Historic Building Conservation and Repair Case Studies
Find out more about the building conservation work we have done in the South East of England.
Our challenge was to repair the gable of this 2 bay 17c cottage in Capel. It was letting water in, staining the plaster on the inside and becoming unsightly due to patches of decay and many previous "temporary" repairs.
We suspected that the cementitious render applied to the face of the brick panel infill and partially covering some of the timbers applied with the intention of keeping the water out, was in fact trapping moisture in the wall and decaying the timbers.
On removing the render we found that many of the timbers were seriously decayed, as you can see in the before image and some of the timbers were in danger of structural failure.
During the repairs we found many dangers including evidence of what we believe is the House Long Horn beetle (hylotrupes bajalus). This beetle is quite rare in the UK, being found in north Surrey, south west London, north Kent, south Essex and Hampshire.
We also found evidence of wood boring beetle found, including the Furniture beetle or common woodworm (anobium punctatum).
Fungal agents of decay found were Brown rot (Basidiomycete) found in many of the timbers and Soft rot (ascomycete) fungi found in the tie beam
The cementitious mortar has been completely removed as you can see from the after image, this revealed very nice quarter bond brickwork with "penny struck" joints. We renewed the lead flashing above the oriel window and added new step lead flashing to the shoulders of the chimney. The margins to the brick panels were re-pointed in lime mortar and broken bricks replaced or repaired.
No attempt has been made to disguise the repairs made. They become part of the building's history. Nor is there any attempt to make the building look new, but to use sympathetic techniques and materials to ensure structural integrity and performance.
On this c16 'smoke hood house' we were charged with
Major structural timber repairs.
Panel replacement and repair.
Window replacement and repair.
gable end repair - charlwood
From a distance it was not possible to see the deterioration of the timbers in this gable end of this c1620 2 bay cottage with later cross wing, However, due to concerns raised by the owner, we then carried out a condition survey which, on close inspection and with the aid of a metal probe we were able to determine that many of the timbers were very seriously decayed. Following our conservation principles we removed the minimum of historic timber and spliced in new timber to reinstate the gables structural integrity and aesthetic appearence on this early c17 cottage. to prevent further decay we dug a french drain all the way along the front of the cottage. After completion we produced a 'Post remedial report' for the owners so that they could provide information to the local authorty and future owners.
jetty repair - binsted
The main structural timbers of the Jetty on this mid 15c service cross wing end of a much larger house, were seriously decayed, making the jetty unsafe. We removed all the visible decayed timber and replaced with new dry oak, faithfully reproducing the size and shape of the timbers. Then grouted the margins of the panel infill with non hydraulic lime mortar.
shell bridge - leatherhead
This iconic and well known landmark, previously owned by Donald Campbell CBE the land speed record holder, was in a sorry state of repair. The coping had broken up and had been thrown in the river by vandels, bricks were spalled and mortar eroded. We matched the bricks and mortar and repaired the brickwork. we replaced the coping with new hydraulic lime mortar. The flintwork at one end had collapsed and we rebuilt it re-using the original flint and non-hydraulic lime mortar. During these works we adhered to strict environmental conservation to ensure there was no inpact from our work on the natural environment and wildlife.
Pamment floor - south nutfield
This tiled floor in the original open hall was found to be in a very poor state. Most of the 'Pamments' were spalled and the floor was very damp, in some areas actually wet. We recorded each pamment then lifted them for cleaning. Any tiles we were unable to salvedge, were replaced with reclaimed ones that were carefully sourced to match the originals for size and colour.
After removing sufficient soil to work we laid a layer of expanded glass foam which has high thermal resistance and forms a breathable barrier, this is an eco friendly and appropriate method of insulation for historic buildings that also makes a good surface on which to relay the floor. The pamments were laid on a non hydraulic lime mortar and grouted with a dry mix of hydraulic lime.
The floor was hand worked with a brick rubber to remove any high spots before two coats of linseed oil were applied and a the floor was given a final shine up with beeswax.
During the work we removed approximately four inches of soil and heavy clay and were careful to record any artifacts and evidence of historical development, finds included many animal bones, large quantities of glass from many periods and pottery including a piece of early green glazed pottery, possibly from the Farnham pottery which is not far away. Some cream and red ware sherds. There was a variety of everyday objects as well, such as a thimble, a weight from a spinning wheel, several stone musket balls and some glass beads.
Chimney Re-pointing - Chichester
This chimney in Chichester had suffered from erosion due to time and weather. Later interventions includes the introduction of cementitious mortar and the replacement of the chimney pots with flue liners.
We raked out the loose and badly eroded old lime and cementitious mortar, re-placed broken and spalled bricks with matched reclaimed bricks, matched new non-hydraulic lime mortar and re-pointed using the original "penny struck" form.
We removed the chimney liner from the top of the chimney and commissioned three new chimney pots to be made, which we fitted and flaunched around to weather in and secure.
The work we carried out here will preserve the chimney for many years and will have restored the former skyline.
Hurstpierpoint - structural timber repairs
There was severe decay in some of the structural timbers in the rear of this mid c15 'Wealden' cottage now divided into two. Cementitious mortar had been used to fill the decayed areas which proved very difficult to remove but which was causing further moisture to be trapped and more decay. We removed the cementitious mortar and the decayed timber before splicing in new dry oak and repairing the windows.
Guildford - Wattle and Daub Panel replacement
Within this 15c Medieval Hall house original timbers had been covered with modern plaster finishes. We removed this modern material then identitied the types of materials originally used and re-placed them like for like.
Image 1 shows the panels with the modern materials removed.
Image 2 shows us starting to replace the staves with cleft Chestnut.
Image 3 shows the start of fitting the Oak riven laths.
Image 4 shows the completed panels with laths in place.
Image 5 shows the first panel to receive daub.
Image 6 shows the completed panels.
Image 7 shows the panels lime washed.
Alton .. Gable end repair
Due to concerns expressed by the owner, we carried out a condition survey on this early 17c cottage in Alton. We found that it required extensive work to both the structural timbers and the brick panel infill.
Many of the timbers were severely decayed due to water ingress and impermeable coatings applied to them, trapping the moisture.
We removed most of the timbers and repaired where it was possible. we carefully removed the brick panel infill and put it back replacing where necessary.
All mortar was non-hydraulic lime matched to the original.
Peaslake Open Hall
We were charged with removing and re=placing the cementitious mortar render on the front elevation of what we knew was a very old cottage. However, after removing the render we found that almost the entire original elevation was still present and in a remarkably good condition. After discussions with the owner and conservation officers the decision was made to repair the original fabric rather than cover with another render. It was such a joy and a privilege to be able to work on such an interesting building, to find six hundred, year old wattle and daub, with smoke blackening from when it was an open hall was amazing! It is the best part of the job to gradually see a beautiful house re appear, after many, many years concealed behind ugly render.It is incredible how a simple product like daub, can produce such a excellent finish and it is really great to work with, just mud and sticks, but now the exterior is set to potentially last another six hundred years. Once the leaded lights were repaired, then then all that is needed is for the owners to decide on the colour for the new lime wash, then the transformation will be complete and the ugly duckling will once more be a swan,
Broadbridge Heath - Lime Ceiling
Here in Broadbridge Heath an historic ceiling had been replaced with a plasterboard ceiling. The owner asked us to re-place this ceiling of inappropriate materials with a replacement ceiling of laths and lime.