We just completed a barn conversion and now we have a super 16th century living room, all oak beams and parquet flooring. The problem is this massive room is riddled with draughts. So any ideas? Is there a specialist out there who can come over and find the sources of the icy blasts before the Winter. We can only use electric heating at moment so you can imagine the glee with which EDF send out their bill.

If you do the work yourself, you might not qualify for the tax credits. I don’t know what the French equivalent of smallprint is, but it pays to check it!

Insulation is definitely the cheapest investment re; energy saving on heating bills. You can get grants for it and tax rebates for buying materials for it, if your home is your main home and not a second home, and if you are resident in france. www.ademe.fr

My oh my, what a brilliant response we want to thank all of you for your suggestions, especially the one advising filling in holes with old cheese, but I love old cheese and would rather fill my bouche with that. Anyway once again SFN comes up trumps

Simon and Nigel

Like the smoke pen/incense sticks idea, will try that. Presuming you have insulated the walls & ceiling… what else could be lurking in a 16th century building with lots of history? :o)

Or take a winter sun holiday somewhere else !

I second the repointing. The only way to get the place draught free is to seal it from the outside.

In the meantime, masking tape (round doors, windows, KEYHOLES!), old socks, bubble wrap etc. :0)

We converted a barn that was at the end of our “longere” farmhouse (1805). The south and west walls were repointed, the east wall was also repointed but it is an internal wall. The north wall was repointed, 200 mm rockwool added then a 75mm airspace and then plasterboard. The ceiling had a “space age” insulation added consisting of 17 layers of various materials and then plasterboarded. The floor was completely relaid with 200mm of re-inforced concrete laid on 40mm polystyrene. On top of this is a series of joists with insulation between, topped by 17 mm chipboard. There is then a layer of polystyrene soundproofing and finally the parquet. All the windows are double glazed argon filled units. It might sound like overkill, but it has stayed draught free unlike a room our predecessors “restored”.

You need a smoke pen
Close up all windows and doors and vents
Put on your extractor fans(if you have them)
Go around with the smoke pen and you will see where the draughts are
It is best done on a still day

Yes ours was as well but it was a revalation when we got up close and personal with th ceilings and walls and although we had used the fancy space age stuff for the insulation during the build; but for stuffing the gaps we went back to more old fashioned type insulation and just kept packing the gaps and round the window we used filler, sanded it down and then painted. I do highly recomend a wood burner though if you can install one…there is nothing worse than a draft though when you are sitting and relaxing. We went to Ikea for curtains as they come in 3m lengths and are reasonable and lined the door curtain with an old blanket for extra effect

the room is properly insulated but obviously gaps are present and around the windows will just need to do a detailed inspection and pile on the draught excluders

We have a large converted barn for our kitchen / diner family room and my office and like you when it was frist finished the drafts were horrible. It wasn’t immediatly obvious where these were coming from so a detailed inspection and use of a lighted candle helped, also some drafts were only aperent when the wind was in certain directions.

We found gaps between the new ceiling and walls right at the top of the barn where the walls were not even and we stuffed those with insultation. We also checked all the door and windown seals and there were small areas that we could seal up that helped. We also brought in a neavy lined curtain over the doors and draft excluders.

We have a wood burner which is our only form of heating in this room, but now the drafts are sorted and we find keeping it burning once the colder weather starts really helps, oh and slippers… as we didn’t run to underfloor heating. Good luck

I suspect the only way is to line/insulate it. I’ve used that space blanket stuff (€50 a roll from BricoDepot) leaving the beams exposed and then plasterboard inbetween. There are no cheap solutions to a French roof problem…
Nick Garnett