Following on from our last two blogs, which focussed on the background of our Empty Homes project in Acharacle, funded by the Nationwide Foundation and our Open Day that we held on 15th July, this blog now goes on to discuss in further detail the work that was carried out during the renovation.
Built around 1976, the Druim Garbh was once a great family home, which has been left to deteriorate over the past several years. This has resulted in a number of the building elements not being up to the standard they once were.
The contractor S & K MacDonald Homes has undertaken a general renovation throughout the property, upgrading everything from the energy efficiency to the exterior aesthetic.
Included in this work is an upgrade to the heating system, a new kitchen, increased external envelope insulation, remedial works to chimney, general re-decoration, replacement of windows, and a completely new roofing material.
All windows have been replaced with high performance uPVC, double-glazed, casement windows, which are much more energy efficient than the previous windows, helping to reduce the amount of heat lost from inside the house. The contactor also taped and filled new plasterboard ingoes and soffits, incorporating new sills. All internal finishes have been tended to throughout the property. New pre-cast concrete sills were also put in place externally, which also included insulated damp proof course and drip to the underside of the sill. All timber lintels throughout the property were also re-painted.
While all internal doors were re-used, after being re-painted, new external uPVC doors have replaced the front door, as well as the new side door emerging from the kitchen/utility area onto the new timber ramp. All new doors and windows throughout the property now conform to ‘Secure by Design’ protocol. (http://www.securedbydesign.com/pdfs/SBDNewHomes2014.pdf)
The roof has perhaps been the most dramatic change, and noticed immediately even from a distance. Completely gone are the old crumbling and moss covered roof tiles, in favour of a brand new corrugated steel sheet roof. The new roofing material is AS13/3 0.7mm plastisol sheeting in black.
The original chipboard was home to mould, and has resulted in a full replacement of the roof membrane and all previous sarking with 22mm sarking timber. All roof trusses were assessed and attended to where necessary. Internally the insulation material in the loft and roof has been increased dramatically. I will go into further detail on this later on in the blog.
Rainwater and Fascia’s
During the renovation, all failed areas of fascia’s and soffit boards were replaced and painted with a new black finish, creating a striking new external aesthetic.
The gutters and downpipes were also replaced with black low-maintenance metal ones.
The main bathroom was fully re-furbished, with new WC, sink, and bath with shower head and curtain. On top of this there is also the new window, internal decoration and lighting that has been carried out throughout the property.
The smaller second bathroom adjacent to the third bedroom in the extended part of the house has also been re-decorated. While the old shower has been removed to create more space in the room, a new WC and sink has been installed.
All services were checked during the renovation process. Re-wiring of the property took place, along with the upgrading of the fuse box. New lighting was fitted throughout, ensuring that all light bulbs were low energy.
As well as the electrics, stop clocks, pipework, TV aerial, BT line and associated internal sockets were also assessed. An ionising smoke detector was also provided adjacent to the bathroom, an optical smoke detector in the living room and a heat detector in the kitchen.
Before the renovation took place, the property was heated by an old oil system, with an oil storage tank located at the west gable of the house. It was deemed unsuitable to re-use the existing system, as it would not provide the best environmental or economic benefit. For this reason, the contractor removed the existing oil system and storage tank, as well as disconnecting the oil boiler, in favour of installing a new wood-burning stove.
This new wood burning stove is a Morsø Squirrel 1412, and has a firebox which is fitted with a tertiary air chamber supplying additional combustion air directly above the flame. This additional air ensures secondary combustion of any smoke and gases giving maximum efficiency. This is extremely important to the overall environmental impact of the project, as it means there is drastically less CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. The newly renovated home is now considerably more energy efficient than it was with the previous oil system, and has a much smaller impact on the environment. Despite the compact design, the stove has a powerful 5kw output, ensuring large amounts of heat are generated. It is also equipped with a riddling grate and ash pan, allowing easy cleaning and ash removal.
The flue of the stove is kept away from any combustible material. While still making use of the existing chimney, a new rear entry flue with two 135 degree bends has been installed. The new flue is just under 5.2 metres in length from chimney pot to the hearth base.
A new stone hearth of similar dimensions to the previous concrete hearth with superficial marble has been put in place, and the inset walls have been re-lined.
The chimneys structure and leadwork were also assessed and repaired where necessary.
As well as the wood burning stove, a new Quantum heating system has also been introduced into the property. These electric space heaters use low-cost, off-peak energy, making it the most economical electric heating system on the market today. Quantum stores energy up during periods of low demand, turning it into efficient heat only when needed.
All other radiators that have been flushed, re-used and cleaned. Water is heated by electric immersion.
