Construction methods of the 16th century resulted in considerably less drafty houses than those of the 1960s or even the 1990s, the British Gas-commissioned survey found.

Houses built in the 1500s were found to leak an average of 10.11 cubic metres of air per hour for every square metre of wall, compared with 15.1 for a 1960s property and between 12 and 23.6 for a 1990s building.

And Tudor buildings, with their “wattle and daub” insulation, thick walls and oak beams, are still much more airtight than 1960s properties, hastily thrown up to meet post-war demand.

Houses built in the 1970s fared better in the tests, losing 11.7 cubic metres of warm air each hour per cubic metre of wall, but by the 1980s architects seem to have regressed on energy efficiency, designing buildings that lost between 12 and 40.1 cubic metres. Large, drafty supermarket-type buildings are partly to blame.

The company that carried out the tests, IRT Surveys, took pains to emphasise that it recognizes gains made by the construction industry in energy efficiency.

As in the 1960s, speed was once again the problem, with rushed construction jobs compromising on quality, IRT said.

“The construction industry has made superb progress in terms of technology and materials over the years,” said Stewart Little of IRT Surveys.

“The problem we are faced with is the rapid rate of progress required in today’s construction market.

“Commercial pressure to deliver means corners are often cut to speed up the delivery of buildings. This corner-cutting normally happens in areas that we don’t see, such as missing insulation in walls and roofs,” he said.

Goska Romanowicz

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