One of the annoying things about doing work on a flat in England is that all work done needs Building Control approval from the local authority. Now, in itself that does not seem a bad idea: why not make sure your work meets the approval of an expert ? The answer is cost: even the smallest item can cost hundreds of pounds – even before you lay out a penny piece on materials.
I have been preparing such an application for insulating my flat – the ceiling first, and then perhaps the floor. The walls have cavity insulation, but as hot air rises, the flat above gets much of my heat: the resident even complained at having to open her windows to keep cool while I was huddled around the storage heater trying to keep warm. My floor is even worse; underneath me is an open car park which traps the cold winds and passes their coolth up to me through the concrete.
However, I am starting with the ceiling, because insulating the floor is much more complicated. Also, as I heard on the phone this afternoon, building control approval is not required for the ceiling, but is for the floor. Whoopee !
By living well I mean living sustainably – preserving health and comfort at minimum cost to the environment. This is more difficult in a flat – a private space forming part of a larger building also occupied by others – than in a house, where the owner or tenant has a much wider range of options. This website will therefore concentrate on flat-specific issues, although many will be applicable more widely.
Some of these issues have legal and political aspects. Even within the British Isles, sufficient variations exist to make each country different: for this reason, this site will focus on English law and political structures.
Who am I ? I am a retired lecturer in Building Science, living in a Devon seaside town. Over the years I have occupied several freehold houses and three types of flat, including the current retirement example. Improving this flat’s sustainability turns out to be surprisingly complex, needing skills and expenditure mostly beyond me. My researches to repair these deficits form the substance of this site; to act both as a resource for other flat-dwellers and also, perhaps, as a forum for discussion and exchange of experience.
As I see it, the work falls into the following categories :
- Energy – how to minimise it’s use
- Health – how to maintain comfort and avoid health threats
- Law – what applies and whom to consult
- Funding – where to look and how to apply
- Research and information – where it as and how to use it.