Surveying period timber framed buildings is of particular interest. In the above case a 14th Century Grade I listed building in in Fyfield, Essex. We examined the timber frame and how it was put together; the style of the timber frame and the alterations over time; the components of the timber frame and the joints; the surfaces of the timber frame, their treatment and decoration; the condition of the core of the timber frame; previous conservation and repairs; the infill panels and coverings; the need for and type of future conservation repairs.
Structural movement is the first of the three main problems facing old buildings. What is the nature and extent of the structural movement? Is the movement recent and significant? What is the underlying problem that has caused the structural movement? What level of repairs are required? Is further investigation by a structural engineer required? When necessary, we often work with a structural engineer experienced in historic and listed buildings.
Timber decay and infestation in buildings. Biocides have been used for many years and are called “preservatives”; this term suggests negligence if timbers are not treated. But this is expensive and has little effect, it also reintroduces water into the building. We follow Historic England recommendations; an appropriate conservation approach is required. The primary control strategy for timber decay and infestation must be based on repairs to remove the source of dampness that is causing the defects. The moisture content of the timbers should be kept below the level at which timber defects will occur. In the above case there is evidence of past timber decay and death watch beetle, but the core of the post is still solid and strong enough to continue is structural function in a restored barn conversion.
Dampness may be caused by various other defects and the effect of dampness can harm the building in many ways. So called specialist damp proofing work usually includes chemically injected damp treatment and waterproof plasters; however these can be expensive and will harm historic buildings. In a listed building this would constitute an alteration requiring listed building consent; however due to the resultant harm such consent would not be granted. Modern damp treatments merely conceal the problem without identifying and removing the root cause of the dampness; they create cold walls which increase heat loss and can soften lime mortar which increases the risk of structural failure. We follow Historic England advice on a conservation approach to dampness; identifying the root cause of the problem and recommending appropriate and effective repairs. In the above case dampness had been a problem for 60 years and thousands of pounds were spent on damp treatment but without success. The new owner followed our recommendations and the building dried out quickly.
Grade I listed building; Tyttenhanger House near St Albans in Hertfordshire. Originally set within a large country estate, the building is currently in commercial use by a former large well known architectural practice. We carried out a detailed listed building survey and provided building conservation advice for the essential repairs. The main areas of interest were the brickwork, roof tiling and leadwork.
High Barns are Grade II listed period timber framed barns in Chorleywood, Hertfordshire; now converted into residential dwellings. Originally agricultural and later owned by Sir Henry Wood and used for music practice during the summer months away from London. We provided a listed building survey and building conservation advice for the new owner. The timber frame was in a good condition, but unfortunately had been altered to suit the change of use.
Penhow Castle is an 11th Century Grade II* listed building in South Wales. We surveyed this wonderful old building back in the early 2000’s. It had previously been repaired and restored in the 1970’s long before the lime revival. Unfortunately modern materials had been used throughout; this prevented the building from breathing as originally intended and there were many defects as a direct result. Whilst the previous repairs were carried out with the best of intentions, the building was in need of extensive masonry and render repairs using lime.