Improving the overall insulation throughout the property was one of the upgrades that was most important to the project.
The contractor used a large amount of Rockwool Insulation material to drastically improve the thermal envelope of the house.
Rockwool provided 200m2 of 150mm thick loft roll insulation to go towards improving the insulation within the loft space, ensuring that we keep the amount of heat lost through the roof of the house to a minimum. A vast majority of a buildings heat is lost through the roof of the property, and the previously uninsulated loft space of Druim Garbh meant that should a family have moved into the property, not only would any heat generated easily lost, but the price of heating the property would have been extremely high.
The project also included a full pallet of Rockwools top of the range Flexi insulation slab to be used in the external walls of the property.
Rockwool Flexi® is a unique, flexi-edged insulation product, specifically developed using patented technology for a fast and easy, perfect friction fit between timber and metal frame systems.
Flexi® slabs ensure essential tight fitting for thermal and acoustic integrity between frames in walls, partitions, floors and roofs, without the need for cutting or waste. Made from renewable volcanic rock, they are extremely fire resistant and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a building.
Advantages of such form of insulation:
Outstanding thermal, acoustic and fire properties.
Flexi® edge offers accurate fit to all widths.
Multi-application; fits all typical metal and timber stud spacing.
Wide range of thicknesses.
Easy to handle and install without gaps.
Fire classification A1.
Can be used as a full fill solution in timber frame party walls to achieve zero effective U-value within SAP 2012.
Made from a renewable and plentiful naturally occurring resource, Rockwool insulation saves fuel costs and energy in use and relies on trapped air for its thermal properties.
ROCKWOOL insulation does not contain (and has never contained) gases that have ozone depletion potential (ODP) or global warming potential (GWP).
As an environmentally conscious company, ROCKWOOL promotes the sustainable production and use of insulation and is committed to a continuous process of environmental improvement.
All ROCKWOOL products provide outstanding thermal protection as well as four added benefits:
Fire resistance, Acoustic comfort, Sustainable Materials and Durability.
The insulation of the buildings external envelop was upgraded to meet U-value 0.22 W/m2K. All internal partitions were stripped back to first stud to allow the installation of the internal-face insulation to all external walls.
Battens fixed to joists beneath flooring to allow for rigid insulation to be suspended under the suspended floor.
Loft roll insulation laid between joists to same depth before another layer was cross-laid over. The aim was to increase the thermal properties of the loft to meet a U-value of 0.18 W/m2K.
Structural and External Works
A lot of external works were carried out during the renovation, including much landscaping.
The front door external step was refurbished, with a new handrail being installed. The garden was tidied, which included the removal of the existing oil tank, and a new turning head which allowed for parking was formed at the front of the house, using spoil from the levelling of the roadway up to the house, and masonry from the demolition of the old porch and the stripping of the old roof tiles.
The whole of the exterior of the property has been painted in monochrome colours, and modernises and revives the previously derelict and tired looking home.
At the rear of the house, the stone steps were refurbished, and a fence complete with gate was erected around the outdoor patio area. The old cellar door at the rear of the house was also refurbished.
A major structural alteration of the property was the demolition of the old existing porch, creating a new entrance to the property directly into the kitchen/utility area, with a brand new decking complete with ramp leading up to it from the newly landscaped driveway at the front of the house.
The whole kitchen was renovated and re-arranged. The main kitchen area is now adjacent to the living room, where the dining area once was, furthest from the entrance door. Further units line the external wall as you enter from the new side entrance. Completely new units and worktops were installed, including a hob and oven, and utilities.
On top of the vast amount of structural renovation, upgrading of thermal properties and installation of energy efficient heating systems, the house has also had a total makeover through re-decoration. Not only is the house almost unrecognisable from the outside, but the whole of the homes interior, including walls, timber profiles and ceilings have been re-painted in neutral colours.
Throughout the project, regular visits were made by HSCHT to Druim Garbh in order to assess how the renovation was progressing. The project took approximately 16 weeks to complete, and was completed around the estimated completion date. The whole project ran very smoothly, with S & K Macdonald Homes doing an excellent job on the renovation. Main contractor Kenneth Macdonald gave frequent updates to HSCHT on the progress of the work, often sending in photographic evidence to show further exactly how far along the project was. Stage payments were used which further allowed us to monitor and keep track of how the project was going, contributing to the successful renovation process.
