Sunday, 28 October 2012

What lies beneath?

Having received the report on OLF, I was inspired to pick up my lump hammer and chisel and start whacking the cement render on the lean-to at the east side of the house. Although we will need the experts to do the vast majority of the work, hacking off render is something I can manage- it just takes time and energy. I'll be taking off as much as I can on the lower portions of the building and let the professionals tackle the parts which I can't reach. We have also decided that the west wall, which is the only stone wall, will be gradually worked on, removing render and re-pointing with lime render bit by bit. This way we can check on the structural integrity of the wall as we go as its likely that this wall could be full of "holes" where old mortar and stones have shifted over the years. This means that this will be a job for next spring/summer since lime mortars can't be used in the colder temperatures of a Shropshire winter.

And so to work on the lean-to with the hammer and chisel! Here are some shots of the progress made today.
I started at the south east corner and this came away very easily in big lumps. Most of the cement render was visibly wet and clearly trapping water in this corner of the wall. Even at the top of this wall just to the left of the window, the lime mortar between the bricks was wet beneath the cement render. So this is not "rising damp" as it is about 1.5 metres up the wall!! This is water trapped inside the wall by an impermeanble coating of cement!
This is some of the wet lime mortar - after a couple of hours in the open air it was already visibly dryer after years of being permanently wet. You can see how it has eroded away due to the permanent moisture in the wall.

Now you see it! 

So the hacking continued, revealing that the wall was considerably dryer away from the SE corner. This east facing aspect is one of the more sheltered sides of OLF which explains why the wall was dryer, the further away I got from the SE corner.

And finally after just 2.5 hours of work all the render is removed from the lean-to and the renovation of OLF has started in earnest.
Now you dont! 

WATCH THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES and feel free to post your comments as we go.


  1. What a breath of fresh air to see someone take on board my comments that 'You don't need any chemical damp sales people - just let the building breathe!' This is almost textbook case history of dealing with old houses - and just goes to show how you dont have to spend a fortune to work with an old house either - it's all about getting the building breathing again. Next installation is all about how to make that brickwork look old, timeless and beautiful - its not hard! Thanks for the Heritage House mention - I'll put a link on the website shortly!!

  2. This looks amazing …and brilliant that you have done it yourselves!! It really makes me want to get outside now and hack off all of OUR cement render from our 1880s cottage that is making the house cold, damp and horribly humid. One wall is absolutely saturated. I will be following your blog in earnest to see the progress!!

    1. Hello Helen, I did reply to your post a while ago but somehow it didn't upload! Thanks for your kind comments. Hopefully by now you have seen some more of the Blog and followed the progress we made through last summer. Last week the builders returned for the last stage which is applying the lime wash and I'll be posting some pictures about that very soon. Today they are applying the 4th coat and we will probably go for at least 6 coats. How is your own project going? Have you removed any render yet? As soon as I did that on our place the walls immediately started to dry out so I'm sure it'll be the right thing to do. Just be prepared for the fact that the cement render will have damaged some of the pointing and/or stone which might now be in need of repair.