Our journey to owning a sustainable, renewable installation company, bed and breakfast, licensed restaurant and training facility was a very difficult, time consuming and rewarding experience.
We started training in renewable energy about fifteen years ago as we did not want to use oil for our heating anymore. In late 2010 we purchased an old primary school originally built in 1876 and moved out of our comfortable bungalow into a rundown caravan on-site, which we upgraded to a newer caravan a year on.
Little did we know at this point that this caravan was to be our home for the next four years. We embarked on the massive task of taking down the primary school bit by bit and rebuilding it incorporating green building practices and sustainable, renewable technologies. We had no money, as the small amount we had went on the deposit for the school. We were a building company so we worked during the day on other people’s houses and in the evening set up for the few trade’s people we employed for the next day.
In the evening we worked on the school and every weekend. Free time did not exist anymore. The school engulfed our lives. One year after we bought the school we applied for the Restoration Man on channel 4. They filmed us over the next four years – which was interested, frustrating and fun.
We were keen to re-use all building materials taken from the run down school and use them in the renovation. This process was kinder to the environment but unfortunately carefully taking down materials, cleaning them and reusing took a lot of time.
We purchased the school as a semi-detached; the school house was owned and lived in by another couple. We eventually bought the school house about 5 years into our project. As our school was not habitable yet we moved into the school house for a year and sold the caravan. We discussed various ideas of what to do with the school house and eventually came up with the idea of a bed and breakfast. So with the restoration and renovation of the school still ongoing we embarked on the transformation of turning the school house into a sustainable bed and breakfast. We opened in May 2017. In March 2019 we appeared on channel 4 – four in a bed which was an insight into other bed and breakfast establishments. I am proud to say we won.
Forward to 2020, the school house is a five room bed and breakfast and the school is where we live, we have an office, a licensed restaurant which will open in March 2020 which will serve ‘Old School’ locally sourced, produce and afternoon teas. A showroom showcasing the working linked renewable technologies, an impressive working under floor heating display and a training facility where you can book to learn about renewable technologies and green building practices.
We have installed the following:
- in roof and on roof solar photovoltaic systems
- in roof and on roof solar thermal systems
- rain water harvesting system
- bio-digestive sewerage system
- intelligent thermal stores
- permeable paving
- biomass (pellet) boilers
- biomass (wood) boilers
- ground source heating
- air source heating (air to air & air to water)
- green roof
- internal and external wall insulation
- led lighting
- smart radiators
- under floor heating
All building materials were re-used and all windows were restored. Our water, sewerage, heating and hot water bills are low and manageable as we produced most of our own electric. In the 8 warmer months of the year we do not pay for heating and hot water and this is produced by the solar thermal and solar photovoltaic panels providing energy into our thermal stores.
Blog submitted by The School House B&B