During the process of the renovation, we came across one issue which was soon rectified. As the work began on site it was noted that there was a problem with the wall construction and the extension which was constructed a number of years later that houses the 3rd bedroom, WC and the old kitchen. S & K Macdonald Homes approached structural engineering firm Alexander Scott Design to inspect the construction of this wall, and they came back with some findings and recommendations which were then added to the contract to be undertaken by the contractor during the renovation of Druim Garbh. The extension was effectively built in a flat roofed single skin construction garage unit. The flat roof was later altered with rafters to make a pitched roof – this was sub-standard, with the rafter ends not even bearing onto the masonry wall – an issue which S & K MacDonald homes then went on to rectify during renovation. The existing 2×2 drylining kit was also not serving any structural purpose as it was free standing. If this was not dealt with, there would be the worry that in the future the extension could fail. In order to attain more structural stability, a new structural timber framed inner leaf similar to that of the main house, tied to the outer masonry wall and well connected to the main building at floor and roof levels was put in place, while galvanised steel restraint straps to the gable at ceiling level were also introduced.
Overall this project, in conjunction with Acharacle Community Company and funded by The Nationwide Foundation, has been a great success. The contractor has been able to completely renovate an abandoned house into a modern and comfortable family home for the local rural community.
Should you have any questions regarding the renovation of this project, please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on The Nationwide Foundation, or the other Empty Homes projects they fund, please visit. http://www.nationwidefoundation.org.uk/emptyproperties.asp
On Wednesday the 15th of July, we held an Open Day in Acharacle to mark the completion of our newly renovated property – Druim Garbh.
The sun was out for what proved to be a great day over on the rural west coast village, with many different people attending the event.
This blog focusses on celebrating the achievement of everyone involved, as it really showcases all that was achieved over the past several months.
Funded by the Nationwide Foundation, the previously neglected property, which has been sitting empty for the past 6 years, is now set to act as a great new home for people from the area. The new tenants work nearby, but had to live with family due to a lack of housing provision within the area. In rural communities around the Highlands such as Acharacle, people are increasingly being forced to leave their families, jobs and friends behind in search of a suitable home. This means that when funding is available from schemes such as the Nationwide Foundation’s empty homes programme, it allows us to provide a new affordable home to the area, and generate a huge community benefit.
It was a very successful day to round up a successful project, with Bill Hall, Chair of The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust saying a few words to welcome everyone to the new home, acknowledge its completion and endorse the use of a new housing model in the Highlands.
HSCHT are privileged to be the only organisation in Scotland to receive funding from the Nationwide Foundation through its Decent, Affordable Homes strategy, which has invested over £750,000 into empty homes projects across the UK. This funding, a combination of grant and loan, has given HSCHT the means to renovate two Highland properties and plans are well underway to refurbish the second community owned property which is located further north in Achiltibuie. Druim Garbh is the first of these properties which we are working together to renovate into new affordable homes for people in housing need, and has allowed us to gain experience of the challenges inherent in bringing empty properties back into use and of providing a new, long lease housing model for empty homes.
The new property has been fully renovated inside and out. Not only is there a drastic change to the external appearance of the property, but it has also now has a brand new kitchen and bathroom, along with a completely new heating system to boost the energy efficiency of the home.
The use of a local contractor (S & K MacDonald Homes) and providing an apprenticeship training opportunity was vital to the success of the project. The contractor, his local joiner and a 16-year old school leaver, who was a trainee on the project, also came along for the event. It was great to have all of those who had worked hard on renovating the house over the previous months in attendance. The trainee’s employment was a condition HSCHT’s contract with the contractor, who was happy to accommodate him.
HSCHT project manager Fraser Cardow said: “The contractors here have been hugely helpful in trialing this new approach. We hope to be able to attach an apprentice to every future development and this pilot has worked very well. This lad has been able to work as part of the team on this renovation and has been getting great experience on other jobs too. Getting these new skills will help to strengthen the whole community by growing the pool of local tradesmen”.
Contractor Kenneth MacDonald said: “We’re not a huge firm but taking another apprentice is entirely positive. Getting new blood in lifts everyone’s spirits, and local people appreciate the effort we put in with youngsters. It’s also important because we need to build a local base of skilled tradesmen so that we can tackle jobs on the west coast without the costs of having to bring in people from hours away. It’s important that the boys have a chance to work instead of sit in a van. We’re training a workforce for the future.”
The Acharacle Community Company, who own the property were a great help throughout the process, with members also coming along on the day to celebrate the achievement.
They said: “We are delighted to see the renovation work at the bungalow completed to such a high standard and very pleased to be offering this accommodation back into the community for low cost rental. Many thanks to the Highlands Small Community Housing Trust for all their help and support in making this happen.”
HSCHT are very proud to have had facilitated this project from start to finish, and are incredibly happy to say that new tenants should be moving into the property within the coming week.
