18 Jan, 2016 @ 10:28
1 min read

Four-fifths of Spanish homes not adequately sound-proofed


soundproofingSPANISH houses are the second nosiest in the world, a new study has confirmed.

More than 80% of homes don’t have sufficient sound-proofing according to the survey by Danosa, a company that sells sustainable building solutions.

Since 2009, new regulations required Spanish homes to be sound-proofed to European standards but, prior to this, there were no laws covering Spain.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the recommended level of noise is 55 decibels during the day and 45 at night.

In Spain, residents endure up to 65 decibels, second behind only Japan in developed countries.

Staff Reporter

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  1. Sound-proofing is the least of your worries when so many Spanish properties are so poorly built. Wait until you realise you have no damp course or insulation, or find that the builder forgot to put in proper land drainage. Welcome to home ownership in Spain…

  2. It would help enormously if folks had carpets and curtains. I know many Spanish folk who’re quite content to have hard floors & no curtains. But noise doesn’t seem to bother them at all. Many don’t actually “talk”, they virtually shout & especially so when they’re using their Mobile phones (does that mean they have no faith in the microphones?). I expect no changes any time soon.

  3. Did you not know that in the northern hemisphere the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
    I look at the comments from some here and I despair.

    The reason you are complaining about noise is simple and I can only assume you are all blind. Did you not look at how houses and apartment blocks are built BEFORE you bought? Party walls – what are those – in Spain they don’t exist – they are just walls. These walls are made of hollow clay bricks which are 7cm thick. The reason they are hollow is because cables can be strung through them, as cables can’t be be laid through concrete floors.

    It was very embarrassing in both locations we lived in in Spain, there was absolutely no privacy. It must have been terrible for the young and conjugal relations which had to be conducted in total silence otherwise all those living in an apartment block would ‘hear the action’. In Guadix our lounge was next door to the toilet/bathroom of the flat next door and it was obvious when it was a woman or man using the toilet.

    One night after moving in to our apartment in Guadix I left the c/heating on – it never stopped firing up because the pipes were buried in the concrete, I had a real shock when the gas bill came in. Have you never noticed the ‘mantas’ for sale in Spain. All our Spanish neighbours had them. You put them over the table and then over your knees – to trap the warmth, very effective. When I told our neighbours about the horrendous gas bill they laughed and said that’s why we use mantas.

    Have none of you paid attention to the appalling double glazing, totally inferior to that in northern Europe or the flat doors which are a joke. Balconies facing south in Andalucia are you mad?

    I did not go to live in Spain by choice, it was inheritance laws made by that prat Napoleon but I did think that I could make a good living building alternative energy houses.

    Then I found out about the whole corruption thing with construction in Spain. I was lucky in Guadix to meet in it’s best bar, the Calatrava one of Spain’s top interior designers who marked my card. I possibly would have got one house passed by the School of Architects but that’s all. It would have showed just how bad construction is in Spain.

    There is no need to have a bad house built but you have to use the right materials, they are available but I don’t know a Spanish builder that would use them. In Granada there is available Xella/Thermopierre blocks. Use these, make sure that a proper DPC is used, build off the ground, have a wooden floor with all cables and pipes underneath, protect your south facing windows from direct sunlight and you will have a house that requires very little heat in winter and will not need a/c in the summer. Solar hot water is a must but make sure you get the right system and installed by a someone who knows what they are doing. Do not invest in PV for a few years, huge increases in efficiency are just around the corner.

    If you have been ‘not clever’ in buying one of these badly built properties all you can do is use 5 or 10cm aercrete/Themopierre blocks against the party wall. This will give an improvement but why did you all not use your eyes and see just how crap built Spanish property is. You would think that Spanish who have worked in countries like Germany or Switzerland would have returned home and demanded homes built to their standards, after all a home is the biggest investment most people ever make – am reminded of a Boy George song and the words – la genta es muy stupido.

