A STUDY IN BUILDING CONSERVATION
The property, at first appearance, is a fairly mundane mid-terrace dwelling, although when delving deep into its fabric and condition it reveals something somewhat more interesting.
This Grade II 17th Century property seems to be at odds with much of the remaining terrace, similar in nature to its immediate neighbour and potentially of more significant origin to many of the other dwellings. This is what I first anticipated when introduced verbally to the building with a view to reconciling Listed Building issues in anticipation of what was expected to be a fairly low level repair and refurbishment. It was apparent when inspecting however that the building held a number of fascinating characteristics and was inevitably going to be an equally fascinating project and worthy of a stage by stage blog, and so starts an initial introduction to what we will call St Andrews Cottage.
This two room plan building does appear to have doubled in size, more likely the rear half added, although this was somewhat at odds with the characteristics and front and rear walls and roof structures.
The small main entrance lobby accesses the front parlour with early unglazed quarry tile floors, concealed original upper floor timbers and principal carrier beams, a number of early joinery units and fairly typical later 20th Century adaptations including fireplace and suspected cementitious boarded to outer walls. The rear room exhibits a different style, but still very early floor with sadly numerous tiles cracked, a less elaborate upper floor structure and again later adaptations including coal fired range and bathroom enclosure.
The relatively wide winding stair leads up to the upper two rooms with the heavily deteriorating internal wall finishes and plasterboard ceiling now removed to facilitate drying, but also now exposing the lime lath and plaster/torching to the underside of the 19th or early 20th Century roof structure and a fascinating water reed and earth plaster partition.
The rear room, despite being located upon what would seem to be a later floor structure, retains far more interesting and historic fabric. Deteriorating wall and plasterboard finishes have again been removed, but these now exposing again the substantial solid rubble external and spine wall, but most interestingly a very early roof structure including central pegged truss with evidence of pit sawn and
cut timbers, raw pole rafters, albeit with some supplementary later timbers, and residual wheat reed thatch which may be evidence of thermal upgrading rather than roofing.
For the purpose of the initial inspection, we decided to prepare a Condition and Impact Assessment to support the previously prepared Heritage Statement and seek consent for sympathetic refurbishment intended to reintroduce the original characteristics of the property whilst ensuring a dwelling fit for 21st Century tenantable life.
As can be seen in later posts, this will include the introduction of limecrete floors with reintroduced original floor tiling, provision of appropriate lime plasters enhanced potentially to improve the thermal performance of the building, the introduction of new floor timbers and principal beams supplementing the original designs and enabling the removal of later load bearing adaptations and most significantly provision of appropriate lath and plaster ceiling finishes to the rear room whilst exposing principal roof structures and undertaking essential structural repairs as well as introducing some new divisions.
The first stage of course is obtaining consent for the proposals.
David George Surveying and Conservation is run by David George, a Chartered Building Surveyor and accredited Conservation surveyor with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and is a Church Surveyor with the Exeter and Bath and Wells Diocese and operates throughout the South West of England