The Village Hall is ‘owned’ in trust by the village and managed by a Management Committee, mainly made up of representatives from the village organisations – for example the WI, Parish Council, Cricket Club etc. It was built in 1948 by village volunteers as part of a government scheme to provide halls for rural communities.
The hall was built as a ‘temporary’ structure using war-surplus hut components and was expected to only have a life of 25 years or so. However, over the years there have been huge improvements to the building including a new insulated roof, modern double-glazed windows and refurbished toilets.
The addition of the entrance extension added disabled toilets and access, whilst more recently the kitchen has been refurbished to provide a superb facility. These improvements have ensured the building structure is sound and have secured its long term future.
The hall has also benefitted from new technology in recent years with the addition of Broadband, CCTV, Stage lighting and sound and a large screen TV.
Most recently the Club Room has been renovated to a very high standard using village volunteer labour and a grant from the National Lottery and we now hope to achieve a similar make-over for the main hall.
The Main Hall has, so far, had few improvements made since the building was constructed and hence is looking rather tired and out of date.
The lack of insulation in the walls and poor ventilation results in damp walls and mildew during the winter, mainly due to condensation on the cold surface. This runs onto the floor and has contributed to the damage to the parquet over many years.
The heating system is antiquated and consumes a massive amount of energy – with all the heaters on it is using more than 16kw and the cost of this necessitates the use of a slot meter to recoup the running costs. The fluorescent lighting is now old fashioned and modern alternatives would be far more energy efficient and flexible, allowing the creation of different ‘moods’ in the hall in the same way as can be done in the club room. Finally the floor is very worn with areas of damage and loose parquet tiles.
Since the Club Room was renovated, usage has increased by more than 50% showing that a warm and comfortable environment is really important to potential users. The main hall usage by comparison, is at best static with little usage during the day. Making the hall more attractive and warmer in winter will hopefully encourage more use but even more importantly, we hope to see more community and exercise related uses aimed at villagers and especially those in older age groups.
This report has been put together to update village residents and other hall users on the latest plans for the refurbishment. Since we held the last of these events, the scope has changed quite significantly – largely based on feedback from yourselves so it is timely to keep everyone up to date.
This report details the areas we plan to address, together with the options that were considered.
It also shows the ones finally chosen together with the reasons for the choices made. We have also provided a draft timescale and plan for undertaking the works.
In addition, we would really welcome feedback on the plans as well as any offers to help, because as with the club room we would like to involve volunteers and undertake some of the simpler work ourselves.
The key areas we plan to address with the refurbishment are:
1. Improve the insulation. This is the most important work. The walls currently have very little insulation, with the concrete beams providing a ‘cold bridge’ directly to the outside. The result of this is damp and mould during the winter.
The ceiling, by comparison already has a small layer of insulation in the roof, but the loss of heat through the roof is still significant, so improving this is important to improving comfort and running costs.
2. Replace the heating system. When all the heaters are in use, the hall heating costs around £3.00 an hour to run. The heating system in the clubroom by comparison costs less than 50p an hour. Even allowing for the bigger room, using similar heating, together with the insulation improvements, should reduce the cost to nearer £1 per hour as well as improving comfort levels.
3. Improve the floor. We have looked at a number of options on how to do this but based on feedback from our earlier open day, the plan is to replace the floor completely with a semi-sprung sports floor.
4. Install modern LED energy efficient lighting. This will have more sophisticated controls to enable different ‘moods’ to be set as well as providing emergency lighting in the event of mains failure.
5. Other improvements including additional smoke detection, an extractor fan to remove any remaining condensation, a hearing loop for the hard of hearing and a large format projector and retracting screen. Existing facilities for stage lighting and sound will be maintained and enhanced.
Since the last Open Day, our primary focus has been on fundraising. This has been very successful – partly due to the improved revenues from club room lettings but mostly due to generosity of the village users and their continuing support for the hall and the events held here.
The end result, is that we now believe we can raise sufficient funds to pay for the planned works. The refurbishment work is expected to cost around £60,000. Of this, the hall has raised nearly £30,000 and we expect to obtain a further £10,000 from the Lottery ‘Awards for All’ programme.
