An Experiment in Sustainable Living
|Monson Road -A Little Strip of
Welcome to our Monson Road Website. This is the record
of the transformation of a run down Victorian semi into a
21st century ideal home with the emphasis on energy
efficiency and meeting the targets of sustainable living.
Elaine and I moved to Monson Road in August 2000. I
have long had an interest in alternative technology,
transport and using sustainable energy, derived from
renewable or waste fuels. Monson Road will form part of
an experiment to renew an old Victorian property to meet
the changing needs of a 21st Century couple.
The house is a modest 3 bedroom brick-built property
constructed in about 1900, at the end of the Victorian Era,
highly typical of those in the counties surrounding London.
Redhill grew up around the London to Brighton railway
starting in 1845. The area was originally a low lying piece
of marsh ground just to the south of the North Downs.
Today it is a busy commuter town, just 19 miles or 25
minutes by train from central London.
Property here is very much in demand and this is reflected
in the high prices and the rapid rate of increase. Easy links
to the M25, Gatwick and Heathrow airports, the Channel
Tunnel and London Commuter Land has made the
south-east of England a very busy place.
The house has seen many changes over the last century as
each successive generation of owners has strived to
improve their quality of life. Visible are the signs of bygone
DIY fashions, including brutal 1960s modernisation, and
1980s plastic glazing technology. Fireplaces and
chimney-breasts are present in almost every room, but
have either been blocked or been replaced with gas fires.
We are now in the process of modernising the property to
provide a comfortable home which is in keeping with the
ideals of sustainable development.
Monson Road is a semi-detached property built in 1904.
Viewed from the rear, the original kitchen range chimney is
still in place, whereas the neighbouring property has had it
removed and an additional gable window fitted.
Five of the original six fireplaces remain, but have been
covered up since the 1960s. Gas central heating was
installed in the 1970s, but it is now well overdue for
replacement with a modern highly efficient condensing boiler
Here are some of the areas for improvement
a. Practical Priorities -Mostly completed by
Loft Insulation and boarding
Kitchen Extension and spacious new modern
Modern bathroom with shower and underfloor
Separate WC - not yet
More efficient heating system - modern condensing
Solar Water Heating
New roof sometime in the next 10 years
b. Wish List
Wood burning stove for back of house
Relocate the stairs to provide a side entrance and
a separate downstairs loo!
Loft conversion - very popular and would give an
extra bedroom or workspace, we'll do this when
we renew the roof!.
Photovoltaic panels - (dream on)
Microgen Combined Heat and Power System
From the front, the house enjoys a sunny south-westerly aspect. Although not optimum, the front roof would
accept solar water heating panels and enjoys sunshine up until the evening - about 6.30pm in mid-September.
The roof is original Welsh slate over wooden batons. It will need replacing sometime in the next 10 years but
for now can be patched. There is no underfelt, so my first forray into the loft, uncovered 100 years of
accumulated soot and railway grime, blown between the gaps in the slates. This was cleaned up 3 years ago
when we first moved in and insulated and boarded the loft.
The wooden sash windows have long since been replaced with modern picture windows - first in the late 50s
with steel frames and then in uPVC in the 1980s. Sadly the original character and beauty of the brick work
has been obliterated by pebbledash. This too is starting to show problems and I wil probably it have it
removedcompletely, the brickwork sealed and then rendered with smooth render - much easier to paint and
no-one likes pebbledash these days anyway!