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HOME     INSULATION   ARTICLES   CHECKLIST   DAMP
 
 
 
  

OLDHOUSE.INFO WAS FOUNDED IN 2002 BY CONSERVATIONISTS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ON OLD HOUSE CARE IN THE UK - BASED UPON REAL PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE WITH BUILDINGS. THE SITE IS NOT SUPPORTED BY ADVERTISING OR EXTERNAL FUNDING. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SUPPORT US, WE DON'T HAVE A DONATE BUTTON BUT WE DO HAVE PAY-FOR ARTICLES DELIVERED BY EMAIL WHICH YOU CAN BUY HERE.

F A Qs

based upon contributions to
GRAND DESIGNS MAGAZINE
since 2004 by our writers
JANET COLLINGS & BEVIS CLAXTON
as GRAND DESIGNS' CONSERVATIONISTS

 - PLEASE CLICK MAIN SECTION TITLE AND SCROLL DOWN TO DESIRED SUB-HEADING - 

LIME SUBJECTS

LIME MORTAR

LIMEWASH

LATH AND PLASTER

WINDOWS

SASH WINDOWS VS LEADED LIGHTS

SASH WINDOW REPAIR AND IMPROVEMENT

LEADED-LIGHT CHURCH WINDOWS

REPLACEMENT WINDOWS

GEORGIAN GLASS

DOORS

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WOODWORM

TIMBER FRAMED WALLS AND NOISE

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SOME LISTED BUILDING ISSUES IN BRIEF

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HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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LIME SUBJECTS

We say...Lime is a very versatile material, sympathetic to original old house construction, and deserves to feature more in repairs and even in new-build. It needs careful handling (for example it's caustic - so always wear goggles and cover up - and it's frost-sensitive) but it is relatively cheap and we've always found it's satisfying to use, to redecorate and to look at. We have an informative lime download on this site.

 

LIME MORTAR

I’ve heard that a lime/sand mix is best when re-rendering the walls of an old house but I can’t persuade my builders to work without cement.

You are right to persist - lime render could save you future repairs. Whether your walls are brick or timber frame, lime is usually flexible enough to cope with seasonal movement whereas relatively brittle cement could develop cracks.

Lime rendering is different but not particularly complex – all builders did it before industrialised cement manufacture – plasterers doing conservation work will already be comfortable with the ‘no cement’ idea. Bear in mind that lime is very sensitive to frost so avoid the run up to winter as lime takes time to set.

Correctly-mixed lime render ‘breathes’ and, if finished with limewash instead of paint, moisture taken up by the house should dry out naturally. Cement render and conventional paint are, unfortunately, much less ‘breathable’ and can trap damp inside walls.

Lime render’s flexibility and ‘breathability’ appeal to builders experimenting with earth-wall and straw bale houses. Lime’s relative energy and carbon efficiency has sustainability benefits too – and everyone can appreciate the gentle textures and colours that are possible.

more information in our maintenance/care books and lime download

 

LIMEWASH

I've given an outside wall of my seventeenth century house two coats of limewash to protect a very old lime-rendered wall but the finish is patchy and the tubs of limewash aren't cheap; should I give up and use ordinary masonry paint?

Limewash can need four or more coats first time, but the first undercoats might be uncoloured. Someone properly experienced in the use of lime (well protected as it burns!) could make up reasonable plain white cheaply using good, dry, hydrated lime powder from builders' merchants.

Brushing marks and rain-dappling give limewash character that ordinary modern masonry paint lacks. Each limewash application needs to find its own time to dry - the 'suction' of the surface and the drying climate are critical factors. Hazards include strong sun, wind, rain and freezing (ideally allow months before frosts).

If additive-free, limewash should permit old lime render or bricks underneath to 'breathe', helping old walls stay dry and sound, whereas 'plastic' masonry paint can lock damp in. Once on, future limewash re-coats can involve less preparation than with paint.

more information in our maintenance/care books and lime download

 

LATH AND PLASTER

I live in an old house with lath-and-plaster walls and want to put some shelves up - but it seems to be impossible.

Lath-and-plaster walls are usually thin horizontal strips of wood (laths) nailed between vertical timber studs. Plaster grips through narrow gaps between the laths. Nailing or screwing into the laths is pointless, because they are springy and flimsy, and it risks loosening the plaster.

It is necessary to locate and fix into the more solid studs but, since their design and condition are probably uncertain, even they should not be relied on for heavier loads such as bookshelves, kitchen cabinets or to carry electrical items.

Electronic stud detectors can be fooled by thick plaster so there's often no choice but to carefully drill fine experimental holes until the studs are mapped out. Beware of concealed pipes and cables (again special detectors have limitations). Without X-ray vision you still won't know whether you've found the centre of a stud or something less substantial, so extra 'belt-and-braces' support positions are advisable.

Studs are unlikely to be just where you want so you might have to fix suitable battens to them to attach shelves to, which is ungainly but was a traditional solution. Old walls can be (charmingly!) uneven, so designing shelves to suit both the contours and the studs can be rewarding. But the time-honoured and common-sense answer is free-standing furniture.

more information on lath and plaster in our maintenance/care books

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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WINDOWS

  We say...Windows are the eyes and soul of old houses and fortunately traditional materials such as wood are almost infinitely repairable and adjustable so there's no need to spoil the look of an old house by scrapping them. Old glass has character (defects basically) that isn't found in perfect modern 'float' glass - so secondary internal glazing is very often a most satisfying way to get better insulation - it let's you keep the character of the old glass.

 

SASH WINDOWS VS LEADED LIGHTS

I am repairing a Tudor farmhouse but it has much later vertically sliding sash windows. Is it a good idea to revert to the original, I would guess, leaded-light windows? If I keep the sash windows how old are they likely to be and how do I go about repairing them?

If modern listed building controls had been around in past centuries no-one would have got away with installing sash windows in a mediaeval building! Trying to reinstate the originals now would be entering the twilight zone that conservationists call ‘conjectural restoration’ – making guesses about what was there based on little physical evidence and a lot of imagination. It is doubtful you would get permission to do this. It might be better to treat the sash windows as an honest record of the building’s history and repair them.

Vertically sliding sash windows became popular from the eighteenth century, once it was possible to make larger sheets of glass - up to about the size of an A4 sheet of paper - rather than the tiny ‘quarries’ that make up leaded lights. The Georgians favoured this new type of window frame as it suited their style of architecture. To allow in the maximum light they used thin but strong glazing bars and the clever sliding mechanism would have been useful in towns to allow windows to open directly onto the street or behind closed shutters.

When repairing old sash windows bear in mind that part of their appeal is the slightly flawed hand-made glass that casts attractive reflections. True sash windows are unsuitable for conversion to double-glazing, which needs thicker glazing bars. Sash window repair skills are accessible to competent joiners; when repairing stick carefully to the original design details and don’t be too eager to make them totally airtight - ventilation is good for old buildings and even modern windows have to allow some ventilation under Building Regulations.

more information on windows and glazing in our maintenance/care books

 

SASH WINDOW REPAIR AND IMPROVEMENT

I am currently renovating a Georgian grade 2 listed building with sash windows throughout, fitted with 5mm glass. I think many of the windows need to be replaced or re-conditioned. As the house lies under and airport flight path I was wondering what options I have to replace or re-condition the windows to provide better insulation and sound proofing - preferably without needing to install secondary double glazing

I wonder if your sash windows have wooden shutters inside. These are a great way of increasing insulation when they are fully closed and help with sound proofing. If you do not have shutters then heavy thermally-lined curtains can be drawn at night and when the room is not in use.

The glass you mention seems extremely thick - about a ¼ of an inch - perhaps someone in the past has replaced the panes. If they give ‘crinkly’ reflections then the chances are the glass is old, if perfectly mirror-like then the glass is probably new. It is usually difficult to accommodate such thick glass in delicate Georgian sashes. Old glass is a visual asset and should be retained.

However ‘bad’ your existing windows seem they are very unlikely to be beyond conservative repair. The less they are altered from the original, the more valuable they will be as antique components of the house. It is also environmentally friendly to conserve rather than replace!

