What lies beneath

I spoke in the last post about the dampness that has crept into the building and is our first priority to resolve. The reason for calling in the drainage experts was to understand if water was being carried away from the property correctly and we have asked for a proposal for further works to that end.

The roof and gutters are also a potential source of problems but we are not qualified to explore this at the moment and need to organize both scaffolding and a trusted roofer. We have this planned along with a request to remove the render when weather is likely to better in a month or two. The render itself though is visibly cracked in places and we are certain that it is trapping water ingress against the original stone walls.

All we have read suggest that old buildings need to breathe. They are designed to allow a certain amount of moisture in, but this is also expelled by heat from within the building and forced back out – a living breathing system. Concrete render was a product that was used to insulate buildings and theoretically stop water coming in, unfortunately when it fails it suffocates the building and this appears to be the case here. Cracks in the render have allowed water to penetrate the outer layer and the concrete layer now holds the water with no escape. With no heat in the unoccupied building this has seeped through the walls as the main culprit of damp.

A complicating factor in this is the buildings listing. While we would like to strip the render immediately we need to do some exploration first, with the building officer around what the listing dictates and what lies beneath the render by exposing more in small patches where cracks are already showing. At some point a vehicle has backed into the front corner of the property nearest the drive and gives us the first opportunity to explore further:

First thing to notice is that the stone underneath looks pretty good. As someone pointed out to me the stone that is fully exposed appears to be ‘dressed’ and not intended to be covered therefore. It is also a concern that it is evident that water has eroded the pointing of the stone. Potentially where it has entered between stone and frozen it has the power to move the block also.

Perhaps not the most interesting of blog posts but certainly important to setting the right foundations to the renovation.

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