Given the imminent move from RDT to Hurst Peirce + Malcolm , just in case it's my last scribble here, I thought I'd post a quick photo-essay of our most recent piece of involved conservation work; a shop unit in Chesham, Bucks. This was a particularly good example of a project presenting a range of issues facing the conservation engineer in practice. Conservation "in a nutshell" if you will, from an adjoining owner that wouldn't repair his own rotting timber frame wall (can't elaborate as Party Wall negotiations ongoing), to all manner of impermeable finishes, to a real mish-mash of iron, steel and timber alterations to unravel.
This Grade II listed, three storey building, according to the official listing dated back to c.1740, had been converted to a shop at ground floor in Victorian times (at which point the entire front façade timber frame was removed and replaced with rendered brickwork) with the two upper storeys in residential use until the fairly recent past.
Our client had only recently bought the building freehold. Having been born there, he felt somewhat philanthropic towards the sorry state it was in, but was in for a bit of a shock when the repairs, estimated at £75k by his commercial surveyors, turned into a bill in excess of £250k once the full horror was uncovered.
Unfortunately, ill health put an end to any long-term plans our client may have had, but not before we were able to make the building weatherproof and structurally stable. (See annotated photos below)
Hopefully, I will be able to continue writing posts from time-to-time, but this will obviously depend on company policies and the amount of spare time I get.......
|Photo from the 1920's (nicked from the Cheshammuseum.org.uk website). Our building is on the right-hand side of this old roadworks, yes, roadworks scene.|
|Leaks in the so-called protection coat in the rear valley gutter led (eventually) to the partial collapse of the roof structure (the point at which we got called in)....|
|..... but not before water had been penetrating the building fabric for many years (upper floors uninhabited even with retail premises at ground floor). A wide variety of fungi greeted us on our first inspection.|
|Not satisfied with trying to waterproof the roof, someone had also tried to waterproof the external walls with cement render too. Result: Complete loss of original timber framing in places where render had cracked, let water in, but not out again.|
|An ingenious one-sided forged iron joist hanger. Probably would've been ok had the end of the joist not started to rot away.|
|As much as I hate to admit defeat, this particular original purlin had been so badly eaten away that even the historic steel strapping wasn't enough to save it this time.|
|Here is more of the original timber framing with wattle & daub infill panels.|
|The saddest loss for me was the failure, due to rot, of one of the original tudor cross-frame principal rafters. Here are the remains being used to help model its replacement in new air-dried oak (lucky find by the carpenters at a local timber yard).|
|Despite the need to replace the one failed purlin, we found just enough guts left in this (and other) original wind brace(s) to be able to keep it.|
|A new jowl-post fitted in the rear wall, before being worked down to size-match the original lost section (The valley gutter beam had also rotted beyond repair and it's replacement was to be fitted to the jowl in due course).|
|Finally sorted out the earlier noted mess of timber. New lower purlin and wind braces installed and existing cross beam now hung by specially forged steel stirrup strap.|
|After repairing the rear wall timber frame and brick infill, breathable wood fibre insulation boards are being fitted in readiness for a new lime render finish.|