Presenter and design guru Kevin McCloud has long been a champion of creative design choices and ingenious problem-solving, and with plenty of hits and setbacks hitting homeowners, it’s no surprise that he is pushing for greater invention now.
And this creative problem-solving could be the solution to also add value to your home.
Covid and climbing costs
“Since Covid, building has been a rollercoaster because the prices of everything have shot up, stayed high and kept going,” says McCloud.
“With inflation in construction, it has been dreadful because there was so long when people couldn’t get materials like concrete for weeks on end. That kind of volatility I haven’t seen in construction since the early Nineties.
“Now, when I ask how much something will cost, I don’t tend to know the answer, and no one really knows how much a project will actually cost,” he explains.
Getting people to actually do work has become increasingly challenging too.
“With both Brexit and covid, there has been a decline in skilled trades, so it is harder to get labour. People are having to dance a bit more and reuse things they already have again because they can’t get hold of them so it has actually created more clever thinking.”
Previously, “people thought they could just spend their way out of problems which are lazy, that is not the case anymore. When money is not available, people have to think, it is when architects have to show their metal and builders and homeowners have to get creative. When times get tough the tough get thinking.”
Despite the cost of the living crisis, people still want to change their homes, not least to add value to their future finances. But, even more pressingly, they are trying to save money on energy by adapting their homes.
“Everybody wants to know how to save money with things like energy and keeping warm and we will continue to think like that,” says McCloud.
“People are seeing that their homes are not fit for purpose when it comes to energy. People are looking at old-fashioned ideas now because they have gotten used to fossil fuels being cheap and that isn’t the case any more.”
We got too used to easy solutions in the form of fossil fuels.
“It has made us all the more comfortable and now it is expensive, we are scared. To fix this people need to think about shading and covering in the summer and using insulation and hunting down in the winter,” he explains.
At the cost of living crisis impacting how we all live in our homes, McCloud is calling for us to work with our houses, and not against them to make them more economically efficient.
By investing small, you can save big and seriously improve the experience of living in your home, says McCloud.
“Chimney Sheep are heroes. They are a brilliant, insulating invention from a sheep farmer,” he explains.
“Stop filling cavities and focus on the principles the house was built within the first place,” he explains.
By trying to fix insulation issues, you may be creating expensive new problems to solve that will strip value from your house.
“You are increasing the chances of mold and poor air quality. In trying to make our homes airtight we are making them hard to thrive in. Manage ventilation,” he explains.
Switch on to insulation
Instead of immediately filling gaps or making drastic changes, think about the little things you can do as individuals to increase warmth.
“Insulate people, not homes, layer up and wear natural fibers. Stop wearing plastic materials and wear thin layers of wool and long johns.”
Instead of putting the heating on or paying for expensive renovations, McCloud says “get a good sturdy pair of slippers”.
He also says to use “draft excluders and put blankets on curtain rails”.
But, perhaps most importantly, McCloud suggests to “read up on building science, learn about heat pumps and fridges, learn about evaporative cooling, take an interest. If you want to make changes to your home, be sure to consult an architect.”
Kevin McCloud will be at Grand Designs Live, at London’s ExCeL from April 29 – May 7 2023. For more information visit granddesignslive.com