OpenUK Awards 2023 Open for Nominations

The OpenUK Awards are open for nominations for 2023.

Awards timetable

  • Nominations open 28th July 2023
  • Nominations close midnight UK 19th September 2023 (this will not be extended)
  • Shortlist of up to 3 nominees per category announced 18th October 2023
  • Winners Announced 20th November 2023: Black Tie Awards Ceremony and dinner at House of Lords sponsored by Lord Vaizey, 6-10.30pm, tickets limited 

Self nominations are very welcome. If you know fit into the categories or have a project or company which does or know anyone else who does then fill in the form and say why it’s deserved. You might get fame and glory or at the least a dinner in the house of lords.

Insulating a pre-1919 stone built Scottish House, Esk Tower

Here is a Twitter thread I posted in January 2021 about insulating a Scottish stone house. There’s seemingly no knowledge in the industry or in government agencies about how to do this so we had to research and project manage it myself including most of the labour (lockdown and budgets ment we could hire one guy to help but not all the time). You can’t get grants or loans for self build projects. The Scottish government plan for mass home insulation (the only proven way to reduce household greenhouse emotions) is pretty much a failure from my experience. Anywhere here’s how..

See also Esk Tower – Retrofit Insulating a pre-1919 Scottish Stone Built House video (YouTube) and Keeping Stone Dry, a French Drain on pre-1919 Scottish House Esk Tower blog.

This is my tower. It’s an old engine room for a coal mine to pump water out the mine. But these days it’s a house. The walls are 1m thick. How do you keep a house like this warm?
Start by removing the plaster board and frame. I’m sure everwarm are lovely when working with modern builds (and not breaking lock down) but their suggestion to add an extra 5cm boards inside it would block air flow and remove space.
We found an old fire place. We scrubbed the walls with metal brushes and an industrial hoover. It took an age

In one of the rooms we found an old fire place

The we lifted some floor boards and put gutex wood fibre around the edge of the outside walls. Can’t find a pic so you’ll need to imagine it

Gutex thermofibre goes between the skeilings which are the 45° roof slopes. It’s wood fibre which feels a bit like wool insulation.
And the Gutex Multitherm to cover the coombs
Next it’s time for the @lime_products
plaster, it needs two coats and a mesh cut and pushed into the first. Plaster can be smoothed after but if you don’t then it looks more authentic like a French farm house.
Buy an oak mantel piece, fancy wallpaper and lining, some classic furniture and a real wool carpet, use decent underlay but be warned it’s slow to fit it in. Voila, tower room now insulated and looks good and stone work will remain solid for many more years.

Keeping Stone Dry, a French Drain on pre-1919 Scottish House Esk Tower

Here is a Twitter thread I made in February 2021 about keep the stone on our house dry by digging a French drain. I don’t want to be locked into Twitter so I’m re-posting it here to keep it alive.

See also Esk Tower – Retrofit Insulating a pre-1919 Scottish Stone Built House video (YouTube) and Insulating a pre-1919 stone built Scottish House, Esk Tower blog.

This is my home. Esk Tower. Built as.a pumping house it’s now my house. Every new owner has added a new layer around the outside to make the grounds look more pretty. This is a story about a French drain we dug.
It has its own culvert which probably used to keep the pumping engines cool. It’s how water should be around a building, all channeled and not likely to affect the stone.
As the pandemic spread last march I was high above the world repainting the dormer windows looking down on the ground below pondering what was under it and how the stone was keeping.
So one day with nothing much to do except stay at home we took an SDS drill, pick axe and many shovels and dig around a corner. Layers of ornamental stones and plastic sheeting gave way to layer of brick, coal and finally clay. It was hard work.but the stone could breath again.
The next weekend we tried another corner, this was cemented in so the sds drill came out. It hardly touched it.
Fortunately we had got a Titan stone cutting circular saw with blades the size of dinner plates there is no arguing with this.
Having dug up the cement the stone could breath for the first time in a century and get a good wash down.
Then it needs lots of repointing. Using breathable lime from masons mortars or course, not the cement people in recent decades have used, that just traps in moisture damaging the stone.
I spent a weekend drilling under the doorway, full of rubble, glass and a frog under there.
All of which produces lots of waste, beware of telephone wires when stacking skips three high.
Ah now this corner was tricky, a clay sewage pipe from the neighbouring house, cracked of course so not surprising our stone was reading as more damp than you can burn firewood at. Emergency drains people came out and replaced the pipe.
Ease up ment we could get in help and we got the trench along the front of the house. I’d been wondering how the down pipes connected, it turns out the didn’t.
With the digging near the building done by hand we could hire a digger for the rest, this is a lot more fun than doing it by hand
Alas there a lot of utilities and a digger makes easy work of water pipes. And electric cables. And gas pipes.
There followed a panicked night of young men in yellow jackets and the following day digging in mud to find where water needed reconnecting and make sure electric was ok. This was very much type 2 fun. Maybe type 3.
At last we could replace the rest of the clay sewer and put in the French drain pipe to help water drain away from the walls.
Then make a bund of earth on the right and cover that in fabric to drain more water away from the building. Then connect up the rain water pipes from the roof. lots of measuring and cutting needed here.
Finally fill in above the new drain with pebbles and sort out all the dug up earth to remove stones and lay that back down ready for grass in the new year
And the random hole we cleared out earlier and in years past was a stair case we put a roof on and made into a wood store.
And that is the story of how we made the tower stay strong and dry, with lots of digging and lime and French drains and utilities all over the place.