If going for secondary glazing, get this carefully designed (maybe in a hardwood timber for slenderness, probably painted) and, to preserve the original value of your house, make sure the installation is reversible (can be removed without a trace in the future). Before carrying out any work confirm with the Conservation Officer at your local council whether an application for Listed Building Consent is required for repairing or secondary glazing your particular windows.

more information on sash windows in our books (especially - Victorian & Edwardian Houses; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

LEADED-LIGHT CHURCH WINDOWS

I am doing up an old church. I would like to keep the stained glass windows in place, yet we live in a crime-ridden area. Can they be reinforced to protect against noise and vandalism?"

The established range of window protection for churches starts with simple wire grids, recently stainless steel. Sometimes reinforced glazing has been suspended over stained glass. More valuable glass may require extra measures. Seen from the outside wire can be surprisingly unobtrusive if carefully designed to respect existing features, whereas large sheets of glazing can create distracting reflections. All fixings should be designed to avoid damage to masonry surrounds - perhaps aligning fixings with mortar joints - and to permit de-mounting for maintenance and cleaning.

Noise usually requires separate measures: if the problem is severe investigate how internal secondary glazing might fit in. For sound reduction it would traditionally be up to a hand-span from the original glass and those secondary panes might themselves be double-glazed for warmth.

Trying to combine protection with insulation by turning the stained glass itself into part of double-glazing could be troublesome as leaded glazing is not particularly airtight, also any condensation within may harm the old glass. A conservation architect would deal with any necessary planning or other consents but could also assess knock-on effects of changes to thermal performance and, very importantly, pursue the least obtrusive solutions.

more information on leaded lights and secondary glazing in our books (especially - Victorian & Edwardian Houses; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

REPLACEMENT WINDOWS

I have a 17th century farmhouse and need to replace the windows. I don't want standard UPVC but would like to keep the cost down. Are there council grants for new wooden windows? 

Firstly, do the existing windows really need replacing? If any of them is more than, say, seventy years old then it is likely to be a traditional and interesting antique accessory to the house. Older windows, most likely of wood or iron, could be quite straightforward to repair. Virtually anything still hanging in an opening is potentially repairable - ideally allowing retention of old glass with its special visual qualities (look closely for reflections and manufacturing blemishes).

Window frame repair can be an economical and sustainable route. If the house is listed (quite likely if 17th century) or in a certain type of protected area, replacement or significant repair would require special planning consent, to avoid stiff legal penalties. If it is not then any un-moderated interpretation of the building regulations might lead to incongruously heavy double-glazing - and suddenly a period house becomes a modern mess.

Grants might be rare but the council's conservation officer may be able to help locate craftspeople for repairs or, if absolutely necessary, designers of properly authentic traditional frames. To keep the sparkle and delicacy of traditional single-glazing, consider insulating with secondary glazing behind, using discreet bespoke frames that can be removed in summer (and which are reversible – see above).

more information on window care and upgrades in our maintenance/care books (especially - Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

GEORGIAN GLASS

I've had an old Georgian sash window repaired but sadly a pane of the original glass was broken and the new piece looks out of place. I would like to match the old uneven glass in the rest of the window, can this still be supplied?

Fortunately yes. Georgian glass was hand-made, or rather mouth-blown, and the finest examples may show a slightly bowed surface, like a sail. Otherwise it may have concentric lines, like the tracks on an old vinyl record, or just look irregular. Whichever, it will cast sunlight very prettily.

An old repair trick was to substitute second-hand greenhouse glass as this was thin enough and just about imperfect enough to fit the frame and look the part. But times have changed and regulations now require safety-glass in certain window locations and even special 'insulating' glass, and anyway modern horticultural glass looks different and might be 'toughened' so cannot be cut down.

So, for a good physical match, look for some new hand-made glass that meets, or can be adapted to, modern regulations: local authorities' building control departments deal with those rules and, if your house is listed or in a conservation area, seek help from the conservation officer in interpreting them.

 more information on old glass in our books (especially - Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

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The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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DOORS

 

We say...Like windows, old doors in wood are almost infinitely repairable (despite what salespeople might say!) and they are often an essential ingredient of an old house's charm - recording minor bumps and scrapes from the house's journey through time (and charm can mean value). There are also simple ways to upgrade a doorway's insulation without permanently altering it.

 

GEORGIAN PANELLED DOORS

We are lucky in that the doors of our Georgian house are mostly intact. However one or two are developing cracks in their panels. Is there a simple way to restore these or should we remove them and install new panels?

Cracks can often appear in door panels – this can be caused by wear or central heating. Treat your doors kindly in order to reduce the likelihood of cracks in the first place. As the timber expands and contacts over the seasons the cracks will open and close. This is simply a feature of real wood and a real old house. Replace them and you have lost the authenticity of your home.

If the cracks really do annoy you then you could consider filling them with a lightweight filler, or even papier-mâché, and re-decorate them. It is probable that over time the filler may fall out, especially if the doors are in heavy use. Another option is to put a scrim-reinforced lining paper over the panel and then paint over it, but again at certain times of the year the paper may pucker or stretch.

As always with an old house – treat it as a working antique: whatever you decide to do - if anything - do make sure that it is reversible. You should not be the owner that future generations point a finger at for removing genuine features.

more information on doors and joinery in our books (especially - Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

GLAZED DOOR

Question: I've just moved into a period house with a three-panelled glazed front door. The glass is original patterned glass and I would love to keep it, but wondered if there was something I could do to make it more secure against burglars, for example by attaching a film over the glass?

An original door with original glass should certainly add value and interest to an old house. The problem with applying plastic film to patterned glass is that it won’t stick so well to an embossed surface. Usually the moulded or etched side of obscured glass faces inside to avoid soiling – the same side that films tend to be applied for weather protection.

But, depending on the construction of the door, it might be possible to have a discreet frame designed to securely back-up the existing glass with a sheet of rigid plastic or strengthened glass. This can improve insulation and, if designed so that it can one day be detached without leaving a scar, then the door is not devalued.

An alternative burglar deterrent might be metal bars, or a bespoke blacksmith’s wrought-iron grid. But take care as old glass can be easy to scratch and old glass patterns can require persistence to match if broken. In flats and some houses it may be a requirement or just advisable to consider fire-resistance as well as security, this requires specialist design. Also there are modern building regulations governing safety in new glazing.

Older doors may have had timber panels replaced with glass over time, perhaps weakening them: some Georgian doors were first installed when most ordinary glass was only available in sheets little bigger than A4 paper size, so only quite small panels were able to be glazed initially - but it is not uncommon to see later patterns of Victorian glass cut into the former wooden panels.

more information on doors and glazing in our books (especially -  Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Victorian & Edwardian Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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TIMBER BEAMS AND FRAMES

  We say...Think about the function that exposed timber originally served when deciding how to present it authentically now. Avoid non-reversible treatments like paint and varnish - however fashionable it seems. We've seen people spend a lot of time and money taking off relatively modern paint and varnish. For some plain bare outside oak we've found a good coat of 'boiled linseed oil' can be a useful treatment to restore what the weather may have taken out of the wood - since it lasts well and it is easily re-coatable with the minimum of preparation, and it's less prone to flake or trap water, as many gloss paints and plastic varnishes would do.

 

WOODWORM

What should I do about the woodworm in my timber-framed house?

Firstly you should establish where this is active woodworm or not (woodworm is the name commonly applied to the furniture beetle whose larvae burrow in timber, the mature adult exit through flight-holes up to 2mm in diameter. There are other beetle pests).

Do this by first removing any existing sawdust like material from near the holes and see if any new is created (this would happen in spring and early summer), as you may be looking at flight-holes that are very old.

If you do have active woodworm, they are only active because the moisture content in the timbers is higher and therefore more attractive to eat!

Reducing the moisture content in timber is about reducing dampness. This is done in a number of ways: Most importantly increase ventilation, but drying out can take a while - allow at least six months before expecting any change.

