Saturday, 17 August 2013

The Restoration - Week Two

The past week has seen some of the destruction continue but some reconstruction has also been taking place, in particular on two of the upstairs window openings. However, the week began with a successful attempt at removing some very hard cement render base coat from the brick wall around the patio door on the North gable. When removing the bulk of the render from the house during the winter I had given up on this section because I was in danger of doing too much damage to the bricks. This area around the patio door was earmarked for reconstruction, had the render removal proved impossible, so the fact that Gareth the bricklayer was able to remove the render and clean up this wall means a considerable saving on the budget - which will no doubt be spent elsewhere!

Gareth begins the tricky job of carefully removing some very hard and stubborn render from the old brickwork

After several hours of very patient chipping and brushing, Gareth has cleaned the bulk of the render residue off of the brickwork, meaning that this wall can remain in place, thereby avoiding a considerable anount of rebuilding work.
At the start of the week, work continued to remove what was left of the back wall of the kitchen. Thsi wall will be completely rebuilt, since the brickwork in this area was in a terrible state. The replacement window will be a bit shallower than the one which has been removed and so the wall will also be rebuilt to allow for this. An internal plywood screen has been built meaning that the worst of the dust and the weather stays out of the house. As well as this wall and window coming out, 3 more windows were removed from the south side of the house this week. This will allow the reconstruction of the brick arches and window jambs to begin in preparation for our new triple glazed timber windows which should start arriving within the next few weeks from Williams Homes of Bala.
Early in week two the South side of Old Lawns farmhouse was full of very large holes!
Removal of the kitchen wall continued this week and by Tuesday most of the brickwork to the left of this photo had gone.
However, it wasn't all about demolition as we also saw the reconstruction of the first two window opening begin. Having carefully measured the original openings before specifying the sizes for the new windows, Ben, the carpenter from Phillips & Curry constructed frames and arch formers to allow the brickwork to be rebuilt, the idea being that the new windows will slide seamlessly into the reconstructed openings - fingers and toes crossed all round!  :-)

Reconstruction begins on the first window using a frame matching the dimensions of the new windows (plus an allowance for around the edges) to guide the rebuilding of the brickwork
The first window opening is almost complete. Only a few bricks to go in below an older original arch which sits above the new one and after that, the re-pointing of the brickwork.
Restoring the brick arches above the windows has also involved the removal and treatment of the existing steel lintels - the new arches are purley decorative rather than load bearing. As well as the arches, the brickwork on the sides of many of the window waas in a mess, consisting of bits of tile packed out with lumps of cement mortar. |All this is being skillfully restored so that the restored brickwork will sit neatly against the new windows. In this picture of the second window opening undergoing restoration (below), you can see the lintel which has been replaced in the wall and the reconstructed brickwork to the left side of the window opening.
Reconstruction starts on the second of fifteen window openings
As well as reconstuction of windows, this week some more of the old stone west wall was revealed as the cement render was stripped off. Like last week, I was pleasantly surprised that, although this wall will no doubt need quite a lot of repointing and general repairs, the overall condition is pretty good, considering its been smothered in a suffocating coat of cement render for over 50 years. In common with the brick walls I stripped in the winter, it is very wet when the render is first removed but rapidly starts to dry out once its open to the air and breathing again.

Another large section of the West wall is now clear of render and looking in pretty good shape. 
The final job this week was not connected to the external restoration but nevertheless it revealed another little part of the history of OLF. With the help of the builders, the plumber removed the old oil fired Stanley range from the fireplace in the kitchen. Once out of the way I was able to start stripping off the dreadful 1960's tiles which covered the walls, revealing the old brickwork inside the fireplace. There are very clear signs of its previous life as an open fire at one time - lots of soot on the bricks, lots of very damaged brickwork - but its also clearly undergone a few reconstructions in its time. There is what looks like the bricked up opening of an old bread oven and the present outer skin of brick in the back of the fireplace seems to be a relatively recent addition as its only one brick deep and isn't tied into the wall behind. We will most likely just restore and limewash the bricks, then make this fireplace a feature in the kitchen. We have a new, very efficient oil boiler on the way which will be installed elsewhere in the kitchen and no immediate plans for the fireplace, other than allowing the very damp brickwork to dry out. A couple of centuries of cooking followed by a watertight coating of gypsum plaster and tiles have left it rather damp, but given a bit of time we expect it to dry nicely.

The old Stanley range has gone and its time to start stripping off those hideous tiles and gypsum plaster.

The brickwork in the old fireplace is revealed. You can just make out a small brick arch in the shadows just to the left of centre in the fireplace wall. Below this arch a square opening, possibly originally a bread oven, has been bricked up.
So, that was week two! We are looking forward to seeing some more rebuilding of brickwork and reconstruction of the window openings next week and hope you will come back for a look at our progress.


No comments:

Post a Comment