Re-render to a 16th Century Farmhouse
This beautiful house is a fine example of an early 16thCentury timber-framed farmhouse typical of the area. It had evolved over the years with various additions and alterations including a slightly incongruous porch. Unfortunately, as is all too common with a centuries old timber framed building it had received an unwelcome cement render. No doubt well intentioned but nonetheless equating to a silent smothering blanket, slowly suffocating the building and allowing it to steadily rot from its core.
The contractor; KML Plastering, and property owner worked closely together with the Conservation Officer and a plan that was sensitive to the heritage of the building was put in place. The first step was to remove the sand and cement render. It transpired that four coats had been applied, most likely beginning sometime around the 1970’s.
By applying a hard cement render to a timber-framed building you are immediately creating opportunities for problems to arise. A timber-framed building will naturally experience movement for which a hard cement render will not compensate for, causing unsightly cracks and even for the render to fail completely and break off from the substrate. Perhaps more importantly it will not allow the building to breath and will trap moisture. Trapped moisture then rots the timbers that can be exacerbated by wood beetle and fungal decay for which damp wood provides the perfect habitation. It is not uncommon for sections of sole plates as well as stud beams having to be replaced. The extent of the damage can never be fully assessed until the render is removed.
With this property, along with the sand and cement render, wire mesh and roofing felt from within the walls were also removed and a damp course uncovered. Once the building had been stripped back it was evident that there were several sections of timber studs that required either complete replacement or restoration.
Another victim of the cement render were the original riven wooden laths. It appeared that these had been ripped out before the cement render was applied. A key objective for the property owner was to ensure that as well as being breathable, the insulation could increase energy efficiency of the building. With that objective, sheepswool insulation was installed along with Savolit wood wool boards. To finish, Anglia Lime Company’s Thermalime was applied as the render. This unique lime-based insulating plaster provides an element of thermal insulation to the interior or exterior of building without losing the breathability and visual beauty of a soft lime plaster whilst the addition of fibres to the mix gives flexibility allowing for the natural movement of the timber-frame whilst ensuring the render remains sound.