If woodworm is affecting a piece of furniture, then moving it to a dryer room with better ventilation should help speed up the solution.

There are a number of conservation-friendly ways of reducing damp in old houses See ‘Damp’ at www.oldhouse.info for the importance of breathability to old houses).

 more information on wood pests in our maintenance/care books (especially -  Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

TIMBER FRAMED WALLS AND NOISE

I live in a terraced cottage whose downstairs party wall is of exposed timber posts and with little insulation between the houses. Do you have any ideas of how to improve this without ruining the beams?

I assume that, in a terrace, you are concerned more about sound insulation between properties rather than heat-loss.

A traditional method of improving both thermal insulation and quietening a room was to hang tapestries. A heavy curtain, that could be drawn back to display your timbers, might only help a little with noise-reduction from next-door because effective sound insulation really relies upon mass - to deaden the vibration - and the absence of air paths that conduct noise. In some modern buildings rooms are specially isolated from each other structurally to avoid sound-transmission but this is rather too difficult to achieve in an old building.

Adding mass is likely to be unsightly and structurally difficult so the first practicable step is to track down any air passages that lead to next door. In an old house sound may not only be coming through the wall but, say, between open joists in the cellar or via an old shared chimney or a common roof-space. Make sure that any cracks alongside the timbers are filled. Originally this might have been done with a ‘daub’ mix or a lime mortar - the latter may be an option now and should be compatible with old fabric.

You might create a pleasant low-level background sound on your side of the wall to offset sound from the neighbours at their ‘peak’ times. Bringing your neighbours’ attention to your concern might work too - they may simply not have noticed the walls are poorly insulated if you yourself live very quietly.

more information on timber frame in our books (especially -  Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

INTERNAL FINISHES TO OAK

I have a 17th century cottage with a 1980s extension, some of the internal timbers are waxed or oiled and are a lovely, mellow light colour but some, particularly the newer areas, have been covered with a nasty dark stain or varnish. How can I tell what has been used, is it simple a job for a tin of paint remover and can I return timbers to that mellow yellow/brown?

In the 1880s there was a popular misconception that black timbers were authentically mediaeval, by the 1980s this notion had shifted to brown. Naturally aged timber may be nearer the truth (your mellow brown inside, silver-grey out).

If the dark colour dates from the 1980s then ask the former occupants, their builder or architect about it. Pick at an inconspicuous area to see if the colour peels off or whether, much worse, it has sunk into the wood.

There is no one 'silver bullet' for removing paints, varnishes and stains. Answers must be tailored to both the finish and the timber beneath - and there will be mess to be tolerated. Expert advice, plus trial and error, may explore options such as gentle abrasion and/or chemical softening and perhaps chemical bleaching to combat stains. (This is explored in the Paints and Paint Removal download at www.oldhouse.info which would be a useful starting point).

But be very, very careful: chemicals can be a hazard, some finishes release toxic dust or fumes and abrasion or chemicals can irreversibly alter the wood, destroying valuable original detail or natural colour. Some surfaces may need specially gentle dry or wet proprietary techniques (council Conservation Officers may know of local operators). Occasionally mediaeval artwork survives under later paint - now that might be a cue for some modern artistry to cover stubborn finishes or permanently stained wood without attacking the surface.

Those lucky enough to have unfinished oak can simply avoid paints and varnishes to keep it that way. The maximum treatment that conservationists might ordinarlily consider would be ‘boiled’ linseed oil outside and beeswax inside.

more information on paints and removal in our maintenance/care books (especially -  Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses) and paint download

 

LIGHTENING ROOMS

My bedroom has wooden beams running up the walls and across the sloped ceiling. They are quite close together, and are very dark, as is the floor. Since it only has a small window, low ceilings and is quite a small room anyway, the beams make the room feel quite claustrophobic. Is there anything I can do to lighten the woodwork, or is it better to just leave it as I find it?

Exposed wall-studs and rafters are part of the original construction of many old houses. If never painted or stained, dark colouring could be the timber's natural mellowing, maybe assisted by ancient smoke-blackening if built in the days before chimneys – so potentially quite interesting. Stripping that sort of patina removes not only interest but probably value too.

If there is paint or varnish, removing it can risk destroying interesting underlying original finishes or inscriptions and might expose old toxic paints. Where timbers have unfortunately been painted with something horribly difficult to remove, like blackboard paint or gloss, one cosmetic answer might be a light over-coating with some modern 'natural' water-based paint, provided it is easily removable later. But many people would give quite a lot to have a cosy room with plenty of ancient timbers on show!

more information on paints and removal in our maintenance/care books (especially -  Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses) and paint download

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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STONE WALLS

 

We say...Traditional stone and brick were usually paired with a lime mortar - it was part of the defence mechanism against wear - the mortar is usually deliberately slightly softer than the bricks or stones. The idea is that slight movement doesn't crack the wall, and that water can migrate out. If the mortar ever wears out you can replace the mortar rather than the bricks or stones. Brilliant! But modern cement mixes are, for some reason, likely to be harder than the stones and bricks - trapping damp in individual bricks and stones, leading to their damage by frost.

 

STONE REPAIRS

We have recently moved into a Georgian building with a stone portico. Unfortunately one stone column has eroded and is very powdery and dry. The rest is pretty much intact. How should we treat it to prevent further erosion? We don't want to use a water sealant as I have heard they create a shiny surface, and obviously we don't want to paint the stone.

This sort of problem has been successfully solved in the past with a ‘shelter-coat’, made simply of limewash mixed with matching stone dust (perhaps finely grinding and re-cycling bits that have fallen off). You are wise to avoid sealants and paint here – they would be more difficult to reverse and would change the way in which the stone absorbs and expels moisture.

If your column is limestone the limewash will dry to a very similar chemical composition and help consolidate the stone. Limewash is particularly friendly to many historic materials as it is very ‘breathable’. It is very caustic until dry so must be mixed and applied with great care: goggles, overalls and rubber gloves are essential. Limewash should only be applied when there is no danger of frost for about a month. More essential information on this useful material can be found at www.oldhouse.info and in Janet Collings’ book Old House Care & Repair.

As the limewash shelter-coat will gradually wear away over time this method may be considered ‘reversible’. And if it doesn’t work out the right colour first time, adjust the stone in the mix for the next coat. Three or four thin coats may be needed so there is scope for experimentation. Limewash alone is naturally semi-transparent to bright white and can fade but an experimental application of cold, strong tea has been known to tone down over-bright results on very small jobs – though beware of staining the stone itself.

 more information in our  lime download and in our maintenance/care books on stone care (especially -  Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses)

 

FLINT WALL REPAIR

Our lovely old flint house is showing some sign of wear and tear with some of the flintwork dropping off and leaving unsightly holes. We are keen to restore the property but want to do it sensitively. Can you recommend the best way to proceed ie what mortar or grouting is best to use, and whether we need to consult a specialist?

There is definitely an art to repairing flintwork successfully – so that it looks as though no work has been carried out at all.

The most important material is the flints – retrieve any that are still lying around as it can be difficult to find flints to match the existing ones. Often in repairs the existing flints are spread out to make up for missing flints but this will look awful – you need to find enough replacements.

Sometimes you might also find that there are smaller pebbles or chips of flint pushed into the mortar joints - this is known as ‘galletting’ and needs to be reproduced in any repair otherwise the repair will stand out.

Before carrying out any work, you should establish what has caused the holes in the flintwork in the first place. This is where a specialist who is knowledgeable about flint buildings will be able to determine whether the problem is superficial or a symptom of something more serious.

To avoid future problems the mortar should match the existing and original, which for any age of building is likely to be a lime mortar - though there is more than one specification of lime mortar and choosing the correct mix is a specialist job.

Make sure you see some examples of any craftsperson’s work before you commission them, as there is an art to repairing flints walls. Ask the conservation officer at your local council for names.

more information on mortar in our  lime download and in our maintenance/care books on stone care (especially - Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair)

 

DAMP PROOF COURSE IN A STONE WALL

An existing extension to our newly-acquired stone house has a damp-proof course but not the old part. The walls of the old part have been described as 'dry stone' and we were wondering if a damp proof course will be necessary?

