Deep Green Retrofit: 17th Century Suffolk Timber Framed House

Deep Green Retrofit: 17th Century Suffolk Timber Framed House

Sat 1 Oct 2022, 10:30am – 12:30pm

11 of us enjoyed a lively, inspiring tour of Ralph’s retrofit, full of useful information. Useful Links:

  • Video of Ralph’s 19 Sept  online Tour, with sections marked in the timeline
  • Slides 1 and Slides 2, from that online tour, with links
  • Case Study of the retrofit, with links to materials that Ralph used
  • The LETI Retrofit Guide that Ralph co-authored and mentioned in his tours
  • Retrofit Targets from the LETI guide, p71-73. How does your retrofit measure-up?

Meet your hosts, Ralph and Jenny

In 1984 Ralph and Jenny bought their 1600 timber-frame house in the beautiful Suffolk village of Hartest, very quickly getting to work pulling off the Victorian brick cladding, and building a modern extension for cooking and washing. In 1999 they expanded further, building a hempcrete extension, becoming early UK pioneers of this technique. For Ralph, an architect, co-authoring the LETI Climate Emergency Retrofit Guide prodded him to consider what else he could do. So he began planning a deep green retrofit of the main 17th century home, with improved insulation, flooring and glazing throughout. The retrofit will be completed in 2022.

Ralph says: “It’s important to have a home which is healthy and beautiful, and feels fresh, yet has stable temperatures and remains well connected to the outside. The renovations have resulted in a massive boost to our mental well being! We now enjoy far higher levels of comfort and lower running costs.”

Key Features of this home

  • Retrofit of walls with partial replacement of old insulation and 150mm additional insulation
  • Retrofit of roof with additional insulation of 80mm wood fibre board
  • Plinths insulated with 120mm Foamglas & finished with lime render
  • New triple glazed windows and doors throughout
  • LED lights and low energy appliances
  • Solar PV and home made solar water heater for one cylinder
  • Rainwater harvesting supplying 3 wcs and washing machine plus some garden irrigation
  • Extensive use of materials with low embodied emissions, e.g. sheeps wool, wood fibre board, lime render; re-used pantiles, zinc roof 
  • 1 acre garden with large fruit and vegetable growing areas allowing partial self sufficiency, together with chickens & home butchered local venison

Ralph’s top tips for being more energy efficient at home

  • Insulate before all else, then insulate to achieve min U-value 0.18 for walls and roofs (and floors if possible), and finally, consider a heat pump
  • Controlled ventilation (e.g. MVHR) may be needed, so have that up your sleeve if required


Return to the full programme


Thanks to our 2022 Open Eco Homes funders and supporters

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