In addition to the cottage renovation, we’re doing a shed retro-fit. It’ll become a secret studio, and under roof storage space. Rob started the job before he went away on holiday. Now a friend, Paul Pulé, has come to stay a while and finish off.

The existing loft hadn’t been built to safe standards.  Besides getting an engineer’s stamp on our reinforcements, we did a lot of other research before commencing. An insulation and acoustics display we saw at an eco centre, Terre Vivante, in France, came in handy!

Insulation to Minimise Heat and Sound Transfer

The walls have Air-cell to block heat transfer from the shed. We added a mix of R2 and R3 Bradford Sound Screen Insulation to the wall cavities and loft ceiling. Beside its sound screen qualities, it’s a safe product for people with asthma and allergies, doesn’t feed vermin, is fire safe, and made in Australia.

Next, double 13mm gyprock. Yep, two sheets deep. This is the most effective measure you can take to minimise sound transfer. The display at Terre Vivante in France demonstrated this fact by a country mile. It was compared to all kinds of alternatives.

We minimised windows. There are french doors on the north side to allow sunlit in, to heat the concrete in winter. There’s a second window facing east in the loft. This means sound transfer from machinery in the adjacent orchard is significantly muffled, and heat/cold transfer minimised. The main thing that can compromise good sound insulation is actually power points, so it’s important to choose their location, and number with thought.

We will see how it all goes for a year, and add summer awnings if needed.

On using second hand doors and windows

I sourced 1980s french doors from an Edwardian building demolition in in Perth. They’ve been tricky and somewhat costly to fit. These are the tradeoffs with using reclaimed materials. It’s an environmentally-friendly approach to recycle and use what’s already around. However, time and resources are needed to fit old doors and windows. Any savings made on second hand can be eaten up, either by time, or money (usually both). The other factor is that old windows are never double-glazed, at least not here in Western Australia. If you want to minimise ongoing heating and cooling costs long term, double-glazing is the ultimate approach. Going forward, if our budget allows for it, we will consider purchasing double-glazed windows and doors in high-traffic areas, to ensure high functionality, ease of installation and best outcomes for insulation.

But the doors are beautiful. From the sunlit space, we enjoy glimpses of our mini-market garden, and the train carriage beyond. By Spring, we’ll be using the space, with a weekly Nature Playgroup, and intimate cultural events.