Downie's Cottage

Hill Street

AB35 5XX

Braemar, Grossbritannien


Erdal Architects
12g Timber Bush, Edinburgh EH6 6QH
00 44 131 554 6725


Roger Curtis
Historic Environment Scotland
00 44 1316688621

Other Information

HES Refurbishment Case Study

Related publications
Historic Environment Scotland Refurbishment Case Study
This project was the refurbishment of an early 19th C croft house located near Braemar in the Cairngorms National Park. It is a rare survivor of a vernacular building type once common in Scotland and is Category 'A' Listed. Works included insulation to walls and floor, upgrades of the windows and the installation of a ground source heat pump.
Energieeffizienz Primärenergie:
412 kWh/m2.y

Klimazone CFb

Höhe über dem Meer 1500 m ü.d.M.

Heizgradtage 2912

Kühlgradtage 83

Unterschutzstellung denkmalgeschützt


Stufe der Unterschutzstellung:
Scottish Category 'A' Listed - denoting national importance

Baualter 1800-1849

Letzte Sanierung:

Vorhergehende Sanierungen:

Gebäudenutzung Residential (rural)

Discontinuous occupancy (i.e. holiday home)

Anzahl der Bewohner/Nutzer:

Gebäudefläche Nettogeschossfläche [m²]: 20,0

Detached house

Anzahl der Stockwerke:

Keller ja/nein:

Anzahl der beheizten Stockwerke:

Bruttogeschossfläche [m²]:

Volumen [m³]:

NGF Berechnungsmethode:
Useful area (ro)

Stone masonry wall


Plastered (on hard)

Pitched roof

Before work started; HES image
Before work started; HES image
Former byre now garage and plant room; HES image
Former byre now garage and plant room; HES image
View of the cottage before renovation.
View of the cottage before renovation.




Probably early to mid 19th century. 3-bay, single-storey and attic, rectangular-plan crofting cottage situated on high ground overlooking Braemar village. Rubble with lime render and pointing. Corrugated-iron roof covering heather thatch. N ELEVATION: Timber lean-to porch to centre, breaking eaves with timber door to left side; windows flanking. Smaller single windows to S and W elevations. INTERIOR: traditional plan arrangement comprising two principal rooms to E and W with central core of box-beds and stair to roofspace. Room to E: stone flags to floor; raised hearth with granite shelf to right and cast-iron fireback with rose motif; timber 'hanging-lum' above with shelf to base of cowel; small wall niche to right. 2-leaf panelled timber doors to cupboards and box-bed. Room to W: remnants of fireplace and box-beds. Further box-bed behind staircase. Roofspace and stair lined with timber and 19th and 20th century newpaper and magazine print; 2 further box-beds to W end of roofspace. 9-pane glazing to timber sash and case windows. Coped and rendered ridge stacks located toward gable ends.
Städtebaulicher Kontext
The cottage is in a rural environment


The main features for preservation were the hanging lumb in the east gable, and the box beds in the 2 ground floor rooms.
Denkmalwert und wie er bestimmt wurde
Downey's Cottage is an exceptionally rare and important survival of the open hearth tradition of vernacular building in the North East of Scotland. This simple 3-bay cottage is remakable for its largely intact interior with traditional plan arrangement with rooms to E and W and a central core comprising box-beds and a stair to the roofspace. Key points of interest include the raised stone hearth beneath a timber 'hanging-lum' chimney, and 19th and 20th century printed newspaper lining and heather thatch beneath the corrugated-iron roof covering.
Dateien zur Bewertung
A late 19th century watercolour showing the porch of Downie`s Cottage (painted by Miles Birket Foster)
A late 19th century watercolour showing the porch of Downie`s Cottage (painted by Miles Birket Foster)
The cottage viewed from the north, showing the vertically laid timber plank roof covering protecting the thatch.
The cottage viewed from the north, showing the vertically laid timber plank roof covering protecting the thatch.
The cottage in the middle of the 19th century, viewed from the north west.
The cottage in the middle of the 19th century, viewed from the north west.


Erhaltungszustand der Gebäudehülle
The cottage had been empty since 1933, and was in a poor condition on the ground floor. The West gable was fragile and parts of the south wall had collapsed. The upper floor and roof were in good condition.
Haustechnische Anlagen vor Sanierung
No services present. Heating by 2 open fires in each gable.

Ziel der Sanierung

The aim of the project was to bring back the building back into residential use (as a holiday property) but retain its historic character and finishes, as well as ensuring that the property fulfilled modern expectations of comfort at this exposed site. To ensure technical compatibility with the existing fabric traditional materials and techniques were used for the fabric repairs.
Gewonnen Erkenntnisse / besondere Erfahrungen
The lowering of the floor level to fit in the lime concrete floor took longer than expected, and obliged some improvement to the foundations.
Beteiligte Akteure
Öffentliche Hand
Historic Environment Scotland (HES)
Longmore House, Salisbury Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1SH
Private Client
Braemar, Aberdeenshire
Erdal Architects
12g Timber Bush, Edinburgh EH6 6QH
Tel.00 44 131 554 6725
Berater Denkmalpflege
Sonya Linskaill
Dunellan, Strathyre FK18 8NA
Eingesetzte Software/Berechnungstools
Energiebilanz The design team used Energy Plus software for the building warrant
Hygrothermische Bewertung A condensation risk assessment was done for the wall insulation
Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Not done formally, although the materials used were selected for a 50 year + lifespan.
Anderes An infra red survey was conducted



Solid masonry; lime bonded 700mm thick.