    If it’s any comfort to those in Spain, French construction even with new regs. in 2012 is’nt much better. The French are obsessed with having ceramic tiled floors and put insulation beneath the concrete floors – insanity – la gent es muy stupido.

  4. I quite like the more social style of the Spanish; saying hello to strangers, warm greetings to acquaintances and avid conversations all. If a bit of noise is the price to pay for that then the €8 I have paid for my ear plugs is well worth it.

    Some people need to lighten up a bit, reflect upon the positives that life presents and live for the moment. It will certainly improve your mood. :)

  5. No new houses should be built unless they incorporate “Passivhaus” standards of insulation and construction. Upfront costs for new-build may be five to ten percent higher than Spanish ticky-tacky, but these are quickly re-couped in vastly lowered running costs in heating and air-con, not to mention comfort and improved air-quality. It’s a no-brainer for the planet and your pocket.

  6. Just based on my own experiences of renting in Spain (listening to neighbours talking/shouting/ablutions/and worse as if they were in your property) not to be recommended, and viewing construction, the mass developments of Spanish town houses and apartments have the worst noise and thermal insulation standards of any other country’s homes I’ve seen. Plus sub-standard footings, plenty of render cracking, and pipes breaking underground if properties are on hillsides. The experience is further enhanced often by 2 large barking dogs on apartment/townhouse terraces plus plenty of what sounds like arguing but is in fact hyper talking.

    Clear examples of this poor build can be seen in half finished skeletal blocks on many golf courses such as Alhaurin etc. Between properties the only dividing wall is built of eggshell like hollow terracotta blocks which offer no sound or thermal insulation whatsoever.

    When shown around new developments the clever agents show those with no neighbours who have moved in next door yet, smoke and mirrors. Buyer beware!!!

  7. Any house should be conceptualized as an ‘envelope’ meant to control: 1) temperature fluctuations; 2) humidity fluctuations; 3) entry of insects and vermin; 4) entry of unwanted people.
    In Spain construction is conceptualized as an illicit scam for revenue.

    These envelopes should be designed and constructed according to location, i.e., latitude, micro-climate and proximity to noisy activities, whether neighbors, trains, bars, airports, highways, bell ringing sheep and cattle herds or parking lots.

    Spanish builders choose concrete or ceramic blocks for principally two reasons: 1) técnicos and architects have no training in alternative, sustainable materials; 2) municipal técnicos and municipal governments collude with concrete and brick suppliers and ‘preferred’ local builders, and clients who want permits are ‘urged’ to use those bad materials. In Asturias, for example, alternative energy efficient building materials are banned by local técnicos by the professional association that governs their membership even though there is nothing illegal about the use of such materials. Collusion operates at the highest level, too.

    Without local técnico’s signature, no permit is given even though the project complies with EU, even Federal rules. A common way to control local monopoly is for a municipality to have no set of regulations approved at the provincial (CA) level, or to have so many regulation contradictions that all projects need ‘special permission’, which one will not get unless projects are taken over by the técnico’s network to include favored architects, builders and suppliers.

    Where we are there is little to no interest in proper insulation. While Ytong/Xella blocks are a bit better than standard block and bricks, their energy efficiency is still far below what is possible (e.g., structural insulated panels ‘SIPs’). (“http://www.sips-spain.com/english/page3/page3.html”) A local técnico commented on the possibility of using SIPs: I can’t allow them to be used because I don’t know this technology. Here we use blocks.” As to thermal insulation, his solution was to build a triple block wall with 2 spaces (double ‘camara’). Cost of such construction is prohibitively high, and still isn’t climate efficient. Ceilings and roofs, if insulated at all, have maybe 3 cms of insulation, when real efficiency requires 8cms-15cms.

