Repairing an apartment in a panel house can be quite a challenging task if you are not aware of all the specifics of such a work, which might result in a multitude of submerged complications to spoil your comfort down the road. What are the very issues of repairs in a panel house? What is to pay special attention to? We are going to cover in this article.
Thermal insulation is the must
The cost of energy is being intimidating. Therefore, efficient consumption must be put in focus before temperature drops and the heating season starts. Research found out that the windows let out 10% to 60% of the heat, the wall junctions (the most relevant issue for panel houses) – up to 55%, and the very walls – up to 45%. Consequently, if you had not cared of proper thermal insulation, your heating will be warming the air outside at your expense.
Thin walls in a panel building reduce heat, as well as panel seams. That is why thermal insulation is on top of the repairs planning list. As mostly apartments are small in panel houses, the internal insulation is not what you might go for, as it would make the room shrink and result in some further complications.
The external insulation will work much better. It worth noting, that only a skilled contractor can hit the spot. DIY insulation can may evolve in containing condensate, heat decrease and the mold.
How to seal interpanel seams?
There are three relevant methods of sealing interpanel seams.
- On-top sealing. This method doesn`t require stripping the very seams. Instead, you just apply a finish of a composite polyurethane or an acrylic sealant on top. This method works well if the prior finish has minor damage like cracks which hasn`t influenced the heat-insulating properties.
- Finish-off sealing. It requires removing the finish to prepare the seam. After that, a new insulation finish is applied over in one or more layers. It is better to consult on the choice of solution, since they have different properties and may not work for your particular task. The most important properties for interpanel insulation are durability, protection from moisture, temperature drops and UV, as well as ductility. The disadvantage of this method are cavities inside the sealed junction, which may significantly reduce the durability and service of the sealed finish.
- The “warm seam” method. It has following stages:
– pre-processing of interpanel junctions. That implies removing the dirt and other remains, cracked paint, sealants and out-of-function heat-conductors;
– restoration of junction elements;
– enhanced interpanel insulation;
– sealing and heat insulation of interpanel junctions.
Exterior wall insulation
Apartment repair in a panel building includes exterior wall insulation, in case if the walls do not have it or the previous one has gone out of function. Conventionally, replacing the insulation is done once every 10-15 years, depending on the materials and the weather harshness. Exterior insulation is more effective than interior one for some reasons. If your building is not an architectural heritage (it seems like it is not), it is easy to do.
Why is it worth going for instead of interior insulation?
- No condensation. This matters in case of a panel building, where some condensation and mold or fungi are usual.
- Space-saving and allows more room in small apartments.
- No cold bridges in the ceiling and internal walls. We are going to cover what is it and how to avoid it?
Are there any permits for such works?
Thermal insulation as part of the apartment repair in a panel house, must comply with the Law “On Construction” according to which a heat insulation project must be approved by the competent body. The construction is put on the register; the sponsor submits activity plan and the report by a contractor’s in charge, following by issued permit with the kick off date (usually a week prior to it).
The construction project must contain details on the materials, pre-processing methods and finish used for the thermal insulation system, as well as detailed illustrations on solutions for architectural details such as window and door frames, basement and attic walls, balcony slabs, junction finishes.
The building after thermal insulation works must comply with following regulations on:
– carrying capacity and stability;
– fire safety;
– hygiene, health, environment;
– safety of use;
– noise protection;
– energy saving and thermal insulation.
Elimination of cold bridges on windows
What is a “cold bridge”? This is a term for low-resistant sections of a structure (windows in this case). You can probe it with your hand and feel the cold air coming through. They cause heat loss of about 30%, which greatly affects energy efficiency and energy bills. Such gaps contain dampness evoking mold and fungi, the condensate, spoil the inside microclimate, and influence service life of the very window frame.
To eliminate the cold bridges, you can go for replacing the very window frame using better materials. However, it might be costly and is used only when the frame is out of use or as an emergency. Usually, it is enough just to change the slopes, out-of-use sealing finish, or seal the junctions with appropriate solutions.