A further £15,000 to £18,000 should be available from the MSDC Capital Grants programme which will pay for 1/3 of contract invoiced costs. We have already had a verbal confirmation from MSDC that this funding will be available. This leaves a small shortfall at present but we are confident that we will be able to raise this from other sources.
In order to qualify for grant funding, we need 3 competitive quotes for each item of work and these are being obtained – nearly all are now complete. The Awards for All application has already been submitted as it has a very long lead time of 18 weeks and the MSDC one will be submitted shortly.
The wall insulation has proved to be the simplest decision. In order to satisfy Building Control, we need to do this to an approved design which the insulation manufacturers provide free of charge. We therefore have a design that has 100mm of rigid insulation board (Celotex or equivalent) covered with a plywood layer for strength and then plasterboard. All this is relatively simple building work and is similar to that done in the club room, so we are planning for this to be done by volunteers. That way we can do it in stages and keep the hall in use for the maximum amount of time.
The ceiling insulation has proved far more complex. At the earlier Open Day, we suggested simply plastering the existing ceiling, but from feedback received, the consensus was to ‘do it properly’ and bring the roof up to full insulation levels.
The starting point was to use a similar system to the one adopted in the club room. We had a detailed design done by Norwich University but this proved very complex and we failed to find a contractor prepared to take on the work! The Building Control Officer then suggested we look at replacing the roof itself……
At first sight this seemed a less than obvious choice, but on investigation, we concluded it was actually a good way forward. It has the huge advantage that it can be done with no disruption to hall use, whilst achieving the improved insulation levels we are hoping for. It also gives us the opportunity to replace valleys and gutters that are an ongoing source of problems with the existing building.
The final choice therefore is to remove the existing roof (main hall only) and replace it with one that has nearly 3 times the insulation.
Gutters, fascias and valleys will also be replaced as these are all showing signs of age and some are leaking.
That just leaves the existing ceiling which has certainly seen better days!
The plan here is to over-board the existing ceiling with new plasterboard and to install a suspended ceiling, similar to the club room but only 4 panels wide. This will enable services to be run in this space as well as providing space for the heating cassettes.
Club room ceiling showing the ceiling tiles, recessed lighting and ceiling heating cassette.
Main hall will be similar to the Club room, but the suspended ceiling will be one panel narrower and set higher in the roof.
The end result, will be a reduction in ‘heat loss’ in the hall by around 2/3 and far less ‘clutter’ on the ceiling which should be appreciated by the badminton players!
This again turned out to be a simpler choice than we initially thought. The heating in the Club Room has been so successful that it is the obvious choice for the Main Hall as well. The reduced running costs will also enable the heating cost to be included in the hire rate so no more having to search for pound coins in the winter!
We had one issue with the Club Room heating to start with and that was that under certain conditions the outside unit does a ‘defrost cycle’ and whilst this was in progress it proceeded to blow cold air out of the indoor unit.
This was mitigated by having the internal fan turned off when it is defrosting. We plan to adopt a similar approach in the main hall but to also have two outside units so that it reduces the likelihood that they will both defrost at the same time.
As with the club room, the heating system can also provide air conditioning but we really do not want it used for this as it is just wasting energy in a room with so many doors! We will, however, be installing a large capacity extractor fan as this will help to reduce moisture levels that might otherwise still generate condensation.
Our original plan was to simply repair, sand and reseal the existing floor. This had a number of issues, not least that the contractors we approached to do this would not give any guarantee that it would be successful and might loosen further areas of the parquet floor.
At the last Open Day, the feedback received was to look at options for a full replacement sprung floor. Hence we have only looked at options that provide this.
A sprung floor is one with a small amount of ‘give’ and is highly desirable for sport and exercise use. A number of dance groups moved to other halls because of this issue. The problem with installing a sprung floor however is that it is generally very thick – typically 50mm above the cement sub-floor as it consists of cross battens on rubber feet with strip flooring on top. This would give significant problems at the main door and by the stage as well as further reducing the room height.
Talking to floor companies has resulted in a compromise proposal which is to provide the ‘spring’ using a foam mat layer. This is an upgraded version of a typical domestic ‘floating’ floor. This will result in a floor level around 25mm higher than the existing one but this should be manageable with some small sloping floor sections as used in the club room. We still need the existing parquet floor to be removed and the sub-floor to be levelled and a new damp proof layer to be installed. Note that this floor system only works with ‘strip’ flooring so I am afraid it will not be parquet!