Ronnie MacRae, CEO of the Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust explained that“HSCHT is delighted to see the refurbishment of Druim Garbh complete. The key feature to the success of the project has been the superb co-operation with the community and the wider partnership of those involved. This project has brought together a welcome and innovative funding stream from the Nationwide Foundation and our well established contacts with the Acharacle community, resulting in a desirable home being available at an affordable rent for people in Acharacle.
HSCHT want to thank the local construction firm, S & K MacDonald Homes, for their hard work and flexibility in carrying out the renovation to such a high standard and providing an energy efficient home. They have given it, literally, a new lease of life”.
Keep a look out for another upcoming blog discussing our Empty Homes renovation project, where I discuss in further detail the construction work that was carried out throughout the property, and how it was achieved. It will also feature before and after photographs from each of the renovated rooms.
If you have any questions about our Empty Homes project, or any of our other projects, please get in touch via email at email@example.com
In the first of this three part blog regarding the recently renovated property in Acharacle, owned by the Acharacle Community Company, I aim to discuss the background of the project as we gear up for our big Open Day next week (Wednesday 15th of July) which will mark the projects official completion.
In the Highlands there are numerous communities and small rural villages and towns which are home to a number of empty properties, remaining uninhabited. Renovating empty homes is something The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust believes greatly in, as it is yet another way that we are able to provide affordable housing solutions to rural communities around the north of Scotland. Despite the current housing shortage, the UK has around 260,000 long term empty homes, with a large number of empty commercial properties which could be used as homes.
Community Owned Property
Druim Garbh, is a timber-framed, three-bedroom detached dwelling house that was built circa 1976. The community owned property had many uses since it was built, however over recent years had been left empty to deteriorate. Although the house was still standing and structurally stable, it required much renovation before it could provide as a good home for a member or family within the community of Acharacle.
A minute of agreement and a lease is in place between HSCHT the Acharacle Community Company. This allows HSCHT to manage the property on their behalf for a period of 21 years after which the home reverts to the control of the community company.
HSCHT intends to lease the home to tenants which fit with the agreed allocations policy on a Short Assured Tenancy basis.
Environmental, economic and social sustainability are all qualities which HSCHT believes are very important to modern housing provision. In HSCHT’s quest to secure affordable housing solutions around the north of Scotland, we also attempt to create environmentally friendly homes. Specified in the tender document was the need for the house to meet an overall standard of energy performance. In this case, that standard in terms of Building Standards is ‘Bronze Active Standard’
Bronze Active Standard – This is the baseline level where the dwelling meets the functional standards set out in Sections 1 – 6 of this [Building Standards Domestic 2013] Handbook, but in addition the dwelling includes the use of a low and zero carbon generating technology (LZCGT) in respect of meeting Standard 6.1 within Section 6, Energy. This level is primarily to assist local authorities to meet their obligations under Section 72 of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 by identifying the use of LZCGT. In this respect, LZCGTs include: wind turbines, water turbines, heat pumps (all varieties), solar thermal panels, photovoltaic panels, combined heat and power units (fired by low emission sources), fuel cells, biomass boilers/stoves and biogas.’
Another key aspect of the project was the introduction of a trainee element. The provision of training and jobs to young people around the Highlands is another very important part of the work HSCHT undertake. We even have our own construction skills project – The Cairngorm Skills Project. (http://www.cairngormsskillsproject.org/)
The Nationwide Foundation were also hoping that the project would allow for a trainee to work on the renovation.
Thanks to financial aid from The Highland Council, HSCHT were able to fund a trainee position. The young trainee, who is local to Acharacle, has been working as a second man to the main joiner working on the renovation, providing him with a vast amount of experience as he develops many different skills. He will be starting college later in the year to gain further knowledge in the subject as he works towards a gaining a qualification. The experience gained working on the Druim Garbh project, will hopefully provide him with a great boost as he begins his studies.
HSCHT’s own graduate trainee, who has a MA in Architecture has also been helping to project manage the refurbishment of the property.
The contractor for the project was chosen through a tender process. The tender document was sent to a number of local contractors, with S & K MacDonald Homes being chosen as the successful contractor.
HSCHT then worked out the final details of the renovation work with Kenneth Macdonald of S & K MacDonald homes, assessing the various options for things such as heating etc. The contractor worked very closely with HSCHT to allow us to achieve an affordable project that fit well with the funding that had been made available to us by the Nationwide Foundation.
UPCOMING OPEN DAY
Keep a look out for Part 2 and Part 3 of this Blog over the next couple of weeks.
One blog will take a further look at the property and what renovation works have been carried out. As well as a look at how the property achieves its high Energy Performance Level.
The other will showcase the completed home, as well as recap our Open Day.
