Foto: Radovan Kramář
Renovation of a family house in Brno
Even a family house built in 1927 can be rebuilt to withstand the current heat and drought. A house in Brno-Židenice shows exactly that, the owners repaired it not only to respond to the problems climate change brings, but also not to contribute to them. In addition to rainwater retention and building green roofs, they replaced the pavement in the courtyard with lawn, trees and a permeable surface.
The Adaptation Journey
The positive impact
The new owners had the general renovation work done in 2012. The aim was to create a pleasant environment inside and around the family house in an urban area. The owners required not only the management of drought and heat, but also measures to prevent climate threats. The aim of renovating the house and the garden with the area of 280 square meters was to live in an oasis of almost rural peace, thanks to clever, simple and not very expensive solutions. The house serves also as a scout center. Young people can see that it is possible to combine living in a city with comfort, greenery and pleasant summer temperatures without air conditioning.
How does it work?
The owners achieved cooling down the area around the house by draining water from the roof into storage containers and using it to water the vegetable garden. Excess water flows into a small pond, which thanks to the underground layer of small stones allows for a gradual seeping and spontaneous distribution of water through the garden. Flat roofs are covered with drought-resistant plants which reduce runoff and increases water evaporation. In summer, it cools down both the building and the air, and in winter it serves as thermal insulation. In addition, thick clay plaster inside the house helps to compensate fluctuations in temperature and humidity. In the garden, the owners removed the tiles and allowed the water to soak into the soil and cool the garden even more.
The measures that minimize the amount of emissions threatening our climate aim to reduce the energy consumption of the house and heat the house producing low-carbon emissions. The owners used natural, recycled and waste building materials, repaired windows or wooden floors. They switched to intelligent room temperature control. Based on observations, it is estimated that the renovation reduced the temperature inside the house by up to 8 ° C during summer. For heating, the owners use a wood-burning stove with a heat exchanger and a hot water tank that distributes the heat around the house.
The family house was built in 1927 and partially rebuilt in the 1970’s. It was not insulated and it was very energy inefficient. The water from the roof drained into the municipal sewer. A big part of the garden was covered with tiles. In summer, the roof was very hot, and the warmth radiated through the ceilings. In addition, the house had dark walls. As a result, the interiors were too warm in summer and even the outdoor areas were uncomfortably hot as well.
Operation and maintenance
Thanks to the thermal insulation, changing the heating and renovating the windows the consumption of gas was reduced to nothing and the annual savings after the deduction of the cost of wood are about 20 to 30 thousand CZK (780 to 1180 EUR) a year.
he owners did most of the work on the measures themselves, they are simple and inexpensive. The specific operating costs are not quantified.
Using unusual interior materials and a good design has created a space frequently visited by students of architecture and interior studios searching for inspiration. The owners were pleasantly surprised by this.
The reduction in drinking water consumption is between 50 and 80 cubic meters per year.
Why was the measure chosen?
Some of the well-off people deal the current climate crisis by moving to the country or building new houses in the suburbs. Some get air conditioning, others wait "until it’s gone." Renovation of a family house in Brno-Židenice shows that it is not necessary to demolish the house and build a new one or to move into the “wilderness by the forest". On the contrary, relatively small, cheap and simple interventions can achieve substantial changes for the better.
Obstacles and challenges
The owners consider the wood burning heating to be the main risk or weakness of the renovation. It involves a great deal of physical work, the need to have space for storing wood, and the risk of harassing neighbors with smoke from the chimney when using poor fuel or stove with incomplete combustion. This can only be avoided by strictly following certain heating rules.
The biggest challenge was the unexpected surprises that are so common when renovating old family houses. However, these had only a very little influence on the final shape of the renovation.
Operation and maintenance
How much did it cost?
The owners funded the renovation from private sources. Investment costs as well as operating costs were calculated. However, they have remained low thanks to the use of recycled, local and waste materials and their own work.
Family and apartment houses Use of rainwater Green roof Heat waves and thermal island Floods and torrential rainfall