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20 Jun, 19 / post / Listed
For the love of lime (Listed building issues)

Listed buildings need TLC, this one more than most!

Recently we have been dealing with another Listed project which has just got to site. It looked ok in the main until we started to look a bit deeper. We had some cracks running up the edge of the building, along what we thought might be the line between the brick and bungaroosh, and knew historically the building had moved.

Initial opening showed that the main spine wall in the property had dropped. More opening up revealed that it was not supported at basement level on anything more than a floor timber, and that was above a door head, and that was above a gas pipe…all holding up 3 floors above and 3 flights of stairs!



How do we know it was historic? Well the UPVC windows (that were installed without Listed building consent) are in the original timber frames, and these are nowhere near square. See left to right at the bottom of the window frame below!



We knew that the roof had issues but it had 2 pitches and one loft was not accessible. The roof slates had been covered with asphalt and bitumen so we were aware this needed work. We also knew that the valley between the roofs was leaking – this turned out to be in line with the spine wall drop, where water was now pooling as the problem was never addressed. The leak had taken its toll on the wall plate and structural stud below, so all the rotten timber needs cutting out.

All the rafters have rotted at the ends and nails rusted away; probably due to a mixture of age and condensation from the asphalt over the original slate roof stopping it breathing. As a short term measure, battens have been added to keep things in place! The ridge has gone in line with the spine drop. So…lots to be added in to make it safe and usable.



Under the roof and the rear of the building things get worse. Most of the lime mortar has been washed out in the top floor by years of neglect, being open to the elements and ensuites venting into the chimneys.

brick chimney with Lime mortar (or lack of); listed building
Bungaroosh and brick with Lime mortar (or lack of); listed building


Bungaroosh panels of the rear walls have no toothing into the brickwork and we can see a visible gap to the wall (partly where the external crack is and more signs that the building dropped).

To give you an idea of what the lime is like check out this video below:

Update 11/06/19

Now we have opened up the building even more, we have found that the floor timbers are all different and will not take the new imposed loads under current building regulations. The structural studs are holding up ok, but the heads of the walls have come out of their pockets in the wall, again showing that the spine of the building has dropped.



How about this for the end of usable life? All the flat roofs are well beyond economic repair and have leaked water into the timber frame structure. These will be renewed and rebuilt with something more in keeping with the historic nature of the building (not asphalt and GRP!).

Update 13/06/19


The site team opened up the next floor down today to find an even bigger crack. More stitching back together required!

Update 14/06/19

Just had a call from site. The extension from the 1800s to the rear of the building at 2nd floor level is not toothed into the building (photos to follow).

Update 20/06/19


So, this is the latest curveball on site. The rear first and second floors were not toothed into the brickwork and were self-supporting. Yes, the wall wobbled! It was only the roof timbers stopping it from collapsing down into the courtyard! Easy to see now why the room was cold and mouldy. In addition, due to the water ingress, the timbers in this section are all rotten so we have to do some rebuilding!

Elsewhere in the building we now have a roof and are nearing watertight (until all the new windows come).

How much longer would this Listed building have remained standing? Not long is the answer. Maintenance and the right care is required for old buildings. This one has been around for 200 years…  I’ll keep you posted on progress.

#Architecture #Listed #History #Conservation #Renovation #Bungaroosh #Lime #Lath&Plaster

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john smith
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