Twentieth century wisdom was that any building without a damp-proof course (DPC) was deficient. So all new buildings had a DPC and old buildings, whether they were damp or dry, often had chemicals fed into them and bits knocked out of them to install a DPC.

Modern impervious materials allow brand-new houses to be virtually damp-proof all-over. That is fine. But olden builders had to accept their buildings would soak up some water – from rain, condensation or the ground. Usefully most traditional materials were ‘breathable’ enough to allow drying-out again by natural ventilation. But it is not usually practicable to turn an old house into a modern one since the resulting mix of materials can be mis-matched in terms of damp performance.

The old and the new parts of your house sound as if they have been built each to the standards of their time in terms of damp management. With luck the old part is still working as intended so think very hard before applying modern ideas of ‘waterproofness’ to an old building that was intended to ‘breathe’ (harmful ‘waterproofness’ can be innocently applied in the form of modern paints and finishes - visit See ‘Damp’ at www.oldhouse.info for the importance of breathability to old houses). to understand the dangers).

Walls of irregular stones with little or no mortar are suited to natural ventilation keeping damp in check. But clogging with earth or coating with cement render and plastic paint can trap dampness within. Keep alert for high external ground levels, broken rainwater pipes, render in contact with the ground and also see if you have minimised condensation inside your home that may infiltrate the walls.

If your older walls do prove to be damp you may need to appoint a surveyor or architect properly versed in old buildings (both professions have conservation accreditation schemes) to help decide where it is coming from and whether you can usefully re-tune your particular old building to any form of ‘natural’ damp-management.

more information on damp and alternative approaches to DPCs in our maintenance/care books and our damp article

 

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The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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CEILINGS

We say...Old house ceilings were often made from lath and plaster whereas new house ceilings have usually been plasterboard. The lath and plaster has useful mass which makes it seem to us a much better sound insulant. Plasterboard is lighter and is practically a thin skin (like a drum or a microphone - you can see where we're going!). So the problems of finding someone competent to repair your old lath and plaster ceiling traditionally can be time well spent. (And we think that plasterboard just looks too precise for many old houses). We have been encouraged by our own experiments with chalk/lime/hair plaster mixes on timber laths for a wall repair and will be experimenting with these on a ceiling soon, as it promises a relatively light and flexible finish.

 

ROSE AND CORNICE PAINT PROBLEMS

I’m currently restoring my home, but am unsure what to do with the ceiling roses and cornicing. They’ve been badly painted over by previous owners and I want to strip them back to their original state. What’s the best way to do this without damaging them?

Traditional ceiling roses and cornices were usually either pre-fabricated in plaster of Paris and then applied to lath and plaster ceilings (often in Victorian and Edwardian houses), or otherwise moulded in place from the same lime plaster as the ceiling itself (a technique dating back to mediaeval times). Either way the material is relatively soft, porous and vulnerable.

Traditional distemper paints would have simply brushed or washed off before redecorating but modern emulsion can stick aggressively, so removal would have to be carefully done to avoid damage - and also gently to avoid dislodging the moulding. Conservators might start with brushes and gentle non-metal tools. If modern plastic emulsion paints have built up and are obscuring detail it might be that a layer of underlying distemper could be exploited if it is weakening the bond under the newer paint – but don’t count on it. Special strippers or steam could be a last resort.

It can all be costly, uncomfortable work, and at height too, so a cheap, quick solution can be to paint over any existing emulsion with old-fashioned distemper: This improves the look while preserving the scene for future conservation much more benignly than yet another coat of emulsion.

White ‘soft distemper’ has a bright matt chalky finish that resists yellowing and it just looks right on an old building. Traditional ceilings really need to be inspected for security by an expert who understands them, as people only familiar with plasterboard can be frightened into unnecessary destruction and replacement when simple repair might be all that is needed.

more information on ceilings and paint in our maintenance/care books - and on paint removal in our paint download

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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FIREPLACES

  We say...Chimneys have had an unsettled time over the last half century, once every house had one in full-time use, then no one thought they'd be needed again. They've been neglected, damaged, blocked and cut about - and will need careful checking and cleaning before bringing back into use even for a simple old-fashioned open fire. Always check that the complete chimney can be appropriately upgraded to meet the current technical requirements for the specific fire or appliance proposed for the fireplace now, as these could exceed the safe design capabilities of the surviving flue. And be aware that some appliances are deemed unsuitable for thatched properties: it's not just sparks - high flue temperatures are reckoned to transmit through to the thatch and risk igniting it. (There's more on this in 'Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses')

 

OUT WITH THE 1930s?

We want to replace a Thirties tiled fireplace with a salvaged cast-iron Victorian one. Can this be done without a lot of mess?

No one knows what lies behind your fireplace until it comes out – so be prepared to adapt your plans when it does. If your house is really old the 1930s fireplace might conceal an alcove for an old range or a giant inglenook. There could be structural implications.

The minimum-mess approach is to design a new traditional-looking surround that frames the tiled one and leaves it in place. When 1930s fireplaces become fashionable, as they surely will, you will be ahead of the game.

Buy a salvaged Victorian fireplace if you are sure that there was a reasonable case for it being removed from its original home, otherwise you could be contributing to the erosion of another building’s history. An intermediate approach is to buy a good reproduction fireplace that suits the age of your house, or even get a suitable modern one made by a local craftsman as your own contribution to the house’s history. There are rules in the Building Regulations and Building Standards about hearths and fireplaces.

As to mess, you can reasonably expect lots of soot even by dismantling a non-structural surround. Anything structural is a builder’s job, so you should prepare to evacuate the room and seal it and its access routes off from the rest of the house.

more information on period fireplaces in our books

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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FLOORS

  We say...It's a sad thing but many people buy an old place for its charm (if you think about it, charm is imperfection) and then set about destroying that charm (and probably devaluing the place) by smoothing everything out. Old house and cottage floors often end up looking like the inside of a department store. And, if that's not bad enough, many old places have relied for generations on gentle sub-floor 'breathing' through clay floor tiles (unsealed!) and partly uncovered floorboards - to help keep the surrounding walls dry.

 

TERRA COTTA FLOOR TILES

Our cottage has big chunky terra cotta floor tiles, almost a foot square that have adhesive left on them - how can we remove this and renovate the tiles?

These sound very similar to Norfolk ‘pamments’ which are in turn quite similar to French ‘tomettes’, the latter having a greater range of traditional shapes and sizes.

You do not say which side of the tiles still have adhesive on them? I assume that you uncovered the tiles beneath a layer of something else and the adhesive was still attached to the upper face of the tiles.

On a small area try ‘white spirit’ to see if that dissolves the adhesive. The correct solvent will depend on the particular type of adhesive. The approach (though maybe not the materials) being broadly similar to the trial and error experimentation in paint removal – see our Paints and Paint Removal download for further information.

Gentle heat from a hot air blower may soften some adhesives if you are lucky, others might become brittle if ‘frozen’ with ice cubes. Then carefully scrape or chip it off.

Even if you do find a solution, it is likely to be time-consuming and it is probable that not all the adhesive will come off. It might wear off in time or alternatively, if re-laying the tiles, use the best ones in the most prominent places, with the less successful ones either under furniture or in dark corners. Or maybe they are suitable to relay upside down?

If still no luck then traditional terra cotta floor tiles are still made (though check the sizes). Consider re-laying as traditionally intended on a breathable base - for pamments this was bare earth (not recommended now of course) or a bed of lime mortar (some manufacturers may advise the easy-to-use adhesive trend when selling to new building owners but this can conflict with breathability in an old house - see ‘Damp’ at www.oldhouse.info for the importance of breathability to old houses)

In keeping with breathability, the tiles should allow moisture to pass through them, so avoid sealing them with any sort of finish. Keep them free from grit and wash sparingly with water when necessary.

more information on period floors and care in our maintenance/care books

 

WOODWORM IN FLOORBOARDS...

