Here’s some helpful explanations (hopefully) of these increasingly common terms in the world of warmer homes. We don’t get scientific on anything and broke it down as simply as possible. What they are, and what you need to do!
In short, A U-value is a measure of how effective a material (or composite of materials) is as an insulator. In the case of construction, it’s generally agreed to be the most reliable way to quickly determine how much heat will be lost through a building element, i.e. A Wall, Floor, Roof or Window. But, you likely won’t get U-Values on specific insulation products. It’s a holistic figure, taking into account many things.
The Lower the U-value the Better the Performance.
A U-value is the total of the thermal resistances (explained below) of the layers that make up an entire building element – for example, a Roof (slates, felt, joists, insulation), Wall (blocks, insulation, plaster) or Floor (concrete, sand, DPM, insulation & flooring).
It also includes adjustments for any fixings or air gaps, this is critical. As homes get warmer (more and more insulation) this is where a lot of heat is actually lost in a building. And this can be loads when it’s a badly built building. Heat takes the path of least resistance. You could have 5 ft of insulation, but with lots of cracks or gaps (installed by untrained builders), it’s pointless.
So this is why the U-Value is the benchmark for our understanding of heat loss in the Construction Industry. It kind of covers all corners. Also, this is why the Building Regulations mainly consider U-values. There’s that reason too. So we need to get them right.
What is a k-Value?
Don’t get confused by the Thermal Conductivity (k-Value). This is another similar measurement of heat loss but looks at specific materials alone. It considers the transport of energy through the material (i.e. through foam insulation, or through a concrete block, and so on). It doesn’t consider the thickness of the material. So not as useful as the U-Value, which does. But it’s great to determine the quality of an INSULATION product itself.
The lower the k-Value the better the material. This one is also called the Lambda Value!
A very good k-value for say insulation is 0.022 W/mK. Xtratherm, Kingspan and some others generally make their PIR insulation (the yellow-ish stuff with foil on both sides) to this figure. It’s as good as it gets (for what people can afford anyway). So 200mm PIR is much better than 100mm PIR. (but not twice as good, don’t ask).
Mineral wool (the fuzzy soft stuff) is usually cheaper but it’s just not as good an insulator. (it has other qualities, however; easier to install in tricky spaces, and great for damping sound). But it has a k-value of 0.044 W/mK, and as you can see it’s a lot higher than the PIR (which is a bad thing). We’ll go into the differences in another post.
What is an R-Value?
And then there’s Thermal Resistance, the R-Value. If you’re looking into insulation, maybe buying some in any of the large DIY stores, you’ll likely see a lot of R-Values printed on the packs. It’s a fairly useful measure but only focuses on the conduction of heat. Which is heat passing through the material. But heat transfers in various ways, remember physics class 101; conduction, convection and radiation.
Since U-Value considers all of these in some way, it just gives a more reliable figure overall.
The thermal resistance, or R-value, measures a material’s ability to prevent the flow of heat (hot or cold air) through a certain thickness, through 100mm insulation, 200mm of insulation for example.
The Higher The R-Value The Better The Insulation
Part L Building Regulations 2019 ‘Dwellings’: U-Values
So here they are. The new 2019 U-Values we must carefully work to for new and existing dwellings. Ideally, you will be exceeding these values where possible. The difference in cost, in comparison to the overall building project, is marginal, and potential savings in heating costs over the lifetime of the home are considerable. And the Government’s Building regulations will likely reduce these again in the, not too distant future.
Refer to our page on nZEB buildings for more info on the big changes with regards to existing buildings in particular.
You Making Decisions Now To Protect All In The Future
Ceardean Architects Have Extensive Experience Working With Creches & Preschools on All Architectural, Planning & Design Matters. Getting Fire Safety in Preschools Right Is Not Straightforward And Many Premises Sadly Fall Far Short Of What The Regulations Require.
We Specialise In Fire Safety Audits Of These Premises And Specifying Fire Safety Remedial Measures For Existing Creches, and Fire Safety Design For New Childcare Facilities.