Solid masonry; lime bonded 700mm thick.

Insulated lime plaster was applied to the inside face of the wall, 60mm thick.

The material chosen was a lime plaster, similar in properties (vapor permeable and capillary active) to the existing plaster, which had largely fallen off.

U-Wert (vor Sanierung) [W/m2K]: 1,765 W/m²K U-Wert (nach Sanierung) [W/m2K]: 1,226 W/m²K
Mehr Details
Aufbau Bestandswand
Stone - Drybonded wall with rough-hewn stones. May have had clay or earth fill in the wall core:
700 mm
Plaster - An internal lime plaster layer of varying thickness:
30 mm
Aufbau sanierte Wand
Stone - As original:
Plaster - Application of 2x30 mm of insulated lime plaster:
60 mm


Timber Sash and Case (Vertical sliding)

Timber Sash and Case (Vertical sliding)

Yes, but not for thermal reasons - fire regulations obliged the reworking of the second window as an escape window.

The windows were removed and cleaned down back in the workshop. Due to their mall size thermal improvements were not deemed to have been effective

Bestandsfenster U-Wert Glas [W/m2K]: 5,0 Neues Fenster U-Wert Glas [W/m2K]: 5,0 Bestandsfenster U-Wert Rahmen [W/m2K]: 1,4 Neues Fenster U-Wert Rahmen [W/m2K]: 1,4
Mehr Details
Fenstertyp Bestand Sash window
Verglasungsart Bestand Single
Verschattung Bestand NA
Ungefähres Einbaujahr 1910
Neuer Fenstertyp Sash window
Verglasungsart des neuen Fensters Single
Verschattung des neuen Fensters NA
Neuer Energiedurchlassgrad g [-] 0,6

Weitere Maßnahmen




The upper floor was not going to be used, so a thermal break of woodfibre insulation was introduced on the first floor to make a separation.

Yes, wood fiber is vapor and capillary active. In this case the wood fiber was laid on the floor in the attic, and can easily be removed.

U-Wert (vor Sanierung) [W/m2K] 0.9 U-Wert (nach Sanierung) [W/m2K] 0.9
Mehr Details
Aufbau Bestandsdach
Metal sheets - Corrugated metal sheet covering a heather thatch:
300 mm
Other - Softwood boarding:
7 mm
Aufbau saniertes Dach
Other - Original roof covering was retained:
2 mm
Other - Softwood boarding:
7 mm

The existing flagstones were removed and the floor was excavated down to a depth of 400mm below the floor level, in order to increase the room height and to fit in the insulation. An insulated lime concrete floor was laid in the excavated space.

This is an established conservation measure as an alternative to a concrete floor that allows continued water vapor movement through the fabric.

U-Wert (vor Sanierung) [W/m2K] 4.5 U-Wert (nach Sanierung) [W/m2K] 0.28
Mehr Details
Aufbau Boden/Kellerdecke im Bestand
Other - Flagstones bedded on earth.:
300 mm
Other - Stone slabs:
50 mm
Aufbau Boden/Kellerdecke nach Sanierung
Other - The original flagstone floor was only present in the kitchen and the hallway, whilst the remainder of the ground floor had a timber floor.:
10 mm
Other - Relayed flagstones:
100 mm





There were only two open fires in the building, one was changed to a wood burning stove, the other was left but the flue closed off. The heating system was a ground source heat pump.

The solution is conservation compatible, as the ground floor was being lifted as part of the refurbishment work anyway. Although, o get the heating loop in the building, we had to make the hole in the east wall.

Mehr Details
Heizungssystem nach Sanierung zusätzliches Heizungssystem nach Sanierung
Art der Heizung Heat pump Stove
Brennstoff Electricity Wood
Wärmeverteilung Radiating floor Air
Nennleistung 53 kW 20 kW

A new hot water cylinder was installed in the byre, heated by the loop of an immersion heater.

No effect on the fabric, and located in a discrete cupboard.

Mehr Details
Brauchwarmwasserbereitung nach Sanierung
Typ Immersion heater
Brauchwasserspeicher Ja
Wärmerückgewinnung aus Brauchwasser Nein


Energieausweis Current energy efficiency rating is band D SAP value 61, while current Environmental Impact Rating is also band D (65).
Freiwillige Zertifikate Nein
Primärenergie 412 kWh/m2.y

Berechnungsmethode Steady state simulation (e.g. EPC, PHPP)
EPC - Tomintoul Croft Braemar.pdf
Downie's cottage EPC, January 2016

Energieverbrauch nach Sanierung 412 kWh/m2.y



The cottage is kept at 16 degrees, with additional local heat from the wood burning stove during periods of occupation.

Indoor Air Quality

This has not been formally assessed, but appears to be satisfactory.


Provision of natural light is modest due to only two windows in the North elevation, and on quarter light on the South elevation.

Erhaltung von Ausstellungsstücken

The steady temperature has suited the wallpaper and paneling very well, no damage or distortion observed.


Finanzielle Aspekte

Internal and external wall insulation has improved the environmental and energy efficiency rating of the building. It has also increased the savings of the household.


Cost of energy related interventions:
£14,565.79 (total)
Amount includes: The cost includes boiler and other related installations (pipes, insulation, ducts...), labor and commissioning.
Total annual energy cost
940£ (total)

Lifecycle cost


Methodology_used: Covered in simplified form by the EPC. The calculated emissions for the cottage were 70 kg CO2/m²/yr.
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