Scoring top marks on an energy performance certificate is virtually impossible unless you live in an airtight newly-built home that generates its own heat and electricity. But an old farmhouse in Nidderdale surprised assessors when it was awarded just one mark off a rare “A” rating.
All homes that are built, sold or rented must, by law, have an EPC certificate, which rates a property’s energy efficiency from G to A and lists areas for improvement. Over half the homes in England and Wales are rated D and only 0.1 per cent get an A grade.
Gouthwaite Farm in the village of Fearby, near Ripon, is on the market with Giles Edwards for £895,000, and earned its high score thanks to a renovation by owners Kiel Ward and his partner Lindsey. The couple bought the property four years ago after realising a dream to live in an area they had visited regularly in their caravan.
Kiel, who runs an engineering company, says: “We lived in Wakefield but came up to Fearby a lot in the caravan and dreamed of living here. It’s such a lovely place but we wanted to see if it would suit us full time. We rented first to see how it went and we all loved it. We found the farmhouse through being here on the spot. I saw it up for sale and I knew the owner through walking my dog so we were able to negotiate and agree on a price we could afford.”
The much-loved home was in need of modernisation and the couple decided to strip it back to the bones. This allowed them to reconfigure the space to suit their needs and to make sure it was as energy efficient as possible.
“It was a very cold house that had oil-fired heating, an Aga and an open fire. Stripping it back gave us the chance to make it warm and to make sure we were not reliant on fuel providers,” says Kiel.
With the help of local builders Martin Greensit and Ben Rodney, he installed roof and wall insulation. They also dug out the ground floor by two feet to allow for insulation and underfloor heating topped with engineered oak flooring. The original floorboards were re-used upstairs and were fashioned into new doors. The old windows were replaced with triple A-rated glazing from DL Glass in Dewsbury and one side of the roof was fitted with solar photo voltaic panels, which generate electricity. As the farmhouse came with over three acres of land, the couple decided to fit a ground source heat pump, which provides heating for the whole house.
“I did consider a biomass boiler but it meant that I would’ve been reliant on wood pellets, which I didn’t want. No-one is going to put a cost on the sun’s rays or the Earth’s warmth and that’s why those systems were a no brainer for me. The solar panels generate electricity to power the heat pump and we use whatever is left,” says Kiel.
The cost of the panels and the ground source system by Huddersfield-based Atlantis Energy was about £40,000, although Kiel helped cut the price of installation by digging the trenches for the piping. The energy savings and the money the property attracts in government feed-in tariffs mean that the systems are cost-effective.
“It is a big initial outlay but well worth it. The house and outbuildings would’ve cost about £6,000 a year to run but now the electricity bill is £2,800 a year and I get £6,400 a year back in feed-in tariff payments from the government for the next seven years, so at the moment I am £3,600 in profit each year,” says engineer Kiel, who was hands on with the renovation project. He drew scale plans down to the last detail, including where furniture would be situated. He also tackled everything from labouring to plastering and tiling. The result is an eco-friendly farmhouse with fabulous interiors, which Kiel and Lindsey are selling as they want more land for horses. The high EPC score should improve the saleability of the home. For those planning to put their property on the market, look at a sample EPC and see which boxes you tick and which you do not. Some improvements, like loft and cavity wall insulation and thermostats, are simple and inexpensive and will bump up your score.
When the assessor comes to carry out the inspection, be there and show him or her everything relevant. There have been many criticisms of the scoring system but if you have done your homework you will know how to play the game.
* Gouthwaite Farm, Fearby, has a large living kitchen with two sitting areas and a breakfast area plus a garden room, two reception rooms and a hall. There are three double bedrooms and three bathrooms. All of the rooms have views over the village green or overlooking the rear garden and countryside beyond. Gouthwaite Farm also has a range of outbuildings, including a large store barn, three stables and store barn all leading to paddocks in 3.25 acres.
It is for sale at £895,000 with Giles Edwards. For more details tel: 01765 688353, www.geyp.co.uk
*Fearby is a small village between Ripon and Masham.