In 2021 Derek Trenaman Gave A Deep Insightful presentation on Current Planning and Building Control Issues Affecting Preschool Owners In Ireland. Basically, The Rules Have Changed.
Have A Look Through, Might Help With Any Concerns You Have.
Don’t Hesitate To Contact Us If You Wish To Chat Further, We Have So Much Experience Here & Always Willing To Help Out.
simple modern practical kitchen layout in dublin 8
Open plan kitchen/living/dining room
Revamping a Victorian Cottage with architectural design thinking
Ireland is full of beautiful older houses and as owners move, they often become derelict and uninhabitable. But when a 100-year-old cottage needs a revamp, there are specific concerns and requirements. Our client contacted us as wanted an RIAI Architect II Accredited in Conservation practices to complete his home and give him the dream of restoring a Victorian Cottage.
Architect Derek Trenaman tells us about the property which is in a recognized ACA conservation area it requires a careful approach to repair and maintenance to ensure the unique character is preserved. There was a chimney breast in poor condition at the rear of the property and refurbishment was required.
Changing the position of the stairs is the first step to opening dark interiors and the rear of the house was opened up to the garden and a floor-to-ceiling glazing extension added gives a modern twist. The other benefit to moving the stairs was to improve the circulation of the home and given the entrance was narrow, the stairs being at the side reduces narrow rooms.
Calling the elegance of a time gone by, classic traditional monochrome black and white ceramic tiles were used to enhance a modern minimalist style, great for high traffic areas and a different texture/pattern. The Victorians loved the classical appeal of mosaic floor and what better way to make your entrance a talking point to family and friends.
This home was transformed into an open plan living/dining/kitchen. Installation of the roof-light over stairs brightens up interiors and improve natural ventilation. It provides an even distribution of light and illuminates the dark areas in a room that windows cannot reach. Rooflights now provide an ideal solution for introducing light as was the Victorians intention into agricultural buildings in the 18th century.
If you like the idea of our bespoke designs and fancy something a little different, please get in touch.
You inevitably will ask, how long does it take to design a custom bespoke architecturally designed home? On this home, Ceardean Architects were granted planning in 2016. This is the time from the initial concept meeting, to construction. There are many factors that can affect this greatly, but 2 years is a good starting point.
Preliminary design can take from 3 months to 12 months, depending on how prepared the client is, the size of the project and the complexity of the design. The Planning Authorities may differ greatly from area to area and third-party objections may affect the process.
3D model Bespoke Home
Tendering, contractor interviews, and contract negotiation take time. A number of factors come into play on the construction timeline, such as
the Size of the project.
The complexity of the footprint and the materials to be used.
Weather can be a factor but today we can track weather and record the down days.
Ensuring client makes timely decisions on ordering windows, kitchen and bathrooms is important and can stop your project coming to a halt. Lead in times can be anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks.
Ensure you get reference’s from your contractor
The number of specialty sub-contractors, the more sub-contractors you contractor has can affect how long the project will take.
In this home, the client wants to achieve a Passive House Standard using unique concrete construction. ICF Insulated Concrete Forms are formwork for concrete that stays in place as permanent building insulation for energy-efficient, cast-in-place, reinforced concrete walls, floors, and roofs. The forms lock together somewhat like Lego bricks and serve to create a form for the structural walls or floors of a building. This gives the passive house a very high performance in insulation.
The project is now well under construction.
Construction of Bespoke home
If you like the idea of our bespoke designs and fancy something a little different, please get in touch.
This Tile Trick is a Game Changer for Small Bathroom Interior Design
It makes sense to think outside the box when you are decorating your bathroom. Make the smallest room in your home the most interesting with a splash of color or a fresh new pattern.
Your choice of tile colors and styles are endless. For smaller bathroom walls as in the Straffan home, we specified ceramic white wall tiles that are small in size. We divided the wall just over midway and added a splash of petrol blue paint. The wash hand basin is free standing and oak hardwood floor.
