The conversion of three stone-built agricultural buildings near the beautiful Devon town of Totnes is employing a full selection of renewable and low-energy technologies from the range of Exeter based manufacturer, OMNIE, to create a comfortable living environment for the new occupants. The hundred-year-old buildings at Ritson Farm are being renovated and turned into highly desirable rural retreats by The Dartmouth Building Company, with the top end developer also leading the conversion work. With their names reflecting their former life, the first property completed is The Old Granary, while The Old Dairy and The Woodworking Barn are currently being fitted out. Each of the luxury homes is to be heated by an LV air source heat pump, which will be connected via multi-branch manifolds to OMNIE’s Staple underfloor heating system across the ground floors with the company’s LowBoard being specified to warm the upper levels. Then to maximise fuel efficiency and help guarantee a healthy indoor living environment, a constant supply of pre-warmed and filtered fresh air will be supplied via one of OMNIE’s Zehnder ComfoAir mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) units.
Liam Hassard – who founded the business along with Shane Hutchings in 2017, commented: “I used to have my own plumbing and heating company and we set up The Dartmouth Building Company to develop high quality, low energy properties. We purchased the barn complex about 18 months ago during the pandemic and set about turning them into stylish homes: trying to retain the character, but refurbishing them to have very good standards of insulation and modern technology. I undertook the MCS course back in 2012 and have been installing OMNIE systems throughout my career and have got to know the local OMNIE area manager, Rob Shute, very well and he helped us design and plan the M&E for the three barns. By getting the insulation up to modern standards and sizing the systems correctly we have had the underfloor heating in The Old Granary running at a 35-degree flow temperature and the living spaces were feeling really warm – before we even had the heat recovery systems operating. Two of them sold off-plan early on in the development with one more left to finish off in phase one, but there are more buildings to be developed.”
As well as installing internal wall insulation, the vaulted roofs to the early 20th century buildings have been fitted with 150mm of Celotex and a layer of TLS Gold Multifoil incorporating a breather membrane, while the double-glazed fenestration is manufactured from Accoya, with the treated timber guaranteeing a long life. The Totnes conversions vividly demonstrate how high efficiency heat pumps, combined with underfloor heating developed to bring the best performance from them, can heat any home and keep fuel consumption to a minimum. Coupled with the ComfoAir MVHR units, the development also illustrates OMNIE’s capabilities to design and deliver its ‘Whole-House” concept, with a nationwide specification and sales service able to assist clients with any type of application, including commercial and even the most challenging of conversions, such as old church buildings.
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