Opening Your Home: Case Studies

Case Study: Transition West Bridgford

Tina Holt is a member of Transition West Bridgford. The group set up an initiative called the Eco House Group, through which several open house days or individual house visits have been organised for the public since the first event in May 2010.

How did you organise your open day?

The key features of each home were summarised for inclusion on leaflets, blogs and emails which were handed out locally (events, shops, etc) or emailed to our networks. On the day we lined up extra helpers to meet and greet, or provide technical information and guide visitors away from areas not open to the public. A simple disclaimer was displayed at each house, and household insurance was checked by each homeowner. For some events, insurance cover was arranged by Transition West Bridgford to cover all the homes involved.

How successful have your events been?

On the first open day, we had around 70 visitors to seven homes (several visiting more than one home), and since then have had anything from 10 to 40 visitors to any individual house. Generally we have found that 10-12 at a time is a sensible maximum for a large house, and less for a smaller house.

Feedback suggests that home owners and visitors have all enjoyed the experience. At times we've invited the installers of insulation / technologies to speak about their installation, and on other occasions not. Some home-owners created displays of work in progress (e.g. to show insulation that is hidden when the work is finished), and these have attracted a lot of interest. Having samples of materials used is also of interest to visitors.

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Case Study: Transition Chesterfield

Colin Harrison is a Secretary of Transition Chesterfield. The group organised open days in 2009 and 2010.

Tell us a bit about your open day.

Several members of Transition Chesterfield who had made environmental improvements to their homes opened them to the public. The days chosen were timed to coincide with the weekend of the annual Heritage Week (in September), to take advantage of the extra publicity this would bring. The improvements ranged from simple bulk water storage (for garden use) to a large straw-bale extension.

What have you learnt from running your events?

The first year was very successful, with even the simpler installations having a steady stream of visitors throughout the opening periods. An appointment system was considered and discarded as being too restrictive, although this did mean that often visitors would arrive when an explanation of the modifications was already under way, involving a lot of repeated information; possibly starting each tour at regular intervals would overcome this problem. However, as most of the visitors went to several of the sites it would seem slightly impractical. In retrospect having at least two people at each location for all the open periods would appear to be essential. If we run a day again we will probably arrange visits to individual homes over a slightly longer period, rather than all in a weekend -  this should widen the choice of sites considerably.

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