How do I deal with woodworm? At the moment it is rampaging through my floorboards but they are very handsome pieces of timber and I am reluctant to replace them. Is there an alternative?

Wood becomes attractive to these beetles when it has become nicely damp. Not wet to the touch just relatively damp. Take away that slight dampness and eventually the beetles should lose interest.

However, suddenly drying-out the timber in your house may cause it to crack or twist. Look instead at long term improvements, ensuring good ventilation above and below the floorboards. See ‘Damp’ at www.oldhouse.info for the importance of breathability to old houses).

Double check that your woodworm are active - if so there will be tiny piles of fine dust from spring. If the infestation is old and inactive - and has not seriously weakened the boards - simply fill the holes with a coloured repair-wax. If they are weakened there are various cunning ways to 'conservatively' repair them using joinery techniques so that their appearance is preserved.

Chemical woodworm treatments are avoided by some conservationists and only resorted to sparingly, and very locally, by others. Chemical insecticides are not the sort of thing to have inside a house where children and pets roam or if the fumes are going to be a nuisance. Not only are there health and safety issues - insecticides can also kill natural beetle-predators such as spiders.

For those reasons some take a long-term view and gradually and gently ensure that timber is kept slightly drier year by year - hoping that the little piles of dust eventually disappear forever.

more information on period floor care and wood pests in our maintenance/care books

 

...AND REPAIR

My lovely old floorboards seem to be damaged by woodworm but I don't want to rip them out and put in new ones, can they be repaired?

If floorboards are weakened, and were old enough to have become attractive to woodworm, they may not be easy to replicate off-the-shelf and like-for-like anyway.

However they might be repairable - either strengthened with ‘invisible’ reinforcements of timber or metal  underneath, or professionally patched and matched using straightforward joinery techniques. For authenticity, conservationists tend to resist swapping damaged boards around since the patterns of the original construction and of historical wear would be distorted - and damage can also result from de-nailing.

If some of the boards have really reached the end of their life and are beyond all cunning and ingenious methods of preservation, then arguably the optimum route is to have replacements made out of seasoned timber of the same species, if possible, and to the same dimensions and finish. This would normally be limited to damaged areas only, sound areas should not be sacrificed, though there may be structural considerations.

There would need to be some soul-searching about whether the replacements start life as the original floor would have done - and allowed to colour and wear in slowly over time to match - or whether the new surface is treated to some kind of accelerated wear to match the surrounding patina. Either way this avoids the slightly uncomfortable feeling you get when using reclaimed old boards because, deep inside, you know that somewhere there is probably another old house sadly missing its original floor! Mark the underside of the new replacements with the current date - just to give future conservationists an easier time and avoid confusion over the old and new in years to come.

It’s also worth taking a look at the condition of any timber structure underneath - floor joists and beams -  to see if that has been affected and needs reinforcing.

more information on period floor care and wood pests in our  maintenance/care books

 

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The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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EXTERNAL GROUND FINISHES

 We say...As with internal floor finishes, bear in mind what is appropriate visually, historically and functionally (in terms of building performance as well as use). An uninterrupted vista of hard brick paving might be OK for a supermarket access area but with an old house or a country cottage are you really wanting to conjure up images of eighteen-wheel articulated lorries?

 

EDWARDIAN DRIVEWAY

My 1906 red Accrington-brick villa has a driveway that has long been covered with tarmac. If wanted to restore the drive to its original state, what materials might have been used?

I happen to have done a bit of driveway exploration and it is fascinating, in a Time Team sort of way, scraping away the layers: gravel over 1950s tar-and-shingle over nineteenth century bricks and cobbles - all within the top few inches. What you might find should relate to the age of your house and the purpose of the drive.

1906 was on the cusp between horses and motors, your predecessors might have expected either to call. Chunky stone slabs, setts, gravel or a fine 'hoggin' surface may have been choices, or even concrete. All dependent on local geology and the transportation available to the builders.

Hard paving bricks were popular at about the same time as your Accringtons. Amongst them stable-blocks - those richly-burnt paving bricks that look like slabs of dark chocolate. The deep moulded patterns promised better traction for horses.

If DIY archaeology gives no clues, then try local research. Museums, preserved buildings, library photos and heritage societies are good sources. Look for local houses of a similar date and status.

With less machinery and transport, material may have been used more sparingly in 1906: perhaps only paved wheel tracks rather than the infinite vistas of modern paving. If you are lucky enough to uncover old stones or bricks, note how they were laid and make any repairs compatible - conservationists always worry about introducing modern cements and adhesives into older softer fabric, they can prove too harsh.

Current concerns about overloading public drains and depleting the water table are now favouring permeable finishes that are self-draining. Try also to keep hard paving away from house walls to avoid splashing and help aerate the soil next to the bricks, also make sure paving doesn’t drain against the walls.

more information on historic building-friendly paving in our  books

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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ALTERATIONS, RESTORATIONS
 AND PLANNING ISSUES

  We say...Planning regulations generally, and rules affecting conservation areas, are under review in the UK and it's wise to consult the local authority to get up-to-date advice. A lot of people have regarded the listing of their homes, and the planning authorities, as obstacles to be got round. Why? If your local authority has a conservation officer who is knowledgeable and loves their old buildings then they're probably on your side. Consider these for starters...Do you want your home to belong to it's setting? Impress your friends with its good taste? Work in the way it was intended? Have general appeal when you come to sell it?...Planners aren't there to design for you, so you'll probably need an architect (who is knowledgeable and loves their old buildings too) to interpret the guidelines into something everyone is happy with.

 

SOME LISTED BUILDING ISSUES IN BRIEF

We'd love to live in a listed building but we're concerned about limitations on what we could do to the house. Does listed building status mean that changes - even to the interior - can become difficult?

Anyone attracted by an old property surely wouldn't want to harm its character or fabric. Protecting these features is principally what listed building legislation is about, rather than preventing continuing use.

However there is much that people routinely and innocently do to old houses that undermines their solidity, looks and resale value, so any changes, even simple redecoration, need guidance and sometimes official permission. An old house is more than a lifestyle backdrop and anyone wanting all the indulgences of the 21st century without compromise would probably find that a modern building makes a better starting point.

Strictly, statutory listing applies to everything (whether mentioned in the official listing summary or not), inside or out, ancient or modern. And it influences the site, perhaps areas sold off long ago. There are very stiff penalties for working on a listed building without proper consent, but council conservation officers can offer advice and pointers, so talk to them.

Prospective owners should check that all past work was in accordance with official consents or they could find themselves liable to rectify it. Most importantly, seek knowledge: Understanding and working in harmony with old buildings can be much more rewarding and economical than trying to force them into being something they are not.

more information on design and planning issues in our books

 

CONSERVATORY FOR A GEORGIAN HOUSE

We want to make more space in our Georgian townhouse and are wondering about a conservatory. We like the idea but are worried that it might not fit the character of the building

The Georgians had garden hot-houses for serious plant-rearing. Town-dwellers were perhaps less able to participate in plant husbandry - so finding a suitable pattern for a Georgian urban conservatory could be a challenge.

Wealthy Victorians popularised conservatories for displaying plants - and some were successfully added to Georgian houses.

But modern conservatories as living space (becoming discouraged because of energy issues) have to cope with thermal and safety regulations and so tend to be built of chunkier, often standardised components - which can make them much less graceful than some Victorian designs.

An architect concerned with conservation would ask clients to look at how they use the space they have got before considering building more. It is surely better that people find the right house for their needs rather than change an existing building just to suit their own brief occupancy or fashion.

There is sometimes room for really good new design and for this you will need the right architect and the assistance of a helpful conservation officer. If they tell you that your particular house is not right for a conservatory then go with the flow and look at another solution - you might find something better!

more information on design and planning issues in our books

 

VICTORIAN LOO CONVERSION

I’ve got an idea to convert an old Victorian public loo into a house but it will need quite a large extension to make it work. As it’s in a Conservation Area I am wondering about a modern design or Victorian-style.

