Holistic Home Improvement
Holistic home improvements and eco-renovations with Maresme based company DianaHome could increase energy efficiency and sustainability and improve home well-being. The international team offer professional experience in green building, energy efficiency, healthy and sustainable architecture, comprehensive renovations and interior design. They advise you and take care of the management and execution of your project, accompanying you in the key stages of the reform. We spoke to Director Erica Starks.
Eco-renovations from DianaHome in the Maresme
What are eco-renovations?
Eco-renovations are holistic home improvements that consider health, efficiency, design and, of course, sustainability.
What type of property might benefit from your services?
In reality, any property in Spain built before 2019, when the new technical code came into effect, can benefit from DianaHome’s services. For example, I live in a community built by Corp in Alella. Corp did probably 90% of the building correctly, but the remaining 10% didn’t execute well. Consequently, even though the community is from 2017, many apartments already suffer wear and tear, and the community’s bills are very high. DianaHome could intervene to fix common problems at the individual residence level creating economies of scale and at the community/building level to analyse the energy consumption patterns and determine which measures to implement.
Most buildings in Spain are decades old. Problems with humidity and dampness, inefficient installations, old carpentry, toxic or semi-toxic materials, thermal leaks, etc., are pretty standard.
Your workspace is a beautifully renovated California style house nestled in the vineyards of the Maresme coast. How did that come about?
GNE Finance, which is the company behind DianaHome, needed a new office. We were in Poble Nou in Barcelona at the time, and when we started looking for new offices, we also looked at the Maresme area since some of us lived here. We decided renovating a home with our solutions would help clients understand better what we do and create a healthy, beautiful workspace.
Big renovations can be daunting, where’s a good place to start?
Well, in general, it is essential to clarify priorities. To do that requires an objective analysis of what needs improvement. One thing is what I, as a homeowner, want, and another thing is a technical, data-based evaluation of the home. We always encourage clients to start with one of our home studies, and we recommend the 360, which covers health, efficiency and design.
Our team comes to the house with different tools to detect thermal bridges, humidities, measure air quality. They analyse the energy and water bills. They speak with the homeowner in-depth to understand their needs and usage. Then they come back to the office, explore everything as a team, and present a report summarising and explaining the home’s current situation and problems and solutions.
From there, the client can decide what they want to move forward with; we provide an estimate of the renovation costs. At that point, the client officially engages DianaHome to represent them in the renovation. From there, we dive straight into defining the project, creating 3d renders so the client can see changes, gathering all of the details required to have a more detailed estimate of costs and iterating back and forth until the client is ready to move forward with the works. We try to simplify everything so clients can focus on living their lives, not managing their home renovations.
Can you walk us step by step through the services you offer?
Yes, the easiest way to describe what we do is by visualising a home and thinking of the different aspects of a house:
Illumination = clean energy, solar panels and natural lighting
Climatization = aerotermia and natural ventilation
Insulation = internal and external for temperature, as well as acoustic insulation and plant insulations for roofs
Protection = different external and internal solutions depending on the season, efficient carpentry
Design = interior design with a conscience, ecological and non-toxic furnishings and decoration, efficient landscaping
Water = treating and recycling water, solar energy water heating, solar-heated swimming pools and natural pools.
DianaHome works in 3D modelling. Can you tell us more about that?
BIM, (Building Information Modelling), is a way of creating digital models of buildings that are “alive”. It allows our engineers to simulate the energy and resource consumptions of the home, to simulate internal temperature and light exposure at different times of year and day. It also allows our architects to take photographs of the house so that clients can previsualise the renovations.
Renovations can be expensive. You offer support with subsidies for eco-renovations. How does that work?
The Spanish government has rolled out different subsidies in line with the Renovation Wave, a European Commission initiative to lower emissions by renovating buildings, representing roughly 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions. Among the industries specific to Spain, Component 2 has a double objective: It seeks to activate the rehabilitation sector in Spain, improving quality, comfort and decarbonisation of buildings and promoting social housing.
DianaHome’s methodology is entirely in line with both the Renovation Wave objectives and the specific subsidies currently applicable and those coming down the pipeline. We manage the entire process, from determining which measurers improve energy efficiency, with estimated costs and the relevant subsidy % and then filing all the paperwork and following up to ensure that the funds are received.
El Programa de rehabilitación energética de edificios (PREE) promotes the energy rehabilitation of existing residential buildings, energy-saving and efficiency actions and the incorporation of renewable energies that reduce final energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. There are eligible costs such as thermal envelope, replacement of heating and lighting installations.
Interventions must improve the emissions energy rating by at least one letter (kg CO2 / m2 / year), and each intervention must result in a final energy saving of at least 10%. Subsidies apply to 15% to 35% of the energy efficiency measures with the possibility of increasing grants depending on the combination of actions implemented. There are also deductions for IRPF. Subsidies are cumbersome, with a lot of paperwork, so their management is a genuine value-added service for our clients.
In addition to managing subsidies, we also offer financing of up to 100% of an eco-renovation (including all the licensing fees, interior design and other elements traditionally left out of financing).
The first step is always the home study; then, once the client defines what they want to do and their budget, we analyse the pre-project to determine the potential subsidies and financing. We can estimate grants without any need for external approval. If the client wants to move forward with financing, there is an approval process and, once approved, we move forward with the engagement.
How can you guarantee that the eco-renovations you suggest will really make a difference in terms of energy efficiency?
That is the beauty of 3D modelling; it allows us to simulate consumption. We also offer monitoring services post-renovation so that clients can ensure they are complying with best practices.
From an economic point of view, do eco-renovations guarantee a decrease in utility bills, for example?
So, if someone’s patterns stay the same, then yes, they guarantee a decrease in utility bills. If someone changes their patterns – like, say, they are not on solar energy and post-renovation, they install a completely inefficient laundry dryer and run it 24 hours a day. No amount of eco-renovation can compensate for a lack of common sense.
What languages do your team speak?
English, Catalan, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, German, Dutch, and Russian. We are a growing company, and we are, by nature, international and multilingual.
As our awareness grows for environmental sustainability, not everyone can afford significant changes to their home. Are there minor home improvements that anyone can do on a budget?
Yes, of course. It depends on the needs of the home and what the budget is, but there are always things that can be done to improve the health and comfort of a home.
What 3 words would you use to describe DianaHome?
Holistic, conscientious and customer-centric.
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