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Gemma Webb

Gemma Webb

Highly Commended Winner 2016
Investigation into the Practice of Home Improvement by Owner-Occupier Families with pre-school children

Research Abstract

Currently housing is responsible for 25% of United Kingdom Carbon Dioxide emissions. With more than 85% of houses already in existence, increasing uptake of energy efficient home improvements (EEHI) is a key element of meeting the target of the Climate Change Act (2008).


Families with pre-school children were the focus, as previous research indicates that this group tend to plan more home improvements (HI) and are more likely to be experiencing significant changes to their everyday social practices. In-depth interviews were undertaken with seven families in Bristol. The findings indicate that while planning a family and pregnancy appeared to trigger HI, the birth of a child tended to shift the focus away from HI. The social and experiential aspects of home strongly influenced HI and this emphasised the need for EEHI to be targeted more towards the way homes are lived in rather than focusing upon financial or environmental benefits. Social Practice Theory (SPT) was utilised to aid understanding of the integral nature of everyday practices (context) and people upon the practice of HI. This led to the development of the 5-element model of HI practice, by adapting Shove et al. (2012) 3-element model of SPT.

Winner's Bios

Gemma Webb

University of the West of England, UK

Gemma qualified as a RICS Chartered Building Surveyor in 2013, following completion of the UWE Graduate Diploma in Building Surveying with distinction. In 2016, Gemma completed this dissertation to complete her MSc.


Gemma specialises in housing, and has a wealth of experience working with a range of social housing providers. She has a particular interest in the way in which buildings impact upon our physical, mental and social wellbeing and aims to put people at the centre of building refurbishment and design. Gemma is currently a full-time mother and is looking to start her own freelance business.