The Federation of Master Builders

Period Powerhouse

Nils and Lisa Feldmann transformed their leaky 1870s period property into a warm and energy efficient home, focusing mostly on insulation.

"I'm a firm believer that if you insulate your house properly then that's the best way to keep your running costs low," says Nils, an architect. "Once installed, insulation doesn't need maintenance like other technologies, so that's where we invested our money."

It was clear from the start this handsome detached house in Leicester was going to need some serious renovation work. But the couple could see beyond the decay and had a sense of what the property could become. "We knew it had once been a very grand house," says Nils. "We were drawn towards the large windows and well-proportioned rooms."

The couple took ownership in July 2012 and Nils got to work on the drawings. His first priority was a new kitchen-diner, which he designed into a timber-framed building on the footprint of the old double garage. They also decided to replace the rotten 1970s extension and use the second timber frame building as their office.

Once the Feldmanns had planning approval, Nils put the project out to tender to three builders, one of which was Rockingham Construction. "James Barby's enthusiasm impressed us from the start," says Nils. "He was keen and very organised."

The project began in April 2013. The house had to be stripped back to a bare brick shell but without cavity walls to fill with insulation, it needed an external insulating render system and internal insulation.

Nils says James was very good at embracing the new technologies and they appreciated his diligence, including undertaking the necessary training. For example, the team learnt how to install the insulating floor system as well as the external insulating render system.

"It was the first time we'd ever used any kind of external insulation system," admits James. "To complicate matters further, planning restrictions meant we could only insulate areas not visible from the street so we had to ensure the differing materials aligned with one another."

Nils hoped to complete the project on a budget of around £300,000 but, inevitably in a house like this, they uncovered the unexpected along the way. "We had to replace a lot of floorboards, plaster almost the entire house, and underpin the weak foundations at the back," he explains.

The construction of the two new extensions were more transparent, built from highly insulated timber frames filled with blown cellulose insulation, and green roofs constructed from metal webbed posi-joists, finished in sedum.

The Feldmanns' house was finished in March 2014, restored to its former glory yet enhanced by the contemporary additions that delineate the old from the new.

The effort has been wholly worthwhile. "Hopefully we've restored the grandeur back into the property," says Nils. "It's a lovely warm space - we get out of bed every morning with a smile on our face!"

Winning combination

Congratulations to Sporn Construction, worthy winner of the 12th Master Builder of the Year award.

Following in father’s footsteps

Years of dedicated study have paid off for Wiltshire based carpentry apprentice, Steven Davey.

A Bathroom fit for The Bellagio

When you think of the world's best hotels, The Ritz, The Savoy and The Danieli in Venice you think opulence, splendour, glitz and glamour.

Living in harmony

Zoe and Stuart Webber were complete novices to building work. Luckily they had Martin at Tricklebank to guide them through their project.

Bringing light to life

Turning a dark galley kitchen into a bright, useable living space proved no trouble for Cardiff building firm Project One Wales.

Battling the odds

David and Julie Cox have gone to great lengths to achieve their perfect family home.

Revival raising eyebrows

Built in 1929 the Pavilion on Penarth Pier in Wales was once a thriving hub of activity, 45 years of neglect meant it needed reviving.

Period Powerhouse

Nils and Lisa Feldmann transformed their leaky 1870s period property into a warm and energy efficient home.

Heavenly Hende

Ian Henderson went above and beyond to help Dave and Becky Austin update their home when their daughter became poorly.

2015 Master Builder of the Year regional winners

The regional winners and finalists for the 2015 Master Builder of the Year Awards.

Stay up to date with consumer news

For regular consumer updates from FMB, sign-up here with your email address.