The Retrospective Retrofit charts the progress of our building project, conversion, extension, and retrofit, here in the Lune Valley. We purchased this building at the very end of 2014, and set about turning it into our home. Now, four years after the story began, and some time before the story is finished, I’m retrospectively documenting it in this blog.
Of course the building has a much longer story than this, and I hope to research this more thoroughly in the future. What we know for now is that it was built in the 1890’s, alongside many other industrial buildings in this location, as a battery house for a nearby hydro scheme (more on this later). It has since had incarnations as a workshop in various guises, and latterly as an office, which was its function before we took it on.
It is a solid-stone rubble walled building in a basic rectangle footprint with gable walls facing nearly due east and due west. It has a Burlington slate roof with diminishing courses. It is set into the hillside, so to the front you climb some steps to get in, whilst to the rear, the ground level comes half-way up the wall. When we bought the building, it was set up with impressive symmetrical staircases, a plush tartan carpet throughout, a kitchenette for making a brew, a ladies’ and a gents’ loo, and a 24kW rated electrical central heating system. It came complete with a hardwired Cat5 ethernet network, but no source of hot water, and no shower. There was minimal insulation in the roof, and the draughty ill-maintained double glazed windows had been chewed by the cows. It had planning permission to be converted into a dwelling, subject to certain mandatory changes, which included installing insulation, a proper bathroom, and a kitchen.
Our ambition was to turn the project around in about 8 months on a budget of about £50k. Obviously (!) these ambitions were revised pretty early on, and we now work to much looser targets. However we did intend to do the bulk of the work ourselves, which by and large we have done, and we did intend to make it as sustainable and energy efficient as possible. The specific outcomes of the project are yet to be realised, so in the meantime, follow my upcoming blog posts to see how we got to where we are!