Remote Pennine cottage gets the Icynene insulation treatment

Keepers Cottage sits on Saddleworth Moor in the Lancashire Pennines. One of the most exposed and inhospitable places in the country.

High performance spray foam insulation from Icynene has been used in the renovation of a 130 year-old cottage on an exposed moor-top site in the Northern Pennines.

Saddleworth Moor, in the Lancashire Pennines between Huddersfield and Manchester, is one of the most exposed and inhospitable places in the country, with little to stop the westerly gales that blow in from the Atlantic. And at over 1100ft above sea level, locals say that if snow is forecast, it usually falls there first and is slow to leave.

None of this has stopped local property developer, Jason Reece of Surebuild Construction from buying at auction, Keepers Cottage, a late Victorian Game Keeper’s house that’s lain empty on the top of the moors for over 30 years, with grand plans to renovate, insulate and upgrade it to 21st century standards.

“On a clear day, the views over the moors and the Cheshire Plain are simply amazing”, explained Jason. “And when the restoration is complete, this will make a fantastic, away-from-it-all home for someone looking for complete peace and solitude”.

Keepers Cottage is solidly built, 1500sq ft property constructed of local stone and is in good structural order. However, to make it habitable, it was in need of a top to bottom upgrade, including all services.

Once the building was made secure and watertight, one of the biggest challenges faced by the builder was insulation to keep out the penetrating wind. “Up here, they describe it as a lazy wind” said Jason. “It prefers to go through you rather than around you!”


The initial plan was to line the internal walls and roof area with rigid board-type insulation, but this was quickly discounted. According to Jason, rigid board insulation is expensive and very labour intensive to install properly. As well as this, it is virtually impossible to make it fit without gaps, so wind penetration would be inevitable.

To overcome the insulation challenge, Jason turned to Manchester based specialist, Green Horizon Energy Solutions who recommended spray applied insulation from Icynene as the preferred solution.

Matt Lawford of Green Horizon takes up the story. “In an old, exposed property like Keepers Cottage, making the envelope as airtight as possible is vital. Air leakage accounts for as much as 40% of the heat loss in a building so sealing off all the tiny air gaps and voids that conventional insulation methods cannot reach is the name of the game”.

Green Horizon used the Foamlite LDC 50 system from Icynene, which is an open cell foam that allows the building to breathe naturally, resisting internal condensation. Its ability to close off small structural gaps and service holes, creating a ‘sealed box’ environment, makes it one of the most efficient and cost-effective means of heat-loss mitigation.

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