    As for windows, not only is glass quality is poor, but steel or aluminum frames temperature transfer (thermal bridge), which causes condensation in winter. House siting should have SE or S facing windows. Window size and awning overhang, trellises or deciduous trees sized and placed to block higher summer sun blocks summer sun, but allows winter sun’s lower rays to enter. It’s not necessary to have block bunkers to protect from summer heat. Use science. Window area should be balanced with interior thermal mass area. (“http://www.sips-spain.com/english/page15/page15.html”) Opening windows should be placed to catch morning, afternoon or evening breezes. That will easily provide cooling.

    Sound and thermal insulation are entirely separate : sound insulation needs to first reflect back sound waves, then absorb what little passes through; 2) thermal insulation provides sealed air cells to prevent temperature from passing through dense materials.

    Ceramic or concrete SHOULD be insulated beneath the slab. with 6cms or more rigid insulation over a vapor barrier to prevent rising damp and serve as a thermal bank to stabilize interior temperature.

    Finally, fireplaces and most wood stoves are inefficient, some so much so that they actually suck heat out of the house and up the chimney. The use of properly constructed masonry heaters is imperative. (“http://www.mha-net.org”)

    Younger architects are quite well-trained, many in Canada, USA, Scandinavia and Germany. Problem, as in most of Spain, lies with corrupt corporatist networks that control politicians and civil servants. Construction and land use regulations are in the hands of local governments; it takes a constitutional change to alter. That is not likely, though Brussels is aware (though not inclined) to interfere.

  8. We’ve friends who live on the Las Barrancas hillside near Lauro Golf overlooking Malaga including the well lit prison.

    Their very cold finca in Winter has to have olive wood burning brightly in their woodburner at night because they just have a layer of terracotta tiles on the roof so cold air drops down, but in Summer they can’t use the upstairs bedroom because of the opposite effect of red hot tiles. Their terrace has had to be dug up numerous times because of subsidence issues cracking their mains pipes. The villa next door had to be underpinned after heavy rains as the swimming pool started to part company with the house, the sloping gardens always have a jelly like soft spongy area due to water.

    Their Spanish neighbours prefer to shout their conversations to each other all over the hillside (when we’d probably use the phone) in those heavy Andalucian accents (which sound angry) as the many dogs also bark their conversations out.

    All of which is part of life’s rich tapestry but takes some getting used to.

  9. Chas agree totally about the corruption and deliberate ignorance of so many in the construction industry in Spain and about siting houses to use free solar energy in winter and shade windows in the summer. Also I know well the humidity problems in N W Spain, I lived in northern Galicia.

    I have designed a very simple system of keeping the solar energy off windows in the summer months, just need to source a durable material to go with a s/steel frame, electronically controlled by sensors would be what most people would want – I want to build a house with as little electrical need as possible, so it would be manual, I might think differently if I become feeble.

    I cannot agree at all about your thermal/acoustic evaluations, nor especially about aercrete blocks are you talking from theory or practice, I’m talking from practice.

    Aercrete works because like you said each block trapped millions of tiny air bubbles but you are quite wrong about them only being a bit better than standard dense concrete blocks, totally wrong, you need to look at U values tables to see how wrong you are. The new regs. of 2012 in France specify for aercrete blocks 30mm + a crepi finish. Very few builders use this, they stick to crepi finished honeycombed clay blocks with a galvanised steel studding, rock wool and a single skin of plasterboard which they never tape before plastering, single skin is cowboy country, any decent builder will always use double skin.

    As an experienced brickie I have worked out a much better method for using aercrete blocks and which reduces the cost of exterior walls by 30% and achieves a much higher U value.

    You forgot to add that aercrete blocks are the very best in environmental terms, have an indefinate life which most insulation materials do not, are completely fire and insect proof, require less substantial footings as they weigh 20% of normal dense concrete/clay materials. Can be made in various load bearings as per Durox (formerly de Jong) in the UK. You also forgot to mention (or don’t know) that if the surface is skim coated to remove blemishes etc. that it can be sized and papered, no need to introduce both a wet trade, plaster and create a noisy finish. I intend to create a music room where the blocks will have only a natural paint finish – hard surface is a no-no for good musical playback.

