The Three Counties group visited ‘Reform Cottage’, Little Birch last month for an opportunity to see a deep retrofit, work in progress project.
Gervase Mangwana and his wife Sonia are relocating their young family from Manchester to Herefordshire. They chose Reform Cottage for its location, setting and the opportunity to retrofit to a high level.
Gervase and builder Tom Straker [local group member] showed us around the project.
Gervase explained that, as plans progressed for the retrofit, it became clear that they could achieve the Enerphit standard, so this became their goal. This entailed excavating for new floors and wrapping the whole building in insulation, plus high-performance windows and MVHR.
Reform Cottage was a small dwelling originally built in 1838, and much extended at the beginning and the end of the 20th century. As work progressed, it became clear that much of the fabric would have to be rebuilt, begging the question, as it does so often on refurbishment projects, whether it would have been better to demolish and rebuild. However, they persevered,
The Herefordshire Conservation Officer was keen to minimise the changes to the appearance of the cottage [despite its major changes over the years] but became sympathetic to what Gervase was doing once they understood the true condition of the building.
We had hoped to visit in February to see work at an earlier stage but the heavy snowfall prevented it. All the thermal envelope work had been completed and the fitting out was moving along; the MVHR had been installed and the floor tiles had just been laid.