Alternatively in this Glenbeigh home, why not Opt for a daring tile design or a sleek border for a subtle refresh as in this next home. Forgo the ever-popular minimalist trend and amp up your otherwise boring bathroom with a splash of color or a fresh new pattern.
This beautiful minimalist bathroom in the Chase is covered partially covered in white crisp white tiles, creating a sleek modern space that is elevated with the pop of color from wood paneling surrounding bath with Jet Black Liscannor tile.
The colors of this bathroom play a crucial role in creating visual value. So choose the perfect theme for your bathroom. Your theme will satisfy your mood with the right accessories and furniture. Here’s a project in Wheatfield, Palmerstown another idea of the bathroom with beige and cream colors.
Off Grid Living
This beautiful rustic home commands a unique bathroom, paneled in wood with bespoke bath and wash hand basin, surrounded by authentic stonework of 1930’s restored Irish Cottage.
Off Grid Living
In this home in Barberstown, the wash-hand basin and toilet are both wall-mounted. This increases the flow of space and allows for easy cleaning of the floor. Consider a corner unit for added storage. The mirror makes the room feel larger than it is and reflects the abundance of natural light from the skylight. The wash basin has drawers underneath adding more storage to the tiny space. The shower has a simple chrome and glass door and fits snugly into the bathroom.
The #piece de resistance” is without a doubt the stunning bath, with roof-light ensuring it receives an abundance of light making it more spacious.
Black and White Bathroom
A black and white bathroom is a contemporary and classic style choice, and it’s easy to stamp your own personality onto and make it something new and unique. Black absorbs, while white reflects, which is why the combination is a great choice creating real impact. It also works well in a functional space, where bold angles and clean lines tend to dominate.
Add your own unique style using cubed-design floor tiles.
If you like the idea of our designs and fancy something a little different, please get in touch.
Our Architect’s Essential Tips for Designing your dream kitchen
The interior design and layout of your kitchen is the real soul of your home and much more than just cooking but also family congregations, so there is a need to put it in the context of the homes’ public spaces or the adjacent spaces. In older houses, the kitchen tends to be isolated and often small. Today, our clients want kitchen’s that incorporate a workspace and a casual space for dining or even working. See photos from our Straffan home.
Open Living SpaceWorkspaces and Storage
Our clients want efficient workspaces and plenty of storage. In order to combine the workspace and casual “hanging out” space, an island is the standard way to do this or a breakfast table nearby. This can be done by creating a little breakfast area in the kitchen with built up casual seating for a living room effect feel. Alternatively creating a space to sit, reflect and look out at garden views. These two spaces need to be fused together so they don’t look as if they are imposed on each other.
Upper cabinets, yes or no? While upper cabinets are practical you can make the cabinet fronts solid and uniform or create a sense of openness with glass fronts. Our client in the above kitchen went for a wall of upper cabinets with toplight being of glass. Glass fronted cabinets create depth and make the kitchen feel more spacious. You can put in obscure (frosted or ridged) glass. One way around storage solutions is to have pull-out storage drawers.
Microwaves can be unsightly and this needs to be considered early in the planning decision. They can be accommodated in a pull-out shelf or behind an island. There are more attractive in-wall ovens/microwave that combines both.
If a kitchen extractor fan is in the field of vision, it has to be taken seriously, otherwise, it will be a visual distraction.
Built in seating areaCountertop / Use of Natural Materials
We love the feel of the”perfect countertop”, using organic materials White Marble, the white the better giving the illusion of space and compliments the natural light coming from all sides of the room. Choice of materials is important and we gather all samples early on and look at them together as a set. We revisit it several times over the course of the design to ensure the best fit of colors is chosen.
A key element is also having an exterior space, which is a big bonus. It’s nice if you can add a deck and create a place to eat outside or have a barbecue.
The most desirable design elements in a kitchen are Natural Light. The Pop-up Rooflights really work for ensuring an abundance of light. There is a real benefit to a sink with a view!
Another contemporary Ceardean Architects Designed Home in Dublin 12
Delivering aesthetically appealing contemporary buildings. Ceardean Architects work in strong collaboration with clients to achieve cost-effective and functional designs time after time.
