It’s mid-October, there’s snow on the ground, our heating is on full blast (burning £10 notes on the log stove might just be fractionally cheaper) and we’re wearing walking boots and multiple fleeces. In the house. In front of the fire, the cats are browsing through brochures for Mediterranean timeshares and the chill wind is whistling through multiple orifices.

We’re finally getting ready to do something about it though: Two-and-a-bit years into our lives here, we’ve done a lot – A LOT – of design and planning, we’ve bought a storage container into which to wedge our worldly goods for the duration and we’ve been doing our best to get advice on the principles and practicalities of carrying out an effective and sympathetic eco-renovation on a historic building. And that’s where we’ve run into a few brick walls (pun intended). We’ve just gotten our initial Listed Building Consent approval letter, which is a start, but it only defines WHAT we are intending to do, with nothing about the HOW. Which seems slightly odd.

We’ve called the National Park to see if their conservation officer had any advice. None available, with neither expertise nor interest evident. So we called Historic Scotland, who simply referred us to some useful but general leaflets on their web site, which we already had. When I asked about advice for the specifics of what we wanted to do, their reaction was that, if we did something they didn’t like and they found out it, they’d make us take it out. Not a recipe for constructive engagement.

If possible, the situation is worse when it comes to taking a unified approach to designing energy systems and insulation. We’ve been unable to find ANY source of advice for renovating historic buildings to a decent standard of insulation – the UK’s Energy Saving Trust seems to run out of ideas after suggesting cavity wall insulation and low-energy light bulbs. Local knowledge is, to put it kindly, negligible

So it looks like we’re on our own and having to work from first principles with a lot of spreadsheet juggling. So be it, and welcome to the world of the historic building eco-renovator in the UK…


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