"Behind the hype: Sustainable new homes" - Building magazine

  • Date: 26/02/2015
"Behind the hype: Sustainable new homes" - Building magazine

Source: Joey Gardiner, Building magazine: 'New research is casting further doubt on long-held claims that a new-build property is necessarily cheaper to run than a refurbished Victorian home.'

'It has been one of the housing industry’s rallying cries over the last eight years as it has made the journey toward building zero carbon homes: buy a new home and it’ll be cheaper to run, with far lower fuel bills. While not every builder in the sector has been enthusiastically behind the push to greener homes, iterative upgrades to building regulations mean they are on the zero carbon journey whether they like it or not, so this selling point is now an integral part of the sales patter. Barratt even has a slick interactive graphic on its website telling prospective customers how much they can expect to save each year in fuel bills with a spanking new Barratt home; the industry-wide New Homes Marketing Board’s site has similar data.'

In the article, Peter Mayer (photo), research and development manager at BLP, who helped compile the research, says: “It’s to do with the trade-off between savings on energy bills and the cost of maintaining kit. If you take a basic Victorian house, then clearly modern houses are better. But the work seems to indicate that as you improve a Victorian house, things get much closer. You can end up with a situation where the lifecycle costs are the same or less for Victorian properties that have been refurbished.” 

While discussing the merits of supposedly money saving products, he argues “An example is triple-glazed windows. The thermal performance benefit over double-glazed units is marginal, but their replacement cost is hugely higher.”

While the models used in the study are theoretical and must be treated with some caution, Mayer believes that they help highlight an issue previously not recognised. He says “It brings it out into the open in a way that nothing else has so far. Previously it’s only FM providers or PFI consortiums that have been interested. In terms of the lifecycle cost of running a home, developers currently just don’t tell you what you’re letting yourself in for.”

Read the full article on the Building website

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