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Renovating Holiday Cottage with Natural materials to Residential Standard

 
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Hello all

My name is Eldon, I am member of a planned ecovillage project called Dún Dúlra. Our group aspires to repurpose a derelict holiday home complex on the shores of Lough Key, Co Roscommon, Ireland, and transform it into a thriving ecovillage community.

We are buying the site with a view to applying for planning permission and converting the existing holiday cottages to permanent residences. The hope would be to use natural building methods and materials sourced from the site as much as possible.

One of the questions we have is if it is feasible to even consider the renovation of the holiday homes or would we be better off applying for planning permission for newly built eco homes and then look at renovating the cottages back to a Summer use standard.

Thanks for any advice
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Hi Eldon,

Hard to say without pictures of the inside or a description of existing construction/insulation. That said, they seem like reasonably sturdy structures, and I might be inclined to want to save time/effort/expense by improving what you have vice starting from scratch.
 
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I think one important feature of sustainable building would be to not waste what is already done, if it can be used and improved without investing more energy than building new would take. The structures look sturdy and pleasant behind the overgrowth, and if they are not deteriorating inside, I would look into using them as the basis for renovation. Perhaps the resulting dwellings will want more space than these give (or maybe not); if so, that would be an opportunity to combine traditional construction with new natural methods or materials.

Are the walls solid masonry? What is the climate in that part of Ireland? If it doesn't get too cold, thermal mass walls might be practical to leave, while superinsulating the roofs. Are there attic rooms, or just dead space? If adding new rooms, spreading out so as to trap as much existing masonry wall as possible into the interior would make sense, assuming new walls would be more insulated in some fashion.
 
Glenn Herbert
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It looks like frost is uncommon, while rain and clouds are the norm all winter. So solar exposure would be relatively unimportant, and mass walls would be leaking heat all day every day except in high summer. Strategies for minimizing heat loss from walls on the exterior would probably be important. Keeping the mass exposed to the interior while using a gentle radiant heat source like rocket mass heaters would probably give the best comfort and efficiency while avoiding fossil fuel use. Is there woodland associated with this location which could be developed as a coppiced fuel source?
 
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