Having decided to proceed with a pilot project to construct a 'gable
warmer', my first thoughts were to investigate what permissions might be
needed. Such cladding works on an elevation not facing the highway are
generally 'permitted development' in planning terms. Obviously the nature
of the cladding will have a visual impact and consideration should be
given to your neighbours and anyone passing by who may have to look at it.
With Listed buildings and within Conservation Areas the rules are
generally tighter and consents will be needed. These works will also
require clearance under Building Regulations to ensure both the adequate
performance of the insulation and fire protection where the house adjoins
a neighbour's property, the latter not being needed where a gable is some
distance from the property boundary.
I have recently constructed my gable warmer using mainly 4"x2" and 3"x2"
timbers, infilled with 4" of Thermal fleece wool insulation, covered
with a breathable membrane and then a cladding of fire retardant treated
feather-edged timber boarding, a traditional Suffolk building material. I
chose to stain mine a brick red colour and line up the joints with the
brick courses, so that at a glance it looks much as it always did.
I have now had two winters with the insulation in place and have enjoyed
a marked rise in comfort levels inside the house especially through the
colder spells, which used to be miserable times each year. Comparison of
my energy bills before and after the gable warmer was constructed bears
out my calculations. I have achieved a 15% average reduction in my energy
bills, nearly matching the predictions, which might have been achieved
had I completed the timber cladding and not had two colder than normal
winters to contend with.
Such a gable warmer is the biggest and most efficient energy saving
measure that can be applied to an end terrace (or semi-detached) house,
especially as a gable usually has no windows and therefore requires no
special detailing other than at the edges. There remain several choices
of insulation material and cladding finish that should suit a variety of
situations and finances available.
A short walk around most neighbourhoods will reveal many older houses that
are either end of terrace or semi-detached to which such a gable warmer
could be applied. If promoted (or even encouraged with grant aid) this idea
could provide a significant reduction in this country's energy footprint.
Patrick Taylor, Conservation Architect