Some of the changes were forced on us by our neglect of the property since we moved there in 1983. So we commenced the project with a leaky roof, a problematic heating system with radiators that were about to fail, hot taps that didn’t work, front and rear doors with severe problems of age and leaky UPVC double glazed windows.

So we need a new roof, new heating system and new windows to start with. Despite reducing drafts the house performed very poorly when the weather was windy - sadly this is frequent in a North West Winter. The consequence was rather high energy bills. Average annual Gas consumption over the period 1999-2013 was 34169 kWh. On a similar basis Electricity consumption was 5710 kWh/a.

In addition we are both in our early 60s and intend to stay in this house until no longer possible. In order to do so we wanted to make it as friendly as possible to move around in by removing doors, making passages wider and adding a WC on the ground floor.

So major changes were required and rather than think of the project as a series of independent projects we decided to rethink the house in its entirety. This was a good move. Research started in 2012. Books were purchased, exhibitions attended, lurking on on-line forums commenced. Confusion increased. After a while the confusion started to reduce. Some virtuous circles started to appear - the better the insulation the smaller the heating system needed to be. If you could get the heat demand sufficiently low you could manage without a traditional heating system - either radiator which limits design or the more preferable underfloor heating system. This would remove the costs of purchase and the cost of installation and servicing. Complexity would also be reduced - one fewer set of pipes/cables to thread through the structure.

Thinking along these lines soon got us reading the Passive House literature and it was with a refurbishment along the lines of the Passive House EnerPHit in mind that we approached Andrew Yeats of Ecoarc who had delivered the 41 Passive Houses on the Lancaster Cohousing project. A chance encounter with Jonathan Sear on the platform of Lancaster Rail Station revealed that Andrew was the architect on that project and that Jon could recommend him.