Renewing renovation: Looking at renovation of owners occupied houses with socio-materiality lenses.
Paper in proceeding, 2015

Owner occupied houses built in Sweden before 1980 are in need of renovation to achieve the 2020 energy performance directives. Despite political pressure, these renovations are far from been realised. To explain this slow take off, studies have mostly focused on the necessity to better bridge new technical solutions with the needs and behaviours of the users. We propose to enlarge this analysis to a broader set of actors including the craftsmen in charge of the physical work and the houses themselves with their specific features and characteristics. To do so we build our contribution on the concept of socio-materiality. This perspective argues that technological artefacts are socially constructed but recognises a role to materiality; it describes the social and the material as becoming constitutively entangled. Drawing on the case studies of 18 small craftsman companies and their customers, our method includes interviews, workshops and ethnographic work. The results show many differentiated representations of the renovation process at stake. Norms and experts are portraying the house as a holistic system which parts need to be in balance; the various craftsmen relying on their own trade have a rather fragmented view regarding the interventions they carry out; the owners are mainly interested in comfort, aesthetic and economic considerations; the house itself besides its original material features often displays unique characteristics as the result of diverse modifications executed since the days of its construction. All these positions need to be understood and somewhat aligned in order to achieve successful implementations.

energy renovation


single family house owners


Martine Buser

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Construction Management

Veronica Carlsson

Chalmers, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Construction Management

Proceedings of the 31st annual ARCOM conference, September 2015, Lincoln UK

978-0-9552390-9-0 (ISBN)

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering




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