last autumn I completed another wildflower meadow building (number 4) to house our electric bikes and the odd garden tool.
Now in march 2013 our first crocus bulbs are appearing on the rooves. I used a wildflower seed mix with about 20 different plants and added a few bulbs last autumn. It is exciting to watch for what comes up. Which reminds me that the frogs and newts are about to re appear in our pond.

Now the house is finished my next adventure is making furniture (mainly) by hand. I am allowing myself some machinery for the milling of the timber before the joinery (more precise) work.

Updated on 04/03/2013

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.