    I have warned before on this forum – stay away from vinyl/plastic paint it is very carcinogeric and will give off fumes for years. Natural paints and varnishes are not cheap, partly because they are not mass produced but also the basic materials are’nt as cheap as oil based ones. If you just use this crap make sure your hands are proected and that their is a very good air supply where you are working. A bathroom with a good air extraction system amybe OK but definately not living rooms or bedrooms – you have been warned.

    Likewise you say you need hard reflective surfaces – a hard reflective surface will first absorb easily temperature differences and in the interior of a house create a bloody noisy environment, which is exactly what you get in Spain and France.

    As for using insulation under concrete – well you saw my comment in my first post. Why on earth would you want to do this? Why not use the far better method of building off the ground (1) with a proper DPC there is absolutely no risk of osmosis or any other kind of damp penetration (2) a beam and block floor is far quicker to build. As for using ceramic tiled floors – cold all year round and bloody noisy – why would anyone want that? Plus any shiny finished tiles are very good if you spill any kind of liquid and want to slip up and crack your skull.

    On top of a beam and block floor use between 5-7cm soft wood battens screwed (the only extra cost with this method) to the beams. All cables and if gas c/heating is used pipes, insulated pipes, which is something that has to be forced on most plumbers, can then be laid on the concrete and beam floor. Battens can be notched for cable and pipe runs, then a quality insulation laid between the battens and depending on means, oak or pine T&G boards can be fixed. In France there is available veneered ply that if varnished would give a really attractive finish, not as cheap as T&G but very attractive, much faster to lay and no waste.

    You now have a floor that has a far higher U value than a solid ceramic tiled one. Is no harder to keep clean. Is not noisy and sound takes on a mellow quality totally lacking on a solid ceramic tiled one. Since I lived in the Netherlands I have adopted what they and Germans and Scandinavians do – all street shoes removed inside the front door, so simple and effective and clean.

    Wood burning stoves – sorry to say you are wrong there. Nowadays there are very efficient stoves on the market but apart from one very expensive stove that uses a secondary burning system they all have one very important fault – they draw air from inside the house. In an old house this only creates draughts, how well I remember this from when I was a boy sitting in front of a coal fire. However inside a well insulated house that has no draughts then this becomes potentially very dangerous because the fire is using oxygen to burn, oxygen that people need to breathe – or die.

    The answer of course is very simple – to draw air from outside the house, easily achieved with a battened floor as an air pipe can easily be fitted during construction, something entirely impossible with a solid ceramic tiled floor.

    There is that one expensive stove that is safe but does not combine this with the facility of an oven which quite a few do, so I designed my own. Very simple using 4mm sheet steel. The air intake will be from beneath using a butterfly valve, making it easy to control the fire. Above the firebox will be an oven with a removable s/steel insert for cooking meats etc. which will be removed for bread and cake making. The top will incorporate a long hotplate as part of the structure. So should extreme weather or a deliberate power shutdown happen if there is civil unrest I will still be able to keep warm and cook – the more I can extricate myself from the clutches of Big Brother the better I like it.

    Masonry stoves – very popular in eastern Europe, cost effective as well. They must be properly built of the right materials and can be made to look very attractive as well. Can’t be used for cooking all the time only when the fire is burning – a good idea that those interested should google or wiki for info.

    Indeed all that I and Chas have said is easy to find on the net – why don’t people bother with the biggest investment most will ever make -, la genta es muy stupido – es la verdad.

    Loud talking – the only people who whisper in Europe are the English, on the mainland people are’nt afraid to talk in a normal voice. I remember a Dutch boss asking me (I was the only one who spoke Dutch) why do these English whisper, what are they afraid of? – I’ts just the way they are – vreemd zeer vreemd. Why should’nt people shout to each other across the street or a hillside. If houses and apartments were built properly you would’nt hear them indoors. Ask yourselves – why is it the English talk in whispers when the rest of the world does’nt?