The next decision is the type of flooring. Firstly, a choice needed to be made between an ‘engineered’ floor – which is made up of layers of wood with a thin veneer on the final surface, or a solid wood floor. The engineered floor is claimed to be slightly more stable over time but has the serious disadvantage that it can only be sanded a few times. We have therefore decided the solid wood option is better.
There is then the choice of finish. The initial thought was to choose oak since that is what the existing floor is made from. Advice from the flooring manufacturers, however, is that beech is a better option and will give a better surface for longer. Hence we are proposing a ‘fumed’ beech that ends up looking quite similar to aged oak and can be sanded many times whist retaining the same colour.
The badminton players will also be relieved that we plan to replace the court markings on the new floor!
LED lighting is really the only option due to its energy efficiency. Unlike the club room however, as the suspended ceiling is narrower, we would not get sufficient light ‘spread’ if we relied on 600mm x 600mm LED lighting tiles alone. There will therefore be additional low profile LED lights on the sloping ceiling sections to overcome this. Some of these lights will incorporate ‘emergency’ supplies to maintain lighting in the event of power failure.
As with the club room, the ability to have different lighting levels will be accommodated by additional ‘mood’ lighting – possibly providing colour control if this can be done within the budget.
The existing stage lighting gantry will be retained but wiring will be concealed in the suspended ceiling and controls improved to make it more flexible.
A number of other more minor improvements are also planned:
1. Hearing loop. This will provide facilities for hearing aid users to listen in to anything that uses the hall PA system.
2. Blackout curtains. This may be separate blinds or different curtains but will greatly improve the use of the hall for presentations, stage productions and films
3. Fire alarm system. At present we do not have smoke detectors in the main hall and this is an important safety upgrade.
4. Provide ramps at fire exits. At present, the only ‘accessible’ fire exit is the main door. The higher floor level will simplify incorporating ramps to make the remaining exists accessible. Work is also underway to improve the slopes on the outside of the fire exits to remove the step that currently exists.
5. Provide a retractable large projection screen over the stage proscenium arch and a high quality projector. This will provide the capability to show films, but it would make it suitable for bigger meetings and more attractive for business hire which might create more use during weekdays.
Assuming we are successful with the grant requests, the plan is to start work in the late summer. The roof can be scheduled at any time as it does not impact on the inside of the hall and is therefore likely to be the first thing to be done.
The overall approach will be to keep the hall available for use between major items of work. The current draft plan is therefore:
1. Plasterboard the ceiling and install suspended ceiling. Will incorporate temporary lighting to allow continued hall use once this work is complete. Main Hall will be unavailable for 2 weeks.
2. Install new heating and lighting system – Main Hall unavailable for 3 days.
3. Remove existing wall cladding (volunteers) – 2 days – but can fit around other hall use.
4. Install new floor. Main Hall unavailable for 2 weeks. Finished floor to be covered with ‘hardboard’ to protect it during subsequent work.
5. Install new insulated wall panels – this to be done by volunteers and can be done in stages. Probably 3 weeks of work time fitted around hall users.
6. Plaster walls and ceiling. Install skirtings and trims etc. Main Hall unavailable for 1 week.
7. Painting and decorating – undertaken by volunteers and can fit around other hall use.
As with the Club Room, we hope to do a lot of the work with volunteers.
Could YOU help?
Apart from the obvious benefit of saving money, it will give much more flexibility for scheduling the work and if the club room experience is repeated, will give all those involved a huge sense of achievement of what can be done. Volunteers do not need to be experienced builders as full training will be provided, but in any case, even having people to make tea and give moral support is vital!
So this is what the committee are planning – however remember that it is YOUR hall so do you think this is the right thing to be doing? Are there other things you think we should be considering? There are sheets here for you to add your comments and suggestions and also to put your name down if you would like to help with the work.
I have attached a feedback form illustrated below. To download a copy for printing, please click on the link below. Fill in the details. Add your own comments and suggestions. Save it and send a copy back to the Village Hall Manager.
Village Hall Feedback Form download
All thoughts and input very welcome.
Village Hall Manager