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Willem and Lies: "We try to make the farm as energy neutral as possible"

"We try to make the farm as energy neutral as possible"

Willem and Lies from Amsterdam – Noord

Short introduction
We are Willem and Lies and come from the heart of Amsterdam. When we saw this farmhouse, we immediately fell in love. We received the keys in January 2019 and hope to complete the renovation in August.

Why did this house appeal to you so much?
The location is a big plus: rural, but still in our beloved Amsterdam. The farm is just inside the ring of the A10. It runs a hundred meters from our house, but we don't notice it. The deep backyard borders the water, where meadow birds and other animals have their habitat. Our farm is surrounded by lots of greenery and Lies can let off steam in the huge garden.

What makes this farm so special?
This farmhouse is a national monument, originally from 1650 with a foundation from around 1600. The farm has been expanded, rebuilt and adapted over the years and only the authentic fireplace has survived all those adjustments. Our house has served as a farm for a long time and was renovated on a large scale in the 1970s. The building is deliberately located higher, because there were many floods in the region in the past centuries.

What condition was the house in?
The farm was in good condition, but dated in every way. Especially when it comes to insulation. The heating costs are on average € 600 per month, so a lot of profit can be made there.

What have you done to make the farm more sustainable and for what purpose?
We try to make the farm as energy neutral as possible, within the reasonableness of feasibility and budget. We finance this by means of a mortgage and own resources and, where possible, make use of available subsidies. The budget for the renovation of our monument is very important to us. You have always lost more than budgeted. We recommend that everyone has a calculation made by an independent calculator. Then, with that in mind, you can request quotes from contractors.

The farmhouse has a living space of 300m². We moved into the front house in January 2019. The rest of the farm is now being renovated. All dividing walls have been removed, so that one beautiful space has been created. From the ground floor you can look all the way to the ridge of the wooden roof. From January 2020 we will live at the back and the front house will be rented out.

We started with the insulation all around: the floor, facade and roof. Clay is used for the walls. This is an old technique that can still be used. Moreover, clay has a high insulation value. We mostly work with new materials, with some old elements. For example, we bought "old" doors and we bought an old copper bath in France. That needs to be completely refurbished and polished.

What measrues are you still planning to do?
We are currently installing wall and underfloor heating on the insulation layers. We will heat efficiently by using low-temperature floor and wall heating, with a central heat-recovery installation (WTW). We obtain the energy we need for this in the most sustainable way possible by means of a heat pump and solar panels.

At the same time, the rest of the renovation will also be done, such as the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. We didn't run into much trouble. The only setback to date has been the broken sewage system. We found it under the foundation when we looked there for insulation options. We're glad we found out about it by accident, so in our opinion it's a good luck accident.

What did you run into?
We actually found it the biggest challenge to find the right information and the right people, within a normal time and against a normal budget. The construction industry is under tremendous pressure. Together we supervise this renovation. Willem is an entrepreneur and has a lot to do with sustainability from his company. He takes care of materials, techniques, content and applications. Lies takes care of the budget and planning. In this way we keep each other in balance. Various professionals and experts carry out the work.

Have your goals been achieved?
We are getting closer. You will hear in August, the original deadline for our sustainable renovation, whether our goals have been achieved. We try to enjoy the process of the renovation as much as possible, because before you know it it will be finished!

Published on
10 June 2020

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