It may be slow, but it is progress
...altho at times it feels like we are going backwards, not forwards.
As someone said to me recently (admittedly somewhat tongue in cheek), we cannot any more really use the term 'glacial pace' to refer to something that changes very slowly. In our case, it seems as if nowadays the glaciers are receding faster than this project is progressing!
I shared in my last post that I had relented on the removal of the roof. Well I finally let go of the SIPs too. So we will now be removing the whole of the south wall, plus two floors of the north wall, and one section of wall facing a neighbor, all that we constructed new. With two sets of engineers saying we just couldnt be sure of reaching the standard we are aiming for, and nobody yet knowing how much the panels had deteriorated over the two years they had been exposed to the weather, it was time to accept the inevitable. Wow this has been tough. Whilst the SIPs had been the cause of the stoppage, they had been manufactured specifically for this building, at considerable expense, are a fundamentally environmentally sound building system, and many weeks of labor had gone into installing them. So now I have to find a way to dismantle them and either use, or recycle the materials they are made from. This will be a challenge to all involved, but then, this project is all about challenges.
On the other hand, the decision to demolish the basement extension, approval for which had been granted to the previous owner based on it only being used as part of the doctors surgery, has freed up so many design possibilities. And along with that, changing the roof from a pitched roof intended for solar panels, to a flat roof, gives us a huge flat roof area to use for an exterior amenity space. This also enables us to have a skylight above the staircase, which should be beautiful as well as bringing in more light.
Ironically, the delays in this project have actually given time for technological improvements that will enable us to do some things we couldnt do before. The solar capture system has improved so that we will be able to bring daylight down into more of the building, plus, we will be able to have a living wall down the staircase, bringing not just air quality improvements from living plant life, but another opportunity for use of captured rainwater. Plus there are aesthetic benefits, and even the chance to harvest salad greens directly before putting them in the salad. And solar panels get more efficient every year. I will write about the solar installation in a dedicated post later on.
There are now American manufacturers of building components that we were expecting to have to import from Europe. And amazingly, some things are actually cheaper, as the market for them is expanding. There are also new recycled materials coming on the market, and many heating/cooling related appliances are much more efficient now.
And there is the dramatic change in the provision of batteries for storage of electricity generated by the solar system, leading to much greater efficiency of use, instead of shipping it out to the grid.
Another exciting development is the attachment of solar cells to other materials, both structural ones, creating solar roof systems that dont need a roof covering underneath, and non structural but weather protective ones, like fabric, that enable amazing shapes of solar canopies.
So we have finished our design review and are in the process of appointing our new contractor. Next phase – demolition... aahhhgg, but we have to go thru that phase to get to the constructing of the new.
So yes, this post is both about the pain and the delays, and about the hope and the opportunities. But hey, we are living in a world where Trump and Brexit are trying to take us backwards, both environmentally and cooperatively. We simply cannot afford to give up here.
For anybody interested:
Solar collectors - http://www.parans.com/the_product-en.cfm?id=44
Solar cells on fabric - http://www.pvilion.com