Victorian Villa



Our role: To provide and return a competitive tender, understanding the task in hand and the materials and repair methods required. Attending site meetings with the client and consultant and monitoring the skill level and the application and after care of the lime mortars.

Building description: ‘B’ listed early Victorian 3 storey villa with later additions. All masonry in local sandstone and lime mortars with finely dressed ashlar front and rear facades with rubble gable ends. Later pavilion extensions with rendered rubble work. Roof of random diminishing Scotch slates with felted apex and flat roof of later extension.

Philosophical approach: To bring back a ‘weatherproof’ masonry envelope with limited stone replacement, surface repair of stone, extensive re-pointing and reinstatement of rendered pavilions using lime based mortars.

Funding: Building work fully funded by owner, c. £ 75,000.

Scope of work 

This involved fully understanding the building, its component parts and construction details and how it life could be prolonged by improvements in design and materials without compromising its appearance. Local knowledge of building materials and details was certainly crucial to the understanding of the decay mechanisms at play. None of the design improvements were rejected by the planning authority though some had a radical effect on the appearance of the building, particularly the reinstatement of external render finishes on the pavilion walls.

The work included 100% raking out inappropriate cement based mortars and re-pointing in lime mortar on both gable ends, with particular attention to be paid to ensure the work was flush to the wall plane to aid water run-off. The careful choice of both binder and sharp, well graded concrete sand ensured a harmonious finish with the rubble stonework.

Some of the fine ashlar stonework at quoins and on walling had been suffering from accelerated decay mostly because of degraded clay ‘drys’ running through the individual stone units and where some were face bedded originally. The surface finishes were replicated by colour matching a specially formulated repair mortar (to the freshly broken face of the stone) and by correctly tooling the work using masons’ tools. The objective was to only bring back the surface of particularly eroded stones and not to make the facade appear brand new.

The pavilions had suffered from accelerated decay from the cement over pointing and the loss of the original rendered finishes. To bring back the architectural integrity of these features the rubble work was finished in a self coloured lime based render system, which did not require lime washing or lime painting, making it less onerous for the building owner in terms of future maintenance. The same render was also applied to the rather untidy rear kitchen wall and to delineate it from the main facade.

Weekly site visits throughout the project to check on the quality of work and resolve any issues of conflicts of trades, e.g. requirements of stone finishing’ trades. I ensured a meaningful site diary was kept with a note of weather conditions, Relative Humidity, levels of protection to ensure good curing of the work and other pertinent information on the progress of the works and to satisfy the client on ‘value for money’ issues.

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