The site - how much land, neighbouring buildings, views - may dictate. Meet the Conservation Officer and talk about the options. One case for a really modern design is that it can be easier still to 'read' a small original old building, which could otherwise get lost if wrapped up in a copy.

But beware of following modern fashions - they date quickly. Whichever way you go, try to take design cues from the original, use an architect who understands real period detail as well as new. A truly modern extension can be exciting because of sympathetic interplay between ancient and modern. A successful copy relies on the quality of match, so reject half-hearted details and promises that 'this might weather down', hold out for 'I really can't tell the difference'.

more information on design and planning issues in our books

 

OPEN PLAN ISSUES

I have ambitions of open-plan living and I’m looking at town houses in central London to convert myself a flat. Those in the most convenient locations for me are listed buildings – is that likely to be an issue?

Scooping out the innards of old houses and replacing them with open-plan became popular with designers in the 1960s. The contrast between comfy old and racy new can be very thrilling, like a hot-rod car, but there are now several reasons to be wary of doing this to some old houses. The first is that listed buildings are, like antiques, often more attractive if authentic and complete. Even if the interior is not mentioned in a statutory listing, it has the same protection as the exterior, and changes require consent.

Attitudes to sustainability are likely to make a difference - one big open space can demand that everywhere is heated to the max, whereas rooms allow individual control; plus there is the ‘embodied energy’ as used in creating the material for and building the existing layout, and that may still have useful life.

If an old house does not suit without expensive alteration it can be kinder to find another one that does, since continual ‘lifestyle’ alterations to historic properties, as opposed to necessary repairs and adaptations, rapidly erode our heritage and use up resources.

more information on design and planning issues in our books

 

SAVING AN UNLOVED HOUSE

How can I save a lovely old house in my street that a developer is proposing to demolish and put a block of flats in its place - that I know a lot of people would think are cool. The house is 1920s, not listed and not in a conservation area.

New houses can indeed be cool but it's also cool to be green - so trashing an existing resource the size of a house seems definitely uncool. Maybe the developer or the local planners will be open to exploring creative and profitable ways to use the existing building, probably saving energy, resources and money being expended unnecessarily.

The official planning process allows objectors to air their views, perhaps the local conservation officer might offer advice. Communicating admiration for a building, in a way that committees and businesses might relate to, can be difficult: Perhaps the house has particular design or craft qualities, associations with important events or characters, or uses rare local materials? Its scale and its balance with open space may fit the street scene well, maybe it’s even a last survivor 'as-built'? That is all aside from any practical issues that may affect the particular site.

Planners should try to achieve the best for all categories of buildings and the environment. But decisions can go either way, so Plan B is to also seek assurances that any new building would be truly sympathetic to its surroundings, more beautiful than the one it replaces, and extra energy-efficient to try to compensate for the demolition - not just tick the current minimum-requirement boxes.

more information on design and planning issues in our books

 

EXTERIOR PAINTING OF GEORGIAN TERRACE

We want to paint the exterior of our Georgian terrace but have been told that this may make it more difficult to re-sell, which has made us wonder. If we went ahead would there be any conservation restrictions?

Think what altering the original finish of an eighteenth century antique would do to its value. Do buyers of Georgian houses want visual survivals from Jane Austen's world, or displays of shiny modern paint with the commitment to redecorate?

If a house is Listed or, for example, inside a Conservation Area or National Park then official consents would usually be required for a change in finish or even colour. Failure to comply could potentially result in quite serious punishment, and even subsequent owners can be affected.

On a practical level, many older houses manage the dampness that gets into their fabric, and it's not all from rain, by continually drying it out through their walls - so it can be a big gamble to seal them up with paint. Aside from the gentlest traditional limewash, there are very few exterior paints that will not reduce a wall's ability to dry itself naturally when applied to bare brick, render or stone that are still to their original specification. Experience shows that trapped damp leads to decay, so it can be well worth getting the house examined first to understand the conservation implications of any possible change.

more information on design and planning issues and on paint in our  books (especially -  Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses; Old House Care & Repair) and on paint in our paint download

   

REDRESSING UNSYMPATHETIC WORK

With a house that has been thoroughly but insensitively modernised in the last few decades, what sort of problems are likely to crop up in restoring it to original condition?

Check that all past alterations had appropriate consents. New owners might have to redress earlier contravention of Listed Building legislation.

If past work was excessive, or ignored the Building Regulations waivers sometimes granted to Listed Buildings, it might now be difficult to restore features that would not meet current standards (e.g. regarding staircases, insulation, access and fire precautions arrangements). Conservation experience plus ingenuity are necessary to seek effective compromises, also to help sort out inevitable mis-matches between ancient and modern building materials that can cause decay.

If there is no evidence for lost historic features, don't let over-enthusiastic guesswork create an architectural Frankenstein's monster. Conservationists often prefer honest sympathetic modern work to 'conjectural restoration'.

more information on design and planning issues in our  books and (especially -  Country Cottage Conservation; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses) on redressing past 'mistakes'

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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VICTORIAN HOUSES

 We say...The Victorians usually kept their naughtiness under wraps, but when it came to trying out racy new materials on their buildings they could really let themselves go! As a result they mixed well-tried traditional ideas with relatively untried (but promising) new inventions. With hindsight we can now see that the trend - started by the Victorians - towards the 'hard' and the 'water-vapour-proof'  has been damaging to our 'softer' older traditional construction. Victorian houses can be a sort of hybrid of ancient and modern ideas, as can any much older house that has been repaired or redecorated in the twentieth century or up to the present. Which is why it takes skill and experience to analyse old house problems in detail.

 

VICTORIAN PARLOUR

We've bought a Victorian house with a living room floor covered in carpet. There are floorboards underneath. The skirtings and window cill are stripped pine. Are there any pointers for restoring this room to its former glory?

Strictly 'former glory' for a Victorian house can mean brown woodwork, a big rug and the room full of furniture with tassels on. Not everybody's cup of tea now, but acknowledging some history helps keep character rather than having a modern re-fit. Avoid destroying surviving original features, however humble; they can add interest. Be aware that, when repairing, there is appropriate reinstatement and there is 'faux' Victoriana - chose carefully.

Show a Victorian person some bare pine and they would ask when the painters were coming, but wood-effect was popular. Graining could be fun if you are artistic.

Victorian carpets were carpet-size, not room-size, and bordered by polished floorboards. Traditionally laid floor timbers need to 'breathe' so if cleaning boards up consider non-varnish finishes. And don't sand them to death - they have spent a century acquiring character. If using fitted carpet on grounds of comfort consider a breathable carpet/underlay. Check that any original external iron grilles are properly venting any underfloor voids to reduce rot.

If you have original lath-and-plaster ceilings be aware that fitting inset lights (downlighters) could destabilise them (by cutting through the laths) and may also be a fire-hazard (by heating up floor voids and also potentially allowing passage of fire and smoke).

Importantly, read up about how old houses need to 'breathe' before repairing plaster and before choosing your decorations - both inside and out - this could help spare you worries later over damp. See ‘Damp’ at www.oldhouse.info for the importance of breathability to old houses).

more information  in our  books (especially Victorian & Edwardian Houses; Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses)

 

VICTORIAN PORCH

I have a small Victorian end terrace cottage, rendered and painted white. The front door opens straight into the living space so I was wondering about adding a small porch, to help keep the heat in and store shoes and coats. Can this be done while maintaining the integrity of the building, or is it not such a good idea?

A carefully designed porch might be appropriate subject to any necessary consents - ask your local council’s planning department as permissions would depend whether you house is listed, in a conservation area or national park for example (even if otherwise regarded as ‘permitted development’). It would be wise to speak to the building control department as well to explore any building regulations implications.

You can get an idea of how successful it might look if there are any others in your row. A porch does not necessarily have to be a lavish or massive construction in the same materials as the house. In conservation terms ‘reversibility’ is desirable - touching the existing building only lightly (while still of course being secure) - so if any future owner of your cottage wishes to remove it, this could be done without leaving a scar. Though many have not survived, it is possible to find photographs of some charming early twentieth century wood and glass porches that might be inspiring.