  10. There’s a difference between talking in whispers, normally which many Brits and other nationalities do, or shouting, whether across the street or on hillsides. I prefer the phone if I want to talk to someone half a mile or more away Lol BTW New Yorkers in the street shout a lot but that’s more often because of loud road noise, but I know many quiet even politely quiet Americans too.

    Sorry to go off piste as Spanish homes are still the worst for both thermal and noise insulation IMO.

  11. I forgot to comment about the rigid insulation that Chas was rec. beneath concrete – polystyrene. This is one really bad product in just about every way. It’s made from oil, is heavily polluting in production, will last for a long long time and is just about indestructible, unless burnt which means the production of really harmful toxins. It is taking up a huge amount of landfill and is polluting the seas and destroying wildlife – avoid.

    Sorry Mike but most peoples in the world do not talk quietly I suggest you take a visit to the Netherlands or Germany. So many Brits lack confidence that is the problem.

  12. Construction should be a science based practice, not a thing of folklore.
    Properly placed shade overhangs and or deciduous trees or vines in most cases eliminates the need for a mechanical screen.
    My remarks regarding the use of Ytong and aercrete come from practice and environmental science. For some climates it works well, but that depends on specifics of local climate, i.e., how many cold days vs warm days, temperature swings, humidity etc.
    As to pollution, maybe… Depends on recycling at block manufacturing plant, e.g.,recycling, water filtration, capture and recycling of by-products etc.
    The problem of pollution remains on the construction site: what to do with cut-offs, left-over cement, clean-up water from tools, etc. In Spain many workers haul it off and toss it in a ditch or nearby river. Chemicals leach out and get into the creeks and water table. Cement, brick and concrete manufacturers are not energy efficient nor clean processes. Much fuel is used in both fabrication and transport.
    Yes, aercrete is much better compared to standard clay blocks and bricks. But not the very best. Some other non block systems use a fraction of carbon-based fuels to manufacture and transport compared to any clay or concrete based blocks, regardless of the number of burned aluminum bubbles entrapped within the concrete mix.
    Yes, there are many ecological ways to do interior and exterior finishing. Use safe paints/varnishes or clay wash.
    As to sound control, “hard reflective surfaces” does not refer to interiors. It refers to windows and walls. In the proper construction of an acoustic wall (or ceiling), one needs a hard exterior surface, then sealed air or acoustic material, then an off parallel dense panel (plasterboard would do), then acoustic material before the final exterior panel. The idea is to reflect sound, absorb and reflect what passes through the first panel, and then absorb, reflect and absorb what’s left.
    The same principle applies to windows: triple glazed, with different densities of glass to disrupt sound wave patterns. Over our big windows we have shutters insulted with 3.5cms foam sandwiched between thin but dense wood panels to control heat loss at night and to lesson sound from cowbells when the animals are in a nearby pasture.
    The scientific construction principle is to have dense materials within the house (one can have them outside as well, of course) to serve as a means for stabilizing temperature. This includes the floor.
    Yes, having a cavity floor is one approach to the problem, but then one must ventilate that chamber to avoid condensation and make certain that it is sealed against insects and vermin. I have had vermin eat through wooden window frames and wooden walls. I agree that the cavity floor makes tube and cable placement much easier. In N America we have been doing this for hundreds of years.
    But the point isn’t the U-value of the floor: The point is the comfort and temperature of the house itself, avoiding cold, hot or drafty spaces. The purpose of balancing the area of properly placed, energy efficient windows with the area of interior mass, i.e., floors, walls, dense furniture, is to make certain that the house interior can absorb the heat within the house and allow it to radiate when the sun goes down or the fire goes out. During summer, it’s the reverse. Guard the cool by opening the house at night.
    Which brings us to stoves and masonry heaters:
    Fireplaces, especially English, Portuguese and Spanish fireplaces are the worst. They draw heat from the house.
    This is followed by common wood burning stoves, as opposed to a good quality contemporary stove which is capable of the high temperatures necessary to distill the wood and burn off residual gases. But the problem still remains that without sufficient mass to absorb combustion heat, it goes up the chimney to make your garden less humid!
    All studies having to do with burning wood list the masonry heater as the most efficient and least polluting type of heating appliance. This is just fact. As a member of The Masonry Heating Association, (www.mha-net.org/) a group of practitioners, scientists and clients, I have experienced many experiments and tests. Nothing comes close to efficiency and comfort. In any house with a stove or masonry heater an air source is necessary. This was never the case till tightly sealed envelopes came into existence as houses were sufficiently leaky to allow air. All installations I know of have an air supply tube running to the stove or other special means to supply air to the burn chamber.
    If one already has a decent quality high temperature metal stove with a secondary burner, one should feed the stack into a heat exchange brick chimney. For example, we are able to heat our open 125 sq meter house with 7 m high open cathedral ceilings, – a pavilion, actually – with a firebrick lined steel stove fed into a brick heat exchanger 70cm x 70cm x 170cms tall. The exchanger is based on Finnish contra flow design.
    On coldest days with snow on the ground I need burn only 4 arm loads of twigs and small chunks every 2 days to keep the house at 19 C. Once the masonry mass and floor are charged with heat, it radiates out for another day.
    This is because I have 16cm rigid insulated walls, a 25cm insulated roof, and a concrete and ceramic floor laid over 6 cms of rigid insulation and a water vapor membrane.
    All of our construction has followed architectural and safety principles from Canada, Russia and Scandinavia.
    It is very clear that there are times when the many years of practice which construction workers brag they have may be exactly what you want to avoid, because those many years of experience have likely instilled a multitude of bad habits, short cuts, costly ‘tricks’, and quality assumptions based on folklore and urban myth.
    Good construction practice is a constant iteration of science an practice. Neither dominates.