For more information on the project or our upcoming Open Day, please get it touch with me via firstname.lastname@example.org
The Nationwide Foundation
This is the reason the Nationwide Foundation set up their Empty Homes Fund in late 2013. The Nationwide Foundation is a registered charity set up in 1997 by Nationwide Building Society that since its creation, has awarded over £30 million to other charities across the UK. This funding allows organisations such as HSCHT to turn these empty properties into habitable homes. The fund was designed to bring empty properties into use for people in housing need and also to look at solutions to the challenges which currently curtail more renovation. HSCHT applied to the fund to help to refurbish and bring two homes back into use in the Highlands. Druim Garbh is the first completed home under this scheme.
Acharacle, Rent To Buy Project
This 2 bedroom property located within Acharacle is currently still in its final stages of construction. Although we are looking to allocate the new home in the very near future.
The building was designed and constructed by S&K MacDonald Homes, creating a home which is both modern and energy efficient.
Heating is provided by an air to air heat pump with A rated efficiency. Hot water is provided by a mains pressure direct cylinder, Megaflow Direct. The first floor is for future development. Initially the home will have 2 bedrooms downstairs as shown on the ground floor plan.
The windows and external doors are Scandinavian style softwood, while the external of the home will be made up of larch cladding.
The Application Process
The Rent to Buy Scheme aims to help mainly, but not exclusively, first time buyers who wish to own a home, such as people living in social housing; private rented housing; or with relatives. However other factors may lead to a person being selected for the scheme such as a significant change in your household circumstances. If you already own your home or part-own a property you will be required to sell your interest in that property in order to make you eligible for the scheme.
The allocation process of our properties follows specific criteria, in an attempt to ensure that the most suitable applicant or family is successful in securing their own affordable home. Priority is given to those who:
(i) living in the area where the homes are located,
(ii) have immediate family there,
(iii) work in the area,
(iv) or have a need to live there.
(v) are currently living out with the area, but can add social and economic benefit by moving to the area.
(vi) can release a social rented home
These criteria ensure that the house is allocated to whoever will receive the most benefit from the property, while also allowing someone who has a connection to the area, to remain living in the area.The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust aim to help rural communities become both socially and economically sustainable in their own right. A large number of people are having to leave their rural communities to live and work elsewhere, meaning these small villages and areas suffer. As more and more people from rural backgrounds are forced to relocate, HSCHT’s various housing schemes try to prevent this by allowing families who have lived in the area for generations to continue this tradition. In an attempt to enhance the economic and social sustainability of rural areas in the Highlands, these new properties can also act as accommodation to young or skilled individuals who have the potential to benefit the community.
We will assess all applications to ensure that applicants can afford the monthly rental payments and that they are likely to secure a mortgage for the home in 5 years’ time, based on their current circumstances.
1. Complete HSCHT’s application form.
2. Provide HSCHT with the supporting documents listed on the enclosed form to prove that you can fully fund your rental payments and in due course, your mortgage. Please return the form and documents by the specified date otherwise your application may not be considered.
3. HSCHT will assess the applications and allocate the homes according to the allocations policy. All applicants will receive a letter to let them know if they have been successful or not.
4. Successful applicants will be sent a letter and a reservation form, which they need to return to HSCHT with the reservation fee.
5. HSCHT will instruct their solicitor to provide successful applicants with the short assured tenancy agreement, the end user agreement and other associated paperwork for the home. You will be required to sign up to the RTBS at this point, and whilst not essential you are advised to take advice from your own solicitor on all aspects of the scheme.
6. You will be kept up to date as to when the home will be ready for occupation.
Sample Application Form. Please Go To Current Opportunities For Full Application Form
We are currently accepting applications for the following schemes –
Alness, Greener Homes x 2. As featured in our previous blog. Click For Link.
Daviot, Greener Homes x 2
Kyleakin, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Acharacle, Rent To Buy x 1 (Allocated Since Time Of Publishing)
Request an application form or brochure for this project by contacting us by email or on 01463 233 549.
If you are unable to apply for this Rent To Buy house in Acharacle, but are interested in moving to a new home within the area, a further property will be available within the coming months, as HSCHT work on renovating an existing empty property, bringing it up to livable standards to provide a great new home to another individual, couple or family. This community owned project will be supported by the Nationwide Foundation, who have included the trust as part of their Empty Homes funding. More information will become available nearer the time, and the project will feature on this blog. However, if you would like to know more, or wish to express early interest in the project, get in touch with me by emailing email@example.com
This blog will feature a wide variety of HSCHT’s developments and types of projects located throughout the Scottish Highlands. It will also include the latest news and updates regarding the trust.