Existing floor plans
We have many plans for this little place. The property had been let prior to us moving in, so cosmetically, on the surface ( and ignoring the horrid smell of damp) the place didn’t look too bad. We knew it would be a project, but at the same time it was liveable which meant we could save up and live in it for a while before deciding exactly what to do, and in what order to do it.
Damp, damp damp….
The first obvious thing was the amount of damp that was in the building, and trying to find the sources of it. Unfortunately, we have damp in nearly every room, so we will be doing a few different things to fix this. A lot of the damp we think is from water getting trapped in the cement render and penetrating through, but also from condensation and rising damp.
Damp penetrating through a stud wall, which has been erected in front of the original stone gable end to try and hide the damp.
The first thing we knew is that the roof would need replacing. It’s clear to see from the outside of the building that it’s the original roof, and to be honest, it’s all over the place. The joists have all had woodworm, and many of them are rotten. There is also no insulation anywhere in the house as its all stone, so this is another thing we will be adding to the roof. It’ll also need re felting. This should all help keep the air regulated within the whole house. To help with this we will also replace all the windows in the house.. you can see daylight through many of ours!
One of the other things we intend to do first is to sort the kitchen out. At the moment the damp is horrendous. It’s so bad, that even things that we thought couldn’t grow mould, are growing mould! It’s an extension to the rest of the house, but we just need to knock it down and start again…
It’s extremely small, and there’s no extractor or windows, so this room obviously really suffers from bad condensation. The worst thing is though, most of it’s below garden level, and there clearly hasn’t been appropriate damp coursing put in (if any) so it is constantly coming through the walls.
Damp in two corners of the kitchen
Our plan is to build a double storey extension to bring the back of the house out inline with the front elevation of the house, and slightly into the garden. This will square the building off and make the third bedroom into a good sized double. Leaving the ground floor like this would give us a decent sized kitchen, but still fairly small. So we have decided to take a risk and knock down the wall in-between the kitchen and dining room. This would be fairly simple if it wasn’t a load bearing wall… It’s the old gable end, with a chimney breast going up it. It’s around 800mm of solid stone, holding up our house! So we will need to get a few RSJ’s (steel beams) made to support this end of the building. Even our architect said this would be tricky… but it hasn’t put us off! We can also combat the damp issues at the same time by knocking this part of the house down and rebuilding it with a proper damp membrane, and also laying a wet underfloor heating system throughout the downstairs.
At the same time as doing this work, we’ll be knocking all of the cement render off of the building to expose the original stone, and hopefully help with the damp. The cottage is built with cotswold stone and lime mortar, which move around quite a bit with heat and seasonal changes. Cement doesn’t move at all, it’s rigid. This means that it cracks. Then, because it’s non porous, it traps water. Hence the damp walls… We’re hoping that by doing this we will give the house a chance to breathe, and it’ll thoroughly dry out. So, we will need to remove render, then remove any concrete mortar and crumbly lime mortar, before we can re point it all in new lime mortar. This will be extremely time consuming, but hopefully worth it! By doing this, we’ll expose the lintels above the windows too, so we’ll replace those, probably with oak. There will be a small part of the house that will need re building in stone, as the upstairs has been extended in blockwork. It will have a cavity wall, so we are planning to take the external skin out bit by bit, and replace it in stone to match the frontage, but leave it as a cavity.
We will also extend into the driveway slightly to create a downstairs toilet off of the porch. We’ve checked this option out, and the only problem with this is that we will need to get the sewerage company to put another manhole in for us, which will obviously mean incurring more costs.
All the extended work will be built in reclaimed cotswold stone, and we will try and use as much stone that we remove from the cottage, back in the build as we can.
Hopefully, this will be all the structural work we’ll need to do and then we can start ripping plaster off the walls in the rest of the house, re wiring, re plumbing etc before concentrating on cosmetics.