If a porch would not be permitted officially or would simply look ungainly then why not explore the cheaper options of carefully draught-proofing your existing front door? Victorian and later houses were often fitted with cunning internal door curtains that opened with the door.

more information on design and planning issues in our books

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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HEATING

  We say...We've been experimenting without central heating (but with a little bit of heat here and there, strategically - to avoid damp, mould and frozen pipes etc - as well as locally for health and some comfort). It's not ideal but we've found it bearable if we keep active - but then we were born before central heating came to be seen as a human right. It's not for everyone (we're quite fit and don't sit around watching telly) and we wouldn't care to recommend it universally but we've found that insulating ourselves (as in wearing lots) and gradual acclimatisation can mean that even 10 degrees Celsius is sort of OK (for us) in between warmed areas. It has saved money. A problem is that when it gets much colder than 10° some of our technology stops working! Many people lived this way in old houses  within living memory - it used to be fairly normal.

 

UNDERFLOOR HEATING

We are rebuilding an early nineteenth century brick house and would prefer to have uniform flooring throughout the ground floor with underfloor heating. We cannot decide between a wood or wood-effect finish and natural limestone.

Taking a very, very important step back: rebuilding, rather than repairing, an old house implies that it is no longer going to be thoroughly old, which (apart from loss of historical interest) can lead to problems where old and new ways of handling damp and movement conflict. If your house is listed you will need consent before changing anything inside or out.

Underfloor heating is fine designed-in to a new building but in old property check there is sufficient depth from finished floor level down to the bottom of your old walls' foundations to take the screed, pipes and all the necessary thick insulation - otherwise you could end up undermining your house!

This column is always preaching the need for old houses to 'breathe'. Filling floors with waterproof screed and insulation can force any damp that used to evaporate through the floor to climb the walls instead. If there were concrete floors before there ought to be less noticeable difference (and less old fabric left to sacrifice this time). But old houses are unpredictable, you ought really to check with a conservation accredited architect (ask the RIBA) or surveyor (RICS) that your house can take such radical changes. If it can then floor finish is a matter of taste and function:-

Stone feels good underfoot when warm even though it's hard, but can be slippery when polished; natural wood is a bit kinder to dropped china but might deform under continual heat (it’s a balance between thickness to reduce twisting and thinness to stop it trapping the heat); and plastic wood effect is, well, plastic and just not very 'old house'. If floors are going to become your radiators then you'll find that superficial finishes that tend to insulate - the softer, thicker and generally more cuddly ones (like carpets and rugs) will make your heating less effective.

 more information on heating issues in old houses in our maintenance/care books

 

FIRST TIME CENTRAL HEATING

I am about to install central heating in my Edwardian townhouse, previously heated with gas fires. The house is very draughty but I realise that ventilation is important so I’m concerned about the effects of plugging gaps on the general well-being of the fabric.

Over their starched collars and whalebone corsets, Edwardians wore thick winter wool. If they had red wine it was drunk at a room temperature nearer 13 degrees than today's 21. Open fires drew in fresh air via various household gaps. That air swept up dampness from walls and floors; it helped disperse the steam from suet puddings and condensation from the weekly bath. Thick curtains, screens and sausagey knitted things under doors took the bite from these draughts but they were still there as they were necessary. There was a system.

Introducing central heating into an old house can be a bit like strapping a racing car between the shafts of an ox-cart. Exhilarating at first but cracks begin to show if driven hard. If an old house dries out too quickly you risk cracks in door panels, timbers and finishes.

Central heating is not invisible and it will involve knocking lots of holes for pipes and wires, so consider how to minimise the visual and structural upheaval. People sometimes blithely go on to block up useful ventilation paths, hermetically-seal chimneys and suffocate walls with impermeable paints and papers. The house appears warm and dry but, without air movement, dampness plus warmth can be nurturing the unseen enemy: Rot.

Enjoy your heating but remember that old houses may benefit from being less hot and more airy - which is probably good for the both the environment and us if we can achieve the right balance.

 more information on heating issues in old houses in our maintenance/care books
see also our insulation article

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES

  We say...Sustainability boils down to making the least environmental impact with our consumerism. It is also linked to fuel-saving. You don't need to buy anything extra to achieve those things - but technology might help make it more comfortable. Old houses can be a particular problem to heat and to insulate. The visual impact of solar collectors and applied insulation, for example, can be off-putting at their present state of development. And if old house owners make irreversible alterations to their homes now they might end up kicking themselves when neater and more efficient solutions come along. There's lots of basic stuff that can be done first that doesn't cost much, and understanding how old houses work, through our books, can help owners make informed decisions. ('Country Cottage Conservation' and 'Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses' each have 'green pages' on these subjects)

 

CHOOSE OLD OR NEW?

My partner and I are looking for a house, I would love an old house but we are keen to live sustainably and he feels we should be responsible and build ourselves an eco-house. There's plenty of information about new eco-homes but what is the conservation angle?

Sustainability means consuming less and conserving more. Creating new and more efficient things, whether domestic appliances, cars or buildings, consumes resources that will take a long time to offset against gently keeping older versions adapted.

Old houses are our great slumbering eco-heroes since they have long lives, most were built from local resources without using a drop of oil and they were even designed to be heated by sustainable wood!

It is us who have changed, deciding we deserve more luxury than our northern climate offers. Properly conserving and adapting old houses while adjusting our lifestyles to a more realistic level can be a valid sustainable alternative to the massive consumption in replacing them with new ones. Yet there are still practical problems to be addressed in carefully upgrading our existing very old housing and so, while the whole building industry comes to terms with the task, it pays to tread carefully.

 all our books address a range of sustainability issues in old houses
see also our insulation article

 

ADAPTING OLD HOUSES

I live in an old house and I want to be environmentally responsible but there are also visual and planning issues with adding things like solar panels and turbines. Should I move to a new property?

Living in an old house is actually part of a very sustainable process. The house would have been built using local materials and craftspeople and, for older houses, without burning any fossil fuel. Add longevity and that is truly sustainable.

However, modern expectations of luxury living make people feel they ought to alter an old house to suit their own temporary needs. This creates a cycle of unsustainable alterations that also erode the genuine 'oldness' of a property.

Heat and insulation is a big issue now. Many occupants of old houses already insulate themselves with seasonal clothes rather than selfishly heat hundreds of unused cubic metres of house. Occupants of more modern homes are going to have to get used to that idea too in the future, so old houses are still at the cutting-edge of real-life sustainability.

It is reasonable to assume that demand plus technological progress will produce more graceful ways to harvest energy for older houses. There are some difficult practical problems to be addressed in the meantime, not least how to add insulation without disturbing the appearance of old houses and creating problems within them of dampness and condensation.

 all our books address a range of sustainability issues in old houses
see also our insulation article

 

GREYWATER

I have a Georgian terraced house in a conservation area. I want to install a greywater recycling system. Is this possible and who would I consult?

Greywater is used water from washing machines, wash-basin and bath wastes and, once filtered, stored and pumped, can be fit for flushing WCs or gardening.

But the equipment and electricity involved mean that it can be more sustainable to first try reducing any water usage in those appliances. Perhaps also simply diverting used bathwater, if salt and detergent-free, onto a dry garden.

Modern rainwater harvesting involves similar automated equipment and the raw material naturally looks better - it can be used for WCs, car washing and perhaps washing machines and is a hi-tech version of the old-fashioned outdoor water-butt.

Alterations to pipework should be referred to the council's Building Control department and the water company to ensure drinking water supplies are not contaminated. If the house is listed then changes both inside and out - even to some pipework - may require Listed Building Consent so it is important to contact the council's Conservation Officer, advisable anyway in a Conservation Area. A system needs careful visual and technical design and may be required to pass official approvals before plumbers and electricians can move in.

 all our books address a range of sustainability issues in old houses

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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RAINWATER GOODS

  We say...Rainwater goods were a bit of a luxury for much of the history of our less-than-stately old houses - that is until cast iron became more affordable and people got fed up with being dripped on. We've found in the past that a marine paint for iron (called micaceous iron oxide - used on appropriately prepared and primed cast iron) can last and protect quite well. The downside was that it never smelt particularly good for the environment when we put it on (and its formulation may therefore have changed by now?), but as ours has lasted 20 years (with an occasional coat of conventional gloss for colour purposes) we reckon that might shift the environmental balance to the good - having saved several complete conventional re-paints. There's some more on this in our Paint article.