  13. Stuart, that is a sweeping statement to say ‘most people in the worlds do not talk quietly’, most of those that I’ve come across in my lifetime talk ‘normally’ and only shout when angry or agitated or above noise pollution. Mind you British builders and stockbrokers can be pretty loud.

    The reference I made was re lots Spaniards on the hills overlooking Malaga who shout their conversations to each other.

    But as for poorly built and insulated Spanish homes, now there’s plenty of stories in there somewhere.

  14. Chas,
    your a member of an association and your shilling for that, why not admit it, it would be honest would’nt it.

    Your using a lot of words which are totally unnecessary, an American trait. Dense materials to stabilize temps. pure b/s. Nowhere in your multi material construction do you mention costs, why not.

    When you talk about floors – you mention humidity and by inference termites – your talking about Florida, indeed much of what you say is America orientated and has nothing to do with Europe at all – why don’t you state this.

    Wooden walls and wooden floors – your taking about the really bad construction methods used in America. You would have to be an idiot to use wood in any southern State which are humid and teeming with termites and other pests – again why are you talking about America, this is a Spanish forum, I’m talking about construction methods that are of reasonable costs to deal with problems in Spain. Nearly all this last post has sod all to do with Spain.

    If a house is cool by day in summer, then it’s not going to get hot at night -you use a basketful of words to state the obvious – what is it with Americans and verbal diarrhea. You also no nothing of temps. behind the Sierras in Andalucia. Temps. do not drop until 4AM and by 6AM they are on the up again but you make a stupid blanket statement about opening windows ‘at night’.

    If you want to insult my experience in construction don’t do so obliquely but directly. If I was going to build a house in any southern State I would use aercrete blocks which are fire and insect proof and don’t degrade like a lot of materials that you mention and I would build it quickly and way cheaper than your convoluted designs. Remember the old adage which is not just for salesmen – KISS – keep it simple stupid.

    Mike – you English talk very quietly, my wife is often reminded in the nicest possible way to speak up and the story I told about a Dutch boss is true.

