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Insulation

 
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Good Morning to anyone reading this post. I've stumbled on this website in a search about alternative building methods. A few words about my situation: Living in Ireland, just about to buy a house and a bit of a land. (Not that easy if you don't have a loads of money....which we don't...). Our aim is to grow as much as we can for ourselves and some for profit. The land is big enough to support our family of four with fruit and veg. The house is in a good state considering no one lived in it for over 8 years. If you have any information about insulating a concrete wall in an eco-friendly manner please share it with me. I've seen a lot of pro and contra about wool hemp corkboard etc....Insulation must be to the exterior of the property as the house is tiny. Also we have a single leaf concrete block garage that we want to convert to habitable space....was thinking to build a cordwood exterior around the concrete, leaving a cavity between the two walls. Is this a good idea? The other option is to build a timber frame around it, and put insulation into the timber frame...any ideas again what to insulate with? Around here they use PIR (Polyisocyanurate) but I don't think that would be really eco friendly. In any case whatever we build must withstand a loads of wind driven rain all year around. (maybe timber frame, with larch cladding, and wool insulation in the frame?) Getting timber is not a problem, it won't be free, but it'll be really cheap comparing to concrete or brick prices around here. We plan to reuse, recycle, upcycle a much as we can for two reasons: Reduce our footprint and saving money, as with purchasing the property our bank account balance will be near to zero.... I plan to build as much as I can with my own hands because of aforementioned financial situation.... Sorry for my broken English, not my native language.  Thanks for reading this and have a nice day all.
 
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I think the most eco of the common external insulation materials (that are easily ordered and installed in Ireland) is Rockwool. It's not on the same level as the options you mentioned, but it's not too bad, and one of the most effective.

I'm down in cork starting up an little permie orchard on half an acre, just got started. If you want any recommendations on fruit trees I've just finished the research/ordering stage.
 
Sean Smith
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Thanks for your quick response fellow Corkian... Where are you based? By all means I'd love to hear about your ideas about fruit trees. We still wait for finishing the deal with the seller. We'll have around 0.8 acre, planning on having damsons, pears, apples, blueberries, berries of all kinds. Want to make jams, juice apples for the kids, make some cider. Planning to get chickens and a few pigs as well in time. Rockwool sounds good. Thanks.
 
Casper Dudarec
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I think there's a grant for external insulation available here too (from registered installers though) - look into it!
 
Sean Smith
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Heard about that, will check it out. Thanks
 
pollinator
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I have friends near Cork, closer to Formoy from memory.
They live near an old forge dated 1600's I think.
Anyway, the old garage may have damp issues that need looking at.

Do you have double glazing installed?
Can you insulate the floor, if the house is small it will not involve a lot of expense and will be very helpful.
Do you have photos?
 
Sean Smith
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Hey thanks for your answer, no photos yet, as it's not mine....hopefully it'll be in a few weeks. On the house there's double glazing all around. Planning to insulate loft with rockwool. Want to install central heating so old concrete floor has to come up, then I was planning to insulate under floor before pouring new concrete. Garage dampness: I do not know. Roof is almost non existent, so there's water in garage at the moment. Once new roo is installed and place dries out we'll se if there's any water coming rom underground....
 
pollinator
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I'll second Rockwool as a viable option.  It may not feel as good on an eco scale as, say, wool,  but I think a lot of it comes from Iceland where they've got loads of geo & hydro energy so it's energy footprint isn't awful.   Its basically fluffy rock so it doesn't break down, bugs don't eat it, etc and thus it should last as long - or longer - than anything else on your building.  Its really nice to work with too.

For exterior insulation in a wet environment you need to be very careful about your moisture management - you'll need at least one wall to be vapor permeable.  Insulation concrete walls sounds tricky on this front so please do some research on how to do this knowing the thickness of your walls, if they have any covering (paint? water seal? plaster?), on which side (heated or not) is the covering.

For your new exterior wall, consider what in the states is referred to as a "rain screen" - essentially there is insulation then a rain/water proof layer, an airspace, and finally the visible exterior wood (or something).  There are fancy types of housewrap to use for this layer, but I think you can get the same benefits using thin sheets of plywood and appropriate paint.

Finally, if you're making the wall thicker, consider making the roof wider!  You want to keep as much water off that wall as possible!
 
pollinator
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Does your old concrete floor really need to be taken out? Everyone I know who has in-floor radiant heating would never go back. Could this be added on top, with a subfloor over it?
 
John C Daley
pollinator
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Are you using hydronic heating?
water pumped though pipes to wall radiators.
 
Sean Smith
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Does your old concrete floor really need to be taken out? Everyone I know who has in-floor radiant heating would never go back. Could this be added on top, with a subfloor over it?



I don't know yet if we have to take out the old concrete entirely, as the house is not ours yet....will have to wait for engineers report before even proceed to pay seller then getting the keys.... House was built in 70s so I highly doubt they put any insulation under concrete....Would have radiators installed, for that they run all pipes under floor, so at least have to cut concrete. Subfloor is not an option as ceiling height will be too low...will have to keep finished floor level as it is at the moment.
 
Sean Smith
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John C Daley wrote:Are you using hydronic heating?
water pumped though pipes to wall radiators.



At the moment we are at planning stages even though we did not even get the keys...but want to move in as soon as we can, of course to achieve that we need to fix essentials like heating. Yes we plan on central heating with radiators, not underfloor heating. Any advice welcome.
 
Eliot Mason
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Even if the slab/cement floor isn't insulated, you can greatly decrease the thermal loss by insulating the perimeter of the building.  I recall seeing how many of the super-engineered PassivHaus designs  have a 3' (or so) wide trench around the foundation.  Some form of styrofoam insulation is added vertically, and then horizontally at the bottom of the trench.   Appropriate system are added to move water out of there, and then its filled.  This is effectively turning all of the dirt under the cement into a thermal battery.

something to consider.
 
Sean Smith
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Eliot Mason wrote:Even if the slab/cement floor isn't insulated, you can greatly decrease the thermal loss by insulating the perimeter of the building.  I recall seeing how many of the super-engineered PassivHaus designs  have a 3' (or so) wide trench around the foundation.  Some form of styrofoam insulation is added vertically, and then horizontally at the bottom of the trench.   Appropriate system are added to move water out of there, and then its filled.  This is effectively turning all of the dirt under the cement into a thermal battery.

something to consider.

Thanks for your replies, really helpful. About the walls. It's a system built bungalow meaning they made concrete panels and craned them onto foundation on site...I know that airtightness and vapour control layers are essential and can go really good or can turn out disastrous... you have to know what to use how where...I have lived in many buildings with mould here in Ireland(rented)...I am also aware of bigger overhang if we make the walls thicker...that's a bottleneck for us since the overhang is not too big on the house and for financial reasons we can not alter change the roof for now....I'll take a look into insulating the perimeter of the house. Thanks for the tip.
 
Sean Smith
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Any of you heard used Gutex insulation system?
 
gardener
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In the 70s in the USA insulated concrete floors were being installed.  I looked into having a house built, and that was an option.
 
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