 

CAST IRON PIPE REPAIR

My 1930s house has a beautiful cast-iron drain pipe which is cracked. I would like to repair it if possible – can this be done or will I have to replace?

It depends where the crack is and whether it is leaking. Traditionally plumbers might have tried special mastic putty mixtures. It might be possible at a pinch to patch a purely decorative piece of cast ironwork with epoxy adhesives and car body filler but not where taking the slightest load or if in contact with water, which rules out most situations.

If the pipe can be taken down then some metalworkers might attempt a welded repair, though welding cast iron is a gamble. A poor repair that leaks could jeopardise the house so it is often best to go for a replacement: By the 1930s cast iron rainwater goods in the UK were reasonably standardised and remained so for decades. Sadly some modern cast iron pipes and fittings are not as graceful as those old 'British Standard' patterns, but fortunately these plus some elaborate historic patterns may still be available as stock items or specials.

You may need to look hard because not all suppliers and manufacturers of traditional building paraphernalia have yet embraced the internet, and don't forget second hand sources. Keep paint in good order to preserve cast iron and make sure decorators paint properly behind downpipes.

 painting and repair of cast iron rainwater goods features in our maintenance/care books (especially Maintaining & Repairing Old Houses)

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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FINDING PEOPLE

 We say...People are people, some you will get on with and some you may not. Communication is vital. Building work on your home can be more 'up close' than other commercial relationships so you need to bear that in mind too. Both sides should be prepared to explain as much as possible about 'what they want and why' and 'how they are going to provide it and when' - to minimise those misunderstandings that can lead to one or both parties not getting what they expected.

 

CONSERVATION ORGANISATIONS

I need to reinforce the original structure of my Tudor cottage but also conserve its architectural heritage, so I don’t want modern intrusions spoiling the period feel. Is there an organisation specialising in this kind of maintenance?

A cottage that has survived 400 years is very likely protected by statutory listing. Speak to the Conservation Officer at your local authority in the first instance who should also be able to advise on any necessary official permissions.

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (a charity organisation) offers general advice on old buildings and is keen to promote appropriate conservation. Engaging a conservation-accredited architect, surveyor or engineer as appropriate can help assess what repairs are actually likely to be necessary (the professional institutes keep registers of conservation-accredited members).

A conservation-accredited professional's experience ought to be able to save you carrying out unnecessary works and target the effort to where it will do most good, as well as dealing with applications for the appropriate permissions. They should also be equipped to understand and respect the original feel of the building and know of suitable specialist tradespeople in their area able to help you preserve that in any repair work.

 see our maintenance/care books for some specialist trades and organisations with notes on contacts

   

BUILDERS

I’ve bought a bargain cottage – it’s gorgeous but it's also crumbling and needs lots of work. I’ve never done this sort of thing before but I’m told that builders who have experience in renovating this type of old house would be more efficient. Where can I find them?

Builders with experience of repairing older properties range from the 'modernise-damp-proof-and-cement-everything-in-sight' kind through to those who understand how old buildings were put together and are not afraid to use traditional skills and materials, such as lime, in repairs so that there is no mismatch in appearance or function.

On the one hand there are people who beat an old house into submission (and it might end up looking a bit too new) and on the other hand there are people who understand how to work in tune with old buildings and get the best out of them.

When it is in reasonably original condition, an old house functions entirely differently to a modern house even though apparently built of similar materials. Misguided repairs - even the wrong type of paint - can accelerate decay and bring about costly problems in the future. A conservation-accredited architect or surveyor should help avoid the pitfalls.

Yes, experience helps but how do you know whether it is experience in sound repairs? To help select a team with a proper understanding of old buildings, acquire a basic understanding of the subject: There are books (like ours - see sidebars) introducing the care of old buildings, while organisations such as The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings offer advice. Local councils often have helpful publications, and perhaps information on grants, while their conservation officer would advise on any permissions needed and should have useful local knowledge.

 see our maintenance/care books for some specialist trades and organisations with notes on contacts and (especially - Country Cottage Conservation, Old House Care & Repair, Maintaining &Repairing Old Houses) the building process and people

 

<< If you're scrolling a portable screen, look at the sidebars too for links, info and our books which contain further information >>

 

 

 © Old House Info Ltd  2002 - 2015

 

 

HOME PAGE INFO GUIDE

The answers are generic  - and, as in the magazine, are published without responsibility. Previously published questions may be shown re-formatted for clarity. Information given in short Q&A format cannot be a substitute for proper on-site assessment of problems (and regulations and practice can also change) so always follow up with specific on-site advice from a conservation-accredited professional.

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<< If you're scrolling a portable screen, look at the sidebars too for links, info and our books which contain further information >>

links of general
Interest
some sites referred to in our books...plus a few more:

Asbestos (government website)

Asbestos (government HSE website)

Ladder safety (government HSE website)

Gas safety (government HSE website)

Electrical safety (Electrical Safety Council)

Conservation  Architects: CDAC

Living lightly: LILI Low Impact Living Initiative

Ancient ways to build a green home (BBC video)

Permeable driveways (government PDF)

Practical Courses: Essex County Council

Practical Courses: SPAB

Practical Courses: Scottish Lime Centre

The links open in separate windows and all direct visitors to material already available on the web. To save searching within sites, links don't all go to a site's home page, but you can find out more about the site there...then come back here!

These links are to separate sites over which oldhouse info has no control and cannot accept liability for their content or conduct, nor for any changes since the links were created. See also our T&Cs. We may change the links presented on this page from time to time.

 

Building conservation knowledge is probably the closest we get to an owner's handbook for old houses

The books and the site downloads provide information on the practicalities and materials behind more than a thousand years of pre-industrial building. Our information comes mainly from practical conservation work and it is presented jargon-free as far as possible.

Much is still being rediscovered about how old building construction worked, knowledge that was abandoned by the modern building industry several generations ago.

Some industrialised products and techniques have a valuable place in the preservation of old buildings but, sadly, a number of today's 'quick fixes' and some common decoration and repair materials can end up in conflict with the original construction.

But the old traditional methods, using compatible historical materials, often involve cheap, natural (and available) products that work with the original construction.

 

Start to
understand
your old house
right here with our
books and articles

This knowledge is just as essential for those engaging architects and builders to understand as it is for those carrying out DIY. Applying its lessons correctly can help preserve houses' appearance and value.

This is not so much about how to use trowels and paintbrushes*, it's more about what to dip them in... and why it can be well worth passing a few ordinary DIY shops to get it!

(* and if regular DIY manuals aren't always in tune with old materials, there are conservation courses, such as those included in the links above)

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

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Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

 

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  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

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MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

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Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

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MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

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TOP

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Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

 

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

 

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

.

 

MORE INFO IN OUR BOOKS...


THE FIXTURES & FITTINGS OF PERIOD HOUSES
1714-1939


COUNTRY COTTAGE CONSERVATION


VICTORIAN & EDWARDIAN HOUSES


MAINTAINING & REPAIRING
OLD HOUSES


OLD HOUSE CARE
& REPAIR

 

.

. .

TOP

. ..

.

 

Article index page

Current articles:

Old houses deal with damp by 'breathing' 

Insulating old houses and cottages

Old house essentials

Recognising & preserving the character of an old house

Movement in old houses

Lime & old house repairs

Paints & paint removal

Home maintenance checklist

Privacy/details/terms & conditions

.

.

  oldhouse.info aims to provide old house owners with relevant conservation information 
FAQs offer generic information via illustrative questions
  oldhouse.info does not offer advice on individual buildings or specific problems because individual site conditions cannot always be taken into consideration always follow up with specific advice from a conservation-accredited professional  

.

 

.

. .

TOP

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