This home in Crumlin, Dublin 12 has almost doubled the usable space available, adding a contemporary flavor to what was a standard semi-detached dwelling. Using innovative rainwater system that efficiently hides the points where water discharges from roof level and using a beautiful cedar clad exterior to a powerful effect, the crisp clean lines of the building make the corner stand out giving it the wow factor.
The external skin of the building must have four essential characteristics, durability, resistance to moisture penetration, uniform weathering and an attractive appearance. If you are choosing timber for the exterior of your home, then the primary considerations are quality and durability.
Hardwoods do not require treating but are considerably more expensive. Western red cedar has a life-span of up to 60 years because it contains a natural preservative, making the wood uncommonly durable in its natural state. It is also highly regarded for its insulation qualities and natural resistance to the elements.
Change In Legislation On Short-Term Letting – Impact on Airbnb Property and others
The introduction by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government of the new regulations in respect of short-term letting will mean that all existing residential units which are used for the purpose of short-term rental i.e. for 14 days or less at a time, will require the benefit of Planning permission for a change of use to short-term lettings (STL).
The political agenda is that this is an unregulated activity and is not home sharing but a commercial enterprise. In a time of low housing construction to meet demand, and in an environment of increasing onerous residential tenancy reforms, the withdrawal of rental homes from the letting market, will be deemed “unacceptable” (to use the ministers words) particularly in our cities and large towns where rents are high and supply is constrained.
We understand the changes are to regulate for the first time short-term lettings, however, they will impact all existing rentals. Homeowners will be required to register with their local authority as a ‘homesharing’ rental of their primary residence where an annual cap of 90 days will apply.
Commercial rental properties will only be allowed where the use is already permitted to be used for tourism/short-term letting purposes. Otherwise planning permission for a change of use to STL will have to be applied for. The minister’s direction, (and we presume a further circular, advising will be issued) is that in areas of high housing demand, it is unlikely that permission would be granted. It will be up to each local Planning Authority to grant permissions. It is understood that additional resources will be provided within Dublin City Council’s Planning Section to monitor the supply of short-term lettings on the relevant booking sites, oversee the compilation of registers and to monitor enforcement.
It is intended that the new planning changes will come into effect on 1 June 2019, to allow property owners to prepare for and adapt to the new laws. There would seem an opportunity to have existing properties legitimised before the introduction of the regulations.
Contact us if any further explanation of the forthcoming regulation is required.
Master Planning – Avon Ri Hotel, Blessington, Co. Wicklow
Ceardean’s most important aspect of master planning was to provide a roadmap for future growth for Avon Ri Hotel and Complex. Our Strategy was to change the target market, identify projects to improve the resort, design and organize the site to allow for expansion or intensification.
Our Client asked us to provide a site master plan to allow a conceptual layout for the site, corporate identity, ease of access and additional facilities. We looked at historically placed buildings, the next phase of growth and future growth. We outlined a logical phased growth plan and indicated the maximum potential of the site.
The Master Plan allowed the client to optimize land values and development potential by creating a quality product. Ceardean offered an adaptable phasing strategy that is adaptable and innovative. We identified a comprehensive first phase and development for the entire Master Plan.
The Master Plan objective was to :
give cohesion of Site Identity and Logo, to reunify rebranding the entire site
Enhance the vitality of pedestrian activity and identify a clear hierarchy of pedestrian systems along the greenway site allowing safe access, ease of movement, and providing a choice of paths.
Accommodate the demand for traffic, allow the streets to filter through the area to mitigate the pressure from surrounding traffic. Allow for venue roadway redesign.
Landscape – create the diversity of recreation venues, active and passive, land and water along the entire natural areas and manmade areas thus providing a sense of openness and contact with nature, using signature furniture/ installations to give identity and allow photo opportunities along the Greenway.
Creating a sense of place through scale and quality of materials ensuring it is an attractive place to visit. Providing a glamping site ensuring safety and privacy to patrons. Integration and design of adventure centre and to attract further activities to the resort.