  15. When we had our place in Spain built, we brought over some damp proof course from the UK which the builders used in the construction – properly I might add but my partner told them how to do it. Also, we insisted on cavity walls with foam which is brilliant and makes all the difference compared to the solid wall structure in our last place which was freezing in the winter. We also made sure we had a proper gap between the ceiling and the roof and again, makes a huge difference from our last place which had cathedral ceilings with no roof space meaning all the heat went through the roof – the actual roof was wafer thin with no insulation.

    Stuart, I am English and I don’t lack confidence in any way and I don’t speak quietly either.

    • A method of insulation whilst building the houses would have been great. My house was newly built in 2008/2009 and I was shocked how cold it is from late October to early April and now it remains cold in its 5th month. Is there a method of pumping in an insulation between the two layers of bricks which is safe and non toxic? Also, this should insulate against the heat penetration in Summer and obviously using more electricity to keep it cool.
      The electricity consumption and prices are escalating beyond reasonable.
      Sensible advice would be much appreciated.

      • The space between the two layers of brick, the ‘camara’, likely was not well sealed at the bottom against damp, insects, lizards and mice. That is the case in many. If someone injects insulation into that space, habitat is created for mould, fungus and insects, all of which would thrive in the foam.
        In addition, the ‘camara’ is intended as a place to collect condensation resulting from temperature and humidity differentials between the house’s outside and the house’s interior. So, there is likely dampness within the camara even if the bottom was properly vented and sealed during construction.
        An approved German and Scandinavian solution for brick and stone houses built without insulation is to insulate the building’s outside using a polyester membrane over 40mm of polyurethane foam mechanically fixed to the walls. This can work well – inside is isolated from the outside and the added mass within the foam envelope serves to stabilize interior temperature to what you want.
        The only difficult part is fitting the foam panels around doors and windows in an attractive way. That can be achieved. One might need to extend the frames out from the walls to compensate for the foam’s thickness.
        If your house isn’t huge, the cost isn’t prohibitive. But finding someone who knows how to do this in Southern Spain might be difficult. If you know some people from those northern countries, you might ask them. Its not a difficult process, but does require patience and skill with polyester.

  16. Jane G,
    there is a complete fallacy with Brits that you need a cavity, you don’t, it’s because most bricks in the UK are porous and water would penetrate through to the interior. Wall ties used in the UK all have one thing in common – that water cannot bridge across to the inside course.

    Use 30cm aercrete blocks (Xella,Europe/ Durox,UK) utilising the ‘thin joint’ system with an exterior crepi finish. Inside, no need to use plaster, use filler and a corker to fill any defects, size and use 1200 grade lining paper, cross line if you want to, it won’t hurt thermally or acoustically. Don’t use UPVC for doors and windows use wood and a Scandinavian wood oil, no varnish, easy to recoat at least every 3 years.Think about having T&G wooden floors, far more temperature neutral and comfortable than ceramic tiles. Make sure aercrete lintels are used – no heat/cold bridge. Shade all windows from direct solar energy in summer, effectively seal the sunny side of the house – you should’nt need any a/c in summer. Don’t use patio windows, use full length casement windows max. 2 M. Have made insulated inside shutters that effectively re-instate the wall’s U factor as if it was a solid wall – very little heat needed in winter, even inland where it can get very cold. Think about creating a ‘firepit’ (google it) With an air feed from the exterior. Do not allow a house to be built at ground level but one block height above, choose your own design – fireproof, insect proof, lightweight and you can have curved walls if you like with aercrete blocks – what’s not to like.

    Abuela, see if xella/Granada sell the 5cm blocks or better still, far cheaper, Bricodepot, use these to line your inside walls, make sure they use the white fixative not ordinary mortar and the edges are protected. If you unfortunately have picture windows you will have to invest in thermal curtains. make sure that the plenty of insulation is used in the loft, these measures will make a difference but obviously not the same as using the right materials to start with.

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