Cons of having an apartment in a panel house
Panel houses are not the most dreamed of ones. However, if you are going to buy such an apartment, consider all disadvantages of having it. As they say, forewarned is forearmed. Foreseeing the shortcomings ASAP, you can eliminate them.
Thus, the list of routine concerns includes:
- Inappropriate sound and heat insulation. The bright carpet on the wall was one of those old-fashioned insulation methods, which seemed a piece of décor at a time, but finally we revealed its real function for insulation. Panel walls are thin and may disturb the owner’s comfortable stay in the house. To soundproof the walls is expensive, while some methods of it can turn out space consuming. However, skipping it may result in daily discomfort by the noise from neighbours. If you agree upon integrating the background noise into your daily life as a budget option instead of the soundproofing, then do not expect the thermal insulation can forgive you such attitude either. Spending on proper wall insulation and window frame will enhance energy efficiency, which may save you a good penny on heating, while paying off during the first couple of years.
- Layout. The inconvenient room arrangement in panel houses often raises concerns, but eliminating them is not so easy as in case of a monoblock building as you can’t relocate walls in the first. It is a solid assembly frame and relocating a piece can damage it. If you get lucky, you may get a permission to integrate the arch instead of a wall from a competent body, but it will cost you huge effort and numerous of applications.
- Dampness. This is common issue resulting from low-quality materials for construction, lack of proper conditioning, and cracked panel junctions. Dampness attracts fungus and mold. This is solvable issue if the gaps are carefully monitored.
- No underground parking. If you live in a small town and own a garage or parking space near your house, skip that. However, if you live in a big city with a sharp shortage of available space for cars, then prepare options to park your car omitting an underground parking. It may become a daily challenge.
Preparation stage to repair works
- Consider the budget. Think of how much you may want to spend on repairing an apartment in a panel house. To proceed with us, let us assess the place and scope, and we will make an estimate. You may want to revise it and change, depending on your taste and budget. However, note that the secondary repair can bring up some submerged issues so we advise adding some buffer in the budget. Note that there is a minimum cost, which cannot be discounted. Contact our manager for more details considering your request.
- Make a precise project.
If you plan to do DIY repairs, revise the budget. It is just an estimation and not 100% accurate, yet you will hang your head around it. Except the estimation, the project as well must include electricity plan, wire and hubs, furniture and appliances layout, arranging the sockets, switches, lamps, and other design elements. This will make it easier to handle the repairing apartment in a panel house and the maintenance down the road. If you can afford, we suggest requesting a professional design services to manage such a complex set of works.
- Choose the materials. The choice will depend on the existing design, on your budget, and on your taste, as well as on the manufacturer’s quality. We advise you companies with reasonable price-quality ratio. We collaborate only with reliable suppliers having trusted business record.
- Prepare the apartment. Provide space prior to starting repairs. Move out all things, furniture and appliances. That will prevent damage, as well as enable more comfort for a construction team. If you do not have extra space where you could take your things out, you can rent a warehouse. How to choose the perfect place – we told in the article «Renovation of an apartment in an apartment building». If your budget does not include any buffer to cover rental costs, then protect all your stuff sealing it with the film.
- Take measurements. If you make it on our own, be accurate as this matter for material cost. We suggest borrow a laser tape measure, which is very precise and more convenient than a traditional one. If you hire a contractor, leave it to the construction team.
- Move water pipes, heating communications and meters.
Nothing is perfect. Therefore, when choosing a home, assess the issues that may arise down the road. Scope all the shortcomings and after that make your choice. If you are the owner of an apartment in a panel house and want to improve your comfort, which implies the appropriate repair, we are here to focus your attention on the most important. Our company has extended experience in this type of building, building up solid knowledge in making the excellent renovation of an apartment in a panel house. Visit us and we will find the best solution to make your dream home a reality.