The chimney is repaired and safe.

Earlier in this blog I illustrated the parlous condition of the chimney above roof level. We had to bite-the-bullet, carefully dismantle it and then rebuild it brick by brick. The result is fantastic. The use of all the original bricks and brushed lime mortar, together with the help of a skilled craftsman means the cottage has a crown to be proud of! I’ve also managed to secure two salvaged chimney pots to make up for the pair that were lost, probably around 1950. The urgently required essential repair is magnificent. The last photograph below shows the new slate roof, this is to be the subject of a separate post.

The new windows are ready

Whilst we’ve been repairing the frames, our joiner has built the replacement sash windows, replicating the originals exactly in terms of visible profile detail. I’ve had the box frames and sashes all sprayed utilising a micro-porous paint system than enables the joinery to breath, expand and contract without (hopefully) damage. The glass is to be ultra-slim double glazed units http://www.slimliteglass.co.uk/advantages.html

Making the building strong again

Having straightened the frame by lifting its south west corner, the serious business of putting structural rigidity into the structure could commence. In line with my proposals for a fully “breathable” and vapour-open fabric, finding a bracing board that had both vapour permeability and the structural capacity to brace the structure was an important first step. I chose Elka Strongboard from Ecological Building Systems to form the initial cladding to the repaired structure – all the details are here: https://www.ecologicalbuildingsystems.com/UK/Products/ELKA-Strong-Boards

Frame repairs

New sole plates, scarfed frames and new window frames ready to receive the replacement windows.

The big lift

The frame has been repaired and the sole-plate largely replaced on account of large quantities of unseen rot within the heart of the beams. Three RSJs spanning the width of the cottage were inserted immediately under the sole plate. Beneath the ends of these beams, a simple pot-jack was positioned on wooden chocks within the masonry wall. This allowed for controlled and incremental raising of the entire frame, up to six inches in the south west corner. The entire process took two hours.

new sole plate and scarfed frame!

The chimney hearth at ground floor takes shape

The proposal is to incorporate a double fronted wood-burning stove in the chimney stack at ground level. This has involved knocking through from front to back of the chimney. Before that, we undertook repairs to the stack within the building, reinforcing it with helibars set into resin within the lime mortar coursing of the brickwork. This is now complete and starts to give a real feeling of connectivity between the spaces at ground level.

Problems with rot!

It’s been a while since we last posted, that’s because there’s been a lot going on, particularly in the way of frame repairs. We always knew the sole plate was going to be an issue, and so it has proved to be. There was considerable hidden rot within the sole plate, much of which has been caused by water ingress leading to wet-rot and beetle infestations. Where possible and where more than 75% of the sectional area of frame remains intact, we’ve been saving the wood. Where rot is extensive, we’ve carefully supported the frame and scarfed in matching timber.