Featured on TV ‘HOME OF THE YEAR’ April 2015 – see extracts from Home of The Year
View cottage interior photos by Philip Lauterbach on www.plpix.com. The stylist for the photos was Penny Crawford Collins.
Our conservation approach in this project was to reinstate the natural breathable materials such as lime and remove all contravening materials like cement and plasterboard which had made the house dank and mouldy.
In this project over 60 tons of cement concrete was removed from the walls, floors and exterior paths. In the past, every time the house was renovated another cement concrete screed was added which resulted in lower and lower door openings. This could have been done because of a rising water table causing dampness and the belief that only cement concrete floors could block this dampness – not so. By taking up the floors, not only were the door openings at an acceptable height allowing the average person to pass without the risk of cranial damage, but we were able to reinstate the floors with limecrete and underfloor heating pipes without any damp-proof membranes. This means that any dampness in the ground is not trapped eternally under a floor, but is allowed to dissipate naturally. Over the life-time of the cottage, which is estimated at approx. 250 year, the near-by road and the ground level surrounding the house had been raised so much that they were now higher than the interior floor level. So the concrete pavement and driveway abutting the house were removed and the ground level was reduced so that it is lower than the interior and a new ground drain was excavated around the house to ensure no further water ingress.
Sustainability – Working with Thermal Mass
Stone and concrete of any mix are excellent at storing heat. Therefore by introducing the new limecrete floor slab with the underfloor heating pipes the house can be kept warm at a low constant heat throughout the winter months. This is achieved with the help of solar tube collectors heating a 300 litre water tank. In the event of no sun the newly fitted morso stove contains a back boiler which also heats the tank and distributes / dumps the excess heat into the underfloor heating. As the underfloor heating performs best at a constant heat in-put of 40degress Celsius, a back-up heat pump could also be a cost effective sustainable source of heat.
Additionally all the single glazed windows were replaced with triple glazed wooden windows. The roof of the extension (approx. 150 years old) was replaced, the parging under the natural slates was fixed up with the traditional lime, putty & horsehair method, 80mm of wood fibre board was fixed to the thin rafters and 150mm of 100% sheepswool insulation was installed in the space between the purlins. Pine timbers approx. 100 year old were salvaged and fixed to finish / close off the roof on the interior. Caution: plasterboard cannot be used in old houses because the gypsum within the board soaks up the humidity and results in mould build up. In any case the old pine timbers work with the humidity levels and look super too!