How to turn a lovley old house with solid walls into a warm efficient home




digging out floors, underfloor heating, eco home, green dealThe ground floors of my home were a mix of solid and suspended. I had quarry tiles laid on earth/rubble in the hall and a concrete floor laid in the old kitchen, over which were old flagstones. The two main rooms had suspended timber floors.

As I planned to install UFH throughout, I needed to consider my options.

There are solutions to installing UFH into solid or suspended floors, though the fitting of insulation between timber joists and the fiddly nature of running the UFH pipes did not appeal to me. Fitting UFH where there are solid floors is much easier and you can also lay a floor with a decent mass by using concrete or screed. Though it would be a lot of work, I very much wanted to go the solid floor route, though I did have concerns about how a solid floor with DPM might effect the potential for damp in the walls. I decided to lift the floors and see what I found.

As I had taken an internal wall out, what would become my new lounge was two old rooms knocked together. The floors were on different levels - half was suspended the other was solid.

underfloor heating preparation, ecoI lifted the suspended floors and was pleased to see no signs of dampness despite that fact that the old vents, that should have allowed for ventilation, had been blocked (probably many many years earlier). The foorboards, though old, were softwood and not something very special like the elm board I still have upstairs. On that basis I didn't feel a strong need to preserve the old floor so decided to press on with the idea of solid floors, which would best suit my UFH plans.

I also had a project in mind for the old floorboards, so they will be reappearing the house in a new guise.

 I lifted the quarry tiles and the old flagstones from the solid floors. I then dug out and compacted hardcore to the appropriate level to permit a concrete sub floor, insulation, screed and final flooring to bring it back up to level.

removing flooring, eco, renovation, house, homeThe old flags were enormous and heavy but I worked them out on some rollers.

As it was quite a large area I decided to order ready mix concrete for my subfloor. Unfortunately, my home is raised quite a bit above road level at the front, with a series of steps up to the house. I dare say this is a great thing when considering potential damp issues, but t's a pain when having concrete delivered. A standard cement truck's chute can not be raised high enough to pour into my floors. There is also the issue of access - directing any chute through my front door is my only possible access without hiring a concrete pump at £250 a shot, and this seemed a lot of expense and hassle just to pump concrete up a few feet.

I contacted one of the trucks that mix on site to see if their system might work. They were in the area so came by for a dry run. It was very tight to get the chute through my porch, but with care it did fit. The chute was only just long enough to get over the threashold and it was at the maximum elevation where it could still manage to pump uphill, but the driver felt it would just about work.

As the concrete could only just reach inside my front door, I contructed a secondary chute of scrap chipboard and mdf inside the house in the hope it would help me channel the conrete off to the side to be shovelled around the rooms. 


concrete sub floor, house, renovationThe concrete would come in two loads. For the second load I took the front door off its hinges and reversed the chute because one room was the other side of the door.

We had to have the concrete slightly wetter than ideal because of the steep angle of the chute from the truck, but eventually we got there. I had fibres added to the concrete for extra strength. It was hard work for myself and my wife, but eventually we got the sub floor laid and to level throughout the two rooms and hallway.

 concrete, sub floor, chute, home, house, eco, renovation

concrete sub floor, laying, underfloor heating
concrete sub floor, levellingconcrete sub floor, underfloor heating



© Christopher Thompson