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Solid wall insulation - What shall I tell the neighbours?

Posted by Gabby Mallett on 5 June 2015 at 3:45 pm

I am sure you are already thinking, why tell them anything? The answer is that this may be more disruptive to them than you think. Clearly there will be different implications for the neighbours depending on whether you are doing internal (IWI) or external (EWI) solid wall insulation, but the following may be useful advice for them. 

  1. Parking may be a problem whilst I have my install done

For most insulation there will be a team of at least two tradesmen. They will probably come in the same car or van each morning. That’s not the whole story though, because for IWI you may need a plumber, an electrician and a plasterer. I doubt they will have coordinated travel.

EWI won’t be much better, the sky or BT man will need to come to move the satellite dish, the gas board may need to visit to move the meter. That’s an awful lot of extra vans all searching for parking spaces. All of a sudden your neighbours won’t be able to park outside their own home if they don't have their own drive.

  1. There will be dust and mess around

They won’t mean to make a mess, but they will. If you are having IWI then the boards will need to be cut somewhere (unless you are lucky enough to be having a WHISCERS™ installation). If the weather is good enough you will find the installers out in the garden or, where space is limited or it's just generally easier, they will be setting up on the side of the road outside your home and no sooner do they start but all the cars and nearby gardens will be covered in a fine layer of dust.

In and out of the house they will go, dropping little bits of plasterboard, odd screws and bits of wood. Don’t get me wrong, of course they will clean up at the end, but just be aware that it won’t be the pristine street you were expecting, especially if it's windy and small pieces of insulation have been blown around.

  1. I'm sorry but it’s going to be noisy for a few days

For IWI battens are usually applied to the inside of the outside walls and at least 40cm onto the party walls and then boards are usually mechanically fixed to those. There will be banging, electric screwdrivers, hammer drills and people traipsing up and down stairs all day. If you live in a terraced property your neighbours will definitely want to be warned.

The saving grace tends to be that although your workmen will arrive at around 8am to 8.30am they won’t be around in the evenings or weekends as they finish around 4pm.  Also, having so many workmen on site means that the job is done quickly – usually within a week for IWI. You should also note that the most of the doors and windows will be open all day as they will be in and out to their vans to get supplies. This means their blaring radio will be clearly heard by the neighbours.

  1. My home is going to look better than yours

Especially if you are having EWI. Your home will look refreshed and revitalised and all of a sudden your neighbour’s property will look comparatively shabby. In many cases it is seeing the transformation achieved by installing EWI on a similar property that makes someone install themselves.

  1. My bills are going to be lower than yours, and I will be much more comfortable

I know its bragging, but you really will feel the lack of draughts almost immediately. The comfort factor is so noticeable from day one that you are likely to be inviting your neighbours round for tea just to show off how energy efficiency and comfortable your home is. You might even start promoting it wider than just your neighbours!

Finally you might want to tell the neighbours which installer you used, what it cost and what you are saving on your bills and you can tell them about anything that didn’t go to plan and then maybe they can avoid those issues. 


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5 comments - read them below or add one

EnergySavingGrants.orgComment left on: 19 May 2017 at 9:08 am

Another important point to consider is that a signed Party Wall Agreement will be required from your neighbour if installing External Wall Insulation on a terraced or semi-detached property.

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EnergySavingGrants.orgComment left on: 19 May 2017 at 9:06 am

We agree with the comments below - External Wall Insulation (EWI) is a much better option than Internal Wall Insulation (IWI). We would only advise to have IWI installed if EWI is not possible (eg listed building).

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CitizenComment left on: 16 June 2015 at 9:51 pm

If done correctly then i could recommend EWI, too much is now lashed on by untrained operatives. You only have to walk down the street to find some you wouldn't personaly pay for. All control systems are poorly auditted, if auditted at all. I must also mention the toilet habits of some, soiled trousers left in gardens after the chargehand refuses to let them leave the wall. Most companys have a policy that says don't use the house toilet, but don't provide one on site or any facilitys to wash, or get in out of the rain. Instead they issue a warning of instant dismissal if anyone is caught deficating in the garden. Oh to be a boss with a loo at the end of a corridor.

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NEF Gabby

NEF GabbyComment left on: 10 June 2015 at 1:53 pm

Thanks for highlighting this issue Passivelogical.  We all know that there have been real problems in the past with poor detailing in these areas.  Forunately much more thought and development has gone into solid wall insulation over the years and condensation, mould and fungus growth are all high on the list of potential issues which the manufacturers have managed mitigate against.

Without going into huge detail here there are broadly two alternatives when dealing with SWI.  One is to ensure that the wall is allowed to breathe, usually by using a wood fiber insulant which can absorb moisture and release it slowly over time.  The second is to ensure an air tight seal so that moisture cannot move between the existing substrate and the insulation.

Manufacturers also now treat their materials to resist funcus, solvents and rodents. They also make quite clear specifications about installation methods to be used and won't guarantee installations unless these methods have been adhered to.  

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PassiveLogicalComment left on: 9 June 2015 at 1:58 am

Please don't install battens on solid walls and then fix insulation boards to the battens.  I can't think of a better way to create a damp, unventilated cavity replete with cellulose food - ideal growing conditions for various species of house-destroying wood rot fungi. 

Maybe you should ask your neighbour if they are creating this unhealthy condition inside their property if you hear drilling and see the insulation vans outside a neighbour's house but see no evidence of EWI being fitted. 

Once established in your neighbours house, the fungus has the ability to travel straight through brickwork for a distance of 30m in every direction until it finds some nice jucy hoist end burried in a wall that it can colonise. And don't believe any guff from the installer about vapour control layers, it is not possible to create a hermetic seal on a building site. Ever.

The only safe insulation for solid wall buildings is EWI. Everything else is just messing about with degrees of risk and margins of error.  We will do as much damage to our treasured historic buildings with IWI as we did when we first installed central heating in them in the 1970s and dry rot ran riot.

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